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2012-04-15 We are one in Christ

Time: 2012-04-18 Click:

By Gloria Li
15 Apr. 2012 Sunday

 

 

 

 

Media Resources:

 

Sermon: We are one in Christ video audio doc
Worship song: Draw Me Close To You video audio lyric
Worship song: Knowing You Jesus video audio lyric
Worship song: He Is Exalted video audio lyric
Worship song: Gift 礼物 video audio lyric

 

 

Prayer: Presider Jessica Wang 

 

My dear brothers and sisters, I’m really happy to see you here today, and we can get together to worship our God and sing praise to our God, and experience the power of resurrection. Before we start the service, I want to share a short story with all of you. Yesterday I attended a ten-year ceremony of one of the choirs in this church; this choir was my first ministries when I came to this church. I was very touched by seeing how God works in each of our lives when I attended this ceremony. Many people no longer are serving here in this church though, as God sent them to different places in China, or other churches in Beijing. When I talked with them and heard their testimonies, I found that it’s really good that our God works in each of our hearts and lives, and God makes us grow spiritually through many different ways. I also felt very encouraged by the love of each other. You know we humans are limited. Sometimes we would have quarrel with each other, and we often make mistakes and easy to get angry just because of some small things when we were young. But several years later, we would find that actually it’s good for us because God wanted to use them to make us grow, and let us know that we need to grow in Him in different areas. Many people came back here from different places, when we got together yesterday, we did not have any quarrel with each other because we know that was a great chance for us to get together again.

So dear brothers and sisters, I just want to share with you: to love one another and build up each other in Christ, and then our God will work in our heart and in our lives, and God will let us grow. So let us bow down and pray together before the service.

Dear Lord, our Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, Trinity God. We are so thankful for what you have done in our lives. Thank you so much for sending your One and Only Son Jesus Christ to this world for the sake of loving us. Lord Jesus Christ, thank you so much that through your blood, we can come to God and be accepted by God. Lord Jesus Christ, we know your love is amazing and powerful, which changes our lives. Lord we know not because we loved you first, but because you loved us first, so that we can realize your love and then come to you. Lord please help us and teach us and let us unite in you; help and teach us and let us love each other, accept each other, and build up each other in Christ’s love.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, today I want to lift up all the brothers and sisters here in your hands. Lord we know that each of us is the one you love best and died for, and the one you want to renew our lives and give the eternal life to, and make our lives abundant.

 

Lord please speak to us through your servant and let us know how amazing that Jesus Christ you can accept us and save us from the darkness. God today our brothers and sisters have different prayers in our life, job, and family, please come to us, let us feel your presence, strengthen us through your Word. God today I especially lift up your servant Gloria in your hands, please be with her, send Holy Spirit upon her, and anoint her with your oil; through her we can know your power, your love and your will to all of us, let us be united in you through Jesus Christ. I want to lift up all the people who serve you here in your hands, please be with us; especially I want to lift up the technical team, host team and worship team in your hands.

 

Let us be united in you through Christ, serve together for Christ, and see your glory here in this church. We want to praise you and worship you, I want to lift up the rest of our time in your hands, please be with us. Let all of us feel your presence, and be touched by your power and your love. Pray in Jesus name. Amen.

 
 

 

 

 

 Worship song 1 : Draw Me Close to You

Verse 1 Draw me close to you. Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear you say that I'm your friend
Verse 2 You are my desire. No one else will do
Coz nothing else could take your place
To feel the warmth of your embrace
Help me find the way, bring me back to you
Chorus You're all I want. You're all I've ever needed
You're all I want. Help me know you are near

 

 

Worship song 2: Knowing You

Verse 1 All I once held dear, built my life upon,
All this world reveres and wars to own;
All I once thought gain I have counted loss,
Spent and worthless now compared to this
Chorus Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness,
And I love You Lord.
Verse 2 Now my heart's desire is to know You more,
To be found in You and know as Yours,
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All surpassing gift of righteousness
Verse 3 Oh to know the power of Your risen life,
And to know You in Your sufferings;
To become like You in Your death, my Lord,
So with You to live and never die.

 Worship song 3: He is exalted

Verse He is exalted. The King is exalted on high
I will praise him
He is exalted forever exalted
And I will praise His name
Chorus He is the Lord
Forever His truth shall reign
Heaven and earth rejoice in His Holy name
He is exalted
The King exalted on high

 

 

Worship song 4: Gift 礼物

Verse 我想要一件礼物 wo xiang yao yi jian li wu
我想要一个神迹 wo xiang yao yi ge shen ji
我需要方向 wo xu yao fang xiang
我需要曙光 wo xu yao shu guang
只要是一个问候 zhi yao shi yi ge wen hou
只要是一句关心 zhi yao shi yi ju guan xin
你爱 ni ai
可以安慰我的心 ke yi an wei wo de xin
Chorus 哦主耶稣 o zhu ye su
哦主耶稣 o zhu ye su
求你来 qiu ni lai
来充满我的心 lai chong man wo de xin
哦主耶稣 o zhu ye su
哦主耶稣 o zhu ye su
你爱 ni ai
可以满足我的心 ke yi man zu wo de xin

 

 
 
 

 

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:11-22
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) —
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,
16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

 

Sermon:

 

Good morning everyone, could you please join me with a prayer.

 

Dear Heavenly Father: thank you so much for giving us a chance to worship you, to listen to your Word. Lord we know you have power and your Word can be our comfort direction and light in our daily life. So Lord please come to us and may you speak to our hearts, may your Holy Spirit come upon us, giving us your strength. Lord, I want to lift up myself into your hands, you know my weakness and heart. So please put your power upon my weakness, and may all of us see the Gospel of power in you. Lord, may you be with us and protect the rest of sermon time, may you be glorified through us, we pray in your name, Amen.

  
 

 

Firstly, I want to share a story, last Monday, I went to Yuyuantan Park with one of my friends, and my friend found a stone. When I saw this stone, I was so excited because it was shaped like a heart, and I had been looking for a heart-shaped-stone for a long time. You can see on the PPT. When you see this side of the stone, there are several spots on it, but when you turn it over, you can see a smooth beautiful heart. This stone made me think about our own life. In Christ, we are considered righteous people in God’s sight.

 

However, we still have a lot of sins after we were saved. So recently, I think everyone in this world is both lovely and horrible, do you agree with this? Do you think you are both lovely and horrible? Sometimes we are very good, as a Christian, we are very spiritual in others’ eyes. We love God and we love to serve Him and others, we love to encourage and support others, to help others who are in need. But we also still have some flaws which we need God to remove from our own life. Like the flawed side of this stone. Many spots or sins are inside of us, because of our own sins or sins of others, sometimes we couldn’t accept others, even though we are all Christians at church, even though we are on the same mission, we still fight with each other, and guess what? When I look at Ephesians 2:11-22, I can see the exact same thing happened in the church almost 2000 years ago. There were some people who had some problems with unity.

 

Well, who were the exact people having problems with unity in Ephesians 2? There were two main groups that didn’t get along in the church: the Jews and the gentiles. First, we all know Jesus He’s a Jew. Christianity started first among Jewish people. It’s not among us, but among Jewish people. However this wasn’t the only reason to lead a unity problem. But for Jewish people, they had a very strong cultural identity as God’s chosen people. In the Old Testament, we are told that God were  pursuing Jewish people with His passionate love.

 

And who are gentiles? They are not Jews, you know what that means? I’ll give you an example. When in the temple, many Jewish people they would thank God like this: Lord I thank you, I’m not a woman, I’m not a slave, I’m not a gentile. So Jewish people thought themselves as holy people. They thought they were called by God. They had a calling from God and they are holy people in God’s eyes, they are chosen people by God. So they despised gentiles, they didn’t believe gentiles would have a chance to go to Heaven one day. As Ephesians 2 shows, they called gentiles as “uncircumcised”. They believed gentiles were excluded from the citizenship in Israel as well as the covenants and promises with God. So here we can see how this would lead to a problem of unity.

 

But dear brothers and sisters, our God’s work is beyond all people’s imagination including that of Jewish people. The promise of forgiveness and redemption are not only for Jewish people but for all the people whom God had chosen according to His will. As the Passion Week just passed, we remembered Jesus’ death and why He died, He died for all sinners. Through His blood, God does save Jewish people, and God also saves gentiles. Because of His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus has destroyed the barrier—the dividing wall of hostility. So when we go back to the heart-shape-stone story, it makes me think we are all in the process of being formed in Christ’s image of love, the Holy Spirit is working inside our hearts to save us, to work out the flaws

 

Therefore as we work together and surrender our lives to the Lord, our lives can be transformed by God. We can be unified and turned into one heart, one body in Christ. We can build a beautiful picture--a heart of unity. But there are two major temptations a Christian may face in relationships to cause the unity problem: One is to think too highly of himself; the other is to think to lowly of himself. For those who are tempted too highly, the Bible says in

 

Romans 12:3-6: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with somber judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

 

So all of us here, you may think you are so powerful, you may think you are so smart, but no matter how powerful you are, no matter how smart you are, no matter how talented you are, no matter how beautiful you are, no one is more valuable than others, we all make up the family of God together. Remember we all make up the family of God together, we all make up the unity together, because we are one, because we are all in Christ. We can make a heart of unity. Conversely, some of you think you are not that great, maybe you are a Christian, but you don’t feel like you are very important. You don’t feel like you are very good. And to you, the Bible says in

 

1 Corinthians 1: 26-29: Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things-and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

 

Recently I also keep thinking I am not good enough. Even though I am an associate pastor at church, maybe in your eyes, you think:”Oh, you are a pastor, you should be very spiritual. But in my own life, in my daily life, I still make many mistakes. Somehow I am impatient. I don’t love others. I don’t like this person. I may have some weaknesses. So I keep thinking: why did God save me?” I ask God:” Lord, why do you save me? Why did you decide to choose me as your servant? Why did you decide to die for me, for this ugly person, for this sinful person?” Because I am good? Absolutely not! Because I am able to become a better person by myself? Absolutely not! Why? Why did you save me? Why did you die on the cross? Why did you suffer so much for the sake of me? I am not worthy. So I keep thinking why.

 

The only reason is because of our Lord Jesus Christ’s unending love, unconditional love, unchanging love. Why did He call me to be His servant? Because I am better than others? Because I am more spiritual than others? I don’t think so. I think it is because when I stand here, when I stand on this stage, when I stand to speak His Word to others, it is only to testify God’s power. It is only a testimony of Him. I am a testimony of Him. It is not because I am more spiritual. It is not because I am better than you. It is only because God wants to use a weak person to glorify His Holy name to testify the Gospel is the power of God.

 

So as the rest of 1 Corinthians 1 continues in verses 30 to 31: “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” So, can you remember this? It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus.

 

Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, why we can be in Christ? It is all about Him. It is because of Him we are in Christ Jesus. It is because of Him we are in Holy Spirit. It is not because I can have good behavior. No, it is not because of me, it is not because I can change my life; it is not because you have talent so God use you. It’s only because of Him. So we are in Christ Jesus. Even though I am not good, God still uses me to glorify His Holy name.

 

Dear brothers and sisters, you may be like me, a sinful person, a totally sinful person, a totally guilty person, but to be saved by Jesus Christ. But God wants to use people like you and me and we serve together with different personalities and different gifts. You may have a gift of preaching; you may have a gift of playing guitar; you may have a gift of singing; you may have a gift to welcome others, to smile to others, to host others; you may have a gift to make videos. But with all of different gifts, we work and serve together, and we can turn into one body, one heart in Christ. We can make up a heart of unity. To be saved by Christ because of His transformation, we make up the most beautiful picture in this world--a beautiful heart of unity.

 


 

So what should we do, how do we pursue this heart of unity Christ desires for us?

 

1 Peter4:8: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

 

So dear brothers and sisters, let us be full of God’s love, and use this love to cover our own sins and overlook the faults of others. And then we can join together to be one beautiful heart to serve our Lord together, to serve in unity.

 

But where does this love come from? Dear friends, brothers and sisters, have you ever tried to love someone in your own strength? It’s really difficult. Isn’t it?

 

If I love someone else completely, what if they don’t love me back? But where does this love come from? That comes from the important fact of our identity in Christ. Because Christ accepts us, we accept others. We can support and love others.

 

John4:19: We love because He first loves us.

 

We are secure in our identity as God’s beloved, so we are free to love others. So according to Ephesians 2, what is our identity in Christ? We can see from the first part of Ephesians 2, like two weeks ago what Randy shared: “We have been saved by Jesus Christ. This is by grace and through faith”. Paul continues in Ephesians 2 from verses 11 to 21 by saying who you are in Christ. Let’s look over what is our new identity in Christ.

 

First, you are brought near Christ because of His bloods

You have peace for Jesus is our peace; through his sacrifice, he reconcile us with our God.

Because of Christ, gentiles and Jews become one family.

You are reconciled with God by Christ.

 

Gentiles and Jews both have access to the Father by one spirit. You are follow citizens with God’s people. You are members of God’s household. You are built by Christ. Gentiles and Jews are one instead of two. We are unified. Gentiles and Jews are holy temple. Gentiles and Jews divinely live by His Spirit. You know what? In the past, in Jewish peoples’ eyes, gentiles could not be saved by God and they should be perished and go to the hell. But now gentiles and Jewish people can become one. They become one new family, only one family, not two families, instead of two but only one.

 

Because of Christ, we have our new identity, we can be one together, and we can be unified. When I meditate on Ephesians, I feel like this Book explains grace very clearly and describes our new identity in Christ. Because of this new identity, we are free to love others. We are transformed by God; we are transformed in God’s kingdom so we are able to love others.

 

So all of the believers here, you may be feeling pretty good about yourselves and know how you should love other brothers and sisters because we are in one, we are united in Jesus Christ.

 

But what about those who are not our brothers and sisters in Christ? How should we treat them? Do we have to love them too? Well, let me tell you a story.

 

I remember when I was in the U.S., the church I visited had a high-school ministry, this ministry had a very special activity which they organized all the high-school leaders to go to the downtown Portland one night to help some homeless people. When I heard this news, I wanted to go there as well. So I went with them and there were many high school students from different churches attending this activity.

 

We divided them into three groups, one was called “Under the bridge” whose purpose was to serve homeless people there because many homeless people stayed under the bridge. And we played games with them, washed their faces, cut their hairs, share the Gospel with them, and provided food and clothes to them.

 

Another group walked around the city and met some homeless people there and introduces Jesus Christ to them. The last group walked all over the city and prayed for them. I was in the first group.  And you know what? This was my first time that I saw so many homeless people. To be honest, some of them seemed really weird to me and I was a little bit afraid to get near them. But then when I thought of Christ’s Love, that He never excluded anyone. When he died on the cross, He died for everyone, not only for lovely people. From that moment, I felt free from being afraid to come to them, and spent some time with them.

 

This story reminds me that no matter who is in front of you, dear brothers and sisters, no matter who is in front of you right now, the model that Christ sets forth for us is to come to them, to love them. May we live out what we believe and attract more and more people to see God’s glory through us.

 

Those of you dear friends, you perhaps do not know Jesus yet; you may be feeling you are outside the group, outside the family of unity in Christ. Yes, it’s true, but what is also true is that God and all the brothers and sisters here, we’d love to welcome to you with open arms.

 

Those of you who don’t know Jesus yet, you may feel sad right now, and haven’t been able to find any hope or deep community and friendship in your life. You may even think about suicide, you may think you’re abandoned by the whole world that you’re unloved and useless. You may have lost of your sense of security because of a hurt in your past. You may not have any peace or any rest. You come to church in hope of finding peace and rest.

 


 

According to Ephesians 2, you may be like the people Paul described there: you are separated far away from God, you are a foreigner to the Promises of God. You are without any hope in the world, you are without God in the world, and you don’t know personally who God is yet. But the good news for you is that our God wants to welcome you to enter into His relationship, His friendship. That is why Jesus is willing to come and suffer because His deep love and desire for you.

 

I don’t know how many of you attended last week’s service, but I was here. I was deeply touched by Benny when he shared his testimony. He felt useless, worthless in many people’s eyes. He was told that he had no gift in playing guitar, that he had no gift on music. But now he has been saved by God and transformed by God. When he played the guitar on this stage, we all could see his musical talent even to the extent of making his own unique guitar in the world. He used to be abandoned by the world, but now he was saved by Christ. Because of Christ, he is a member of God’s family.

 

Because of Christ, even if we have different nationalities, we are one in Christ, we can make up a heart of unity in Christ. I don’t know all of you well, but I do know some of you here. You may be facing some difficulties or struggles; you may think you are useless or worthless just like the way Benny thought. But because of Christ, we can be made new and one in Him.

 

So dear friends, if you are not familiar with Christianity basically, I want to tell you, please come to Jesus, please come to God, please come to this big family. In this family, we would like to love each other, support each other, serve each other and help each other. It’s not from our own abilities, it’s not because I’m a good person, I can love you but only because God’s grace and love. So we can love each other. Jesus has made one new family and has invited us to join this family, so we are together and we love each other.

 

So dear friends, if you are in a dark time, if you feel useless in world’s view, may God’s Word comfort you and give you a new perspective. You are precious in God’s eyes, He loves you so much that He gives His most beloved Son to save you. He’s willing to transform your life and make you to be built on the Holy Rock and dwelling in you which God lives by His Spirit.

 

We all know one familiar verse:

 

John 3:16 For God so love the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

 

So I’m going to end with a short video. When you watch this short video, I hope it can remind all the believers here of why we should have a heart of love and unity toward others, why we love others, why we have a heart to love, and also to remind those who don’t know Jesus yet, why our Lord Jesus is a great friend to help. May we can benefit from it.

 


 

 

 

 

 

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