Saturday, 5 August 2017

A Ministry of Reconciliation ~ Ganeida

We have looked @ communion in many different ways.  We have studied the elements & their symbolism.  We have considered some of the prophetic elements. We have considered our role in communion.  

Shortly I will invite you forward to partake of the communion elements.  I will not minister to you because according to 1 Peter 2:9 “… you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

So each of you is a priest ~ & we are priests according to the order of Melchizedek, just as Jesus is.  As priests we need to understand what our role is, which according to Paul in 2nd Corinthians 5:17~21:  … means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

John explains in John 3:17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

The word rendered task or ministry is diakonia & literally means *our service*. Our service is to minister reconciliation.

What is this reconciliation?

In this, as in all else, we are to be followers of Christ .  The first thing is to bring people near to God. Ephesians 2:13 ~But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
That is a very wonderful thing. We spoke last week about being a peculiar people: something different, unique, rare & precious because Christ lives in us. Thus wherever we go, to whomever we speak, whatever we do we bear the Christ~light & thus bring people near to the presence of God, through Christ in us ~ & that is a grave responsibility because all people may have ever known of Christ is what they know of us.

We offer hope ~Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us
In the midst of a world gone mad ~ & the world has always been more than a little mad ~ we can have serenity of Spirit because we know the Truth: we were sinners who have been saved by Grace.  We are a new creation.  The past cannot hold us in bondage. Everything for which we could not forgive ourselves has been forgiven by the blood of Christ.
In the story of Heidi’s Children the child, Marta, is listening to 2 old men talking.  Heidi likens their conversation to carpenters who have hammered  in bent nails & are now taking them out to drive them in straight & true. That is what the blood of Christ does for us.  It takes all the bent, crooked, twisted things in our lives & makes them straight again.  If you have ever tried to remove a bent nail you know that is not always an easy process.  Some nails can be very stubborn. Our testimony is that you do not have to be trapped by your past.  The weight of guilt & sin & shame do not have to continually weigh you down.  That is the message of the cross.
Furthermore For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life..Romans 5:10

God is no longer some far off disinterested deity who must be appeased by good works & adherence to the Law. He has poured his very life into us, declaring us righteous by His blood & enabling us, by His Spirit to live our lives in ways that please Him.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity~the man Christ Jesus.
We have unprecedented access to God.  Under the old covenant only the High Priest could enter the Holy Of Holies & speak with God.  Only the Levites could minister to the Lord.  Only Israelite men could enter the inner court.  Everyone else was confined to the outer court. Yet Hebrew 4:16 says: So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 Don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
Both individually & corporately we are now God’s temple. This has certain ramifications when we speak about the ministry of reconciliation because we minister as priests.

We have our outer court, our flesh; we are to crucify our flesh.  We have our inner court; our will, our mind, our emotions; we are to renew our minds.  And we have our holy of Holies ~ our inner man, our spirit, wherein the Holy Spirit of God indwells in us. Our carnal flesh & our carnal minds are to be sacrificed.  That is our priestly duty:
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16

Now as I was restudying this, I discovered something fascinating & it is pertinent to our study here.  Originally the three temple courts were not called the outer court, the inner court & the Holy of Holies.  The Outer Court was known as the Way; the Inner Court was known as the Truth & the Holy of Holies was known as The Life because the life of God dwelt there.  When Jesus said:  I am the way, the truth & the life He was claiming to be the very temple of God ~ an idea that makes much better sense of Jesus claim in John 2:19: All right," Jesus replied. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up

If you are the temple of God then you carry this idea within you:  You know the Way [Jesus]; you know the Truth [Jesus] & you have His Life

In the Holy of Holies we find The Mercy Seat formed by the Ark of the Covenant & the cherubim.  It is here we can find the heart of God & petition Him for all our needs.  When we speak of the ministry of reconciliation we may have all sorts of things on our hearts: friends, relatives, children, parents, spouses, neighbours, communities ~ all of whom need to know Christ.  All of whom will perish without Him.
Our example is Christ.  It was on the cross …God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:19 & 20
We looked @ this last week. Christ sought forgiveness for His enemies. He took care of the material needs of His dependents. He glorified God. 
We may manage the first 2 without great difficulties but when you have a rebellious child sheer terror can overwhelm us.  It can feel helpless & hopeless but let’s be clear: That’s where God does His best work.
Fifteen years ago 4 of our 5 children entered their teen years & only 1 out of 5 was walking with the Lord. I had been faithful to teach them according to the Light I had @ that time but satan got his claws into them & one by one I saw our children fall into his clutches.  There seemed to be nothing I could do & my prayers grew rather desperate. I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows this feeling.
Then one day the Lord took me to Isaiah 54:13 which in the KJV reads:  And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
*According to Strong's
Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full.*  Shalom is a blessing.  The Lord has pronounced a blessing over our children. So I pray prayers of thankfulness & rejoicing.

Prayer is part of the ministry of reconciliation.  Prayer is where we enter the throne room boldly & petition our God for all our needs.  That includes all our needs for reconciliation ministry.
Take a moment to meditate on Jesus ministry of reconciliation on the cross & consider the deep meaning of His words as He prepared to reconcile the world to God:
He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me." After supper he took another cup of wine and said, "This cup is the new covenant between God and his people~ an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

As I invite you to come forward & give thanks to the Lord [for His mercy endures forever] ask Him to reveal how you are to minister His reconciliation to others.

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