August 2016

Ambassadors for Christ is our theme for 2016. See 2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV) “20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
A dictionary defines an ambassador as: “an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country:” Let us work backwards through the definition.
Here has been our journey, January introduction to theme, February “a foreign country” March “its official representative.” April “sent by a country” May “an accredited diplomat” and June “the possibility that God has sent you on an errand?” July led us into a further exploration of the meaning of an “official representative” culminating in the assertion that love is the official mark of God’s Kingdom. This month I want to explore how it is possible to love in a fallen, faithless, and futile existence.
1 John 4:19 (ESV) tells us “19 We love because he first loved us.” Our learning of love comes from the example God has set. Jesus specifically told his disciples in John 13:15 (ESV) “15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” We know what we ought to do but how do we do it?
The Apostle Paul expresses the problem this way in Romans 7:18–20 (ESV) “18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” I know I ought to love, but I don’t want to. Here is the Apostle’s answer, “21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” Romans 7:21–25 (ESV) Here is our hope, I cannot overcome the power of sin in me “57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Corinthians 15:57 (ESV)
This victory is appropriated by “12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12–13 (ESV) The ESV translation of “right” doesn’t convey, in my humble opinion, the depth of the underlying Greek word, exousia. Here is the New Strong’s Dictionary Hebrew and Greek definition: “ĕxŏusia, ex-oo-see´-ah; from 1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, i.e. (subj.) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (obj.) mastery (concr. magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence:— authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.” It is the issue of power, or competency that I believe is not well conveyed by “right.” The King James Version translates verse 12 with “power to become.”
The reason I prefer “power” is it fits well with Jesus’s promise in Acts 1:8 (ESV) “8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Look at this from a specific example, the Virgin Mary, Luke 1:34–35 (ESV) “34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” The power of the Most High will overshadow you.
How do I appropriate the victory of Jesus in everyday life? How am I capable of overcoming my flesh? How am I truly able to love as He first loved me? Simply because the power of the Most High overwhelms me. Paul puts it this way, Philippians 4:13 (ESV) “13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
I will never be an official representative of the Kingdom of Heaven until the Holy Spirit is my power for living. I must live under the leadership, equipping and empowering of God, the Holy Spirit, if I am to be an official representative.
Here’s the problem, I don’t want to be dependent on anyone. I want to do it myself even if it means failure. I want to follow Jesus in my own strength, even if it means nonfulfillment. Until I truly surrender and say, “yes, Holy Spirit, I’ll wait on you, your time and your method” I can never be an official representative.
If you are not led (every day, in every way) by the Holy Spirt, you are not an official representative. The fix is simple: wait on Him, ask Him to lead you, listen to His direction, and obey without hesitancy. He will do the heavy lifting. ++++Thank you Lord.