Colouring Outside The Lines
Colouring Outside The Lines.
Sermon Notes Ps. Jim White
Sunday, 25th March 2018
The other day, Venese surprised two of our grandchildren, Elly and Grace, by picking them up from school, unexpectedly, and taking them to McDonalds for afternoon tea (their choice, not hers) and a little shopping spree afterwards.
They were both excited – but Gracie was so excited by the surprise that she said to Venese – “this is the best day of my life!”
Now I’m sure there have been many other “best days of her life,” and there’ll be many more to come, but what a beautiful place of childhood wonder, excitement and joy. An unexpected afternoon with Nanny at McDonalds is the best day of her life!
Lana Vawser spoke about many things last week – she’s a fountain of prophetic insight, decrees and proclamations. I guess when you’re in the flow, you become a free flowing river that carries the heart of God.
But the one thing that kept jumping out at me, was the delight and wonder that we are meant to be living in every day.
When it comes to knowing God, seeking after Him, leaning in to who He is, we are meant to do it with childlike excitement and expectation.
When Venese and I came here as Pastors over 17 years ago, we were so excited – so wide-eyed and soooo naive – that someone put a sign up in the foyer – instead of Christian Outreach Centre, they put Christian Exciting Centre!
We were naive – there was a lot more going on than we ever realised – but I truely believe that our child-like approach to the excitement of pastoring our first church – and most likely our only church for that matter, was something that delighted God’s heart – and here we are – still excited – and probably in some ways still naive – nearly 18 years later. It’s nothing short of supernatural.
I remember thinking at the time – wow – Peter and Tina James were here pastoring for 8 years – I wonder if we’ll ever make it to 8 years?
Matthew 18:3, (Passion) “Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in.
And so I want to say to you this morning – that if you have somehow lost that wonder, or become worn out, cynical, critical, bored, disappointed – that it’s imperative that you rediscover the wonder and expectancy and joy of your faith.
Having mature faith – being a mature and responsible Christian – does not mean we leave behind the joy of wide-eyed wonder – especially when it comes to God!
Even as we read the Word of God, we can tend to approach it as a guide for living – for understanding of doctrine. We look to the Word for answers and understanding for issues we face day by day. And all of that is good. In fact it’s very good!
The Word brings truth and clarity – it divides and separates soul and spirit – joints and marrow – it judges the thoughts and intents of the heart. How powerful it is!
And yet one of the most fundamental reasons we have the Word of God, is to stir up within us a sense of wonder – a sense of the divine – to help us to enter into the realm of supernatural expectancy – to discover the One true God – one revelation after another.
If you know you need to stir up the wonder of God again in your life, then read the word of God – not for any particular answers – not for your comfort – not for anything specific – but simply to evoke a sense of reverence and awe and wonder for Him.
Just read it for its own sake and let it wash over you, fill you up, cleanse you, and draw you closer to the One that it speaks about and prophetically exalts and proclaims.
I remember Lana speaking about the elders in heaven singing over and over again – Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty – and every time they would bow down and then lift their eyes again, they would see a different and new facet of God’s character, His love, His mercy, His goodness…
That’s what the Word should do for us. Every time we open it up – there’s a fresh facet of God’s nature…
Reading the Word can be like that if we take our own agendas and needs out of the picture for a moment.
I’m preaching to myself – because particularly when I’m preparing messages all the time, I can get into the habit of always looking with the agenda of the next sermon in mind, the next newspaper article, the next thing I’m preparing for…
We need to nurture within us a sense of awe and amazement that God is God!
When we get it – we not only see the word with different eyes, it’s like our eyes are opened to the supernatural every day. We see creation with different eyes. We see people with different eyes. We see the birth of a baby for the miracle that it is. We see a healed marriage for the miracle that it is. Everything begins to have the touch and the hand of God upon it. That’s because He designed and created it all. And He is involved in even the mundane and intricate details of our life.
