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Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 9th December, 2018

Some of you might be aware of, or even remember the news stories that came later, about the Japanese Lieutenant who was ordered to go to an Island in the Philippines called Lubang, towards the end of the Second World War.  He was ordered to stay there, to never stop fighting – never surrender the island to the enemy.  

In his isolated and hidden position, he never received word that only a few months after he got there, the war ended.

For thirty years, he continued to fight a war that existed only in his own mind.

About ten years after he was deployed to the island, he read an article in a local newspaper about himself – but he thought it was a trick of the enemy to get him to surrender.  There were leaflets dropped by air throughout the jungle – but again, he thought it was a ploy of the enemy.

During that time he shot and killed about 30 of the local islanders, believing they were the enemy.  It’s not that people didn’t try to get to him.

It wasn’t until his retired army commander personally came to him in the jungle and ordered him to surrender, that he came out from his hiding place, and out from his own war.

He then lived on til 91 years of age.  He wrote a number of books – One was called, “No Surrender – My 30 Year War.”

It’s extraordinary to think something like that could ever happen in the modern world.  But it did.

But it’s also extraordinary, that there are multitudes of men and women who are still fighting a daily war within themselves – when in reality, freedom was won for all of us over 2,000 years ago.

And I’m not just talking about those who haven’t made a decision to follow Christ and accept His forgiveness.  I’m talking about Christians who still live under the oppression of the enemies lies and deception, or who have failed to step into the fullness of the revelation of who they are – and what Jesus Christ has actually accomplished for them.

I think this is a very apt message as we lead up to Christmas.  

I have these words ringing in my head that were spoken about the wise men…

Matthew 2:10,  “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy…”

The Passion Translation says:

Matthew 2:10 (Passion),  “And when they saw the star, they were so ecstatic that they shouted and celebrated with unrestrained joy.”

Their joy wasn’t about a distant star.  It was because the star was a sign that the Messiah had finally come.

And then there was the proclamation from the angels who said,

Luke 2:14,  “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace…”   

What is my message about this morning?  It’s about what it actually means, that we have been reconciled to God our Father, through Jesus Christ His Son.  

We’ve not only been forgiven; we’ve not only had the price for our own sin paid for by Jesus, the Righteous One; we’ve not only been given the gift of eternal life; but the greatest reality in the whole thing is that we have been reconciled in our relationship with our Father in Heaven.

What that means is that we are now free from the confines of our brokenness.  We are now free because the war is over! Everything about our lives has been fully reconciled!  That’s the truth!

Don’t be satisfied that you have made a decision to allow Jesus Christ into your life.  That’s just the beginning of a brand new journey and experience in life.  It’s only the beginning of living a life of celebration and unrestrained joy!

It’s the Wise Men and the Angels that really understood what the birth of Christ meant. His coming heralded in a new era of freedom, joy and peace that the world had never experienced before.

Many of you already know the reality of that joy and peace that I’m talking about.  You didn’t work it up in yourself.  You experienced it as a gift from God when you had the revelation of what it means to be brought back into the presence of your heavenly Father – when you experienced the powerful reality of reconciliation with Him.

I’ll never stop sharing the moment I experienced Jesus Christ’s love for me and the moment He reconciled me back to God my Father.  It was an overwhelming love and joy and gratitude that I could never bring upon myself.  

I’ve told you many times – I was in a motel room at Sydney Airport – on my own – as I thought…  but suddenly the room was filled with a glorious presence – and I was spiritually and emotionally overwhelmed.

It was His love.  His joy.  His peace in my heart that everything had suddenly changed.  All of a sudden everything was made right – and I know that it was the moment I was reconciled in my relationship with my Father.

1Peter 3:18,  “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,”

That’s what ultimately Jesus did.  He brought us to God.

Romans 5:11,  “And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

Reconciliation.  It’s a powerful word.  It means enemies have now been made friends.  It means a relationship has been completely restored.  It means restoration, and a bringing back together again.

