Saturday, January 26, 2013

Have You Signed On Yet

The Bible does not just reveal God to us but also his plan for the whole world. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible reveals this global plan and we are invited to be a part of this plan of redemption. God’s faithfulness in history assures us this will definitely happen. God is love (1 John 4:8) and his desire is for all man to receive his love. That love did not change from the very beginning of Adam’s fall. In fact, God continued to show his love for his creation. He called Abraham in order so that the world may be blessed through Abraham (Gen.  12:1-2). He would be the father of a people that will receive God’s self-revelation and salvation and bring that message of love to the nations. However, God’s mission agency, the Israelites became self-seeking and disobedient as 1 & 2 Kings tell us. They were exiled to show that he was a holy God and he expected his people to walk in his ways, instead of just talking and thinking how ‘special’ they were as God’s people. However, despite his discipline, his love for mankind has not changed or diminished. He continues to so love the world that He sacrificed His own Son to bring us back into a love relationship with him. That love is perhaps the reason that Jesus has not yet come again. Peter tells us “the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
However, while the Lord tarries, he expects us to be witnesses of his Gospel. There is no doubt that he has given us a Great Commission to obey. Throughout the Gospels, we see this commandment– “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:18-19), “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15), “Jesus told them, ‘this is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:46-48), “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
The Great Commission has not been rescinded. Missions Sunday reminds us of the Lord’s imperative. What are we doing about it? There is a truth to the saying that a ship is only true to its purpose if it is out of the harbor. Are we being true to our purpose? If we agree that God is the captain of our ship, than an important thing to note is that God can only guide a moving ship. A stationary ship safe in harbor needs no one to control the rudder. The first response must come from us – the willingness to move in obedience to his will. As we move, he will correct our course and move us away from troubled waters, if need be. It’s in the doing of God’s work that His will becomes known.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Looking Up, Moving Forward

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:13-14 

Many people have made resolutions of goals and objectives to achieve in 2013. We all know that resolutions are rarely kept and easily broken but this fact does not stop us from optimistically making promises to ourselves for new starts as a New Year beckons. However, the words of Paul show us that, instead of resolutions, we should adopt three practical attitudes to meet the challenges in store for us. 

DON’T LOOK BACK, “forgetting what is behind”. We cannot grow if we keep looking back. While it is fine to reflect on the past every once in a while and learn from it, there comes a time we must say, “I cannot change the past but I can change the future.” If we keep looking back, we will stumble over obstacles before us and we cannot move forward. As Christians and as an assembly of God’s people in HPC, we should never look back. We run the risk of becoming too comfortable of staying still because that is safer than stumbling over the obstacles in front. 

LOOK FORWARD, straining toward what is ahead, I press on…” We will only grow if we keep looking forward. We must never say, “I/We like it as we are now.” Growth means change. For individual Christians, it may be some habits. For HPC, it may well be methods, traditions and congregational attitudes and expectations. 

LOOK UP, “to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”. We can only win the prize by looking up to Jesus and doing what he tells us to do. We work in tandem with Jesus who is our coach and also our cheer-leader. He will help us to win the race, if we keep looking to Him, not to anyone or anything else. He is also the source of our strength and energy. This takes prayer. We have to be praying and listening to Jesus to move forward.

The future is brighter than the past. We should not think “It will not get any better”. The truth is that it will get better. We have to take all of our negative thoughts and submit them to Christ. Christians need to think forward because God thinks forward. God doesn't stay in the past so neither should our church. 

Walk in the assurance that God’s love for us is unconditional and unending. Not only has he ordained a good future for us, he wants to help us attain that future. He wants us to become more like his Son Jesus. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ, not even our past. There is much more ahead of us because of God's love than behind us.

So we need to keep looking forward. God has big plans for us - as a Christian, as father or mother, as husband or wife, as a couple, as a student, as a church, etc. I believe God has big plans for us. So we need to keep looking up to him and hear his plans on how we are to move forward. Therefore, let us not look back. Let us look up instead to Jesus and we can look forward to a God-blessed 2013.