So, What Are You Looking At?

43 years ago on Friday I was in a service in a small town in Saskatchewan, the Canadian province where I live

I was there, one of 18 people, and I was there basically as a skeptic and a critic
The preacher spoke from 3 John 2
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers”
He spoke on healing and health

That Jesus is the Healer and He still heals today and does so because He loves us
That night I received a healing that allowed me to walk properly and without pain for the first time in my life and I was, at that time, almost 30 years old
I did not have an understanding of what happened nor was I a true believer in divine healing
But, that did not seem to bother God in the least and He sovereignly touched my life and healed me
The next night – 43 years ago yesterday – I was back listening to the same preacher
Same town – same community hall – same small numbers – same verse
3 John 2 “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers”
He spoke on how your soul can prosper and I heard the Gospel of the Kingdom for the first time
I had attended church three times a week as a child / four times a week when old enough for the youth group
In seminary we had “church” threes times a day
As a priest we did daily services celebrating the Lord’s Supper
Never heard the Gospel … Felt like he was speaking right at me / just to me
That night the preacher, after his message, he asked us to stand and bow our heads
He said that we would hear Jesus enter the room and walk up and down the rows touching and changing lives … from the back to the front
Did not believe him – then I heard…
That night I physically saw, heard and touched Jesus and my life was totally transformed in three minutes as He hugged me and poured liquid love into me
I was born again – saved by grace through faith – personal relationship with God
One of the first verses that God used to speak to me after I became a child of my Heavenly Father is found in the record of the life and ministry of Jesus as recorded by John
John was one of the original 12 followers of Jesus and one of the three leaders of the twelve … deeply loved by Jesus
John records a story
John 12:20-21 “Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
These men who had travelled from Greece to the festival in Jerusalem would not have personally known Philip… the city had an additional 50,000 visitors due to the festival
But they recognized that he was a followed, a disciple, of Jesus
He was not standing beside Jesus
The story goes on to say that he went and found Andrew and together they went looking for Jesus
That is so powerful – they recognized that he was a believer
They asked him to take them to Jesus
Or, at the least, to point out which of the many men there was this Jesus
There’s a key here that I don’t want you to miss
They somehow knew that Philip of all the men in the crowd (Bible word “multitude”) was a believer and follower of Jesus
So, they went to Him and basically said, “It is obvious that you are one of them and that you know the Master … would you please take us to Jesus and introduce us to Him”
As followers, believers, disciples of Jesus we are called – challenged – to live in such a way that those around us will know we are different than others and come to us and ask us why we are different
Ask us what causes us to be so different than the other people they see, know, and relate to
Because we have encountered the living God and were instantly changed, transformed, by His love
Taken from the domaine of darkness into the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:3)
Become new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
We have chosen to live a different way than those who have yet to encounter the love, grace, mercy, and life-changing power of the living God, Jesus Christ
And, by living differently, people will notice the difference and come up to us and ask us why we live this way – what happened to us that caused such a difference
What causes us to be so loving and so forgiving?
How come we are not living in crisis mode like they are?
How can we be so ‘at peace” when they are living in turmoil inside?
What causes us to live with hope and not be experiencing hopelessness and despair like them?
This is today’s way of someone saying, “Sir, we would see Jesus!”
And if people are going to see Jesus today – most often it is through the life and love of a follower of Jesus
A noticeably different lifestyle and approach to life than those who do not believe
Think about it … life does tend to beat us up and without Jesus life can be very difficult and heavy
Living life:
Without hope – hopeless
Empty of meaning – meaningless
Overwhelmed by circumstances
Isolated from others by woundedness
And because we have encountered the love of God found only in Jesus and are born again
And because, as believers, we experience the love of God every day…
We live life in a manner that is so different that others will see that difference and one day come up to us and say, in one way or another, “We sure would like to see Jesus”
Folks, people in your world (neighbourhood) live wounded lives
They feel … judged, condemned, forgotten!
And, only a personal encounter with Jesus
A daily experience of His love and grace
Can bring peace and meaning and purpose to their life
They need Jesus – mind you, they seldom realize that He is who they need
They are busy looking for what will quiet the inner storm and smooth life out a bit
But, when they see what He has done in your life
When they see that you live life differently and have a sense of ‘peace that passes all understanding’ about you
They will come to you and in one way or another say, “Bill, I would see Jesus”
“Cathy, I would see Jesus – can you take me to Him, introduce me to Him?”
So, we live life differently and face our personal issues with hope
Different attitude than those who do not know Him
Warm and gracious words
Loving actions that are helpful and kind
An attitude that loudly declared that you know God is in control and He is a good God
A peacefulness
Peace where they are experiencing panic
Trust when all others are paralyzed by worry
Love in place of hate
Forgiveness when others are seeking revenge
A noticeable calm when others are anxious
Patience when others simply get angry
Supernatural, real joy and not the nagging sadness of life
Content and not discontent
Humble and not proud
Loving and not hateful
Trusting and not disgusting
Zest and zeal for life – not bored with life
Encouraged and not discouraged
Faith and not despair
As believers we are to live with the fruit of the Spirit coming up and out of us…
(Galatians 5:22)
People need Jesus and they will see Him in you and through you
Your life-style – your words – your attitude – your actions (reactions) –
Your faith, your hope, and your love (1 Corinthians 13:13)
When my children – all six of them – were growing up we had a large picture of Thumper the baby rabbit from the movie “Bambi” hanging on the wall in the kitchen
My wife had painted and framed it
Thumper was sitting on a large tree stump and he was saying to all his friends of the forest…
“If you can’t say something nice don’t say nothing at all!”
It was a way to say that we should “live differently”
Over the years I have taught The LAF Principle
Love unconditionally
Accept people for who they are and where they are at
Forgive them totally when they hurt you
Jesus looks at you…
Loves you unconditionally
Accepts you just as you are
Forgives you totally
And we are to do the same for others and then they will come to us and say, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”
And, as you talk to them about your first love – Jesus – they will come to see Him and know Him
     And they will be eternally changed, life will be transformed – new creature in Christ
The world is crying out to see Jesus and we are the ones who will introduce them to Him
Your neighbour
The person you work with
The black sheep of the family
The clerk behind the counter
Your doctor – family physician
The security guard at the ER
They are all crying out, in one way or another, “Sir, (Madam) I would see Jesus”
Now, that can feel like a very heavy responsibility and it is…
So, let’s briefly look at how we can stay strong and be the one who is ready and able when someone comes to us and says, “You know, I want to know about this Jesus”
“Sir, we would see Jesus!”
Hebrews 12:1-3a “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him…”
1> Be aware of how you are living and relating to others and LET GO OF ANY WEIGHT OR SIN
Anything that separates you from being in God’s presence (sin)
Anything that prevents you from being real, transparent, and open with others (weight)
2> FOCUS ON THOSE THINGS THAT KEEP YOU STRONG AND HEALTHY so that you can run with endurance the race set before you
Grab hold of His Word – read and study God’s Word, your Bible
Develop and deepen your prayer life so that you hear, see, and touch
Learn to walk in His supernatural peace
Be a person of His presence
Move in the power of the Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit (Baptism in the Holy Spirit)
Stay focused on Jesus and what He is speaking to you through the Word
Learn to be still and listen for His still, small (quiet) voice in your spirit
Not just hear what He is saying to you but do what He is asking of you
He will guide and direct you to the right person at the right time
Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness (expansion of the Kingdom)
We are to imitate Christ and relate to others as He did
Loving, accepting, forgiving
Humble but bold and courageous
Full of grace and truth (balanced) – John 1:14
There is a mandate on the Church that Jesus is building (Matthew 16:18)
“Go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19)
If we let go of any and all weights and sins
If we focus on what keeps us strong and healthy
If we will keep our eyes on Jesus
And, if we imitate Him…
Then, people will notice that we have something and Someone that they don’t have and will come up to us and in their own way say, “Sir (madam), I (we) would see Jesus”
“Turn your eyes on Jesus”
Then lighthouse story
On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little lifesaving station.  The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost.  Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous.  Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work.  New boats were bought and new crews trained.  The little lifesaving station grew.
Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the build­ing was so crude and poorly equipped.  They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.  So they re­placed the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the en­larged building.  Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club.  Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.  The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.  About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.  They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin.  The beautiful new club was in chaos.  So the property
committee immediately had a shower at house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership.  Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club.  Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station.  But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.
As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old.  It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded.  History  continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore.  Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown!