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From Rubble to Return Part 2: Identity

Date: 10/01/2016/Speaker: Ps Gary Chan

WELCOME

As we begin our time together, I want to take a moment for us to thank and honor every person who makes our Sunday Services happen. From the worship team to the technical team, to our volunteers at the door. And those who are unseen who have prepared the space for us. We come in here and just sit down and enjoy the service but I want to recognize the volunteers who removed the Christmas decorations and manage the space. Can we give those who help make Sunday service a round of applause in appreciation? There’s one person I want to particularly honor this morning – Molly. Yesterday she celebrated her 69th birthday. I thank God for you and the blessing that you are to me, to all of us her at this church.

OPENING PRAYER
Let’s take a moment to pause in prayer as we give this time to God. Dear God, we come gathered in Your name as your people; your children. We come with hearts of thanksgiving and gratefulness in praise for all you have done in our lives and life of this church. This morning we seek an encounter with the living God. We ask You to speak through Your living Word. Help us to open our hearts to receive You this morning. Help us to hear you speaking. We ask for a fresh revelation of who You are and who we are in You. I pray that our faith will arise and will we not just find hope, not just have a revelation of truth, but we will activate our faith to respond to Your truth today that will result in renewal and restoration of our lives, of this community, and of the call that you have placed on this church and everyone who calls upon Your name as our Lord and God. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!

INTRODUCTION – MY LIFE IN RUBBLE
How have you been? Welcome to the second weekend of the new year. Christmas and the New Year celebrations seems like a distant memory already.

It has been a rough start for me to the new year. I travelled a lot in December, went snowboarding, carried my niece and nephew and ended up pulling my back muscle. So I spent a couple of weeks horizontal and in pain. Being the end of year and not being able to do much I spent time reflecting on 2015 and how things turned out and mind went to the struggles I was going through. I was reminded of the things that I set out to do that were not done, how my finances were in ruin and it seems that I had more fires going that I had the ability to resource. There were areas of ministry where I did not make progress or went backwards, and I thought about the difficulties we are having in church, the struggle we had in fund raising and organization that is preventing us from doing things like get help to people, paying our mortgage, bringing on the resources we need. I looked at the amount of work left undone, the to-do list that was never finished, the ineffectiveness at our outreach efforts at Christmas, the struggles we had in starting cell groups, the things that break down that can’t seem to be fixed easily like the lights, etc. And before I knew it I went through a couple of weeks with this cloud hanging over my head.

Then last Monday we went back to work and I am in a new role and I am struggling to learn how to have impact and it seems the further I dig, the more broken down things seem and I am wondering how much further does this rabbit hole go and then I have a major review and planning coming up that was going to drown me in work and then I had to prepare a sermon this weekend to encourage people and inspire faith when I am feeling like my life has gone tits up and is in rubble. I wonder how many of you can identify with that feeling?
I was essentially struggling with the very thing that I was going to need to share on. But I have also seen God’s faithfulness and learnt that we can find purpose in our pain, and that the very thing that I go through with God is the thing that I need to learn and be reminded of. And the best place to run to is the presence of God and God’s Word, Amen?

INTRODUCING THE RUBBLE TO RETURN SERIES – JEREMIAH 33
So Ps. Pauline Ong last week kicked us off this brand new series called from Rubble to Return. About how God wants us to return and restore the different areas of our lives that are in rubble. The core text she shared was from Jeremiah 33 where we meet the prophet Jeremiah right in the middle of a difficult situation.

If you remember, Judah were beginning to be surrounded by the Babylonians. They were already not in a strong position. The original state of Israel was left with two tribes and now were the nation of Judah. The rest of Israel from the split had been already destroyed by the Assyrians and now they were surrounded by the Babylonians. If you read through Jeremiah, King Josiah was now in power and was trying to turn the hearts of the nation back to Yahweh, from the worship of other gods that had been on the hearts of the people but it was too late.

God had raised up Jeremiah to speak of the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Israelites into Babylonian captivity for 70 years as a result of their continued trust in other gods. Jeremiah went around to condemn the idolatry, the greed of priests, and false prophets who were essentially saying that everything was OK and impending peace was coming.

Jeremiah didn’t want to be a prophet, doesn’t want to go and speak against the people, didn’t want to be persecuted, and God’s reply to Jeremiah was “get yourself ready!”
Jeremiah delivers the message, and ends up getting persecuted, ordered to get beaten by those in power, opposed by false prophets, made a laughing stock, put in captivity, tried to be starved to death. What’s left of the nation of Israel is about to fall into rubble, his life was falling into rubble.
I could identify with that.

RECAP OF LAST WEEK’S INTRODUCTION
Last week Pauline shared about what would happen and I want to build on that on the perspective of how God wants to restore our identity.
She shared –
a. God has a bigger plan and it is for good
b. God has made all the provisions necessary for this plan
c. God’s plan will always come to pass
This same Jeremiah whose life was falling into rubble was the same Jeremiah that God said over him in Jer 29:11 –
Jer 29:11 (Amplified)
11 For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.
If you missed last week you can read the transcript or watch the recording on Vimeo which I encourage you to. The link is here – http://www.freecomchurch.org/sermon….
OUR IDENTITY AND OUR CIRCUMSTANCES
One of the main ways we typically find our identity in the natural is through the circumstances we go through.
My perspective sometimes is that I am lesser in God’s eyes because I am going through a difficult situation. Other people seem to be having an easier time – God must favour that person. I am a failure.

But yet God is saying to the prophet Jeremiah and to us that our identity is not connected to our circumstances. And our circumstances is not equal to God being angry at you – in this case Jeremiah’s circumstances were not his own doing – he was just the messenger.
God’s promises are yes and amen. God’s covenant never changes with us. God’s plan is to prosper you and not to harm you. To give you a future and a hope.
Look at what God is saying to Jeremiah here in Jer 33:19-22

Jer 33:19-22 (Amplified)
19 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 20 “Thus says the LORD, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night do not take place at their appointed times, 21 then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and [My covenant may also be broken] with the Levitical priests, My ministers. 22 As the host of [the stars of] heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’”

Essentially what God is encouraging Jeremiah is that the circumstances or situation is that he is going through for a time is not going to look like it is reflecting the promise I have made. But God here is saying that if you can stop the sun from rising and setting at the appointed time, then you can stop me from fulfilling my promises to you.
Will you need to go through the pain? Yes. Does that change my covenant to you? No. Will I deliver you? Yes.

God never promises that we will escape the trouble. But God promises that God’s love and heart and covenant towards us will never change.
Why do we have so much difficulty to receive this truth? Because underlying the way we view the circumstances is our struggle with our worth.
OUR IDENTITY AND OUR WORTH

We all struggle with our worth because we are told by the world that the way our worth is determined is through the way we look, the size of our bank accounts, our social networks, who we know, the family we are born into, the jobs we have, the titles we carry, our educational qualification, our looks, our talents. This is how the world determines our worth, and we go on to judge the worth of others based on these same yardsticks. If we are honest with ourselves, we treat people differently based on what we think they are worth to us, and to others.
In fact, many of us are here right here in this service, in this church, because at one time, we have been told that we are not worthy to be a child of God because of our sexual orientation. Or our gender identity. Or our HIV status.

We sang a song earlier for our time of worship called “Rejoice” (https://vimeo.com/77024062) that was written by Zi Hao Wong, Kenny Wang and John Teo that I think is our most powerful testaments and declarations of the truth of your worth and my worth. That it is not based on the circumstances that we are going through. And neither is it based on any of the things that we think that are important.

“Rejoice” is based on a teaching by Jesus in Luk 15 where He was addressing specifically the issue of worth. Let’s take a few moments to break it down.

Luk 15:1-2 (Amplified)
Now all the tax collectors and sinners [including non-observant Jews] were coming near Jesus to listen to Him. 2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began muttering and complaining, saying, “This man accepts and welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Here we see Jesus in the middle of a gathering. There were two groups of people present. The first group included the tax collectors. The tax collectors during that time were not the government administrators we know today. They were appointed by the Romans to collect the taxes from people and they collected far more than they paid to the Romans, and they were allowed by the Romans to keep the difference. They were corrupt and not liked.

The second group of people in the scene were the scribes and Pharisees. And their complaint with Jesus is that this man hangs out with “bad” people and eats with them.
During that time, there was no fast food. Eating was slow – it took several hours. It was a commitment and a relationship. And the complaint here by the Pharisees was why would a perfect, sinless, holy, righteous God hang out with “bad” people?

