Christ Centred Vision
Christ Centred Vision
Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White
Sunday, 17th February 2019
This year, I have this feeling in my bones, that we are shifting and realigning ourselves as a church… not some dramatic change of direction… and not shifting as in moving… but it is all about preparation for the future – a future that is actually right on our doorstep.
It’s not about making things more complex, or driving ourselves into the ground with more ministries. In fact – I believe the Holy Spirit is speaking to us about bringing clarity and simplicity, as much as it is possible, into everything that we do…
I can hear some of you sigh with relief!
And it’s not only about bringing clarity to what we do – but who we are as a church. This is as much for our sake, as for the sake of those we are committed to reaching with the gospel.
I want to share with you a powerful prophetic scripture from Habakkuk:
Habakkuk 2:1-3, “I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.”
I know for many of us, including the dozen or so men who come to the Men’s prayer meeting on a Wednesday morning, and the women who gather to pray together, we see ourselves as watchmen on the walls – trying to discern what the Lord is saying to us about the church, about the community we live in, and the nation we belong to.
I think it’s important to regularly refresh how we see, and how we articulate, our vision and our identity as a church. We’re wrestling with that right now – and simplifying who we are and what we stand for.
“Write the vision and make it plain…”. That’s a prophetic word for the church in 2019.
It’s so people can easily and confidently run with it. I recall a great message on running to it that was preached here a couple of weeks ago.
We need to know without doubt, without confusion, what we are running to.
Another version of the bible says that we need a plainly written vision so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.
Still another version says it hurries toward the goal of fulfilment.
This all comes on the back of my messages about entering this year on a solid foundation. A foundation in the Word, in God, in our own emotional, physical, intellectual and relational state. We want to be so grounded, that whatever winds or storms come against us, we will not be moved from the Rock on which we stand.
It’s only from that place of foundation that I believe we can securely realign ourselves with our vision… and to express it with a freshness that is for now!
So that’s the journey we are on as a church. And maybe you’re thinking, well it’s about time the church gave us some fresh clarity on vision. It’s a good thing for the church to revisit a few things.
Well, you’ll be also very happy when I ask you this next question:
What about you – personally? Do you believe that your own personal life could do with some clarity of vision? Is it a good time to bring a bit of freshness around what you are running to? Has your life become so full, so complicated, so tangled up with a whole heap of different things, that you’ve lost sight of and moved out of earshot of what God is actually saying to you about your future?
I know we spoke last week about your purpose in life – your own specific calling…
But this message this morning is more about bringing us back to thinking about how we live our lives in Christ… for Christ… It’s about how we bring the simple message of the gospel to the world, the community, that we live in.
I don’t think we can do that without us ourselves finding clarity in our own understanding of Who Jesus is and what His message is all about.
We need a vision of knowing Jesus more. Can it get much simpler and clearer than that? If we’re going to run to something or Someone, it might as well be towards Jesus.
The cry of Paul’s heart in Philippians 3:10-12 is, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on…,”
This is Paul’s quest… to press on in knowing the power of the resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, even identifying in His death… and this then leads into fulfilling Paul’s vision and purpose for his life:
“that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”
Our purpose, just as it was with Paul’s purpose, is tied up in knowing Jesus intimately…
The early church grew at an incredible rate, because it was all about Who Jesus was. They really knew Him… some would have actually met Him and heard His voice – His divine teaching from His own mouth… they would have heard many direct accounts of witnesses… the testimonies…
There was a boldness in sharing the simple message of salvation. It was uncomplicated…
They represented Him to others so well because knowing Him defined who they were as Christ followers.
The thing is, we still have the testimonies, we still have the stories, we can still access some of the same people who lived in those times… even if it’s through the Bible! The bible is our window to the past, present and the future.
Every time we open up the Word of God we should be praying, “Holy Spirit, reveal Jesus to me. Show me Who He really is. Let me know Him – His life, His death, His resurrection, His majesty as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – now seated at the right hand of the Father… One with the Father and the Spirit.
Let’s not kid ourselves that doctrinal issues and complex arguments didn’t come up in those early days – they did! There was some sorting out to be done – people needed teaching and understanding of the scriptures in relation to Who Jesus was.
But the early church was all about Jesus!
It’s not about going back and trying to recreate something that happened at the beginning.
It’s about having a vision for the church now – and it’s about having a vision for our own personal lives now – a clear picture of who we are called to be in 2019 – and where we are meant to be running to. How can we press on if we don’t know what we are actually pressing on to?
It will be a progressive revelation… line upon line… precept upon precept… one revelation of Jesus’ character, divinity, sacrifice, majesty… one thing will lead to another.
If we want to discover what Jesus has laid hold of our life for, then we need to know Him – His heart – His life – why He lived the way He did…
We are “Born For More!” More what? More of the expression of Jesus Christ through our own life! And that will change our world!
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
I want to mention now a few ways that Jesus becomes our life… how He becomes our vision for our life, for our future, for others…
I’ve already mentioned getting to know Him more through the Word.
But Galatians says, it’s about dying to our self… our past, our pride, our opinions, our ungodly desires… and making that decision that we are now living for Jesus. And we do that by faith – faith in the One Who loved me so much that He gave His life for me!
John says, (John 3:7), “You must be born again.”
