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Sunday, 30 December 2018


By Rev. Brian Wilkie                    
Rev. Brian Wilkie

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

PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast 
Sunday, December 30th, 2018:

Good News in the Morning is sponsored by Good News Christian Ministries and has been broadcast weekly since 1999. Do visit our web site Here you will find podcasts of the programs, and introductions to the Ottawa pastors who deliver the Good News to growing numbers of listeners worldwide, and need your regular prayers. Our heartfelt thanks go to all those who support us financially. And now, here is today’s presentation.

Good Morning. I am your host today, Brian Wilkie of St. Andrew’s Christian
Church in Rockland.

As we begin today, my prayers of the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ would encourage and strengthen you today. As this broadcast comes at the tail end of 2018, I do welcome you to the new year as it comes in a couple of days’ time. We hope that through the coming year that Good News in the Morning will be able to continue to strengthen you in your Christian walk.

I thank all the people who have sponsored us in the past year and also those who have already agreed to be sponsors of various shows in the coming year. We are so glad for that support and financial support.

 Broadcast Title: 

                          Spiritual Fitness Goals

Today, as we look at the New Year, I know that many people have a habit of setting New Year’s resolutions. I know that the audience that is listening to this program is probably not having wild New Year’s parties that I need to warn you about. You’re probably like me, after a few years when we first had children, we used to set the clocks ahead on New Year’s Eve to midnight so the kids could experience New Years Eve. It was New Year’s somewhere, right? They would go to bed early and then we go on and enjoy a quieter evening together. But now we set the clocks ahead for ourselves and we get to bed nice and early and start the New Year with a good rest.

I hope, however, as you spend your new year, that God is a real part of your celebration and that you are filled with thanksgiving both at what he is given you in the past year and the hope that you have for his promises in the year to come.

Spiritual Fitness Goals
I am going to share to you today some spiritual fitness goals: Some things we can do or aim for in our walk with Christ to experience him more fully and to serve him with joy and thanksgiving.

I am going to read to you from Ephesians, Chapter 4 versus 11-32. I’ve got to say this is one of my favorite scriptures so you have probably heard me speak on parts of it before, but let me read it to you now.

Ephesians 4:11–32
11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Living as Children of Light
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

This is a full piece of scripture talking about maturity and growing in Christ until the fullness of holiness and the fullness of God’s love is evident in everything we do. We look forward to that and we find ourselves making a new start at that over and over again, as we sometimes stumble along the way and we need to get up and get going again.

Caroline Arends makes a celebration of this in a song from one of her early albums and the song speaks about how every day is New Year’s Day. Would you listen to it with me?

SONG New Year's Day, Carolyn Arends, Feel Free, 3:52

Every day is New Year’s Day, as Caroline Arends says. The bible just tells us that we have a new life in Christ. We are a new creation and we are able to be forgiven. Sometimes I know that I get tired of confessing the same thing to God, having fallen over and over again but I know that God never fails to forgive and that he is working in us and through us to will and to act according to his good and pleasant and perfect purposes. He has given us so many ways to become stronger in our faith and fuller of his love.

As Paul talks in a very practical sense, God has equipped us as a body. Some people, when they think about the church, they think about a building or an organization that has all kinds of bureaucracy and administration and levels and ins and outs. But what Paul meant by the church was the people of God. It was people gathering together to learn to love the Lord more, to learn to follow him more closely. The church, still today, at its heart, is groups of people gathering together to learn how to love better.

I am so delighted to minister to a congregation of people who come not only on Sundays but during the mid-week and are working in their own private devotions and in groups to build themselves up and to let God do more work in them: To fill them with a greater love for each other, for God and for all the world. These are people who are trying to make themselves better. I do not know anybody in my congregation who thinks of themselves as having arrived. Although they are delighted to know that they are a new creation in Christ, that they have received eternal life from him, they know that Christ is doing a tremendous work day by day in them. They hope that as each day, as each week, as each year passes that they will be more like Jesus.

Sometimes, Christians are criticized for being holier than thou and thinking they are better than other people, but what I’ve found in the people that I’ve ministered to, is people who know that they need God’s grace every day. They are looking for ways to be better vessels of God’s grace. They are looking to be more spiritually fit. I do not know how you are when it comes to fitness but physical fitness is not my forté. There are not very many kinds of exercise that I enjoy. Some of the sport that I used to enjoy just doesn’t do my body as much good as they used to. I come away with more aches and pains than muscles and endurance. Fitness can be a tough slog, can’t it! I hope you are not in the exact same situation as me. I am delighted to see some people who shame me by their readiness to go out and make sure they get their walk every day, make sure they do something active and keep going and try to keep their bodies fit.

That is all good stuff but what about our spirits? What are we doing to keep our spirits fit? This is another area where I hear a lot of people talking about what they think they should be doing. “Yeah, I should do more of that. I should probably go to church more often. I should probably read my bible more. I should probably work on my prayer.”

These ‘should probablies’ do indicate that we know what we need to do to grow in faith but sometimes we find it hard to engage. It’s a struggle to engage in practices that have a long-term payoff instead of an immediate reward. In fact that is precisely why maturity is so important. Because when we are looking for immediate rewards, Paul describes this as “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of deceitful people.” Yes, if we are not mature, if we are looking for instant gratification, we will allow our ears to be tickled by any kind of teaching that says, you can eat all the sugar you want and not get fat, you can do everything you feel like doing and not get spiritually lazy.

