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Sunday, 13 August 2017


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

PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, August 13th, 2017:
Broadcast Notes:
Today’s Topic:  The Greatness of God
             Good morning and Welcome to good news in the morning. I am so glad that you have tuned into the program today. My name is Brent Russett. I am the Senior Pastor at Sunnyside Wesleyan Church here in Ottawa. I have been pastoring there for 27 years. One of the things I love to do is show how God’s word that was written a long time ago, connects with our world right now.

            This morning’s program sponsor, Bruce Newman, salutes Jericho Road Christian Ministries. Jericho Road is a local registered charity that exists to serve the poor, the addicted and the mental ill. They do an outstanding service for our community. Thanks Bruce for recognizing them.

The Greatness of God

            I know that some of you who are listening have been followers of Jesus for a long time, and I know that others of you think of yourself as spiritual, but you are not really sure of this Christian thing, and I know others of you just curious how people of faith think. I trust that wherever you are on yours spiritual journey, that you will find this program interesting and informative, and I believe that for those of you desire it, God can use a program like this to take you another step closer to Him.

             This morning I want to talk to you who God is. For what you believe about God will affect how you live your life. We all have theology. Whether you are a Christian or agnostic or any other religion. It might be good theology or bad theology – but we all have a theology. Theology is what you believe about God – and it matters. How you live will be affected by whether or not you believe in God, and what kind of God you do believe in if you do.

            This morning I want to remind those of you who are Christians who we believe God to be. For those of you who don’t give much thought to God, or if you are wondering what Christians believe, then I think you will find this helpful.

            The first thing you need to know is that we believe that Jesus is the son of God and showed us who God is. The book of Hebrews reminds us

Hebrews 2:1 (NLT)
So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.

            There is always a danger of drifting away from what God has revealed to us. So today, for Christians I want to re anchor you in the truth of who God has revealed himself to be. I want to remind you of what you have already learned. I want us to listen very carefully to the truth you have heard so that you can be anchored in it. For those of you who are spiritual but are not followers of Jesus, I want to help you see the God who we believe in.
            God is stronger than you can imagine. God is wiser that you can imagine. God is more loving than you can imagine. God is bigger than your imagination. He is beyond your imagination.

The finest writers  cannot describe him. The finest orators cannot communicate his essence. The finest thinkers cannot conceive the extent of his being.

Our theological descriptions of God amount to a trifle. The sermons we preach about God are like trying to describe a vast beach one grain of sand at a time. Our Bible studies and our discussion groups,  are like trying examine the ocean which is God, one cupful at a time.

God is hard to imagine because he is different from what he has created. He is different from everything we know. The theologians describe this as the Otherness of God. It is the definition of God’s holiness. He is set apart from his creation.

So when we describe God, we say God is like. We use indirect and direct comparisons to what we know. It is the only way we can say anything about him. The infinite, indescribable, huge God, cannot be captured by our language, or our thoughts. God is bigger than your imagination.

 Yet our faith compels us to get to know this uncapturable God, -whom to know right is life eternal. So how do you know the unknowable. How do you approach the unapproachable? How do you get a hold of the ungraspable.

 We could not make our way to or think our way to God. So God came down to our level. Theologians call it the condescension of God. He communicated to us in languages that people could understand. He spoke through his prophets, He spoke through his people, He spoke through history. He spoke through the world, after all, the whole world is full of his glory.

But more than anything else he condescended by becoming human. He who was totally other than His creation was made in human likeness, and took on the nature of a servant. The creator stepped into his creation. As the Bible says, He made himself nothing.

Condescension. He who overflows the universe, became a speck on the face of planet earth. It would be like a human taking on a love for ants. And in order to communicate with them, becoming an ant. To go from human to ant is condescension. But that comparison doesn’t even come close to how far God stooped to become human.

But it is exactly because he made himself nothing, it is exactly because he lowered himself, it is exactly because he condescended that we know anything about God. We could not know the unknowable. But he who is unknowable, made himself accessible.   We know him now because he has shown himself to us.
            We are going to take some time to listen to Hillsong remind us who God is as they sing their song

Music: Great in Power -Hillsong 3:24

 My question is, with a God this immense, with a God this all pervasive, with a God this huge, how is it that he has become so trivial. How is it that he has become so easy to forget? How is it that we live in a world that is seemingly unaware of him.

And have you ever noticed how our God who is so immense can infect some segments of life and not others. We see him in certain areas and he is seemingly absent in other areas. How is it he can invade our Sundays, and be sidelined on Monday? He can show up in our small group discussions but not our regular conversation.