And to be honest – the fact that our lives have been completely reconciled to God our Father, should be the one thing that overrides and speaks into every other aspect of our lives.

At our baptism, we hear these words:

Romans 6:4,  “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

There’s a newness of life in Christ.  

We have to get the lie out of our heads, that walking with Christ and being brought back into relationship with God, means we then live some kind of boring, religious, mellow life, where we just become good people living good lives…  it’s meant to be so much more than that!  

The wise men were so ecstatic and celebrated with unrestrained joy, because the birth of the Christ child meant real peace and joy had finally arrived.  They had been waiting for so long – generation after generation – for this moment.  

I can’t make you feel the joy!  You can’t make yourself feel something.  But there’s definitely a revelation that brings with it an incredible emotional response…  knowing at our core, the incredible freedom that comes with being a brand new creation, walking in newness of life.  

This morning – let that gratitude and the reality of the truth sink in to your spirit and your heart.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20,  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”

I know we talk about these things all the time.  And we need to.  Because we need to get it.  Don’t rob yourself of the joy that God wants to impart into your life because of your own unbelief or negativity or hopelessness.

This is going to be the biggest difference that we have from those who are yet to discover Christ.  

The love, joy and peace that comes from knowing that you are completely one with God again, will shout to the world – just like the Wise Men shouted to the world with unrestrained joy and the Angels declared…  and shouted peace!

If you don’t already have it – you can have peace.  You can have joy.  

And for those that you love, whether they’re unsaved, or whether they are just discontented, dissatisfied, dislocated Christians…  all you can do is pray for them and implore them to step fully into the place of reconciliation and restoration that is theirs.

If we can somehow get the message across, that the first thing, the main thing, the greatest opportunity for being healed and restored and reconciled in all other areas of life, is when we are first of all reconciled with our Heavenly Father.

If you have a loved one who is going through stuff – living through a war of circumstances, a war of relationships, a war of identity confusion, a war of poverty…  the best thing you can do is to implore them to seek God for themselves – not just for what He can do for them, but because His Word says:

Psalm 16:11, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

You know, we tell our non Christian friends that they just need to come to Jesus as they are.  Not to try and change themselves or try and make themselves perfect before God will accept them.  We know they can’t change a thing until Jesus touches them on the inside and transforms them from the inside out.  We know that from our own experience.

Well as the journey continues in Christ, we grow…  we grow in sanctification, we move from glory to glory, our mind becomes renewed in the Word of God…  we begin to understand that the revelation of who God is and who we are continues to unfold for us…

And I guess what I’m trying to say here, is that even as Christians, we can sometimes be so familiar with the battles and the war that used to rage in our previous life before Christ, that the war can sometimes continue on in our own mind…  

Jesus died for every sin and every battle we face.  His shed blood was enough to deal with it all.

And I’m doing my best to try and say, that if we could really grab hold of the truth and the reality that we are now reconciled in every way…  and we can finally surrender to those battles in our own mind – then we can trust the continued process of sanctification into His hands.

We know we are saved by grace alone – why do we then think the continued journey has to be worked out by us in our own strength?  By grace we are saved, by grace the battles are overcome, by grace we are sanctified and made righteous and empowered to walk according to God’s Word.

God the Father is the author and the finisher of our reconciliation.  Our part is simply to surrender!  To simply say, here I am, my life is yours, my struggles are yours, my battles are yours…

All throughout the bible – from the very beginning to the end – there’s the powerful theme of God’s overcoming, victorious power to not only save but to restore and reconcile.

Isaiah 45:2-3,  “‘I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.”

God has gone before us.  He’s putting things in right order.  He’s putting your life in right order.  He promises to do it!  He will break down the things in your life that need to be destroyed and removed.  And He will uncover the hidden riches of your life.

You can’t do it!  But He can.  In fact He already has!  But we need to stop fighting the battles that have already been won.  

And He is so personal about it.  He says, “I call you by your name!”  He knows us intimately.  He knows your name intimately.  Your name stands for who you are!  Your life!

Exodus 14:13-14,  “And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

So it was in the natural battles between nations – so it is with the battles that rage within ourselves.  He is saying to us this morning – see what I will accomplish for you today.  I’ll do the fighting – I’ll do the restoring – just hold your peace.

That’s even more true for us today because we are now fully reconciled to The Father.  We should be shouting with unrestrained joy at these promises.  

Jeremiah 1:8,  “Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord.”

The face of fear, the face of rejection, the face of grief, the face of shame…  God says, I will deliver you from the face of brokenness and woundedness. I will deliver you from the face of the enemy – the face of his lies and deceptions…

All these things disappear when we truly encounter the face of God our Father…  

Job 33:26,  “He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, He shall see His face with joy, For He restores to man His righteousness.”

Coming back to Psalm 16 again, where it says, “In your presence is the fullness of joy!”    The Passion Translation says:

Psalm 16:11 (Passion),  “For you bring me a continual revelation of resurrection life, the path to the bliss that brings me face-to-face with you.

Another version talks about us shining from the radiance of His face.

2 Corinthians 4:6,  “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

There is scripture after scripture that reaffirms over and over again that because we have been reconciled to the Father through Jesus Christ, we can come right into the face of God where His radiance and glory dwell – and it’s a place of overwhelming intimacy…  

In the place of intimacy He sees us.  We see Him.  We encounter Him.  And the indescribable joy and peace that flows from being with Him is overwhelming.

That’s reconciliation!  That’s God’s message to us this morning.  Shout out like the angels.  Rejoice like the shepherds – with unrestrained joy.

Take hold of the truth that you are fully reconciled.  Stop living out the war!  Yes there are battles that we face from without – the world we live in is screwed up because of man’s own doing.

But the war within is won already.

When you know how much your Father loves you, you can do anything, you can become anything, you can be reconciled in anything.

I want to finish with one of the most revealing stories of why Jesus came.  It’s the moment that Mary returned to the tomb and found it empty.  She was distressed, because the body of her son, her Saviour, her Messiah, was gone.

John 20:14-17, (Passion),  “Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realize that it was him! He said to her, “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Mary answered, thinking he was only the gardener, “Sir, if you have taken his body somewhere else, tell me, and I will go and. . .” “Mary,” Jesus interrupted her. Turning to face him, she said, “Rabboni!” (Aramaic for “my teacher”).   

Jesus cautioned her, “Mary, don’t hold on to me now, for I haven’t yet ascended to God, my Father. And he’s not only my Father and God, but now he’s your Father and your God! Now go to my brothers  and tell them what I’ve told you, that I am ascending to my Father—and your Father, to my God—and your God!”

This morning, I’m imploring you, turn your face towards the face of your Father…  If you would just turn your face towards His…  and come into that place of intimacy, come into that revelation of what it means for you to be completely and fully reconciled to Him as your Father, you will experience the most glorious, unrestrained, healing, freeing, perfect joy…  and that’s where we are made whole.  That’s where the revelation that the war has been won, becomes real!

The hashtag that goes with International Network of Churches, of which this church is a part, is “Born For More.”  This is part of the “more” that it’s referring to. 

This message is for us.  But it’s for more than us.  You have been commissioned and set apart as ministers of reconciliation.  We need to be carrying joy and peace and reconciliation to those in our family and in our world, who have never experienced it.  And I include many Christians in that.  

How many have made a decision at the altar and yet not fully entered into the joy and freedom of their salvation?  How many Christians have found themselves isolated and separated from the body of Christ for whatever reason? – there are thousands of reasons! 

This message is for them as well as for those who are still in the valley of decision.  This message really is for us first – and then these others.

Our Commanding Officer…  I doubt if I’ve ever called Him that…  But our Lord and Saviour… is calling us to surrender…  stop trying to win a war that isn’t yours to win.  Stop trying to win a war that has already finished.

It is finished!  Everything is finished! The work of salvation, the debt for our sin and our brokenness – it’s all finished.

It’s time we all entered into that rest – that peace – that incredible joy!

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