Paul describes quite clearly, as do the rest of the scriptures of God, that there are some things that do not lead to life. There are some things that lead to death. There are things that cause us to deteriorate in our mental state and in our physical state. There are things that build us up. Paul encourages us as Christians to remember that there are things that build us up and we should focus on them. He speaks about the way we used to live, in the futility of thinking, ignoring God and separated from the life of God and giving ourselves over to this pleasure and that pleasure. Doing whatever feels right, whatever feels good.

Many of us have the scars from that kind of living, mentally and some even physically. People who have lived in such a way as to reap the whirlwind; Who have suffered pain and distress, not only in their own lives but causing that pain and distress in the lives of others because of the way they lived; in futile thinking and in a failure to consider what might bless others and what might be good for the long term.

In fact, Paul, whenever he taught about Christ, though he taught about salvation by faith; that is that God gracefully gives us a gift of salvation, not because we deserve it or not because we have earned it but because he loves us. But in that gift, Paul never neglected to teach the kind of life that God gives. God gives a better life; a life that leads to joy and peace, not only for ourselves but for the people around us.

But it doesn’t lead there by the easiest path all the time. It takes decisions and discipleship to grow and train in things of God.

But God has given you people to help you along the way. If you go down to a fitness center you are likely to find yourself a personal coach to help train you along the way, to make sure that you are doing the things that really lead to better physical fitness.

God has given us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to help us, to coach us along the way as we pursue spiritual fitness. That is so much of the reason why it’s important for us to gather together as Christians. Those people who are teachers, pastors, prophets and evangelists and apostles, do not always wear a label on their name tag saying that is what they are. For God is able to give gifts of pastoring and teaching to people who are very much in the same place we are.

As we gather together, in small groups, even two or three, Christ is with us and so are the gifts of the Spirit, to encourage us, to guide us, to help us understand scripture together. We do have people who are specially trained in the church. People who have taken years and years of training and there is nothing bad about that. But if we rely only on that; if we don’t spend some time encouraging one another, helping one another, peer to peer, life to life, heart to heart; then we are missing something that God has given us. The image that Paul has is one of growing to full maturity and towards that goal we’ll continue to seek God.

I want to share with you an older song from one of Ontario’s best known Christian singers, from a few years ago. This is George Beverley Shea from his album, I’d Rather Have Jesus, singing a song about drawing nearer to God. This song is a prayer: Just A Closer Walk With Thee.

SONG Just a closer Walk with thee, George Beverly Shea. I'd Rather have Jesus 3:06

If you want a closer walk with Jesus, let me encourage you to desire that with all your heart. If we want a closer walk with Jesus, there is very clear instructions in scripture and in this passage from Ephesians about some of the things that we need to give up in order to have more room for Jesus in our hearts. Paul tells us to give up bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander and malice. He says if we want to have room for Jesus, if we want to have room for the Holy Spirit in our lives we need to give up those things. He tells us we can fill ourselves with kindness and compassion, forgiving one another just as God and Christ forgave us. Having kindness in our hearts makes more room for God, I tell you.

It was a delight and it may seem odd for me to say so, but I was conducting a funeral for a dear old lady in our church a couple of weeks ago. She was a dear old lady but she had many issues through her life. Inserted into her bible was a little note from this passage in Ephesians, saying, “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as Christ and God forgave you.” I am so impressed that a lady, well into her nineties, was still working on making more room for Jesus in her heart.

I hope that through this coming year you will do the things that help you become more spiritual fit, that allow you to have more room for Jesus in your heart. As you let the Holy Spirit cleanse you of all sin and fill you with God’s love.

Let’s have a word of prayer together.

Almighty God, help us to enjoy our friendship with you. We have stumbled around in the darkness and we are tired of stumbling around in the darkness. We want to walk in the light. Lead us Lord Jesus, lead us by the word of your scriptures and by the power of your Holy Spirit. Lead us by the encouragement of others in the church and may you use us to encourage and bless others as well. May everything in the coming year lead us closer and closer to you. May ever opportunity be used by you to make us more useful to you so that we might be blessed to be a blessing for others. Lord, to every heart that listens to this broadcast, bring the new life that is in Jesus, in more and more abundance, until in the fullness of maturity they are filled with Christ and able to glorify your name in everything. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen

As we conclude this broadcast, there is a song that I hope will give you a chance just to take some time with God. As Steven Curtis Chapman sings about the scripture that tells us to be still and know that he is God, may you in your daily walk know him more.

SONG 25:17 Be still and know, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Deep Roots 2:57

Thank you for tuning in. If you have been blessed and encouraged, do tell your friends about this program. Feel free to send in questions and comments via the web site, and be sure to share your good news if you have come to faith through listening. But the program on its own is not enough. Don’t forget to join other Christians in worship in a church where the Gospel is soundly proclaimed, and where it is lived out with compassion, integrity and resolve. We so appreciate the donations on which we depend to keep us on the air week by week. We invite individuals and companies, to donate any amount, any time, or, to sponsor our programs on an annual basis. Please donate via our web site, or make a cheque out to Good News Christian Ministries and send it to 96 Pheasant Run Drive, Ottawa Ontario K2J 2R5, Canada. Be part of the movement that is affecting lives worldwide!

May you come to know Jesus Christ personally and profoundly. May the Holy Spirit reside deeply within your heart, and may you feel our heavenly Father surrounding you with his constant, 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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