By Gloria Li
19 Aug. 2012 Sunday
|Sermon: Becoming the Person God Wants You to be||video||audio||doc|
|Worship song: By Faith||video||audio||lyric|
|How Great Thou Art||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: I Sing Praises To Your Name||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: First Love||video||audio|
Worship song: By Faith
|Verse 1||By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation's grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight
|Verse 2||By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God's own hand
A place where peace and justice reign
|Verse 3||By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin & death
And rise triumphant from the grave
|Verse 4||By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth
|Verse 5||By faith this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name
|Chorus||We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We'll walk by faith and not by sight
Worship song: How Great Thou Art
|Verse 1||O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
|Chorus||Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
|Verse 2 C||当我想到，神竟愿差他儿子
dang wo xiang dao, shen jing yuan chai ta er zi
jiang shi she ming, wo ji hu bu ling hui.
zhu zai shi jia, gan yuan bei wo de zhong dan,
liu xue she shen wei yao she mian wo zui.
|Chorus C||我灵歌唱，赞美救主我神， 你真伟大，何等伟大！
wo ling ge chang, zan mei jiu zhu wo shen, ni zhen wei da, he deng wei da!
wo ling ge chang, zan mei jiu zhu wo shen, ni zhen wei da, he deng wei da!
|Verse 3||When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 12:1-2
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual e act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of yourmind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Good morning everyone, would you please join me for a prayer first?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for inviting us to your temple today. Lord, we thank you for giving us a precious chance to come to you. Lord, may your Holy Spirit quiet our hearts, and we can meditate on your words, and we can be comforted by your words. May your Holy Spirit come upon each of our hearts, and we can make your words our lights, to become our way to live out the commandments that you give us. Lord, may your will be with us; may your name be glorified through our service today; may your name be exalted through our worship today. May all of us have pure hearts to worship you together, to serve you together. We pray in your name. Amen.
First week of the series - Falling in love with Jesus Christ
So do you still remember that three weeks ago, our church English fellowship started a new sermon series which is called “The Love” sermon series. So three weeks ago, we had the first teaching on this new sermon series. How many of you attended that Sunday service three weeks ago? How many of you? Could you please raise your hands if you attended that service and listened to the (first sermon of “The) Love” sermon series? If you were here, could you please raise your hands?
Do you still remember what the topic was? I heard, “Falling in love with Jesus Christ”. In that sermon, I highlighted that we could be the most beautiful bride of Jesus Christ in this world. We could have the most amazing, wonderful, romantic and crazy love story with our Lord, Savior, Jesus Christ in this world. If you marry Jesus, if you fall in love with Him, you could get the most beautiful, amazing love story in this world. And I encouraged you, I challenged all of you who were here three weeks ago to fall in love with Jesus Christ.
Do you still remember this? And have you been trying to fall in love with our Savior, because only He could lay down His own life for us. And when we sang “How Great Thou Art”, we hear how great our God was. He created such a beautiful world for us. He created such beautiful mountains, sea, sky and some different places, and when we see these places, we sing how great thou art.
But can you image we have a lot of sins? But God still endures us. We see we are so bad; we are so evil inside of us. But our Savior still came to the world, to love us, to forgive us, for He fell in love with us first. So when you see this, when you see how bad we are, and how God loves us, we can say, “Lord, you are so great! How great you are! How great you are that you can love a person like me.”
