For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:14
“He is our peace.” Ephesians 2:10
Many years ago, the Prince of Wales visited the capital city of In-dia. A formidable barrier had been set up to keep back the mass-es of people who wanted to catch a glimpse of royalty. When the prince arrived, he shook hands with some of the political dignitar-ies who were presented to him. Then, looking over their heads to the crowds beyond, he said, “Take down those barriers!” They were quickly removed, and all the people, regardless of social rank, had free access to the heir of the British empire. Some time later when the prince came to that district again, 10,000 outcasts waited under a banner inscribed with these words: “The Prince of the Outcasts.” What a great description of Jesus, who by His death has not broken every barrier down between us and God, but also taken down the wall between me and you.
“… to create in Himself one new man from the two.” Eph. 2:15
When Leonardo da Vinci was painting the Last Supper, he had an intense, bitter argument with a fellow painter. Leonardo was so enraged that he decided to paint the face of his enemy into the face of Judas. That way the hated painter’s face would be pre-served for ages in the face of the betraying disciple. When Leo-nardo finished Judas, everyone easily recognized the face of the painter with whom Leonardo quarreled. Leonardo continued to work on the painting. But as much as he tried, he could not paint the face of Christ. Something was holding him back. Leonardo de-cided his hatred toward his fellow painter was the problem. So, he worked through his hatred by repainting Judas’ face, replacing the image of his fellow painter with another face. Only then was he able to paint Jesus’ face and complete the masterpiece.
The work of God’s Spirit, the times of refreshing come when we work at unity. It comes when we’re able to paint the face of Jesus into our lives.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
Ephesians 2:10 says that we have been “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” So, what are the good works God has prepared for me?
Many of us see “good works” as an expression of our faith, which include: attending worship services, praying regularly, studying Scripture, generously giving financially, joining a small group, going on mission trips, caring for the poor, working for justice, loving our neighbors, etc. These are surely among the good works God has prepared for us as people who have been transformed by God's grace through Christ.
But God's plan for our good works is much broader and deeper. The Greek original for v. 10 reads more literally, “which God prepared in advance, so that we might walk in them.” The language of walking was used by teachers in Paul’s time to describe a way of living or engaging in a certain lifestyle. In other words, “good works” are not obviously religious activities scattered throughout an otherwise secular life. Instead, the good works encompass the whole of the Christian, all that we do by God's grace for God's purposes.
There are other similar passages in the Pauline letters that envision all of life as lived through and for God (see Romans 12:1 and Colossians 3:17, for instance).
Therefore, though it's certainly right for us to engage in works of the church (i.e. outreach to the poor, the oppressed, and those who don't know God's grace in Christ), Ephesians 2:10 encourage us to see our whole life as an interconnected series of good works offered to God: good works at work, in the classroom, on the football field, in your neighborhood, and in your community associations. If you're a boss, good works may involve the way you manage your employees. If you're a parent, good works may include making dinner for your children as well as praying with them as you tuck them into bed. The more we grow in faith, the more we see ourselves as God's masterpieces, and the more we will do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Food for thought
How might your life be different if you began to see your whole life as an offering to God, instead of activities that are obviously religious? Ask for God’s help to see your whole life as God sees it: an offering to God.
The Bible says that we are God's household. The church is a family. Many Christians however refused to belong to any church where they can say "I belong". True, every Christian belongs to the universal church of Jesus Christ, but yet at the same time, if you read the New Testament, the word "church" is frequently used to refer to a local specific group of believers in a specific place like we are here in FECC.
We must understand that it is God's will that we belong to a church family. "You are a member of God's very own family." Many of us seem to think that “I was born into this world, so it is natural that I belong to the human race. In the same token when I was born again by the Spirit, I naturally belong to the church of Christ." Nevertheless, I don't think we will ever be satisfied to just belong to the human race, you want to be a part of a family, like I want to be a part of the "Lao" family. A Christian without belonging to a local church is just like an orphan.
Some reasons why people don't want to join a church are: "I am free to do whatever I want.” "I can go from one church to another, they are all the same." "I have not found a perfect church yet..."What they are really saying is "We want to play ball, but we don't want to be a part of any team" or "I want to play an instrument but not in an orchestra." The fact is if you are strong, we need you and you need us, because we need each other to be strong in our Christian faith.
If you are a Christian, you are a part of the body or Christ. You could be the hand, the ear, the nose, the eyes, the liver... What would you say if the liver said, I think for one week I'll be a part of this body over here, and the next week I'll be a part of that body over there..." Can you imagine the liver floating around every week? No doubt, the unconnected liver will shrivel up and die in no time. You need to be a part of a local church family.
For those of you, who have publicly confessed your faith through baptism and have been attending our church regularly for at least six months, we sincerely encourage you to attend one of our many membership classes today in your own language. We look forward to your active participation in the ministries of Christ’s church. May God richly bless you as we grow together in the Lord and become light and salt of the world.
As members, we are committed to glorify the Lord Jesus, to safeguard the unity of the church, to share its mission, to serve the ministry and to support the testimony of the church. We are also provided the opportunity to exercise our privileges at our annual membership meeting, which is scheduled to be held on November 17, 2019. We must always remember that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and we are His body. God loves and cares for His church, and when we love God, we must love His church too.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
It was on Pentecost, the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit with power came, and then everything changed! The apostles were given boldness to communicate the gospel. The staying power, however, was not because the people heard the gospel preached in their own language and dialect, or that they witnessed the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s presence, but rather the Holy Spirit’s power of convicting and converting that led people to repentance and putting their faith in Jesus. The words of God pierced their hearts and lives were changed. Only the Holy Spirit can bring transformation in people’s lives; the power to change and become all that God wants us to be.
Today, the Holy Spirit continues to work in and through us. He wants us to be His witnesses to the world. God says the feet of those who bring good news are beautiful. What a privilege it is to share God’s good news of redemption, salvation, and peace to others. We know that it is God’s heart that no one perishes. Thus, we have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation and the Apostle Paul defended the mission outreach of the church.
Violence, deceit, greed, injustice, self-destructive behaviors continue to be ever so rampant in today’s society. But, the true problem behind the ills of society is intentional rebellion against our God. The worship of physical idols abounds as our veneration of movie stars, professional athletes, high-achieving co-workers, or through our idolization of professions, possessions, or people. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). We can be God’s instruments in delivering individuals from eternal destruction and bring them to the saving knowledge of our Lord even as we seek to understand the heart of God.
Jesus gave His life to save us. He sacrificed Himself to pay for our sins and set us free from judgment and death. This sacrifice is so overwhelming that we owe it to everyone to make sure they hear of God’s redeeming love. Regardless of our salvation experience, the truth remains: “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves” (Col. 1:13). Because we have been redeemed, we should “love to tell others the story of Jesus and His love” near and far.
My dear brothers and sisters, can we, like Peter, boldly say to our Lord, “You are the Messiah” (Mk 8:29b), “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God?” (Mt 16:16) If so, God is also calling you to take part in making this truth known. When He calls, will you say, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa 6:8).