We are therefore ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
I recently had the challenge but privilege of reaching out to some people to ask for forgiveness and begin the process of reconciliation. It certainly hasn’t been the easiest thing I have had to do in my life but it was such a blessing to be able to do it.
God led me to reach out to forgive, ask for forgiveness and reconcile with others who may have hurt me and whom I may have hurt. It was a blessing because I was first compelled by how much God had forgiven me of my sins and shortcomings through sending His son Jesus to save me. Through Jesus, the sinless lamb who became sin for us, we have been forgiven and all have the gift of being able to be reconciled with God. We don’t deserve to be in relationship with God for we have all “fallen short of the glory of God” but by His grace and love, we can be reconciled to Him.
Not only do we have the privilege of being reconciled with Him but it’s through that reconciliation that we can extend reconciliation to others. We can forgive others because He has forgiven us. We can be reconciled to others because we have been reconciled to God through Jesus. I realised that I didn’t have strength to forgive but it was only through Him that I did.
And this message of reconciliation is not just a personal one – we have been commissioned to share this Good News with the world. We have been given the privilege of being ambassadors of this message of reconciliation and to share with the world that because of Jesus, we can all have a relationship with God.
As we step into the festive Christmas season, let us be ambassadors for Christ by:
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Psalm 19:7-10
I just came back from a fun-filled, action packed, but totally exhausting trip with my family. I would point out that, when travelling with two girls under age 3, even a trip to the airport can feel like a week-long adventure. I find myself sounding like a broken record repeating to my older daughter what she needs to do or stop doing: “Sydney, you cannot run away from daddy at the airport. Stay close to me!” “You need to stay in your seat until the airplane lands!” “You need to finish your food before you leave your chair.” You get the idea. And her response is always, “I don’t want to.” I think most people, like my daughter, do not like rules (unless you are the one making them). We think of rules as something that takes away our freedom – it is always restricting and takes away all the fun you can have.
When I look at this psalm by David, I try to imagine the state of his heart as he pours out his profound desire for God’s law and commandments. He does not resist the law (at least in this moment of his life) but celebrates and desires it like fine gold and honey. Think of a highly valued possession you have or want and compare that with how much you desire God’s commandments. It is probably not second nature to feel such strong desire for God’s law, because sin is in our nature from birth. We are all broken human beings who need daily saving.
The good news is that, as believers in Christ, we possess the spirit of God in us. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us (Romans 8:11), and it has the power to change us — to help us not conform but be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2).
As we seek to prioritise Him and submit to Him, the fear of the Lord becomes desire rather than duty. As our eyes start to open to see that His way is the only pure and true way, His rules no longer feel restricting, but freeing, because we finally realise that obeying Him brings true joy in us like nothing else in this world. As God rewires our hearts, our “I don’t want to” will naturally become “Yes I would love to.”
Let us practice responding “Yes I would love to” by:
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:11
When I was 12 years old, I remember being asked to read out loud to the class in school. I had sweaty palms and I felt like the whole classroom could hear my thumping heartbeat. I found speaking out loud to an audience very challenging and difficult.
This struggle continued throughout university, in my working life and even in church. Whenever someone asked me to pray for them, I immediately rejected them and I would say, “No, I’m sorry I can’t. Please ask someone else.” The same fears I had when I was a child would resurface. Yet at the same time, there was an internal conviction that I really wanted to be a blessing to others through prayer since I had received so much of God’s love and comfort when others had prayed for me.
I shared the above desire and fears with a friend in care group, and God used her to help me start praying for others. She asked me to first start praying on my own out loud. After some time, she then encouraged me to pray one line prayers with a small group of trusted friends. Eventually, I got to a point where I was willing to say yes to anyone who asked for prayers.
As you read though Exodus 4, you will find that Moses’ faith starts off so small – he even rejected being a mouthpiece of God at first. However, as you continue to read through the book, you find that Moses’ faith slowly grows in God until amazingly, Moses is able to speak with fearless passion and conviction against the Egyptians. God transformed his fears, his vulnerabilities and perceived foolishness into something that was used powerfully for God’s purpose.
Is there something holding you back in being a blessing to others, or in your worship to God? Is the Lord pressing on your heart something He wants you to do, but you don’t because you feel unable to or worried about how others may perceive you?
Don’t be afraid. Trust God and let your desire to be a blessing overcome your fears. Jesus said, “Take heart! For I have overcome the world.” Start with small steps. You will arrive at your destination sooner than you know it and when you look back to see where you came from, you will surely give praise and glory to God!
Let us start small by:
TGIF! Wait a minute, it’s only Thursday and it’s American Thanksgiving, so to all who celebrate this day, enjoy your turkeys and gatherings with families and friends. TGIF here, stands for something else, I’ll leave that for later. We are entering into our 4th week of the sermon series “The Lord’s Prayer”. Last week, Pastor Brett gave a spot-on message about forgiveness:
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
The takeaway for me from the message was:
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
I rejoice for those of you who come and worship God regularly, who tithe regularly and who serve faithfully, however, even the best gifts in the world are not as important as the restoration of relationships in the eyes of our Lord God! Thus Matthew 5 challenges us to love like Jesus loves... so the world will be amazed by the extraordinary love of Christ! It becomes attractional and it is irresistible! Making it real, if you come to Island ECC this Sunday, when the offering bag passes you by, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you (hint, it might not even be your fault, but the relationship is distorted), first go and reconcile the strained relationship with that brother or sister, then come back and offer your gift to God.
Our Lord is in the Relationship Restoration Business! He is in the Loving One Another Business!
Thank God I’m Forgiven!
Thank God I’m Free!
Thank God I have a Father in heaven… Hallowed be your name! Rejoice for you’ve been forgiven and set free! Amen.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22
Is the above verse a preventive medicine for you?
This week my organisation, Sowers Exchange Schools, has facilitated a learning experience for students from a Christian School with a Christian NGO here in Hong Kong. The experience has been one of joy from many perspectives and reinforces this verse. The experience was one of International students greeting, distributing lunch and conversing with elderly disadvantaged individuals. This engagement was accompanied by joy, laughter and extreme courtesy.
The important element was the expressiveness of one human being smiling and connecting with a fellow human being. We are creatures of God no matter of our age, race, sex or other man-made differences who can exchange positive feelings with one another. The concept of “good medicine” is very interesting because medicine can both prevent and cure. I think when we see the spontaneity of people responding to one another, it is like an inoculation caused by God.
So let us use preventive medicine by: