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Sunday, 2 November 2014

'SHARING ENCOURAGEMENT'


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, November 2nd, 2014:

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Broadcast Notes:
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‘Sharing Encouragement


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 to life.

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 our website and download the podcast or the MP3 of our broadcast. Mark November 7 on your Calendar! On that evening our Friend Don Hutchinson will be addressing the importance of Our faith in Politics, at St. Timothy’s Anglican Church. This event is a chance to raise funds for Good News Christian Ministries, and for us to meet some of our listeners face to face. Details can be found on our website.

God give us much encouragement through Jesus Christ and He encourages us to share that encouragement with others. And this is precisely what Paul writes about in the book of Philippians, chapter 1 verses 27 to 2:4;

'Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved -and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I will have.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.'

Paul writes these words to the Philippians church at a time when he himself is undergoing a time of suffering and which he has been experiencing the comfort and encouragement of Christ through the Holy Spirit, and through the fellowship of believers. Although he’s a little distant from that fellowship being in chains, and yet he encourages the Philippians to do as he’s doing, to share encouragement with others, even in the midst of their own suffering.

This is an important theme for Paul. A very practical one for him and important enough that he considers it worthy of communicating with the Philippians as he himself faces trial.

Well, let’s take a look at how this can be important in our lives, and how this can be applied in our lives, as we consider together the way that God reaches to us with his encouragement, and how he calls us to encourage others. We’ll get a look at this in a few moments, but first I’d like you to hear a testimony from The Rend Collective Experiment, a song called, Christ Has Set Me Free, from their Album, Homemade Worship. Will you listen to it with me?

As we heard that testimony from the writer of that song-Christ Has Set Me Free- we heard a message about the difference that God has made in his life, and he’s sharing the encouragement that he has received from Christ. Before we can share encouragement, before we can carry on with the encouragement, comfort, tenderness and compassion of God, we have to remember what we have received from him.

Have you received any encouragement from being united in Christ? Have you received any comfort from his love? Have you had any fellowship with his spirit? Have you experienced tenderness and compassion from God? What a wonderful and exciting adventure it is to take some time to think about how you have received these things from God.

Paul is speaking of it himself when he speaks of the calling to share in the suffering of Christ, knowing very well that he is going to be saved; and be saved by God. You see – some people don’t go through any difficulty and they don’t go through any difficulty with regards to the Gospel, because they’re not pursuing God. Jesus said to his disciples,” the world will hate you because it hated me, because they persecuted me, they will persecute you. So there’s a particular kind of suffering that a Christian goes through that the rest of the world doesn’t experience.

But Paul takes comfort in this by being reminded of the truth of Christ’s words. When he goes through suffering for the sake of the gospel, He remembers that Christ also suffered. When he goes through difficulty, he knows that Christ anticipated this and laid up for him a promise. A promise of treasure in heaven, of eternal life, of grace and peace. And so when he sees himself going through difficulties that other people don’t, he’s reminded that those people are on a path leading to destruction. But he’s on a path leading to life. It seems perhaps like an odd way to find comfort, to think that the suffering itself is an indication of the truth of God’s word. But by knowing what Jesus has said, by storing the word of God in his heart, he’s been able to find comfort.

Have you found comfort or encouragement? In difficult times when you’ve been going through problems yourself financially or health wise. Have you faced some persecution, or some road blocks in your life because of your faith in Christ. Have you gone through those kinds of things, and while feeling frustration and discouragement you remembered the promises of God? Perhaps it was listening to a radio show like this one some years ago, when you were going through a difficult time. Perhaps it was going to your church and hearing a message from your pastor. Perhaps it was opening your heart to a close friend and receiving from them some reminder of God’s grace. Perhaps it was even in their silence as they just listened, as you became more and more aware that you had a good friend, a good friend that God had given you, to help you through this time.

Perhaps your encouragement came in fellowship with the spirit when you were just in prayer and you felt a warmth or a reassurance as you prayed with God.

Have you received encouragement from being united with Christ? Have you sometimes stopped in the midst of trouble and remembered that it’s not always going to be this way: That Christ is going to deliver you, if not in this life, in the next?

Have you experienced tenderness from God? When you first discovered that God loved you that he forgave you for your sins. Did you experience it at that time, the tenderness and compassion of our Lord?

Did you come to that point where you were ready to put your trust in him because you knew he loved you? Were you ready to accept him as Lord because you saw the good things he had done for you, because you had received such a blessing from him? Is that part of your testimony: that God helped you and you were lifted out of the muck and the mire of your life?

Isn’t it wonderful when we can remember those times?

I encourage you in times of prayer, if your felling that God hasn’t been too close recently; I encourage you to ask God to help you remember. God know it’s difficult to remember. He tells his people, the people of Israel, over and over again. ‘Remember what I have done for you. What I have done for your ancestors. What I have done in your day and days gone by. And remember I’m the God that never changes and I will be with you in the days to come.’

God encourages them to remember over and over again and that must mean God knows that it’s difficult sometimes to keep in our mind the thing that are of first importance. And of first importance is God’s grace towards you. So sometimes when I’m praying, I tell God I’m not that good at remembering all of your goodness. I’m pretty good at complaining Lord, but I really need your help to remember all the good things that you’ve done. And when I do, I remember:

I remember that time that I first experienced the love of God in a time of prayer in a youth group, back more than 30 years ago, if you can imagine. The time when somebody took the time to sit down and talk with me about the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and I found answers to the questions I had about the meaning of life. And I was able to commit myself to Christ.

