2 Cor. 5:16-19 (NIV) 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
“In the light of God, the incarnated God…we’re at a moment in history, we’re at a moment of discipleship in the gospel. We got to go back to the basics of the gospel and tell this story about God’s justice – the Jubilee is here! We can have the forgiveness of sin, we can have salvation!” [John Perkins, message video]
In what two directions do we see God’s reconciling work in v.18 and v.19?
What do those two directions imply for this ministry of reconciliation in/through our lives?
As part of new creation reality, we’re called to do justice far beyond ourselves – to get involved in God’s rescue and reconciling work in the lives of others!
Let’s worship to the song, “How Great Is Your Love” (click here) by Passion.
Prayer: Thank you Jesus, for your reconciling work that brought us close to you! Help us carry this message of reconciliation to others you lead us to. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
1 John 4:10-12 (NIV) 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
“Thus the kind of justice that accords with God’s character is, accordingly, dynamic rather than static, creative rather than codified, realistic rather than idealistic. It is neither merely forensic, nor merely religious, for it is covenantal justice. It rightly orders the relation of people to God, and thereby to one another.” [Justice, ISBE, p.1167]
What would you say is the link between this dynamic justice and loving one another?
1 John 4 also addresses the lack of love for one another, which could be viewed through the lens of injustice in our hearts towards others. Let’s pray for ourselves and those in our ministries/small groups that the internal barriers, hardness of heart, thinking others cannot change, would be broken through and overcome because of our Lord who so loves us!
Let’s worship to the song “Even Louder” (click here) by People of the Earth.
Prayer: Father, thank you that we’ve gotten to experience your agape love for us, and for others! Rightly order our relationships and help us to biblically love others around us. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Psalm 146:7-9 (NIV) 7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, 8 the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
Ethics are the values of God’s kingdom/God’s justice in action to set things right, to turn this world right side up through his faithful and righteous people.
Dignity is bestowed upon us by our Creator, as each one is created in the image of God. We are to care about others, not because of what they deserve or simply because of their needs, but the imago Dei represented in each human being.
In this passage, how do you see both the upholding of Biblical ethics as well as the divine care related to the dignity of every person made in God’s image?
How does this encourage you to live today pursuing justice?
Let’s surrender our lives once again to the Lord as we sing “Hymn of Surrender” (click here) by Matt Redman.
Prayer: Lord, we’ve been made new with kingdom values produced in our hearts and lives. Help us today to notice what you want us to notice, to act and respond to you and to others as you would have us do! In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
By human standards of equity and fairness, would this passage qualify as justice?
How would you see God’s justice at work here?
“Jesus embodied justice throughout his life. And yet Jesus would ultimately display justice in the most shocking way. He brought about justice not by punishing the wicked but by taking their place. On the cross he who was righteous and just died in the place of the wicked and cruel. The judge took the place of the judged. The just died for the unjust. Why? To make us righteous. To make us just.” [Jeremy Treat, Seek First, Kindle location 1951]
The true injustice is created humanity’s unreasonable rejection of loving Creator God – pervasive and systemic since Genesis 3. Here we see justice as the great reversal, God demonstrating his own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!
In thanksgiving, let’s worship to the song “This Is Amazing Grace” (click here) by Phil Wickham.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for what you’ve done for us, we thank you that your justice completely turned the tables, our lives belong to you now! In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Micah 6:8 (NRSV) 8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
In the Old Testament not only do we see the revelation of who God is, we also see the fundamental nature of how human beings are to relate to Him. There are several key passages that summarize and capture the latter: the Ten Commandments, the Shema in Deuteronomy 6, and this passage in Micah 6:8.
What is the difference of these three requirements vs. premeditated, periodic external actions that some at the time (and now) consider as what faith/relationship with God consists of?
Do you see doing justice with the same necessity and fundamental importance as the other two when it comes to following the Lord?
“Most people know that Jesus came to bring love and mercy, but few recognize that he also came to bring justice. In the book of Isaiah, the Lord expresses the Messiah’s mission in this way: ‘I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations’ (Isa. 42:1). The hope of Israel was that a messiah would come and restore the beautiful order of God’s creation.” [Jeremy Treat, Seek First, Kindle location 1940]
Let’s worship to the song, “God of Revival” (click here) by Bethel Music.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for fulfilling and living out doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God. Fill me with your power to do the same! In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your name. May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others. Keep us from being tempted and protect us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours. Now and forever. Amen.
“Practically: as I was preparing this message, it was brought to mind that whenever we are to approach doing God’s work, the emphasis is in the work of prayer! That ministry, outreach, evangelism, encouragement, and building of God’s kingdom occur in the place of prayer. That prayer is not the covering for the work that we do on the ground, nor it is an added benefit. Rather, prayer is ‘the’ work of evangelism, pastoral care, counseling, healing, preaching.” [Pastor Gus’ message]
Let’s together pray the Lord’s Prayer (above) over the ministries of Agapé Churches and for the specific ministry and outreach that you are involved with.
Let’s worship and proclaim the victory through our Lord Jesus with “The Anthem” by Planetshakers:
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NIV) 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
“Ever since, I have been always in awe of what God did. Through that experience, I became convinced that I am secured in the provision of God, and I can fully depend on him. More importantly, God changed how I view my life – I no longer live for myself, but for the Lord. He has a purpose for me, a purpose that is so much greater than my own dream and ambition.” [Larry’s testimony]
We heard on Sunday that the banner is about presence, God’s presence with us his people. For us today, this is distinctly through the Holy Spirit, the one who indwells and fills us.
What is the link between the Spirit and the experiential freedom talked about in v.17?
From v.18 (also reflected in Larry’s testimony), what happens in addition to or along with that unprecedented freedom?
Let’s pray: Lord, where your Spirit is there is true freedom as well as true change! Thank you for your presence with us and in us. Fill Agape Churches with your fire even more, fall on us again, that we would burn brighter and brighter for your glory in this generation! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Exodus 17:8-9 (NIV) The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered…
“The ‘tomorrow’ here is not like later, or tomorrow not today. The word ‘tomorrow,’ whenever in Scripture Moses says ‘tomorrow’ it’s always associated with ‘tomorrow you’ll see the glory of God!’” [Pastor Gus’ message]
We may have various emotions and thoughts when considering tomorrow/the future, whether fear or uncertainty or dread. But today as we hear the Scripture, may the word “tomorrow” speak to the reality that tomorrow we will see the glory and victory of the Lord! And may we, like Joshua, then go at once in obedience to the Lord to do the task He has set before us.
Let’s pray: Lord, we confess that at times we give in to the fears and uncertainties of what lies ahead, but now we turn to You in this confession and proclamation that tomorrow is when we will see Your deliverance, Your provision, Your victory! Thank you for the assurance that comes in Your presence and in Your promises. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Exodus 17:11-13 (NIV) 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
“But it is precisely here that we must remember the larger picture. The daily battles to be won must be seen within the context of the cosmic battle that Christ has already won. We see this in principle already in Exodus 17:8-16.” [NIVAC, Exodus, 362]
The Israelites at that time consisted of weakened, untrained former slaves and were attacked in cowardly fashion by the Amalekites. What the Amalekites did not realize is that this is God’s people, his treasured possession and to attack them is an attack on the LORD. Joshua is sent out to fight, but ultimately the battle belongs to the LORD.
What is the function of Moses’ raised hands and staff?
How does that function relate to what Christ has done for us?
Let’s pray: Jesus, your life, death and resurrection decisively won the battle once and for all, and may that victory also be experienced more in our daily life as your people. This is ultimately not our battle, but yours, we trust you Lord! In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Exodus 17:15 (NIV) 15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.
“A banner was usually a flag, streamer, or wrought emblem affixed to the end of a standard. It was common in the ancient world for banners to be used for military, national, or religious purposes in much the way they are today. The purpose of the banner was to indicate the rallying point or any group holding a common cause.” [ISBE, Banner, 409]
We are all familiar with the usage of banners to identify groups and causes. A lighter example would be home team sports colors, uniforms and logos. A more serious example (as in this passage) is war, as seen in movie depictions or iconic art pieces (e.g. Planting The Flag on Iwo Jima). As God’s people, however, our Banner is ultimately not a piece of cloth nor a symbol, but the LORD Himself.
What or who do you tend to look to in the midst of extended difficulty or struggle?
Are there areas where you feel mentally or physically exhausted and the temptation to give up, settle, or to keep fighting by yourself/for yourself?
Let’s turn to the LORD as we worship to the song “Way Maker”by Sinach (cover by Leeland):
Let’s pray: Lord, we look to You in the midst of various difficulties or struggles. You alone are our Banner. Our motivation, our reliance, our identity, our hope is found only in You today! In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.