Sunday, March 22, 2015


Reconciliation (Unified with God without record of any lapse) 2 Corinthians 5:18 

2 Corinthians 5:16-20The Message (MSG)

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

  • Focus: Explain what it means to be reconciled with the Creator of the universe and what that looks like in our everyday living.

How does our reconciliation with God shape our relationships with others? How does this become a lifestyle? How can you personally help FOL live this out cross-culturally?

Incarnation—> Atonement—> Justification —> Reconciliation 

  • The entire process of offering us Heaven’s Best was an act of love~

  • *Image of parents looking for a lost child ~ this process was actually a vigil

  • What The Father did for us through Christ was out of love!

  • This is extremely important if our faith in God is going to last an eternity!

  • It was our conscience God can to clear…not His!

  • He came to deal with the way sin had dealt with us. He didn’t only come to deal with the ultimate enemy

If we don’t understand the love that motivated God’s pursuit of us, we miss the power and strength of our gift of salvation.

When this happens, we:

  1. Underestimate the Father's love for us
  2. Overestimate our ability to distance God from us
  3. See God as only punitive ~ not as loving
  4. Our misperceptions about God is what hinders our relationship, not the Father’s misperceptions or misgivings about us

The Concept of Heaven’s Best is mind boggling because…

  • It assumes that God offers us something that is ultimately supreme
  • It is a gift and we cannot earn, create or manage it

Hebrews 9:11-15The Message (MSG)

11-15 But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.

Hebrews 10.19-25 The Message (MSG)

19-21 So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.
22-25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Ezekiel 36:24-28 The Message (MSG)

24-28 “‘For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!

Story lines to consider:

  • Debt forgiven, debtor forgetful (Matt 21:18-35)
  • Jesus washing disciples’ feet (St. John 13)

Challenge: Stop living in fear of God. Stop living out of the reach of God's love.

Next Step: 1. Put yourself around people who can help you grow and make that transition. 2 Live out your understanding of God's reconciliation by reaching out to those you’re distant from; and by learning to share your faith with others.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Justification: Made Right (Heaven't Best Series)

Justification (Offered right standing in God) Romans 8:30 (NIV) ➢(Made Right)

And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Rom 8.30

Focus: Exploring what it means to have a right standing with God and how that is lived out in our faith.

How would we live if we fully lived into the knowledge of impeccable status (VIP) with God? How will this cancel self-righteousness in our lives?

Acts 13:38-40New International Version (NIV)
38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.(A) 39 Through him everyone who believes(B) is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.(C) 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

Romans 4:24-25New International Version (NIV)
24 but also for us,(A) to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him(B) who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.(C) 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins(D) and was raised to life for our justification.(E)

Romans 4:6-8New International Version (NIV)
David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven,whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”[a](A)

Romans 5:15-19New International Version (NIV)
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man,(A) how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ,(B) overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death(C) reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life(D) through the one man, Jesus Christ! 18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people,(C) so also one righteous act resulted in justification(D) and life(E) for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man(F) the many were made sinners,(G) so also through the obedience(H) of the one man the many will be made righteous
Romans: Need for Justification: 1:18-3.20; Way of Justification 3:21-4:25; Fruit of Justification 4.6

We Statements  (Heart of this message): Paul’s language reminds us that what he has in Christ is also ours.

  • We have peace with God
    • Absence of War
    • God offers Himself to us. 
    • What is justification without reconciliation?
    • (Let us have peace with God…please!)

  • We have gained access…into grace
    • Position of acceptance
    • Access = introduction (suggests our unfitness to enter & the need for someone to introduce us.)
    • Stand! (no occasional appearance here…we live in the palace!)
    • This relationship is not haphazard…it belongs to us via Christ

  • We rejoice in hope of the glory of God
    • joyful and confident expectation based upon the promises of God
    • We hope for the Glory of God, fully disclosed
    • Jesus will appear and we shall be changed, redeemed and fully sharing in God’s glory (817)

Past (Forgivness). Present (Stand). Future (Glory)

  • We rejoice in sufferings
    • Not merely endure…rejoice in them!
    • Find the divine rationale and lean into it
    • Suffering leads to maturity, productivity if we avoid bitterness
    • Produces hope, which is no fantasy…=

  • We shall be saved
    • “Already and not yet”
    • What Christ accomplished in appearance #1 & what’ll happen in appearance #2
    • We share his life now and will share his resurrection
    • The best is yet to come
  • We rejoice in God

  • In v.2.17 Paul rebukes the people who “brag” about their relationship with God
  • Exulting in God is different from bragging/boasting
  • Boasting as if God were your trophy, or, you have a monopoly on Him, is wrong
  • Exultation=  we have no claim on God. His claim is on us..and begin while we were yet sinners/outsiders
  • Exultation is to rejoice in God’s merciful exploits to us and not in our possession of Him.

➤Justification breeds joy!

“We rejoice in Christ-centered worship & not self-centered triumphalism” ~ John Stott in Romans, God’s Good News For The World

Closing: We Statements

  • We have peace with God
  • We have gained access…into grace
  • We rejoice in hope of the glory of God
  • We shall be saved
  • We rejoice in God

Only if we confidence in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us, and acceptance of us!

Good works can’t get you close. Bad deeds can’t push you away.

God’s gift to us is Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Your faith in what Jesus Christ has done for you will change your life and destiny.

How will you now live, knowing you have VIP status with God that is based on God’s love, and work on your behalf?