This may sound like very basic Christian doctrine to some of you… and perhaps you feel as though you have moved way beyond that now in your walk with God.
But none of us has moved beyond faith. None of us has moved beyond the transformation of our life – by faith.
None of us have moved beyond the process of sanctification – of growing in Christ…
Paul said again to the Church in Galatia,(Galatians 4:19) “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,”
Jesus has promised that He will reshape and remould and transform our life if we open the door of every compartment of our life to Him – by faith.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus returned to His Father in heaven, He said, I’ll send you My Spirit – He will be your Comforter, your Helper, Your Advocate… He is everything that we need to make us Holy and set apart for His glory… We receive Him by faith.
We need to be praying for one another…
I know the reality of life’s challenges. I know the reality of every day issues that we all face. We live in a more and more complex, technological, demanding world – and our lives now are global… they’re not just about the community we live in… We hear and experience world affairs live… our children are being saturated with worldly influences every day.
And I don’t know about you – but the clear vision of who I am as a follower of Christ – someone who desires to live like Christ – and consciously making room for the Holy Spirit to daily make that transformation in my life – taking me from glory to glory… it can all become a bit cloudy and blurry as I live in a world that I really don’t belong to.
I live here, but I don’t belong here – I belong to Jesus – I belong with Jesus. I’m a pilgrim travelling through this world.
So we need to be praying for one another that for the gift of faith and for the Holy Spirit to do that deep work in our lives.
So we grow in Christ and in His purposes through the Word of God – through the gift of faith – through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, transforming us from the inside out.
And we grow in Christ simply by beholding him.
2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18 (The Passion), “We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
What does it mean to behold Jesus?
I think it pretty much sums up all we’ve already talked about… but adds a dimension of meditating in Him, allowing our hearts to see Him and know Him… I think it involves our connection to Him in worship… in prayer… It’s about intimacy…
We are to come with unveiled faces. In other words, all our own coverings are removed… all our self made protection mechanisms… all our emotional baggage laid aside… It’s looking upon Him without our own agendas or opinions… all of this stuff can be life a filter that distorts our vision.
It’s beholding Who He is…
It’s like looking into a mirror where everything is transparent – nothing is hidden.
We don’t just read the stories, we see Him in the stories.
We see His heart for the broken, the sick, the tormented…
We get a glimpse of His compassion as He touches a leper and heals him.
We see how merciful He is as He cleverly turns away a murderous mob of angry, self righteous men, who want to stone an adulterous woman to death. And He reaches out to her with forgiveness – and tells her to go and sin no more.
We behold Him as He is hanging on the cross, bloodied and beaten – and He cries out to the Father – “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
We behold what it means to endure pain and suffering because of love. We learn how to endure the shortcomings and failures of others, because we love them.
We see what submission means – we learn how to see that reflected into our own lives, as Jesus says to the Father, “ Not My will, but Yours be done.”
We look at Jesus as He takes a washbasin and a towel and washes the feet of His disciples, on the night before He is about to go to the cross. We behold what true humility and servanthood is all about.
We see His glory on Mount Transfiguration. We see it as He performs miracles. We see it as He ascends into heaven. We see the dove at His baptism and hear the voice of His Father… this is My Son…
You can’t just read about these things – you have to behold them!
And as we hold Him, we ourselves are transformed from glory to glory.
That’s who we are! That’s our vision for our lives! That’s the message we want to carry and run with. Jesus is real! He actually changes lives! He really does love us – and He loves you! He loves the world.
He is love! He is faithful! He is gracious!
There’s something about the beauty of His holiness.
Why wouldn’t we want to live like Jesus?
Why wouldn’t we want to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that miracles and healing and deliverance becomes part of our mission?
As we behold Him we become more like Him – because whatever you put your gaze upon, and whatever you worship, give your time to, your life to… that’s what you will become.
If we don’t behold Jesus – what then do we behold?
If we don’t serve Him with our life – what then do we serve?
There are opportunities for you to serve in the church – in the kingdom… it might require some humility on your part, some sacrifice, some patience, maybe purely some obedience… but it’s nothing more than what we behold in Jesus!
If we do it for His glory, for His kingdom, it removes all of our own human self motivated expectations. It’s totally freeing!
Why shouldn’t we be like the men walking to Emmaus – they’re confused and upset about all that had happened with Jesus in Jerusalem. They can’t fathom that He was actually killed.
But Jesus walks up to join them and they don’t recognise Him. Why would they? They thought He was dead.
Luke 24:17, “And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”
And so, they share their hearts with Him. They share what they understand – their limited understanding.
And Jesus then shares with them… revealing the prophetic truth about Himself…
Luke 24:30-31, “Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.”
I was Born again on a weekend called, “The Walk to Emmaus.” And the experience of these two disciples was my experience. My eyes were opened, and I knew Him. That wasn’t the end – it was only the beginning.
My vision of Jesus progressively unfolds.
Is this the kind of progressive, unfolding vision that you have for your own life? A vision to be like, and live like Jesus? Because it will accomplish every purpose. It will call you forth to true fulfilment.
Our lives are not given to us for our own selfish, self satisfying – selves!
We’re here to love God with all our heart, and to love others around us with that same love.
I’m not completely there yet… and neither are you! But we press on together to become more like Christ to our world. There’s no better or more satisfying vision or goal. And God will be glorified as we fulfil His purposes.