Second week of the series - Loving and serving each other
So do you still remember the second teaching of this new sermon series, which was shared by Pastor Jessica? Do you still remember? How many of you were here two weeks ago, who attended the service? Could you please raise your hands? Did you remember what the topic was on that Sunday? Did you remember at that sermon, Jessica encouraged and challenged us to replace the word “love” with our own name in that love song. Do you remember that? Yes, and her topic was “Loving and serving each other”. So she shared the scripture of I Corinthians 13:4-7, which is the most beautiful love song in the whole Bible. And Paul said in that chapter,
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
And I still remember when I replaced my name into this love song, and I said this with all the people who were here two weeks ago, and I said,
“Gloria is patient, Gloria is kind, Gloria does not envy, Gloria does not boast, Gloria is not proud, Gloria is not rude, Gloria is not self-seeking, Gloria is not easily angered, Gloria keeps no record of wrongs. Gloria does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Gloria always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
When I did that, I felt so sad; I felt so ashamed of myself. When I replaced my name into that love song, I felt I had no love at all. I did not love at all. I needed to practice love in my whole life. Sometimes, love is not easy to anger. But for me, I am very easily angered. Love is patient, but in many situations, for some troubles, it is very easy for me not to be patient. But, we need to practice love in our whole life.
Today we will continue this new “Love” sermon series. We go on into the third teaching of this new sermon series. It’s talking about “Becoming the person God wants you to be”.
And at first I want to show you a short video. In this video, one brother and one sister will share what they think about who they are, and how they pursue to become the person God wants them to be. Let’s watch the video first.
For all of us here, we have different views on how to be the person God wants us to be. So today we will discuss how to become the person God wants you to be. First, I would like to ask you several questions.
Becoming a person whom you are not?
Have you ever wanted to become the person your parents want you to be? I know for some young people, in their lives, they just wanted to become the persons their parents want them to be. They would do everything just to meet their parents’ needs. They would go to a university or choose a major in a university just to satisfy their parents. They would study very hard just to please their parents and make them happy, or just to make the parents proud of them.
And for some of you, you want to become the person your friends want you to be. Or if you are dating, have you tried to become the person your boyfriend or girlfriend wants you to be? Or if you are married, have you tried to become the person your husband or your wife wants you to be? For some of you who are working, have you tried to become the person that pleases your boss. For some of you who are still in college, have you tried to become the person to please your classmates or your teachers?
I think some of you here have experienced this. And we want to become the person someone else wants us to be. We live for someone else. But sometimes, when we become this kind of person, we will be confused; sometimes, when we will feel so torn, we will get worn out. Because we cannot achieve what they expect for us, we think we are useless and worthless in this world. The desires to please others put a lot of pressure in our life. Because many people have wrong values for life, they do not really know their true identity and whom they should live for.
From the TV, from the website, we could see the rate of suicide has grown very rapidly in recent years. And when you open the website, open the TV news, you could see some people kill themselves; even some students in different universities, no matter it is Peking University, famous universities, or less famous universities. For some college students, they could not stand so much pressure, so they fall down from tall buildings and finish their lives. When we hear this news, we feel so sad. Satan is the one who tries to put out the light in our life; Satan is saying to us,
“You should live for this person; you should live for that person; you have to live for so much money and your life would be full of happiness; you should work harder and harder; and you should please all the people around you.”
Becoming the person God wants us to be
Satan tries to deceive you. But dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, it is time for us to turn away from this life, and to know the truth from the Bible. The truth is that our purpose is to please God, not any one in this world. The purpose, why we are created by God, the motivation of God creating us is to glorify Him, to please Him only; to please the Most High; to please Him who died for us, saved us, who gave us eternal life to please Him only.
So, we must pursue to become the person God wants us to be. As our reading Scripture, II Corinthians 5:17 says,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”
We are saved by Christ. Here, we know that we are not only saved by Christ, but He also gave us a huge promise that we could be in Him. We are in HIM. Do you know that you are a new person in Christ; you are a new creation in Christ. So you can have a new life; your old life has gone; your new life will come. Therefore, you no longer need to become the person your parents want you to be; you no longer need to become the person your husband, or wife, or boyfriend, or girlfriend, or your boss, or your classmate, or your friend wants you to be. You only need to become the person God wants you to be. You only need to pursue to become the person our God wants you to be.