Listen to David’s heart of wonder and awe in Ps.145:
Psalm 145:1-9 (Passion) – “My heart explodes with praise to you! Now and forever my heart bows in worship to you, my King and my God! Every day I will lift up my praise to your name with praises that will last throughout eternity. Lord, you are great and worthy of the highest praise! For there is no end to the discovery of the greatness that surrounds you. Generation after generation will declare more of your greatness and declare more of your glory. Your magnificent splendor and the miracles of your majesty are my constant meditation. Your awe-inspiring acts of power have everyone talking! I’m telling people everywhere about your excellent greatness! Our hearts bubble over as we celebrate the fame of your marvelous beauty, bringing bliss to our hearts. We shout with ecstatic joy over your breakthrough for us. You’re kind and tenderhearted to those who don’t deserve it and very patient with people who fail you. Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness. God, everyone sees your goodness, for your tender love is blended into everything you do.”
There’s so much more in that Psalm – but we can learn from David’s heart. We can acknowledge that he himself failed – and we can identify with that because we know we are not perfect. But there’s something about seeing life from the perspective of heaven’s realm – having our eyes opened to the supernatural presence of God in our own lives.
Which leads me then to not only standing in awe of God for who He is – but then recognising who He has redeemed us to be.
Paul felt he needed to reignite wonder and awe in the church at Ephesus, and he said this to them:
Ephesians 1:18-20 (Passion) – “I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling —that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones! I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you! This is the mighty power that was released when God raised Christ from the dead and exalted him to the place of highest honor and supreme authority in the heavenly realm!”
When we stand in awe of God, eventually we are going to “get it” that we too are a wonder!
Ladies – that man in your life – he’s a wonder! The person sitting next to you this morning – they are a wonder!
Seriously – we are new creations in Christ. I love it where it says – the eyes of your imagination are illuminated.
I’ve always said – our imagination is a faculty of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses our imagination for creativity – for thinking outside the box – for colouring outside the lines of our regular life and experience. And that’s why, when we use our imagination for ungodly and unholy thoughts and fantasies – that we need to repent and ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse our imagination – and surrender it afresh to dream and explore the things that God is revealing to us.
Imagine what it means that we are filled with God’s light – that we would experience the immeasurable greatness of His power? Imagine that! Our part is simply to believe. To imagine from a place of faith.
And as we are leading into Easter – what an appropriate scripture as it says that this is the same power that was released when Christ was raised from the dead!
That’s resurrection power! We are meant to be living a resurrection life! The same power that was released and that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us!
Just wonder about that for a moment. How far down have we buried that dynamic truth? It’s time we meditated on that – and let our imagination loose in awe and wonder of what that could possibly mean.
You are a walking resurrection! Have you ever really wondered what that means?
This coincides with the truth that it’s no longer I who live – but Christ lives in me.
Galatians 2:20 (Passion) – “My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me— we live in union as one ! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine!”
And so – in reality – spiritually – supernaturally – the wonder of my own life is really a continuation of the wonder of God through Christ in me.
The joy I have is not my joy – it’s His Joy!
John 15:11 (Passion) – “My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness!”
Here’s the thing. We don’t just have a new sense of joy because we are redeemed – saved – and have entered into eternal life. Jesus just didn’t give us the gift of joy… well, He certainly did do that… but what is really happening is that the joy that bubbles up from the inside is not our joy – but His.
The joy were experience is Christ rejoicing in and through us!
Have a think about this: the bible says that the branch cannot bear fruit by itself – it can only bear fruit if it is part of and joined into the vine. Jesus says you must abide in me – you must be intimately linked to My life giving presence.
It’s a great picture for us – because we can see that the joy of the Lord flows from the vine into the branches. I think I mentioned this recently. The joy of the Lord is our strength. It’s His Joy – not ours – that is our strength.
John goes on to say:
John 15:9-11 “I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts. If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love. My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness!”
This is why we need to simply spend time gazing in awe at the Father, at Jesus… standing in wonder at who our God is… because the more we look upon Him, the more we will become like Him. And it all happens by faith.
