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Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Autumn Reflections at Grand Teton National Park
(Photo by my cousin Georgia)
"What God Is Up To"
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"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s 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 5:17-21).
Quite some time ago we sat around our dining room table with a group of fellow chaplains and shared with one another about different ways God was working through our ministries. (Note: Photo of people around our dining room table is for illustrative purposes and was not from that meeting!) One shared how he had come out of a hospital room and saw three people talking around a table. A woman who recognized him as a minister approached him and said, "I think God might be up to something over here". She had been sharing with an individual who appeared to be ready to hear the message of reconciliation. She was recruiting the chaplain to help her at this point.
"I think God might be up to something." That's an interesting expression, and although I don't question the earnestness of the individual, there is a tendency to place restrictions on God's activity based upon our own experience. As if there are times when God is not up to something! For sure that day, today, and every day the omnipresent God is indeed up to something!
The daily Scripture portion succinctly describes what God is up to. I have always found it interesting and frankly a bit annoying when people speak of finding out what God is doing, as if He's always changing! People will flock to conferences, buy books or dvd's and participate in whatever program is currently hyped.* But God is doing what He has always been doing. He is reconciling the world to Himself through Christ. Specific methods change but the overall program, His mission, remains the same.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them." Pastor R. Kent Hughes comments, "The ministry of reconciliation is not telling people to make peace with God, but telling them that God has made peace with the world. The gospel is not good advice, but good news.”
"And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors." When I first started in ministry in the seventies the denomination I am ordained through called their youth program, "Christ's Ambassadors". For some reason they dropped that name but it remains a good description and certainly based on Scripture. An ambassador is a representative of one nation to another. As Christ's followers we are representing His Kingdom in a fallen, very broken world.
"Sin breaks our relationship with God; it severs relationships with others as well. Broken relationships are the epidemic of our day. [The front page of our own local paper reminds us of that with the current trial of a husband who ruthlessly murdered his wife.] Sin alienates family members, separates friends, divides churches, and destroys marriages. Sin creates mistrust, jealousy, hatred, and greed, all of which devastate relationships. Only Christ has the remedy for the disastrous effect of sin on human relationships. As His ambassadors, we are to take the message of reconciliation to a broken, divided world. We urge reconciliation first with God, and then with each other." (Henry Blackaby)
Today all over the world, in large settings and in small, God is using His reconciled children to proclaim the glorious message of reconciliation. God is definitely up to something!
The question for each of us who call Jesus Christ our Lord is, "Am I faithfully serving as Christ's ambassador?" The appeal for any readers who do not serve Jesus Christ as Lord is "We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, we want others to view the message of reconciliation as it is lived out in our lives and in our daily conversation. Because You reconciled us to the Father through Your sacrificial death on the cross we want to see others experience this wondrous reconciliation when we were snatched from the evil one and transported into the Kingdom of God. What great joy it is to share this message with others, see them respond to Your Spirit, and take them alongside us in this journey of grace. Keep us faithful in proclaiming the Good News. Amen.
* Brooksyne and I were considering this concept of "finding out what God is doing" through our years of ministry. We recall a Texan preacher in the late eighties who had a video series on the Lord's Prayer that many claimed you just had to watch. Later it was small book on the "Prayer Of Jabez" and then we recall "The Purpose-Driven Life" book you just had to read. These resources may very well have been helpful to many people but we suspect there was some money-making marketing involved in all the hype. In the late nineties we recall when a large church in Florida became a destination to see a revival in action and for many it was seen as the place to go to see "what God is doing". The list could go on and on.
Reconciled Through Death: Years ago in a western city a husband and wife became estranged and chose to separate. They moved away and lived in different parts of the country. The husband happened to return to the city on a matter of business and went out to the cemetery to the grave of their only son. He was standing by the grave in fond reminiscence when he heard a step behind him. Turning, he saw his estranged wife. The initial impulse of both was to turn away. But they had a common hearted interest in that grave, and instead of turning away they clasped hands over the grave of their son and were reconciled. They were reconciled by death! Our personal reconciliation took nothing less than the death of God’s Son; but his death and its effects went far beyond any human death. (Clarence E. Macartney, Macartney’s Illustrations)
One of the factories we visit is in a rural location and this is the view out a shipping door some of the production workers have as they go about their work.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"How can I be saved? A short article explaining salvation
"The Power Of The Cross" Video Kristyn Getty
"What A Savior" Video Laura Story
"Just As I Am" Video Travis Cottrell
John Uhler, a friend of ours who attends my brother's church prepared an interesting statement called the "The Code of My Cross" (pdf)
Note: Yesterday a reader sent me an interesting article that warns of the plunge into apostasy titled, "New Spirituality Teacher Says 'The Jig is Up' to Those Who Believe in 'the Blood of the Lamb'"
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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