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Sunday, 15 October 2017

'STANDING AT THE DOOR'

By Rev. Brian Wilkie                    
Rev. Brian Wilkie

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

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PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, October 15th, 2017:
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Broadcast Notes:

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Welcome to Good News in the Morning, a program of words and music bringing a message of hope and encouragement to those who are looking for an intelligent, meaningful and spirited approach to Faith and life.  Good News in the Morning is sponsored by Good News Christian Ministries and has been broadcast weekly since 1999. Do visit our Website, GNCM.ca.  Here, you will find podcast of the programs  and introductions to the Ottawa pastors who deliver the good news to growing numbers of listeners worldwide. They appreciate and need your regular prayers. Our heartfelt thanks to all those who support us financially and now here is today's presentation:
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Good Morning! My name is Brian Wilkie, of Saint Andrew’s Christian Church in Rockland Ontario. As we begin today my prayer is that the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ would encourage and strengthen you today.

Standing at the Door

The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ has an invitation for you! That invitation is expressed in many ways in the word of God as a God calls people to him from every stage and every point in life. In the Book of Revelation, where Apostle John was given a vision of the of the things yet to come, he was also given a message to the churches of his time and  of all times, I guess, because in Revelations chapter 3:14 - 22 this is what was revealed to John

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (NIV)


This is a very powerful passage of scripture which has been used in evangelism and church teaching for 2,000 years and we are going to take a closer look at what it means in a few moments. but first let's listen to a song sung by Michael Card where he offers the plea to Jesus, “Jesus let us come to know you.” This is from Michael Card’s album The Life.

The Scripture which I’ve just read, “Behold I stand at the Door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me,” this verse is given as a presentation of the call to conversion, to invite everyone, everywhere to welcome Jesus into their lives and accept his call to follow him. It's an open invitation in which Jesus is positioning himself as though he's come to your house; he's describing himself as someone standing there, he's knocked on the door and he's waiting for your response.

There’s a famous painting of this scene as it's imagined by an artist of long ago where he paints a garden with a doorway into a house. It's kind of overgrown and neglected and Jesus stands there with a lantern and he's knocking on the door. After the painting was finished people would remark upon it that, oddly, the painter had left out one detail: he hadn't put a handle on the door. The painter responded by saying that it was fully intentional: the door can only be opened from the inside. Jesus knocks on the door and awaits our response he won’t force himself in on us. This is a very good understanding of the way that Jesus allows us to make our choices, even choices that that are not the right ones. He hopes that we will turn to him when we discover that we need him so much.

The passage, in fact, speaks to people who think they don't need anything more. This passage in Revelation has Jesus addressing its recipients as people who say that they're rich, that they have got wealth and they don't need anything. They've got fine clothing, nice homes. They've got everything they could want and Jesus says, ‘if only you knew.’

He seems to be saying - and he certainly is saying the truth - that these things which count as our comfort and security for this moment and in this life are pitiful things, are small things and absolutely inadequate to meet our our needs as human beings, as people created in the image of God and as heirs or potential heirs of eternal life. These riches that we exalt, this fascination we have with our own stuff and with our own accomplishments. These are the things from which God calls us. He knocks on the door and says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

He says it to the weary and heavy-laden and he also says it to these people who think they're rich and doing well.

Jesus is a gracious savior calling people who know that I need Salvation, and even calling out to people who haven't yet realized that what they have is certainly not enough to bring them through life and death with God's grace.

This is a true offer Fellowship from God. He is offering to come in. In the image of the scene he's offering to come in and sit down and eat with you and to go out with you and to be your constant companion through life. He is not only the one who will eat with you but also the Bread of life, the one who will feed you. He is the River of Life, the one who will restore you and strengthen you. He is all things, everything that we need.

He is also, In this passage, someone who is willing to say the hard truths. He says, “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline!” Have you been feeling some rebuke in your life? Feeling the realization that some things that you're doing have been hurting others? That your life is not measuring up to the glory of God, that you have indeed fallen short? This is not some condemnation from God in which he is rejecting you, but in fact it's part of his love for you that he would help you to realize the need to turn around and come to him.

God is offering a true invitation to give you his blessing, his counsel, his guidance, his forgiveness and eternal life! He calls upon you to accept His gracious invitation.

In the image of Scriptures it looks like getting up and answering the door. It's a simple as that! It's a beautiful invitation, if you've never accepted before, to begin a walk with Jesus Christ.

But perhaps perhaps you've noticed, as we read the Bible reading this morning or if you read this passage before, you might have noticed that Jesus isn't primarily addressing someone who doesn't believe in him. In fact this whole passages is addressed to the church, the people of God, in Laodicea, people who have accepted Christ, people who have already welcomed Jesus into their hearts. So what is Jesus saying to believers when he says that he's outside our door as well? Well, we're going to take a further look at this, we’re going to examine this closely: but first let's listen to a song by The King's Heralds in which they express their own belief that, although they are believers, “If we ever needed the Lord before,” they say,  “we sure do need him” now let's listen to this together.

So, although the scripture is often used to address people who have not started following Christ, Jesus is actually addressing a group of Christians in this particular passage. A group of Christians who have lost their focus. He describes them as people who've lost their humility, their sense of worship and, above all, are lacking in their love of God. He describes them in rather harsh terms he says, “you're not or hot or cold. you’re lukewarm and since you're not either hot or cold, I'm ready to spit you out of my mouth!”

It is not a pleasant image. It sounds like the Three Bears, you know where one bit of porridge is too hot, one bowl of porridge is too cold:  but here the third bowl of porridge is just nothing! It's so bland and so tasteless that there's nothing to endear it to the one who has it. Jesus is describing a group of Christians who have become bland and tasteless in their Christian walk. In fact as we hear the description, we hear something that makes us think that this group of Christians might actually be offensive. He describes in those people who are so full of themselves, confident that they're rich and they have everything they need. There's a tinge of a sense of superiority that they're better than everybody else. These Christians have lost a great deal and one of the things they've certainly lost is a good testimony in the community around them. This isn't a unique situation, in fact scripture, of course, is given not just to document what happened in the past but tells us a lot about the dangers that we face as we pursue Christ in our lives. Here is the danger of being lukewarm, of being so confident and presumptuous of what we've received that we no longer seek after Jesus with all our hearts. The world around us notices when this happens and perhaps, if you been listening to this message and you been thinking about the call of Jesus to become a Christian, you've got in mind some Christians that have become like these who were in Laodicea, people who don't show the love of Christ in the way they live.
Jesus is calling to the church to be more like him, to be filled with his love, to be humble both in their dealings with with God and with humanity; To live as far as possible in peace with all people. Jesus is calling to his church as though the church while it goes through all the motions of worship and study and fellowship together they might have locked Jesus out of the house. They might have have left him right out of the picture.

It's the call of Jesus not to a church which he hates but a church which he loves. It is a church which falls far short of what they could be through his Holy Spirit and through his love. The church is not made of bricks and wood and steel frame, it is made up of people. If the people of God are ready to listen to the word of the Lord he tells them that he has been left out of their worship and he's been left out of their lives and he calls them to repentance, just as they were called at the very beginning to turn away from sin, they're called to turn away from this new sin: the sin of of appearance and pride which has led them away from Christ.

To me this word comes as a rebuke and a correction to turn my heart more to Jesus to not leave him out of any part of my life. If you, as a Christian, have been letting Jesus stand aside while you go your own way, remember, remember, remember, that he who calls you is faithful and that he intends to be your companion and your friend in every season and every portion of life. In fact we learned long before, when we first turned to Jesus, that we could do nothing apart from him. How have we forgotten, having once been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit do we think we're to run on that like a tank which eventually runs dry? Or could we be constantly filled with God's presence? Are to continue to seek Him that we found him? Continue to pursue him now that we're following him? Yes indeed we are! God calls us to open the door and let him back into our lives both individually and in our worship Sunday, our study during the week and whenever else we are doing the things of God. We can't leave God out of our worship or our mission when we go when we feed the hungry when we go and we take the good news to others we can't do it purely by technique or ritual but we must continue to seek to have God present in everything we do.

He stands at the door and waits. Will you open it?

Perhaps you don't relate to what I've been saying so far but you have been feeling kind of tired and alienated from your Christian practices. You have been finding your scripture reading dry, even finding it hard to get out and go to church in the morning, even finding it difficult to work yourself up to the ministry and service that you've done in the past. Is it possible that just taking a little bit of time to let Jesus come and work anew in your heart, to feed you again from his own life, to strengthen you with his own presence - perhaps that might be the key to being restored in your walk with Christ and with his body. There's an opportunity here for us as Christians to hear anew the invitation that he stands at the door and knocks and we can invite him in.

I hope that those of you who have seen, from the outside, the problems the church are listening to this message and recognizing that God is calling his Christian people to be more faithful, to be more full of the Holy Spirit, to have more love in their hearts. The fact that we fall short is a ‘given’ in scripture and we have to keep on recognizing that as Christians. But to those who have not yet accepted Christ we urge you to look at how faithful he's been to us. He continues to call us even when we have fallen short. He continues to reach out and draw us and offer us his presence. We want you to know that the invitation he’s given to you still stands. If we have been imperfect witnesses to his grace and Glory we repent. We ask God's forgiveness and we also ask the forgiveness of those who have been hurt by our insensitivity and our failure to be faithful to Jesus.

Humbly we would still remind the world around us that Jesus is still standing at your door knocking as well. Will you prayerfully turn to Jesus and ask him to come in to set right what is wrong in us. Not merely so that we will have eternal life but so that we will not be a barrier to others as they seek to see Jesus in his church.

I pray that you will see Jesus in his invitation as you will come to him and experience his presence and Grace.

In fact let's take some time at the end of this message here to pray and to ask God to let us respond and open the door to him.

Almighty God, you have been faithful: patiently waiting for us to respond to you. You have been gracious whether we've fallen in sin outside of our relationship with you or whether we fell back in sin while we have been walking with you. You are gracious and still love us and we give you thanks and praise. We pray, Almighty God, for renewal in our hearts for your presence with us; that you would come back and be in our midst. Lord, we pray this for your church that throughout this country and throughout the world that the church would be renewed in truth and love and that the world would see that we have indeed become passionate for you again; that we are seeking you with all our heart and we are serving you with humility and with Grace. We pray that the world as they see this, they will see that this is you inviting them to come and receive you as their Savior. Thank you that this grace is available to all people; that you gave the sign of the fullness of your love when you offered your life on the cross so that we could be forgiving our sins. We pray that all people everywhere might come to know you as their Lord and Savior in Jesus’ name, Amen

Thank you for listening today please continue to listen as we play a song which invites you again to ‘Come As You Are’ sung by Jaci Velasquez from her album Crystal Clear.

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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May you come to know Jesus Christ personally and profoundly. May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart, and may you feel our Heavenly Father surrounding you with his constant abiding, accompanying love.

Good News in the Morning is produced in the studios of NewsTalk Radio 580 CFRA.

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