New Hope Notes
Remember Who She Is
The Irresistible Church
Pastor Elwin Ahu
Today, we are going to talk about the trait 2 of being an irresistible church, and this trait is to remember who she is. It is very important to remember who we are as a church so we don’t forget our assignment and become irresistible to God’s blessings and presence in us. However, we often forget who we are and what assignment we have on earth because of life. We would be busy with resolving the messes we are facing, or being caught up with a successful life. These can lead us to forget who we really are. The scripture said, “But God chose you to be His people. You are royal priests. You are a holy nation...a people who belong to God...so that you can sing His praises. He brought you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people. But now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy. But now you have received mercy.” (1 Pet. 2:9-10 NIRV) When this scripture said ‘you’, it means ‘me’. In other words, it’s telling each of us that “But God chose me to be His people. I am a royal priest. I am a holy nation...a person who belongs to God...so that I can sing His praises. He brought me out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once I was not a person. But now I am the person of God. Once I had not received mercy. But now I have received mercy.” 1 Peter is reminding us that we are special! We also need to first understand how magnificent God is before we can understand how special we are. If you take some time to see what is going on in the nature of the universe, to see how wonderful the galaxy is, you will realize that God is the greatest creator. And each of us is like a very tiny dot in this huge universe. While we are so tiny, God chose to give life to this tiny dot out of everything, and chose you and chose me to be His royal priests, to allow us to get close to Him so that we can take other people close to Him! Isn’t it amazing that the magnificent God has chosen you to be such special? However, we often forget who we are and our assignment of priesthood; when this happens, we will not be able to take His messages to other people and draw others closer to Him.
There was a time that my son made a mistake on the football field and everyone laughed at him so badly. He was feeling very down-casted and cried so hard after coming home. I was there watching the whole thing at the side of the field so I understood how difficult it was for him. Then I held him tight and hugged him, told him that I was very proud of him regardless the mistake he made on the field. I told him that he is always special to me, and not to forget that I as the father will always be very proud of him no matter what others say. Then he felt relieved as if a sense of confidence was breathed into him. I think God has been constantly doing the same to us. He is proud of who we are and we just have to remember our identities in Him, and not to let our past bring us down! And I am reminding you once again now, that no matter what you have gone through, you are special in God, and you can still do the assignment God has given you, which is to transform lives.
1. Assignment: TRANSFORM LIVES.
A church is a visible expression of love of Christ and a reflection of His glory to others. And a church is assigned to transform lives with this visible expression. New Hope is here to transform lives. We have set up different programs and ministries to touch people in different sectors so that we can transform their lives with God’s words. We are not here to build social networks. If anything that is not making a difference in lives, I will shut that program down. It was written that, “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? ... You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matt. 5:13-16 NLT) We have to remember who we are and our assignment so that we can continue on to transform lives. When we evaluate whether we have forgotten our assignment, we can see if people can see Jesus through us when they stepped into where we work or where we live. A church is not an institution or a place for Christians to gather up. A church is each of us. You yourself are a church already! We might have mistaken that a church as an institution, and developed a sense of entitlement through that misconception. We would expect the church to do things for us and complain certain things not happening due to this sense of entitlement. People have been asking me why New Hope is not having certain ministries or not welcoming their friends enough when they brought them in. And here is my answer to those questions, why is it someone else’s responsibility? Why aren’t you doing something about those matters that concern you so much? You are a church already. The Bible said that, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” (Phil. 2:14-15) A church is not an institution, it is each of you and all of you! Each of you is assigned to make a difference in other people’s lives. And we should be doing our assignment of transforming lives every week in our communities. Then we will be here gathering each weekend to celebrate what we have done for God the past week. We can imagine how joyful it would be if we are doing that every weekend to celebrate! Now as we have been reminded about who we are and what our assignment is, we need to think why we often forget these at times. We forget because there are distractions.
2. Be aware of your DISTRACTIONS.
Distractions come in two forms. They can come as a test or a temptation. According to the scripture, it said “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
So there must be tests in our lives as they will make our faith be perfected and completed. We must face tests through trials and it will only draw us closer to God and learn to be able to rely on God. Especially when things are not easy, we will realize that God is the only one we can lean on. Accepting Christ doesn’t make life easier, but Jesus is now walking with us and our reward is in the eternity. So when things aren’t easy in your life, they could be the trials to test your faith and you need to stay faithful to your assignment. When you get tested and do not fail, you will be reaffirmed with your assignment and your goal. I have experienced a lot of trials and testing throughout my journey in ministry. It might look easy to you but there have been a lot of trials even in interpersonal relationships. But I didn’t quit because I knew I had to stay faithful and not get distracted because I was sure that I was doing what God called me to do. So those trials were testing my commitment in God. As I stay faithful with my commitment and not to quit, I have grown closer to one another within the staff team and also to God. It applies to my marriage, too. There were conflicts and disagreement with my wife at times, and sometimes it could be very rough that I though about quitting. But the Holy Spirit reminded me not to quit and I stay faithful in my commitment with my wife. At the end, I learned to be a loving husband and father instead and I have been drawn closer to God as well.
