Paul, writing to Titus, reminds us that … “Jesus saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). And one of the ways Jesus describes his task is … “I have come to seek, and to save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10). We could describe God’s mercy, which we experience in Jesus, as a mercy which takes the initiative, which takes the first step, and which “saves”.
Luke 15 tells the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Each of them tells us how incredibly valuable we are to God and of God’s deep desire to rescue us from ourselves, to recover our potential and to reconnect with us.
We celebrate “communion”, our reconnected relationship with God, by remembering Jesus life, death and resurrection for us – a sure sign of God’s mercy.
Paul writing to the church in Rome says - "Give yourselves completely to God - every part of you - because you've been brought, from death to life, and now you want to be used by God for good, and for his righteous purposes." (Romans 6:13)
How incredible is that! God uses flawed people just like us.
God’s mercy is at work in us. Despite our feeling unqualified (by our perceptions of our gift, talents and abilities) or disqualified (by our past mistakes and sins) God wants to use us for purposes greater than ourselves. We can simply be real and let God use our struggles to help others.
Isaiah 1:16-17 NIV
Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
Most of us in church are aware of the need to avoid sin & to live lives which are pleasing in God’s sight by confessing and repenting of our sins. ie. sins of “commission”.
Generally we are not so aware that we shall also be judged by God for the things He requires of us that we have left undone. ie. sins of “omission”.
Chief among these sins of “omission” is His requirement throughout scripture that we minister to the orphans, widows, the poor and the oppressed.
How are you, how am I, how is our church being responsible before God for these ministries?
This morning we will look at scriptures in both the Old and New Testament which enjoin us to carry out this ministry & at our possible response.
We all wear masks for so many different things in life. We can often be afraid to really let people know where we are at, so we just default to the "I’m all good" when really we could be dying on the inside.
Paul challenges us to take off those masks and not pretend. He challenges us to a genuine love that is much deeper than the masks we can often hide behind.
Today is Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is the Greek word for “fiftieth day”. It’s the fiftieth day after Easter when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church.
It’s the Spirit who keeps a church alive and vibrant? When the Spirit of God gives purpose to a church then it continues to thrive, lives are changed, people are put back together and situations get resolved. All kinds of miracles happen.
And everything we need to fulfil God’s purpose, everything we need to be a church that goes the distance was put in the DNAof the original church. A church that goes the distance –
prays for God’s power, uses people’s everyday language, uses every member’s talents and is devoted to God’s word; its members love one another deeply, they worship with joy, they’re willing to sacrifice and bring people to Jesus.
Six hundred years ago, in The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis said - “Be not surprised that you cannot make others act as you wish them to act because you can’t make yourself act as you wish yourself to act.”
We’ve all, at some point, struggled to make changes in our lives. One of the most powerful choices we can make is to show gratitude and to be thankful. Giving thanks has the power to help us see things from God’s perspective. And that can change everything.
The Bible reminds us that we can give thanks in the words we say, the songs that we sing, the gifts that we give and the prayers that we pray. Philippians 4:6 reminds us - “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.”
The Roman Empire was the all conquering force in the 1st Century AD with territories throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Roman infrastructure - roads, water supplies, legal system - spread throughout the Empire.
Paul says that Jesus followers are "more than conquerors" - that they were more than the might of Rome. He reassured the Christians in Rome that despite the problems they were experiencing, nothing earthly or spiritual could separate them from the love that God has for them in Jesus. We are more than conquerors. We are not victims. Our place in the kingdom of God is not measured by our power or wealth but how we respond to whatever life throws at us.
Romans 8:26 – 31
We are called and chosen by God and made right with Him through Jesus. We not only are made righteous, but we now have His glory.
We have nothing to fear because God is with us and even though we may go through some bumpy times in life we have the promises of God to hold onto. He is for us, and always brings us through the toughest seasons in life, so that we can shine brighter with His glory.
The letter to the Romans is sometimes difficult to understand & appears to be more of a lecture rather than a letter.
This is reflected in this week’s message from Chapter 8 v5-17 as we continue our series in Romans.
We will look at how we should use our words, how we should think & how we should live by the Spirit to become & continue on as God’s children.