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5 Minute Sermon with Pastor Jeff Vines

by | Mon, Feb 19 2024

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Pastor Jeff Vines has devoted twenty years to missionary work in Zimbabwe and New Zealand, and is passionate about founding churches and guiding emerging leaders. From 1998 to 2005, he took on the role of the featured speaker for the weekly television program Questions of Life and engaged in debates with agnostics and atheists on national radio.

Following his missionary work, Jeff served as the Teaching Pastor at Savannah Christian Church for two years. Then, in 2008, he assumed the position of Lead Pastor at One & All Church in Southern California. Jeff has also authored several books, including Dinner with Skeptics and Defending God in a World that Makes No Sense.

Recently, Jeff shared a special 5-minute sermon with us during Sunday Morning Together, highlighting the beauty and majesty of our salvation in Christ. Read Jeff’s inspiring message below:

‘Isaiah chapter 53:2-3 is one of my favourite passages in the Old Testament, and it reads like this. He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Now this is a passage of prophecy about the Messiah, Jesus Christ. But to get our minds going in the right direction, I want to recall a story about a man by the name of John Blanchard, who was a lieutenant in the Navy during World War Two.

On one occasion John was given leave, and he had a chance to go to a library. He found a book that belonged to somebody else. He liked the book, but what he really liked were the notes written in the margins. He felt that they were filled with wisdom and beauty.

He was intrigued, and he was attracted to this woman he had never met because she had left it her name and a partial address in the front cover of the book. So with a little bit of effort and work, he found her full address and he began to write her letters. Her name was Hollis Meynell, and he wrote to her during the war, and they had this wonderful correspondence going.

At one point, John asked her for a picture, and she never responded. And he wondered, well, I wonder why she won’t send me a photo? And he couldn’t quite understand. Neither of them knew what the other looked like, but after the war they wanted to meet.

They’d had this wonderful correspondence together, and so Hollis came up with an idea. She said, why don’t you meet me at Grand Central Station at 7 p.m.? I will be wearing a big red rose on my lapel.

So he takes the train, disembarks and walks over to the place that they agreed upon. As he’s approaching, he saw two women. One was very beautiful and attractive. Gorgeous. The other, he writes, not so much.

As he approached the two women, the beautiful woman walked away, and the other, that he described as dowdy, looked as though she was waiting for somebody else. Now I want to put the rest of the story in his own words. I don’t want to mess this up in any way because it’s classic.

He says, I felt choked up by the bitterness of my disappointment. But so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had companioned me and upheld me during my time at war, that I thought, well, this won’t be love and romance, but it could be something so precious, maybe a friendship for which I would always be grateful.

So he summoned up his courage, swallowed hard, and said, hello, I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard. You must be Hollis. I am so glad to meet you. May I take you to dinner? And then he finishes the story by saying, she smiled and said, son, I have no idea who you are or what this is all about. But the young lady who was standing here beside me and walked away, said that I should wear this red rose on my lapel, and only if you asked me to dinner should I tell you that she’s waiting for you in that restaurant across the street.

I love the story because you and I tend to judge people by the external. We are impressed by the dazzle. And when I go back to Isaiah, I’m reminded that there’s nothing about Jesus that met the requirements of a king.

He comes from an impoverished family. He comes from a very menial profession, a carpenter. He comes from the other side of the tracks. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? This is not the type of setting from which a king comes.

If you read the Old Testament, you will know that many of the Old Testament leaders were good looking. Saul was head and shoulders above the rest. David was so handsome that he danced in the middle of the street in his fruit of the loom, and nobody seemed to mind.

Joseph was so handsome that Mrs Potiphar couldn’t keep her hands off of him. But did you see what happened in Isaiah 53, talking about the Messiah Jesus Christ? We’re told that he came from a poor family. Wrong side of the tracks, socially marginalised, no connections, and He was not pleasant to look at.

This is so opposite from the way we work in our world. Because most of us want this Jesus, this Messiah that is dazzling, as dazzling as a pyrotechnics show where there’s fire in the sky. Anytime we have a problem, we want the thundering Messiah to come down and make everything okay.

We want to be dazzled. We want to be impressed. But throughout the entire Old Testament, God seemed to choose the one that was unimpressive. He didn’t choose the older, He always chose the younger. He didn’t choose the attractive. He chose the One that the world would discard.

And then the Messiah comes. Once you meet the real Jesus, you begin to realise that we should never judge anybody on the outside. When we meet the real Jesus, we should never believe that God’s greatest work happens externally. It always happens internally.

So, my friends, the question I have for you, or the thing that I want you to consider on this beautiful Lord’s Day, is that, remember, people reject Jesus often because they get past His ordinary, albeit supernatural, work in our lives.

We want someone to give us everything we want when we want it. But Jesus wants to come in slowly and transform us from the inside out. And often that means He has to allow us to go through difficult times in order to shape us into the people that we ultimately need to become.

One of my favourite words in the Bible in Greek is the word thlipsis, and thlipsis means pressure. And you’ve heard me say that this Greek word is translated trial or tribulation. And we’re told that as Christ followers, we are going to experience many trials.

But that Greek word means that God is simply squeezing us, as you would step on the grapes in the wine press and squeeze them until the good stuff comes out. Can I remind you, you might be in a tough situation right now. God loves you. I promise that He loves you.

Whatever the reason for your pain and suffering, it can’t be because God doesn’t love you. Because He who did not spare his own Son will surely give us all good things. It could be that God is refining, shaping, moulding you into the person He needs you to become.

So that great adventure, that great endeavour that He’s prepared you to accomplish, can come to fruition as you are shaped and moulded by your trials and the pressures of life into the person He wants you to become. Remember, don’t judge people on the outside. You never know what God’s doing on the inside, so never judge your circumstances by the outside.

Father, I thank and praise You that even in our difficult times, You’re always at work and indeed you work all things together for the good, for those who love You and who are called according to Your purpose.

I pray for my Christian brothers and sisters all around this world who are in middle of something very difficult, that You would remind them it’s just quite possible they’re being squeezed until the good stuff comes out. In Christ’s name. Amen.’

Listen to Jeff’s full message below: