“Purified in Humility”
Sunday, January 21, 2018
The Third Sunday after Epiphany
The Feast of the Lord, the Giver of Life
Jeremiah 31: 10 -17
1 Corinthians 15: 19 – 26
Matthew 18: 1 - 5
Today is the Feast of the Lord and Giver of Life, and we, as Charismatic Episcopal Church, a very pro-life Church, proclaim that all life is sacred. We uphold and promulgate the sanctity of life. All belongs to our God.
Why are you here? It is to know God and to make Him known! This is the mission statement of our Church and the Diocese of Northern Luzon. We are in existence here in this earth to know God and to make Him known. According to Jesus Christ, this is eternal l life. God is the Lord and Giver of life. He is the Defender of life and especially of those who are helpless. Any attack on life is an attack on God. All life belongs to Him and His life is in us. The life that we live is not ours, but God’s. God takes it personally because all life belongs to Him.
In Matthew 18, Jesus mentioned about the children. He confronts our culture. In many cultures, life of a child is not taken seriously. We see this in the abortion rates all over the world. Very few countries have lost against abortion. We don’t take children seriously. Children are seen not heard. God says that whoever devalues the life of children, they do it to Him because His life is in them. God hears the preborn helpless, the aborted victims, the afflicted, and those who cry for help. Know His heart, know His will, know what He has done for us, and know what He will bring to completion because this is our God. God will not keep silent.
God created the world good, but through the malice of the devil, sin entered the world, and death through sin. It ruined the harmony of creation; it ruined the seamless unity and beauty of creation. When man fell, the problem is not that man broke the law, and God is pissed. The problem is that man, by sinning, has contracted a fatal disease and God's heart is broken. I want us to shift from the legal perspective to a therapeutic perspective. The problem is not that man broke the law and God is angry. The problem is man has gotten this sickness and is fatal. Because man is the apple of His eye, God’s heart is broken. The problem is not that man deserves to be punished, but it is that man needs to be healed. God did something to heal the disease. God is a doctor, more than a judge.
In Jeremiah 31, God said, “I will set the people of Jacob free because I love them. I will save them from those who are stronger than they are.” The works of the devil, temptation, sin, death are stronger. They are the enemies of life and they are an attack on the very life of God. God rescues us, strengthens us and heals us. His will, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be an abundant life. In Greek, it is Zoe; Shalom. This is the original blessing, but the problem with us is that we put too much emphasis on the original sin. We forget the original blessing, the original design, the original intent, and the original will of God, which never changes, that is, to bless us. His creation was marred by sin, so He sent Jesus Christ to restore. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundant as it was in the beginning.”
God demonstrated His goodness in creation. God demonstrated His betterness in redemption, in restoration. God values human life so much that He gave His own life. How much does He value life? In God’s eyes, the value of human lives is that He gave away His son to ransom a slave who couldn’t deserve it less and will never deserve it at all. Romans 5:10 says, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, how much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” The result is that God blesses us.
Jeremiah 31 says, “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, the young and old together, and I will turn their mourning into joy and they shall rejoice from their sorrow, because God is at work.” He destroys that which destroys us. St. Paul said in 1Corinthians 15, “The last enemy to be abolished is death.” Death is an enemy. Sin is an enemy. God’s intention is not for us to have death, but it is life because it came from Him. He breathed into us.
In 2 Timothy 1:9-10, “God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life brought life and immortality to light.” 1John 3 says that Jesus came to take away our sins, to destroy the works of devil, not the afflicted, which afflict the afflicted. Acts 10:38 says, “Jesus came healing all the oppressed by devil.” He is not out to destroy those who are oppressed by the devil, but He came to heal them.
John 10:10 says that thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy, but Jesus came that they might have life and have it abundantly. God is not in the business of destroying. It is against His nature. In fact, in Hosea11, God says, “I am God. I don’t destroy. How can I give up Ephraim, my loved one?” If He gives up, it means that He is no longer God. A mother can forget her child, but God will never forget us because we are inscribed in the palm of His hands. If He forgets us, He is no longer God, and we will be in trouble.
In 2 Timothy 2:13, St. Paul says that if we are faithless, God remains faithful because He cannot deny Himself. We are His and He cannot be faithless against us because He cannot deny Himself. This is God's justice. Justice is simply a wrong being made right. God stands in the midst of nations, and He will right the wrong. Everything was good in creation, but it was marred by the enemy, so God rights the wrong. God is too good to see man and His creation dying and not do something about it. He will right the wrong; He will parry all attacks on life. We still see injustice all around us; we still live in the culture of death, but Hebrews 2:8 says that we don’t see all things subjected to man. This is why there is an anxious longing of creation wanting to be set free from futility. We are moving towards this direction.
In the meantime, there is an anxious longing. Psalm 10:1 starts with, “Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” In Psalm 22, Jesus said on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Did God really forsake Christ? Psalm 10:12 says, ‘Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up Your hand. Do not forget the afflicted. The unfortunate commits himself to You;
You have been the helper of the orphan. O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed,
So that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror.”
God did not forsake Christ. Psalm 22:23-24 says, “23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. 24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard.” God does not hide and we are expressing this longing because we don’t see yet the completion of the work of restoration, and this is why we have hope. What is hope? Romans 8:24-25 says, “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” Hope that is seen is not hope, but we have the assurance because faith is the substance of things we hope for and the evidence of things not yet seen.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 says that Christian hope is the resurrection in the life of the world to come. We believe in the life of the world to come. This is not yet the lifetime world to come. This is far from the quality of the life of the world to come. Why do we hope? This is because our assurance is in Jesus, who is the first fruits of everyone. Christ resurrected; so will we resurrect. Christ is the first fruits of those who have died. Christ is living in the world to come, and He comes to our life. The resurrected life of Christ is our future and Christ shows us the picture of the life of the world to come. He also gives us the direction on how to get there, and one day, all of us will be resurrected with Jesus.
Jesus is the first fruits of those who are asleep. He comes from that future and He encourages us. Since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection from the dead so that just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. The Phillips translation says, “As death entered world through a man, so has rising from dead come to us through a man! As members of a sinful race all men die; as members of Christ of God all men shall be raised to life.” The Message translation says, “There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ.”
We put too much emphasis on the original sin saying that we inherited all the original sin from Adam. St. Paul says that if we inherited sin from Adam, from Christ we inherited life. We have to believe the whole truth. Jesus gave us life and we inherit the life and the resurrection from the dead in the future.
Romans 5:8, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” We inherited original sin; we inherited life as well and it is God’s grace.
We are here to know God and to make Him known, thus we are to listen to His voice. He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit is saying, not what man is saying. Do not listen to man’s shortcomings, his mistakes, his weaknesses, and not what we see now temporarily. As I share, do not look at me, but at the miter (which represents flame of the Holy Spirit), and the alb that I am wearing and listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Before, the Gospel used to be sung, and we were distracted because we focused on how well or how bad it was sung, not in what the Spirit is telling us
In Jeremiah 31:16, it says, “Stop weeping; your work will be rewarded; there is hope for your future.” Romans 8 says, “Wait for what you do not see yet, and we wait with perseverance.” We wait not passively, but actively. Be diligent and be faithful, and work to the end to see this hope realized.
I have intentionally held back from a certain subject: the giving of offerings and tithes. It became a sensitive issue, but I will be short of being a pastor if I don’t deliver to you what God is saying and what God wants. We today give towards the CEC for Life, but we don’t get it from our other offerings. Giving has always been with us and God. We give our thanksgiving offering this goes to alms, to those in need. We give towards our church building, and this is our future or part of our future. Let us go back to being givers. Let us go back to having the image of God and His likeness in us. If, for some reason, we have stopped from giving or have slowed down from giving, say to the enemy, “Enough of your deceptions! God’s image and likeness is in me, and I will not entertain your thoughts anymore.”
I encourage you to make a vow or to make a pledge, but again, this is between you and God. It is an awesome privilege that God allows us to see half of what we hope for with regards to our Church building. Hope is something that we don’t see yet, but seeing the Church building being constructed, it should encourage us. I encourage us to pray, “Lord, Thy kingdom come in my heart. Thy will be done in my thoughts. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in my time, my treasure, my talent, my efforts, my wallet, my bank account, and in everything I do – in my treatment of my brother, in how I do my job, in how I behave during exams.”
Hebrews 6:10-12 says in NASB says, “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence [j]so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
The NIRV says, “10 God is fair. He will not forget what you have done. He will remember the love you have shown him. You showed it when you helped his people. And you show it when you keep on helping them. 11 We want each of you to be faithful to the very end. If you are, then what you hope for will fully happen. 12 We don’t want you to slow down. Instead, be like those who have faith and are patient. They will receive what God promised.”
The NLV says, “10 God always does what is right. He will not forget the work you did to help the Christians and the work you are still doing to help them. This shows your love for Christ. 11 We want each one of you to keep on working to the end. Then what you hope for will happen. 12 Do not be lazy. Be like those who have faith and have not given up. They will receive what God has promised them.”
Don’t do things for a reward, but for the next generation. This Church building will benefit them and will give them hope. This is just part of our hope. Be faithful to the end. It doesn’t matter our status, for what we hope for will happen. We give towards the Church building, and we are told to persevere and be faithful until its completion. The completion is not the completion of the building; it is only a part. The end is all the days of our lives. This is not actually the end, but the start of the life of the next generation whom we love.
In our Corporate Petition, we pray, “…facilities in which Your people, being restored in Your image and ever growing in love for You, might become a habitation of Your presence and ministers of Your life.” This is one of the venues of the Cathedral of the King. We do it in our work place, in our homes, in our communities. Do not lose hope. Do not give up. Do not slow down. The enemy has deceived us enough. We have listened to the wrong voice. The right voice is that God’s image and likeness are in us. If we stop walking and behaving according to the image and likeness of God, according to His being a blessing, according to His being a Giver, according to His being a lover, then, we allow the enemy to have his way in us and the culture of death to get the better of us.
Enough is enough! God’s life is in us. Today is not just about abortion. Today is about the sanctity of life, and that life is in us. We are to walk according to this life. Not against it! Against it is hatred, withholding, lying and gossiping. But life is giving, loving, having compassion, having mercy and being nice to people, even to those who hate us and to those whom we hate. Enough is enough. Walk according to life of God in us because this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.
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PART 2 OF 2 PARTS