Instead of trying to find the right person, we need to focus on becoming the new life, men or women, God wants us to be. This must be our priority. This must be something we should seek and pursue. When we know our true identity, we are new persons in Christ; we are new creations in Christ; when (we believe that) on His cross, in His redemption on the cross, Jesus died and was raised three days later, we should have a new life. We could be created by Him again. We should let our new life grow faster inside of us.
Mary’s obedience to God
Now, we are going to focus on two figures from the Bible. And from them, we will know how each of them became the person God wanted them to be. The first person is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Like the sister shared in the video. Mary used her whole life to tell us what obedience was. Why the sister liked Mary is because Mary obeyed God.
When we see Mary, we know that she was a common lady in that society in the first century. We know that Mary had already found her life partner, and was ready to get married soon. Mary and Joseph were already engaged before her life was going to be totally different. So Mary and Joseph were preparing to share their lives together soon. Mary and Joseph loved each other very much, and they loved God.
From the gospel of Matthew, Mary found a very good husband. Matthew wrote that Joseph, Mary’s husband-to-be (fiancé) was a righteous man, a good man (Matthew 1:19). Mary and Joseph were looking forward to a happy life. But one day, one angel came, and a huge event came into their lives, and Joseph and Mary’s lives became totally different because of this event. One day, an angel came to Mary, and said to her,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you… Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” (Luke 1:28-31)
“Wait, what? Who am I? How will this be since I am a virgin?” Mary asked the angel, “How will this be? I haven’t married Joseph yet. How can I have a child?”
The angel answered,
“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Wow, can you imagine this? Try to picture this. One day, when you are on your phone, an angel came to you, she said,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God…”
Do you think it crazy, don’t you? So, if an angel came to me and said to me, even though I am a Christian and I love God, I might use my theology, I might use my logic, thinking,
“Is she really an angel from God? Or do I hear the sound from Satan? Who am I? Can I be pregnant by (the presence of) the Holy Spirit and I can give birth to a son, and His name will be Jesus, He will be the Son of God.”
Wow, it is unbelievable. It is very hard to believe, isn’t it? It is really unusual; it is out of our normal thinking; it cannot be done; it cannot be fulfilled; it is wrong. If someone came to you and said some crazy words, the first reaction you have is to think that the person has some mental problems, so he would say these words. But what was Mary’s reaction? She said,
“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)
Do you think that Mary’s friends would believe that she was moved by the Holy Spirit, and that was how she got pregnant? I do not think so. They might ask, “Mary, are you crazy? Who do you think you are that you will be pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Do you have some problems that you can be full of the Holy Spirit? No, not at all.”
She would be mocked for her whole life, people would always be gossiping about her. After she gave birth to the child, maybe some people would say that this baby was not from Joseph. Maybe Mary did something wrong and she had a baby with some other people, so she said the baby was from the Holy Spirit. So Mary had to bear such a big suffering in her whole life. And the Holy Spirit made Mary pregnant. Many people would say it was so ridiculous.
But Mary, because she loved the Lord much, she knew God’s calling and she only needed to live for God only, so even though people could not understand, even though she needed to bear such a great suffering, she was willing to say,
“Yes, Lord, I am your servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
Even though her life would be totally different, full of mocking and gossips, but she was willing to say,
“Yes, Lord… My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-47)
Instead of complaining about the sufferings she had to face, she said,
“My soul will rejoice in my God, my Savior.”
That is because she did not focus on her own sufferings, but on God’s kingdom. And she looked at her sufferings as something so small. In her spirit, she could rejoice. She knew of God’s power and plan for her, and she was willing to fulfill God’s calling in her whole life. And she did not care about others’ gossips or mocking.
Paul’s life for Christ
Another example from the Bible is the apostle Paul. Because of time limit, I will only talk on this briefly.