The religious leaders then saw life the same way as we do – that worth is earned. And based on that logical, reasonable, sane perspective, they complain about Jesus.
We like to knock the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, but they are not the bad guys we like to caricature them to be. They are trying to live sanctified, holy lives. They study the Torah thoroughly. They pray for hours. And based on that they have earned the right to look down on others based on the level of commitment that they were living their lives at.
It must be true – worth must be earned. And by claiming to be God, you must be flawless and perfect. So why would you befriend these people who do not deserve it?
You know Jesus didn’t just befriend the lowly, humble and those who had been beaten down. He hung out with loan sharks, pimps, prostitutes – the people who have beat themselves down, or were beating others down. Jesus knows these people by name and are cultivating a relationship with them.

The same issue that Jesus was dealing with then, is the same issue we deal with within ourselves and in the world today.
Jesus wants to respond to the complaints. In all His wisdom he sets up his sharing by telling three parables, or stories. Jesus used parables to bring people into the story, to use their imagination. They are familiar scenarios, but usually with an unexpected twist. And the meanings could be layered and different depending who in the audience was hearing it.
I am sure we are familiar with all three stories. They all follow a similar structure. Something is lost, is searched for and found back, then there is a celebration. The first story Jesus tells is of a shepherd that has 100 sheep.

THE PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP
Luk 15:3-7 (Amplified)
3 So He told them this parable: 4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which is lost, [searching] until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he gets home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ 7 I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

Jesus begins this parable in a very relatable manner talking about a man who had a hundred sheep. Sheep during that time represents a person’s assets or property. The man loses one of them and then Jesus introduces a twist to the story – this shepherd does what would be the “obvious” – which is to leave the 99 behind and go looking for the one missing sheep. Can you imagine if you were in the audience and you are visualizing a relating to a picture of this man with a hundred sheep and then leaving all the 99 on their own to go look for one sheep.

Jesus is telling these pretty little stories but the people who had gathered to listen to him were probably thinking, “What? You are going to leave ninety nine behind to go after one? That’s illogical! That doesn’t make any sense! There’s no guarantee that you will find the one and while you are doing that, you are risking the entire flock! Ninety-nine is greater than one, Jesus!”
What is Jesus telling us about the nature of God?
While they are reeling from that story Jesus launches into the next one about a woman who had ten coins.

THE PARABLE OF THE LOST COIN
Luk 15:8-10 (Amplified)
8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins [each one equal to a day’s wages] and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her [women] friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I found the lost coin!’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents [that is, changes his inner self—his old way of thinking, regrets past sins, lives his life in a way that proves repentance; and seeks God’s purpose for his life].”

So this woman has ten coins and discovers that she has lost one of them. Jesus then says that it is the middle of the night and she lights a lamp, then sweeps the house (which is better translated as trash the place) to find it. Hey lady, it is the middle of the night! It’s one coin. And while you are turning your place upside down to find this one coin, you are going to risk losing all your other coins too! That’s not logical!

Then when she finds it, she calls up her friends and neighbours and tells them to come over for a party to celebrate which costs more than the coin she had misplaced!
What is Jesus telling us about how God values people? Especially those who don’t know yet how much they are worth?

THE PARABLE OF THE LOST SON
Jesus then moves on to tell his third and final story about a father and two sons – and older son and a younger, prodigal son. This one is uniquely different. The sheep is a beast – it probably wandered off looking for food. The coin is an inanimate object – hey lady, you lost the coin. But the younger son, this one is different – the son, he made a decision. The stories have a progression – this is like the third act.
This is a familiar story for us and when Jesus is telling the story, you know that the Pharisees and teachers of the laws hearing it were not on the side of the prodigal son. The older son in the story was logical; the younger son was wasteful.
Luk 15:11-12 (Amplified)
11 Then He said, “A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger of them [inappropriately] said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me.’ So he divided the estate between them.
He wanted his entitlement. Give me what I deserve. He wanted to do his own thing and live his life. Isn’t that how we often come to God?
Luk 15:13 (Amplified)
13 A few days later, the younger son gathered together everything [that he had] and traveled to a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and immoral living.
Maybe in today’s context he bought a first class ticket and moved to San Francisco and rented a beautiful apartment near Castro and was known for the parties he threw filled with the best drugs and prettiest boys in town.
Luk 15:14-16 (Amplified)
14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to do without and be in need. 15 So he went and forced himself on one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He would have gladly eaten the [carob] pods that the pigs were eating [but they could not satisfy his hunger], and no one was giving anything to him.
Things were not looking good. He got what he thought he wanted. It’s amazing that sometimes when we want something and God doesn’t give it to us we don’t realize what a big favour God is doing for us.
Luk 15:17 (Amplified)
17 But when he [finally] came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough food, while I am dying here of hunger!
Thank God we can come to our senses!
Luk 15:18-19 (Amplified)
18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] treat me like one of your hired men.”’
He was going to go back to his father, but not as a father but as a boss. The younger son was dealing with his identity, he believed that worth is earned. I am no longer worthy to be a part of the family, so maybe can I earn and work for pay instead?
Luk 15:20-21 (Amplified)
20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
The son had prepared this long speech and he didn’t even managed to get his speech out. The father run to the son and rewards him and celebrates him like someone who has honoured the family name; like someone who has just come back with a successful investment. But it was just the opposite.
Luk 15:22-24 (Amplified)
22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe [for the guest of honor] and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand, and sandals for his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let us [invite everyone and] feast and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was [as good as] dead and is alive again; he was lost and has been found.’ So they began to celebrate.

What do these three stories tell you about who God is? The first story about a shepherd can be seen to be a picture of Jesus; the woman can be seen as a picture of the Holy Spirit; the father about God the Father. How all of the persons of God are completely in unity about one thing.
And it is ultimately not about sheep, coins and sons – it is about people.
Why does God hang out with unrighteous, “bad” people? Because when it comes to people, God is illogical. God never hedges God’s bets.
“Why do I hang out with these people? Because each one is of infinite value to me!”
You see the math of the world doesn’t work with God. We all look and evaluate the worth of things – we pick something up in the store – look at the price tag and match it against its value. This is worth it; that isn’t.

We compare ourselves: I come to church, I make more money, I have better body and better looks, I have a seminary degree, I have a title in the church, I must be worth much more than you are. God says: that may be your math, that may be your logic, but that is not mine.
You see the grace of God is a gift – it cannot be earned, it can only be received. But there where we have a problem – we can’t get past can’t earn, just receive. We want religion – the steps to enlightenment, the path to Nirvana, the law of God’s favour. The Gospel is not earning or trying, but just receiving. It was by God, from God, it is God meeting us in our place of need.
The Gospel reflects who God is – that our true worth cannot be found in the world we live in but only in the image that we were created in. What was is lost was not a sheep or a coin but our true identity.
Our true identity is not based on what the world judges, not based on the things that we do to try and earn it or diminish it. You are of infinite value to God and Jesus has come to seek and restore our true identity.

WHY WE GO THROUGH THE RUBBLE
So if God is here to redeem and restore our true identity, why then does God allow Jeremiah, the people of Israel and us to go through these difficult circumstances? Why are we allowed to be in rubble?
I want to go back to Jeremiah 29:11 which we read earlier – it is one of the most encouraging verses for me:
Jer 29:11 (Amplified)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
And we learnt earlier that this isn’t based around our circumstances or who we are. In God’s eyes, each and every person is of infinite value. So why the rubble of our circumstances? We need to read before and after this verse to get the context of this. Let’s back up to verse 10 –
Jer 29:10 (Amplified)
10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
So here we see the circumstances – the impending 70 years of exile. We see the covenant – I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.
Pauline shared last week in her introduction to the series that a) God has a bigger plan for us and it is for good; b) God has made all the provisions necessary for the plan; c) God’s plan will always come to pass.
That’s what God wants for us. But what God wants from us is our whole hearts. Our call is to respond to God in surrender. And we can see this in verses 12 and 13 –
Jer 29:12-13 (Amplified)
12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
So many times we have the revelation of what God wants for us (I am made in the image of God; I am of infinite value to God; I am loved exactly as I am), but we do not want to look at the response we are called to. And that is that God wants our whole hearts.
Just as all of God loves us wholeheartedly, we are called to love God with all our heart, all of our mind, all of our soul and all of our strength. And that requires surrender.

SURRENDER
What does it mean to surrender? It means that I stop fighting with my circumstances, with what people are doing to me.
It is so much easier to sing “I surrender all” in church, but taking it home and surrendering our will, our mind, our emotions, our attitudes to the first thing we don’t like is a whole different story.

How many know that it is easier to sing it in church than to go home and live it?
Jeremiah was asked by God to go out to and reveal the sins of the people and the impending disaster to his people and all he get is persecution, opposition, attacks, imprisonment, attempts on his life. Can you imagine how he felt – how discouraged, how tired, how emotionally down, how exhausted he was? He is known by the Jews as the weeping prophet.
He was in over his head doing something he didn’t want to do. Didn’t feel like doing it, didn’t want to do it, didn’t think it was a good idea.
But Jeremiah said, nevertheless I surrender, I will go do it.

And God sustained him through the entire time, and true to God’s promise, “attack you they will, overcome you they won’t.”
The Israelites were allowed to return from captivity 70 years after the fall of Jerusalem when Persia captured Babylon – true to God’s promise on the prophecy God gave Jeremiah.
Jeremiah himself didn’t have to wait that long to experience the return from rubble. If you read on in Jeremiah 39 & 40, after the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah receives an extraordinary blessing – he is shown kindness by the Babylonian king and is released and protected and given freedom to live wherever he wanted, unlike the nation of Israel.
We see this theme of surrender repeatedly in the Bible, but none more than the life of Jesus like the time in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus, weeping tears of blood, said, “Father not my will but Yours be done.”

And Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus humbled Himself, became obedient even unto death on the cross.
We are usually not asked to be obedient that we die physically, but we are asked to be obedient die to our own will and living by our emotions, our fears.
But as a result of that response of surrendering His will, Jesus was given the name that is above every name, on earth, above the earth and under the earth. He walked in great authority after He humbled Himself and was fully surrendered to the will of God.

One verse that captures Jesus’ response so well that has I want to share with you is found in 1 Pet 2:23 –
1 Pet 2:23 (Amplified)
23 While being reviled and insulted, He did not revile or insult in return; while He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance], but kept entrusting Himself and everything to Him who judges fairly.
Right there is the greatest amount of peace you can have in your whole life. When people don’t treat you right, when you are treated unkindly, when you are abused, when you are used, when you are mistreated at work, when you are overlooked, when you are hurt, disappointed, betrayed by people, they talk about you, judge you, criticize you, here’s what God wants from us – to remain the same.

Medical professionals today call this to learn to be mentally resilient. And mental resilience is the most important skill for an individual to learn to tackle all the major mental disorders, whether it is handling stress or depression. This recent article in the Straits Times (http://www.straitstimes.com/singapo…) says “being (mentally) resilient is to be able to (a) roll with the punches, (b) to accept the situations that one cannot change, and (c) to work around these situations.”
How can we remain the same? Because your identity is secure in who you are in God, and you are committed to do the will of God knowing that you are going to go through persecution but knowing it is going to work out good for you in the end.

What is the will of God? There are too many Christians in the body of Christ who are trying to get what they want instead of asking what God wants – “give me”.
God’s will is for us to love God wholeheartedly and to love God’s people the way God loves them. And Jesus calls us to go into all the world to preach the gospel make disciples of all nations. Jesus wants to follow His will and His example.

God is calling us today to make a change – to surrender our will so that we can be molded into God’s image – because you and I are destined to show God’s glory. And as a church – a community of Christ followers, we are called to be that witness, that foretaste and that instrument of God’s love. Are you willing to surrender you will and move from God “give me” to ask what God wants of you?

IDOLATRY – A WARNING
If you read through Jeremiah, you will see that the destruction of Israel was a consequence of a worship of other gods – or idols.
Today we may not be worshipping physical idols, but we worship other gods when we place our worth in other things apart from our identity we have in Christ – that is a form of idolatry. We worship other gods too when we place our will above the will of God.

I had dinner with Ernest last night and he asked me where I see the church in the second half of the year now that we have completed the planning the programmes for the first half.
My answer to him was “I don’t know.” And I explained that the outcome really depends on whether we as a people are surrendered or not to the will of God. Are we living of our own comfort and convenience, and placing our worth on other priorities and our will on ourselves, or are we here to preach the gospel, and make disciples? Are we willing to respond to the revelation to return from the rubble?

MY TESTIMONY
The thing that snapped me out of my cloud of emotional gloom this week was a catch up with a friend who needed a listening ear and some counsel and it meant that I had to give up one of the few evenings I had left to prepare for the sermon.

During dinner, he reminded me of the first time we ever met up and it was in Sydney when I was there for Hillsong Conference in 2002 or 2003. And I recalled the different chapters of our journey and the adventure I had been on learning what surrender means over the years and how life has turned out so differently from how I imagined it. It would take too long for me to tell you here but if you are interested to hear the journey, let’s do dinner sometime.

I don’t know what is going to happen in the future but I do firmly believe this at this point in my life, I know whether I like it or whether I don’t, whether it feels good or whether it doesn’t, whether I think it’s a good idea or whether I don’t, I believe it will work out good for me.

When you get to a place where you can believe that no matter what happens, God’s got a plan; I have a future and a hope, and in the end it will work out good. That’s when you are free. That’s when you are truly, truly, free.

You see I sunk into my gloom in the first place because I wasn’t able to roll with the punches, I wasn’t able to accept situations that could not be changed, and I wasn’t adapting and working around these situations and focusing on the one that I could work on.

And I was reminded this week of this very important principle: “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

CLOSING
Today as we close I want to ask you if you are ready to return from the rubble?
If you do, then I want to speak to two groups of people about a revelation and your response.
It is my call today to present the gospel but it is God who wants to reveal God’s heart to us and for us to respond to God today.
I am speaking to two groups of people today.

Maybe you have never had a revelation of God’s love for you. You have heard the Christmas story, you know cognitively that Jesus is Emmanuel – God who is with you. But you have never had an Epiphany that this is the creator of the universe who said that you were His greatest delight, made in God’s very own image, and this Jesus came to show you that you are of infinite worth, especially if others have told you that you are worth-less according to religion, according to their standards.

Today if you want to respond to the revelation that this God not just created you, but calls you worthy, calls you God’s beloved, is with you and for you then I want to pray with you as you respond to God’s love today to return from the rubble that the world has offered you into the revelation of God’s eternal, infinite and unchanging love for you.
Would you let me pray with you?

I made this same decision 20 years ago at a similar invitation, and my life has never been the same again.
You take one step towards God and God will run to receive you, embrace you and fill you will God love today. And I would love to pray a prayer of invitation with every single person today who wants to say yes to receive Jesus and the gift of salvation.

With every eye closed and every head bowed, if that is you and you want me to include you in that prayer, you don’t need to take a physical step but would you just take a step of faith to raise your hand in response to God’s invitation to return and to let me know to include you in a prayer that will see your heart connect with the heart of God? Thank you.
If you have a revelation and know who you are in Christ today, then I want to ask you if you will respond to God’s call to live from a place of surrender to God’s will, and not your will?

Maybe at one time you had set your heart to surrender all of your life to God but today you are living from a place of your will, your fears, your emotions, your comfort and convenience and not from a place of call.

God has a plan and purpose for your life and God’s promise is that you will be attacked but never overcome. You have a future and a hope. God’s thoughts are thoughts of good towards you. God wants you to just focus on God’s will and not your other gods where you have put your trust and your worth in. That’s idolatry and that was the reason why Jeremiah was raised to speak up against this and the disaster that is to come. If that’s being revealed to you to you today, let’s respond both individually and as a church today to say not my will but yours be done.

If that’s you would you just raise your hand as a response to God today. Thank you. Let us pray.

Dear Jesus, thank You for Your love for each and every one of us. Today we open up our hearts to receive You. Thank you for your grace and forgiving us for the things we have done or not done that have caused hurt to ourselves and to others. Thank you for restoring our brokenness and giving us a brand new start. We declare you my Lord and Saviour and ask that You guide us and lead us in living a life that witnesses who You are. Thank You for your grace. Thank You for salvation. In Jesus’ name and everybody said together, Amen!
Let’s give God praise! Thank you church.