I remember the times when I’ve been down and thought I wasn’t going to make it through, and God held me and carried me. You probably had times like that in life too.

I also remember the times when prayers have been answered. So often we pray and we don’t see what God is doing, but to remember those times, the times when I prayed for someone and they actually got better. The times when someone told me that the message I gave made a difference in his or her life. The times when I sat down with somebody and was able to give them comfort and knew that God was using me. Remember those things in your life, remember how God saved you, how he made himself known to you. Remember the dark valleys he’s taken you through and the times when you have survived what you thought you couldn’t endure. God has done so much for each of us, if only He would help us to remember, and He will.

I hope you’ll take some time after I’m done this message to think more about how God has encouraged you. But I want to turn to the idea of God’s call to us to encourage others. And before we change that topic I’d like you to listen to another song with me. This song is from Carolyn Arends’ album, “I Can Hear You”, and it’s her testimony about how all is well with her soul. The song is called All is Well.

Well I really enjoy Carolyn Arends’ messages, and this older song of hers, All is Well, is a beautiful testimony. Very much like the hymn that is by the similar name.

Are things well with your soul? When God has encouraged you and comforted you, when He’s shown tenderness and compassion to you, He has loved you with His everlasting love, and He’s also taught you something. He’s taught you how the God of the universe gives comfort and encouragement to you and I. He’s taught us what tenderness and compassion look like. He’s taught us what fellowship, what close intimate connection with another person can be like. He’s taught us so much in order that we can be like Him. “Have the same mind as Christ.” Have the same love as Christ, “being one in spirit and purpose,” because God has taught us as He has lifted us.

What is it that actually encourages you in your walk with God? The funny thing about fellowship with the Spirit is how often the Spirit comforts us without any words. Just knowing that God is near. Just the assurance that we are loved. Just the remembrance of care and the closeness of His presence. And yet this is what we’re told when we go to minister to others. That very often it’s far more important that we listen then to say anything or try and fix the problem. The Spirit listens to our need. The Spirit intercedes for us in ways we don’t understand, and the Spirit seems to be so rarely willing to speak, instead ready to listen.

I think that we find in our times of need the friend that is just able to sit with us listening to our need or sitting with us in silence. When Job, in the Old Testament, was struck with so many disasters in his life, his friends came, and they came to comfort him. The best part of the friends time is when they sit with him in silence. They’re thinking. They’re worrying about their friend. They’re sharing his suffering and sorrow and they just sit in silence. When they start to talk they start to make mistakes. They start to give Job foolish counsel. They start to give him trite answers and commonplace pat responses to his need. Instead of comforting Job at this point, they’re actually making him more troubled. They’re ladling quilt upon his sorrow. They are telling him things that are of no importance. They make things worse for a while. Now one of his friends, a fourth friend, speaks up and does give some wisdom. But when all is said and done, God speaks to Job and says, ‘you’ve heard a lot of foolishness today. And you’ve said a few foolish things as well’, and Job receives from God some comfort. Not an answer to his questions, but just the encouragement of knowing that there is a God who is sovereign over all the earth, over all his needs, and is with him, even in the midst of this disaster.

Sometimes I listen to that story of Job and I think about the times I’ve tried to fix people’s problems, instead of just listening to them. God does sometimes help me fix problems. But sometimes He just lets me know He loves me. God has show encouragement to us. When He reminds us to endure, just showing us Christ’s endurance, then we know that we can make it. God doesn’t call us all to impossible things; He calls us to things that are very possible in His hands.

You’ve learned a lot from God about being encouraging; about giving comfort and showing tenderness and compassion. You’ve learned a lot from God about being a friend, for you have such a friend in God. And Paul calls us all to make his joy complete by being like the Lord who has given us all these things.

So let’s go out, not just seeking comfort for ourselves, but learning from the comfort we’ve received to bless others.

Today I’d like to pray with you that we would have wisdom in this area. So would you bow your head with me? 

Almighty God, once again we thank you, you have given us comfort and encouragement through Jesus Christ. We thank you that He is worthy of all trust, all honor, and all praise. Lord we thank you that He’s shown us how to be compassionate. And we pray, Almighty God, that you would move us by your Spirit to live out the compassion and love of Christ so that our friends who know Christ, and those who don’t, will come to see that there is great encouragement and comfort available through you and through your people. We ask all this in Jesus name. Amen

Once again I want to thank you, our 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. Your gift can help us to continue to meet that one vital expense, the cost of broadcasting, which enables us to reach you, today, 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 mark November 7 on your Calendar! On that evening our Friend Don Hutchinson will be addressing the importance of Our faith in the political realm, at St. Timothy’s Anglican Church. This event is a chance to raise funds for Good News Christian Ministries, and for us to meet some of our listeners face to face. Details can be found on our website.

Now to conclude our program, I’d like you to listen to the song by Delirious, King of Love, from their collection Deeper.

I do pray that the Lord will hold your heart and you would know Jesus personally and profoundly. May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart, and may the Holy 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
St. Andrew's Christian Community, Rockland, Ontario
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To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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