On the other hand, when distractions come in the form of temptation, we will need to be careful as we will be pulled away from God if we fail. James also told us in the Bible that “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” (James 1:13) We need to take note that temptations come because of our own lust. It is not because of God or satan. The condition in our own hearts causes the temptations. When we give in to our lust, we will sin and be pulled away from God. Let me illustrate it better with a situation. Have you ever been on diet because of the sake of better health? You will have a diet plan and stick to it so that you can reach your goal. However, a very delicious and good looking chocolate cake comes right in front of you, is it a test or a temptation? This cake is going to throw you off your diet goal if you eat it. It can be both testing and temptation depending on the condition of your heart. If you know that this cake is not necessary, and you turn away from it because you know it’s not leading you to your goal, this cake is there just to test you, and you pass the test and get reaffirmed with your diet effort. Then you will be drawn closer to your health goal. However, if you are looking at the cake and lusting with it, and you are having a hard time to resist it, then this would be a situation of temptation. You would be tempted and if you fail and take a bite, you will get pulled away from your health goal and it is your lust for the dessert causing the temptation.
As we know that we have an assignment to transform lives for God, we need to stay faithful to our assignment and need to pass our tests and not to fail when temptation comes. They must come in our lives and we can’t avoid them. Therefore, we need to be aware and be able to discern so that we know we are facing them when they come and be able to win the battle. How are we going to be able to discern whether we are facing a test or a temptation? As it was written, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov. 4:23) We need to stay close with God by doing our daily devotion. It’s the word of God that watches over and guards our heart. Then you will be able to discern whether you are being tested or tempted at times. If we don’t listen to Him, we will lose our defense and it would be like the Israelites in the old days. The Bible said that, “Then I set before the men of the house of the Rechabites pitchers full of wine and cups; and I said to them, ‘Drink wine!’ but they said, 'We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, "You shall not drink wine, you or your sons, forever.”’” (Jer. 35:5-6) We need to be like the Rechabites, to stay faithful with what God commanded us to do, and not to follow Israelites’ path of not listening to God. Otherwise, we will fail when tests and temptations come into our lives. It is very important that we get to pass our tests and temptations, because we will then be able to stay with our assignment and become the hope of the world!
3. The irresistible church is the HOPE of the world.
We are the hope of the world. Jesus came to give us hope, not world peace or serenity, because only hope can sustain us in today’s world. The scripture said, “He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally He will cause justice to be victorious and His name will be the hope of all the world.” (Matt. 12:20-21 NLT) Have you received hope when you come to this church and receive Christ? It is this hope that turns your life around because you know there is something to look forward to at the end when we get into God’s eternity. And we need to take this hope and spread it to others so we can transform their lives in the same way as we were transformed. This is our assignment and there is an urgency in it because the Bible said that, “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:12-14 NLT) If we look at what is going on now in the political world and Middle East, we know that we are getting closer and closer to the end time, and sin is getting more rampant every day. We have an urgency to spread the word of God to others so we can draw them closer to God and bring hope to the darkened world. There was a time that a family coming to visit New Hope. They were from the mainland. They somehow were led to this church and I knew that’s the Holy Spirit leading them to New Hope. As soon as they walked in, they felt that something came over them and they couldn’t explain. After the service, they cried and they just felt relieved and things weren’t the same to them afterwards. It’s God’s spirit working in them as they received hope. Let’s be encouraged by 1 John 4:4, as it said, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. We need to remember this and press on with our assignment. It doesn’t matter whether the political leader of our society is a Christian or not, it is you who is the church bringing hope to others. When we work with those non-Christians, they will see God in us and they will be moved and be transformed eventually.
If anyone hasn’t accepted Christ and received this hope yet, I encourage you to do it now. There is no time to wait. If you feel moved to accept Jesus and want to start a relationship with Him, I encourage you to start it now with the following prayer. And for those who have accepted Christ and want to be reminded and reaffirmed with the assignment you have, you can pray this prayer too.
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, thank you that you came, and you died for my sins, that I might have life everlasting. I turn from my sins and I turn to you. Change me into the person you want me to be, renew my faith and use me for your purposes. I live my life for you now, please help me to be all that you want me to be, and please help me to be able to make a difference in someone’s life and bring hope and transformation to them. Now I say this, so everyone can hear me, so you can hear me, so I can hear myself, so the devil can hear, Jesus Christ is my Lord, He’s my Savior and I belong to Him. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen”
Jesus is in you and you are the church who is bringing hope to others. Let’s not forget who we are and our assignment from now on. Amen.
1. Who are we and what is our assignment?
2. What and who is “a church”?
3. Why do we forget our assignment at times?
4. What is the difference between tests and temptations?
5. Why is it so important to pass our tests and temptations?