Monday, April 29, 2013

"You are SPECIAL!"

"You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."  - I Peter 2:9

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, that has to be one of my favorite verses, as Peter clearly tells those who have come to God through faith in Jesus Christ who they are - that they are SPECIAL!  Most Christians today don't realize how special we really are.  In fact, most pastors and teachers go to great lengths to make sure that those who believe in Jesus DON'T feel special because that would be boastful, and all boasting is inappropriate.  Millions are being told that EVERYONE is special, they just don't know it yet, and the job of the church is to help people know how special they are.  Satan's deception always contains a shade of truth ... that's why it deceives people.  If it was an obvious lie no one would believe it!

I preached yesterday from Ephesians 2:1-10, as we are currently examining Paul's letter "to the saints in Ephesus."  Paul writes this letter to the Church, to all believers in Christ throughout all ages.  The whole congregation has been encouraged to memorize Ephesians 3:20-21:  "Now unto Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

The true Church is SPECIAL to God.  It is a body made up of individual people who have been chosen, loved, predestined, adopted, redeemed and forgiven in Christ, and sealed in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1).  These "called-out ones" are gathered together and "like living stones are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2:5).  According to I Peter 1:1, Peter is writing "to God's elect, strangers in the world ... chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood."  That sounds pretty special!

Only those who are born again by the Spirit of Christ, who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and confessed Him as Lord are part of this special gathering of people.  To "the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse" (Colossians 1:2), the Apostle Paul writes, "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:10-14).

You need to understand that the Bible is written to believers and for believers in Christ Jesus.  And it is written so that those who are part of Christ's body, the Church, will know how special they are to God, NOT because of something they have done or might do by their own power or strength or wisdom, but because of what HE has done and is doing in them and through them to bring glory to Himself!

"To the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ - their Lord and ours ..."  (I Corinthians 1:2), Paul writes, "Brothers, 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.  He chose the lowly things of this 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.  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, let him who boasts boast in the Lord!" (I Corinthians 1:26-31).

Knowing you are special in Christ is necessary if you are to glorify God.  Apathy in your relationship with God reveals not only a lack of emotion, but a failure to grasp fully the Gospel, the good news that in Christ Jesus you have entered into the eternal kingdom of God and your destiny is secure for all eternity through your union with Christ.  The teaching that ALL people are loved by God and accepted by God is Satan's big lie!  Jesus says, "No one comes to the Father except through Me" (by faith in Jesus Christ), and "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 14:6, 6:44).  We as believers are special because GOD has made us so!  Our boasting, therefore, is not in ourselves but in our God!!  To fail to boast in God's grace and love in Christ Jesus is to dishonor everything God has done for us and to leave ourselves vulnerable to the attacks of Satan, who wants us to feel like miserable sinners.

We who believe in Jesus Christ still struggle with the old nature of sin, BUT, we are forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ, shed once on the cross.  "By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (Hebrews 10:14).  Perfection is ours by grace; God sees us as holy in Christ.  Our sins have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west.  We are a special people, called out from the world to encourage one another, to build one another up, to join together in serving one another ... and THEN sent INTO the world as a light in the darkness.  If we don't know who we are and that we are a special people with a special purpose, we will not glorify the God who has called us to be ambassadors of His kingdom in this world.

When our children were growing up and they were going out with friends, we would not give them a whole list of "do's and don't's," but would simply say, "Remember who you are!"  They knew what that meant because we had taught them what that meant.  I was not concerned that they would embarrass ME ... I didn't want them to think that because they were the son and daughter of a pastor that something more was required of them than any other child of believers.  I wanted them to understand that there was a HIGHER standard to meet because they were children of the King!!  And as parents we lived by the same standard and we were as accountable to them as they were to us.  Being special means being accountable to the One who MADE you special!!

In Ephesians 2, we are told that we were "by nature objects of wrath," "dead in our transgressions and sins" ... "BUT, because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were DEAD in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved."  And then Paul adds in verse 10:  "For we are GOD's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  Our lives, our purpose, our very existence is for the glory of our Father in heaven.

I pray that YOU who believe today KNOW how special you are to God.  After all, He redeemed you with the blood of His own Son!  Live today as a special child of God, chosen, loved, predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven and sealed, "for the praise of HIS glory!"  Praise Him today and every day and let your light shine before the world, that those around you may see the life you live by the power of His Spirit and may give HIM glory!!  "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord!"

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