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Saturday, 7 September 2019

'TURNING OUR EYES UPON JESUS'



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PODCAST LINK - Sunday, September 8th, 2019:

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By Rev. Brian Wilkie                                                                                    

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

Rev. Brian Wilkie



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Broadcast Notes: (Re-posted from July 25th, 2015)
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‘Turning our eyes upon Jesus

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, 96 Pheasant Run Drive, Ottawa, ON  K2J 2R5, Canada, (new address). I'm your host today, Brian Wilkie of St. Andrew's Christian Church in Rockland. 

Today I want to thank an additional sponsor Wills Transfer Limited who is supporting today’s show with their generous gift. I also 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. Details can be found on our website.
Turning Our Eyes Upon Jesus

Today I want to speak to you about the theme of scripture. The theme about our lives, is Turning our eyes upon Jesus. In John’s Gospel Jesus speaks, and these are his words as he address’s a group of people who are questioning whether or he really has the authority to do what he is doing. And he says to them,
 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

This is the word of God from John chapter 5. You see the scriptures testify from beginning to end about Jesus. The author and perfector of our faith. He’s the goal of our faith, and the beginning of our faith, our hope and our life. And yet Jesus is able to speak of people who study the scriptures and miss out on its central message. How can that happen? And perhaps even more importantly, how can we ensure these words do not apply to us?
As we begin to look at that question we’re going to listen to a song, and it’s a song written by Steve Bell, and in this song he praises and thanks Jesus through the words of a psalm of the old testament, and speaks about how Jesus has fulfilled that scripture in his life. This is the song, Jesus My Glory by Steve Bell, from his album, Waiting for Aidan.
When Jesus was speaking to these people who were opposing him, he was rebuking and correcting them, because they had studied the scriptures but failed to see him in it. They failed to see that the scriptures spoke about Jesus and they had failed to see that the works Jesus was doing, testified that God the father was working through him. It’s not surprising to find that people who don’t accept Jesus, have trouble understanding the testimony about him. They haven’t understood the meaning of the scriptures. They haven’t kind of clicked with the idea that Jesus is the fulfillment of all these scriptures. That’s the reason they haven’t accepted Him. Now sometimes they read the scriptures and they’re blocked from seeing because of attitudes and presuppositions in their life. They are taught how to understand scriptures by another source: Some kind of doctrine or some kind of preconception that prevents them from seeing Jesus in the pages of scripture. Sometimes it’s not somebody else’s teachings, but their own stubbornness. Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t want to know the truth. Sometimes we close our eyes to even the most obvious things because we don’t like the way that it would affect our lives. Sometimes, out of fear, people read the scriptures and they either find things in scriptures that cause them to fear, and so they turn away from it, or they have their own fears about what Jesus might do in their lives, what changes might have to happen in their lives, and they don’t want to understand it. They don’t want to get it. They want to have some reason for rejecting it.
It’s not surprising that Jesus has these words to say to his opponents, to people who are refusing to accept him. And yet we find that it’s not only Jesus’ opponents who need this kind of rebuke, or need this kind of correction. Now obviously when someone is working with Jesus, when someone has decided to follow Jesus and trust in him, correction can come in a much gentler form. But sometimes it comes in quite a harsh form. Remember, there was a time the disciples were following Jesus and they were debating which of them was the greatest of his disciples. And Jesus was astonished that they hadn’t understood what he was teaching, and he stopped them and he rebuked them and he said, “Those who want to be great among you must become the servant of all.” Now, they had seen Jesus helping the poor and the sick and delivering the oppressed. They had seen him showing love to the outcast. They had seen him serving humanity with every breath that he took. And yet they hadn’t gotten it. They hadn’t understood that this was an example for them. They were concerned about their greatness and their power and who was best, and trying to get first place and Jesus was showing them that they needed to take second place.
In the last supper when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, he drives that lesson home saying, ‘If I your Lord and master wash your feet, then you ought to wash one anthers feet,” Is it possible that the disciples could watch Jesus for several years, and listen to his words and see his works and still not understand that he was calling them to be servants like him. Not to be greater than their master, but to be like their master.
Yes it’s possible for disciples to need correction and rebuked to read the scriptures. To see even the living scripture, the word of God, Jesus Christ, and still miss some of the points. But if the disciples missed some of those points and they were able to be corrected by Jesus who noticed their error and brought it to their attention, what about us, his church? How can we know and love him more? How can we avoid the pitfalls of letting pride or stubbornness or attitudes that come from our culture or our background keep us from understanding what Jesus desires of us? How can we, who aren’t in the presence of Jesus in the same way as the disciples were? How can we be sure that we’re hearing his word and understanding it correctly? How do we receive rebuke and correction? How do we learn and grow, and grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ? I think we’ve got quite a challenge there. And we can see that challenge often when we look at other Christians It’s a human fault perhaps, to be judgmental, to look at others and see their faults more easily than seeing our own. It’s not only Christians that do that. It seems like everybody’s able to do that pretty readily. But we are often able to learn something in a kind of back handed way when we look at other Christians. If we can see that other Christians are making mistake in their understanding of the scriptures that ought to humble us and help us to understand that maybe we need to be careful, more careful to understand the scriptures fully ourselves. Maybe we need to have discussions with those who are disagreeing with us, and even though we may not change this position or that position, we can certainly learn their perspective, where our understanding might be lacking. That’s what the church, or part of what the church is for. We get together in church and the proverb says, "iron sharpens iron", so do we sharpen one another when we learn from one another. Sometimes when we rub against each other and sparks fly, but still if we persist in love and grace, we can learn from each other.