From the accounts of the apostle Paul, I really like this man from the Bible. Although he did not get married in his life, he could write the most beautiful love song in the Bible. He said, “Love is patient; love is kind…” (I Corinthians 13). Paul used to persecute many Christians. But on the way to Damascus, Paul was transformed by God. So Paul said,
“I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” (Acts 26:19)
What is this vision Paul was talking about? Paul was travelling from Jerusalem to Damascus, he suddenly saw a blinding light from heaven, he heard a voice, and he asked,
“Who are you, Lord?”
Then the voice answered,
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:16-18)
This is Paul’s vision from God, this is Paul’s calling from God. And he used his whole life to fulfill God’s calling in this world. He knew God’s calling for his life, so he was able to bear so much suffering. The center of his life is Jesus Christ. He knew the only one he should try to please is Jesus Christ, not any one else. When he wrote a letter to the Romans, he could say,
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
We know that in the Old Testament, Israelites would offer animals to be sacrificed to God. And in the New Testament, God asks us to be living sacrifices for Him. “Living sacrifice” means that we will have to live our whole life in service to God, to please Him. Living for God is our true worship. We come to church every Sunday, but the service to God does not only include attending church on Sundays. Instead, it is what we do everyday. If we live for God everyday, we are becoming the person God wants us to be. We are no longer living to please others, because in Romans 12:2, it says,
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world,…”
The pattern of this world is to please your friends, your parents, your girlfriends, your boyfriends, your husbands, your wives. This is being conformed to this world.
But being transformed by God is to live to please Him, is to pursue to become the person God wants you to be. And Paul really offered his body as a living sacrifice. He lived only for God; he pursued to please God alone; he became the person God wanted him to be; he knew he was a servant of God; he knew that as a servant of God, he should seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first. So from these two examples in the Bible, we can know how to become the person God wants us to be.
The first one is to know our identity; second, to know God’s calling; third, to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first. For Mary, she knew what her identity was; her identity is a servant of God, to obey whatever God has told her. And God’s calling for Mary is to give birth to Jesus Christ. Mary knew this calling and she was willing to fulfill this calling. And for Paul, he knew he was a servant of God (too), and he was willing to be the apostle to the Gentiles. And this is his calling from God. And he was willing to use his whole life as the apostle to the Gentiles. For both of them, they sought God’s kingdom and righteousness first. And because of this, they were willing to obey God. They were willing to be living sacrifices to God.
So how about us? Dear brothers and sisters. Do you know what kind of person God wants you to be? If you have known this, and you are in the process of accomplishing God’s calling in your life, I encourage you to keep on doing this. If you have known God’s calling, you have known your true and new identity in Christ, but you have not done it yet, I encourage you to start doing it today. For some of you, you are not sure what kind of person God wants you to be; what God’s calling for you is, I encourage you to ask Him, to come to Him and keep seeking Him until you know God’s calling for you, because God gives different callings to His children. We do not have the same calling, but we will all be used by God.
For some of you here, you are still looking for a life partner. I want to encourage and challenge you, before you find the life partner, seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first. First, to think about what we are living for; first, to think about what kind of person God wants me to be and do. Keep on thinking about this, and applying it to your life, and asking for God’s vision for you, for your whole life. And if you become the person God wants you to be, you will have a happy life, no matter what the situation is, no matter if you will be single or have a life partner, a marriage or not. Because you are living only for Him, and He is your satisfaction, and you will find satisfaction in Him. So I encourage you to think about how to become the person God wants you to be, and really ask Him for this.
Let’s pray as I close.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us your Word. Thank you for letting us know that we are new people in you, the old has gone and the new has come. Lord, may your Word be memorized in our hearts. Lord, let us seek to become the person you want us to be. Help us have a new life in you. Lord, help us understand your Word and calling, and respond to your calling in our whole life, live out your calling, use our whole life to fight what you want us to fight, and run the race you give us. Lord, be with us, and keep blessing us, and keep revealing yourself to us. We pray in your name. Amen.
Transcribed and edited by Esther and Franz, and Liu Laoshi, grace and love from our Lord Jesus. Amen.