I think I understand how people of no faith can write God out of the script, but how is it that we as Christians don’t immediately see the absence of God in the script. I like spy novels and spy movies. Tom Clancy, Ian Fleming, Clive Cussler – but the worlds they create are largely devoid of God. And sometimes I don’t even notice that. How is it that when this immense God of ours goes missing, we fail to notice it.

            Come with me to Hebrews 1:
Heb 1
1 ¶ In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
 2  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
 3  The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

There is a description of the immensity of God and the condescension of God all in the same passage. Our God who transcends time came into time through his Son. The God who created the universe, came into his creation.

            He communicated with us. Jesus was the exact representation of God. He showed us what God was like.

            The Hebrew writer goes on in Hebrews 2, talking about Jesus. He says

Hebrews 2
7  You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honour
 8  and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.
 9  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
 10 ¶ In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.  
            Did you catch the end of verse 8 and the beginning of verse 9.

vs 8     Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. 9 But we see Jesus,

In the fogginess of our vision, we can’t see everything under the God’s rule. In the dimness of our spiritual vision, we don’t see everything subject to the Lordship of Christ.  In our nearsightedness we can’t see the immensity of God. In our blindness we miss that he holds everything together by his all-powerful word. We can’t see the human standing beside the ant hill. We do not see everything subject to him.

And it’s a problem. If there is an elephant in your kitchen and you don’t see it, it’s a problem. If there is a whale in your in your aquarium and you don’t notice him, it’s a problem. If there is an all-powerful, all knowing, untamed God is in your life, and you don’t notice Him, you have a problem.

Here is why it is a problem. When we fail to notice God, we see the problems of our lives, but miss the spiritual dimension. We see the circumstances of our lives but miss the big picture. We see people standing in our way but miss the fact that our struggle is not against flesh and blood.

When we fail to notice God, the things that upset us are all out of perspective. When you put your problem beside God and compare the two, then you can have the right perspective.

When you fail to notice God, life can look bland. God as the author to life brings meaning, brings colour to life.

When you fail to notice God, you miss the centre of life. If you don’t know where the centre is, there is no way to balance your life. If you don’t know where the centre is, there is no way to anchor your life. For God is the moral centre, the spiritual centre, the centre from which all decisions are measured.

There have been so many times in my life, where it has only been in retrospect that I saw the fingerprints of God. I could have spared myself a lot of worry had I had eyes to see God. There have been to many times when I missed the Spiritual Warfare dimension in the middle of problems. Where I missed God at work in and around me and all I saw was the life as survival. There have been too many times where I have got off centre.

I am sure you can relate. There are sometimes when we are so aware of God, and sometimes when we are so unaware of God. The question is what do we do.

vs 8     Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. 9 But we see Jesus,

This passage of scripture was probably written about 40 years after Jesus rose into heaven. Yet the author still says we see Jesus. Present tense.

There is times when the immensity of God hides him. We can’t see the forest for the trees. There are times when the invisibility of God makes us forget him. There are times when the abstractness of God causes us not to think of him. But the Bible writer instructs us to counteract this by seeing Jesus.

We see Jesus in the scriptures. We see Jesus in the sermons. We see Jesus in the worship. We see Jesus in our hearts. We see Jesus in our lives.

We do see Jesus. We can read the stories. We can picture the settings. We can develop a relationship that is real and vibrant.

The Hebrew writer was addressing a church that was under some persecution and would see more persecution. He was addressing a church that knew what temptation was all about. He was addressing a church that was struggling, hurting, just surviving. Here is what he says,

Heb 12
2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
 3  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. I grew up on a farm. If you hope to make a straight furrow when you are plowing, you need to fix your eyes on the fence post at the other end of the field. If you are hoping to walk well on the straight and narrow path, you are going to have to fix your eyes on Jesus.

If you are going to live well in a world filled with God who is often forgotten you are going to have to fix your eyes on Jesus. If you are going to live well in a world that takes no thought of God you are going to have to fix your eyes on Jesus.

The danger is drifting away. The anchor is to fix our eyes on Jesus.