If you are discouraged, disillusioned, tired… then let yourself enter into that place again of child-like wonder at God, at life, at the supernatural presence of God all around you. Your very breath is supernatural.
How did that happen? That we have just the right amount of oxygen in the air? That the way we are made fits so perfectly with the environment we live in?
Evolution? Yeah right! We’d have more chance of that happening than all of us winning the lottery at the same time. And without tickets!
It’s the wonder of God! We should be brought to our knees in fear of Him – because He is our very life!
Jesus said – I continually live nourished and empowered by His love. Most of us don’t allow ourselves to be nourished enough. We strive to get our work done, look after our family, pay the bills, survive one day to the next. But how many of us actually make room for ourselves to be nourished? Living in a place of wonder and expectancy and joy will nourish your heart, spirit and soul.
John 14:27 (Passion) – “I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!”
Peace is a gift – but it is so much more than just a gift as we would understand it.
The bible says that when we have the Holy Spirit within, we have the gifts that come with the Holy Spirit. But really – it is the Person of the Holy Spirit – the very nature and presence of God that we have been given.
And so here again – our peace is Christ’s peace. It’s perfect peace. It doesn’t change with circumstances because it’s not a feeling. It’s part of the identity of Christ within.
I’m convinced that when martyrs – beginning with Stephen who was stoned to death – but who also saw heaven open before him… I’m convinced that the reason these martyrs who have died for their faith have not crumbled and given in to fear – is because it’s not their own faith, and peace and courage that kicks in – it’s that of Christ!
And when Jesus says, in the last days when persecution comes – I will give you the words to speak – I’ll be with you and never forsake you – it’s true! And it will no longer be us who lives out that moment – it will be Him is us!
That’s the glory! That’s the oneness we truely have with Him. Glory is all about being one with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When Jesus says we will share in the glory that He and the Father have – this is what it’s ultimately about. It’s that intimate place of relationship that is so close – we become one with them.
You can read all about it in John 17…
God’s glory is revealed in our surrendered lives.
Are you surrendered? Completely? Totally trusting? Totally believing for a magnificent, awesome, amazing future in God?
Are you living out of that place of Christ within? Or are you still battling to deal with life in your own strength – with your own inner resources?
Faith requires trust. Trust in His goodness. Trust in His power. Trust in His Sovereignty.
In fact for us followers of Jesus, our wonder and awe begins and ends with Jesus. As we step into the Easter Season, we remember that everything about our faith is grounded in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Whether you have found yourself here this morning, really not sure how that happened… or whether you’ve been in church for 50, 60, 70 years or more… never stop being in awe and wonder of who Jesus is.
This coming a Friday – Good Friday – we stand in wonder at the cross. On Sunday, we’ll stand in wonder at the empty tomb.
Just as we finish this morning – God spoke through the prophet Isaiah at a time when the hearts of the people had grown cold. They were going through the motions – they were saying all the right things – they were worshipping Him, but it was all based on human rules and human understanding.
And I think for all of us – there are moments when we find ourselves doing it all out of familiarity – and sometimes out of duty – of what is expected… we know the ropes – we know how it all works… I guess I’m saying that even as born again, Spirit filled Christians, we can become religious in our approach to God and to church.
Well I’m coming into agreement with Lana Vawser, and declaring that it’s all about to change. God is doing a new thing – shall you not perceive it. There’s a shift happening. There’s an awakening happening… and first of all it has to happen in us.
And so God says to the people: Isaiah 29:14 (NIV), “Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish. ”
In other words, God Himself is going to overwhelm us with wonder. And those wise in their own human wisdom, and those intelligent in their own intelligence are going to have to make way for the wonder of God in our midst.
God is going to colour His world and our lives, outside the lines.
Signs and wonders are going to invade the church like never before.
I feel God is saying – don’t try and box Me in – don’t try and contain Me to the way things have been in the past – don’t limit Me to the experience of past revivals, past awakenings… behold I’m doing a new thing. Completely new.
Don’t be content with old things. Be expectant of new things.