We need to go forward with learning about Jesus, and we need to see him clearly in scriptures and to do that, we probably need to take a look at how we engage with the scriptures ourselves. Before we go onto that, let’s listen to a song which does declare a beautiful vision of Jesus that sees clearly the glory of the creator as far surpasses that of his creation. This hymn is called Fairest Lord Jesus, and this version is sung by Glad in their album acapella hymns.
There’s an awful lot that we can do to grow in our understanding of Jesus Christ, but the key for us has clearly been the scriptures. Throughout the life of the church, it’s through the testimony about Jesus in scriptures that we learn about Jesus. And I want to focus on just a couple of aspects of reading scriptures. Obviously, the study of scriptures is a great big topic. But I want to suggest that one thing might be very helpful to all of us, and that’s reading the scriptures as a book. or as a collection of books. You know we have devotional readings and I love reading devotional readings which take a single scripture and expand upon it and illustrate it, and that’s so helpful as a way to get little teaspoon full of scripture into our lives, and it can be so edifying and up-building to read single portions of scriptures. And very often when I get into a small group, or when we do bible study, we might pour over a paragraph, or a verse, or a chapter of scripture and we’ll spend a great deal of time examining the smaller bits of scripture. But you know, God presents the scripture as a story for us and as a number of stories. It’s the story of salvation from beginning to end, and it’s a collection of stories of different people’s lives. And very often the scriptures that we read are taken out of context of that story, and just looked at in isolation. Much of us learned that way, but I want to suggest, in our bible study, in our reading of the scriptures, we really would benefit if we read the scriptures as books.
If you’ve got a novel, took it out from the library, or bought it online, you probably wouldn’t read the novel by turning randomly to one page and reading a single sentence and thinking about that sentence. And then turning to another page and thinking about a sentence on that page, and flipping through the book that way. That’s not how you would read a story, is it? Now, if you were reading a collection, an anthology which is a collection of short stories, then sure enough you might flip through the book and find a story that looks interesting to you and read the whole story. But again, it’s unlikely that you’d find the story that interested you and spend hours on the first verse. Now, when we’re in English class in high school or university, there’s a time for that sort of thing, and sometimes when we’ve really enjoyed a story we go back to one key sentence that sums it all up for us. And sometimes we go back, if we’ve been reading a mystery novel, you might go back and search for clues that you’ve missed the first time reading it. And all these are analogies of how we read scripture. But first we read the story. And I want to very strongly suggest that if we want to be sure that we see the testimony of Jesus in scripture, that we read the story. That we take a look at how this story is told in each of the elements. Of course, I want to recommend the gospels as a great starting place. Have you ever sat down and just read through John’s gospel in a day? It’s a marvelous experience. Have you read through Marks gospel from beginning to end? I was fortunate early in my Christian life to have a part in a play at church, and that play Godspel, required us to memorize a huge portion of Jesus’ teachings from the gospel of Matthew. And in many ways the story of God spell goes from beginning to end in Matthew, telling both the works and the words of Jesus, and that’s had a great impact on my understanding of who Jesus is. Just to know the word in its entirety. So consider making a practice of reading entire gospels. Maybe not in one day. Maybe over the period of two or three days. But instead of reading a chapter here and a chapter there, try reading through it like you would a good story, because this is the best story ever.
The other thing is that many other books of scripture are very much like that. I enjoyed studying deeply the book of Ephesians, but nothing strikes you as powerfully as reading the whole thing from end to end, and that’s only about six chapters. It’s a very manageable read. When I was doing seminary, down at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, a Robert Trayna was one of the bible study teachers, and he strongly recommended that before we began any study of a portion of scripture, that we read the whole book, that that scripture belongs to. We start out by reading the entirety. Understanding how the story breaks into sections , and then look at the sections and look at them more deeply. But getting that overview is so important.
Right now in our congregation we’re going through an overview of the whole bible. Over thirty one weeks we’ll be going from Genesis through Revelation and understanding how all the different parts of the old testament fit in with the testimony to Jesus in the new testament. It’s a wonderful journey we’re on. And I hope that you can continue on that journey as you read the bible more and more.
I’ve already spoken a bit about the limitations of devotional reading, but I want to emphasize the importance of increasing our daily intake of scripture. Scripture is the bread of our souls, isn’t it? And there are times in life when you need more food on your plate. In harvest time, a farmer and his family have to do a lot of extra physical work and they need a lot of extra nutrition. Well today is a day we need more spiritual nutrition in our lives. We are being inundated by news and by television, by internet, by all kinds of influences on us that have an attitude very different than that of Jesus. Our political discourse and our attitudes towards our world around us are often formed by these other sources, instead of by Jesus. We’re in an information age and we need a lot more formation by scripture in order to accommodate this information. So I want to encourage you to continue on in a deep and rich study of scriptures so that you might know Jesus more.
Well, this brings us to the end of our message today, and I want to take a moment of prayer with you, if you don’t mind;
Almighty Father, help us to know your Son. You have told us so much about him through scripture. Help us to know him well. For you sent him not only to save us from our sins, but also to show us how to live. So lead us closer to him. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Once again I want to thank our listeners for your encouragement and support. I also want to thank Wills Transfer Limited who has generously supported this program today. I do want to thank them , they are helping keep us on the air. I want to encourage you to support our ministry as well. We have only one big cost, all of us are volunteers here, and getting this on the radio is our one vital expense. If you can please make a cheque payable to Good News Christian Ministries and send it to 96 Pheasant Run Drive, Ottawa, ON  K2J 2R5, Canada, (new address), 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. Now to conclude our program I would like to have you listen to a song called Where you belong/ Turn your eyes – Newsboys – Not Ashamed 1992

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, may the heavenly Father surround you with his constant and abiding and accompanying love.

- 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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