You who work in the world of high tech. You are trying to code efficiently and creatively. Your view of the world can become obscured by your computer screen. God is not virtual. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

You who are retired, who find yourselves busier than ever. Your view of the world can become obscured with your constant running from project to project. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

You who work for the government. You live in a bureaucratic culture of policy and politics. (And apparently these days, sometimes you get paid for it and sometimes you don’t.)  Your world view can become obscured with the red tape. Your view of God can become obscured by the politics. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

You who are students who are living in the world of ideas. Your view of the world can become obscured by the ideas themselves. Even ideas about God can obscure God. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

You who are stay at home mom and Dads. You can become weary in well doing. You are referee, caretaker, encourager, educator, and most of your life falls under other related duties. You can see God at work in your kids, and your kids can obscure your view of God. Fix your eyes on Jesus.
            The reality is that we walk by faith and not by sight. God is great whether or not you can see him. God is good whether or not you can see him. God is just whether or not you can see it. We walk by faith and not by sight.

            But in order to boost our faith we fix our eyes on Jesus. We bring Jesus into each part of our lives.

            The question is how. It is always about relationship. It is about learning to live in relationship to Jesus so you become more aware that he is wherever you are.

            *Practice the presence of God. You also need the times during the day that cause you to turn your thoughts towards Jesus. That is why we pray before we eat. It is more than just a nicity. It causes us to “Fix our eyes on Jesus”. Or at least it should. It is a habit that can be spiritual. That is why is right to pray before bed, and it is right to bless the Lord as you wake up in the morning. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

            One of the things that the church I pastor did as a church was the 60/40 challenge. We set reminders, whether they be on our watches or cell phones or computers to beep every 60 minutes for 40 days, while we were awake.  That beep would remind us to remember that God is presence, to give thanks, and to pray about what was immediately at hand. That was a discipline of learning to fix our eyes on Jesus. People found it helpful.

            It may be that some of you will want tod the 60/40 challenge as a way to anchor yourself once again to the presence of God in your life, as a way to fix your eyes on Jesus.
Do you have a systematic plan for reading scripture this year. Scripture tells us about who God is. Reading it, meditating on it, memorizing it is a way of fixing our eyes on Jesus. There may be other spiritual disciplines that God is leading you into this coming year. Whatever you do, fix your eyes on Jesus.

You also need things that act like drum beats in your week that cause you to refocus your attention back on Christ. Church is one of those things. God to a church where your heart is able to engage in worship and where the bible, the word of God is preached. That is a great time to refocus in your week so that you can fix your eyes on Jesus.  We would see Jesus.

It is also possible to set up your own triggers for fixing your eyes on Jesus. When you boot up your computer. When you have a cup of coffee.  What are the triggers that would shift your gaze. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

People when you are going through hard times, times of temptation, times of trial, times of suffering, and times hurt, it is even more important that you focus in on Jesus.

God is ever present, but sometimes we don’t notice him. He is like looking through the windshield of the car. You spend so much time looking through the windshield that you can get that you never see the windshield. You have to refocus your eyes just to see it. Can you imagine driving down the Queensway at this time of year without a windshield.

God is very present whether you notice him or not. But if you will take the time to notice and turn to him, you will find that you will walk through this world better.

            In Hebrews 11. The author goes through the heros of faith. He talks about how they have gone on before us. Then this is what it says in Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12:1–2 (NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

I like how the Message puts this. It is a paraphrase but it is a good paraphrase.

Hebrews 12 (The Message)
1–3         12 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!


Lord Jesus, I know that God is immense, but invisible, and sometimes in this world we get confused and we lose sight of God. And so, Jesus, I'm asking that you would help us to fix our eyes on you. Help us to see you for who you are. Help us to love you for who you are. Lord, thank you so much for the fact that you came and you showed us who God is. Lord Jesus, help our hearts to turn towards you and have our eyes to be fixed on you so that we can be reminded constantly and put that anchor down seeing who you are. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.

            And Thank you for listening this morning.  A special thanks to Bruce Newman, who gave a shout out to Jericho Road Christian ministries.

I have a date to save for you: September 30th. It's a little ways away, yet, but mark it down on your calendar.

Ernie Cox and The London Trio Plus are going to be doing a benefit concert for Good News In the Morning - Christian Ministries and it's going to be happening at Sunnyside Wesleyan Church at 7:00 o'clock PM.

Ernie and the London Trio have done a couple of benefit concerts for us and they’re always great nights --- wonderful, wonderful music!

It’s just uplifting and I would encourage you to mark that on your calendar so that you can be a part of that evening.

That’s September 30th at 7, at Sunnyside Wesleyan Church.

My name is Brent Russett . Thank you for tuning in. It was my privilege to bring you good news in the morning.

By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa:
PODCAST LINK to the CFRA broadcast:

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