I'd like to read from Philippians 2 and then from John 17. I wonder why he loves us the way he does? Look at God's heart. Can Paul say this with any more force, passion, and conviction in Philippians 2:1-4. "If you have any encouragement from being united in Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose." Boy, that's a fellowship to be a part of, isn't it? What would happen if we really worked hard to obey this passage together to be one in Christ? Then look at John 17 when Jesus prays in the garden before he goes to the cross. "Father, the time has come. Glorify your son.. for you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him." Doesn't that give you chills? He's talking about us! Then verse 22: "..that they may be one as we are one." There isn't any greater privilege than this purpose. What would happen if we gave every ounce of our energy and spirit to be one?
I came to a place in my life where I felt like I didn't have it any more --I felt like I was getting nowhere with Christ. I shared this with John Yates, the pastor of my church. We talked about it a little bit, and then he invited me to have lunch with him and the Archbishop of South Africa who was in town visiting the church. I shared with the Archbishop how I was feeling. He invited me to the praise service the next night. I fasted all that day. After the service, everyone surrounded the Archbishop, waiting for a chance to meet him and talk with him. I waited in the back, but he saw me and immediately came up to me and asked me to kneel with him. I told him again what was wrong. He said, "Why don't you just confess that to the Lord?" So we did that, and then he said, "Why don't you receive God's forgiveness?" So we did that in prayer. I was still waiting for something else. Then he said "Why don't we thank the Lord?" Okay, so we bow and pray. Then I look up. I'm ready now-- I've fasted all day, so I look at him, and he looked at me and smiled, and that's when I realized that was it--there wasn't anything else. Is there anything more than that --confession and repentance? Christ dying on the cross to forgive us? I tell you, that was fantastic for me. Look at 1 John 1:7 -- "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light.." Then verse 9: "If we confess our sins.." And then if you don't get the point, verse 10: "If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar.." Jesus Christ died for sinners, and that's us. Once we get that out and admit it, we have fellowship with one another and with him. James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." I'd like to just let that strengthen our hearts. That's where you and I become unified and one. If you're just like me, there are people that have something against you and you don't even know it, because they don't even come to you. But Christ is begging us to come together as one. He died on the cross so that we would do that. What would happen if each of us made an absolute determination because of our love for Christ, that we are going to work for unity? And that when we are in a situation where someone gets put down, or is hurt, that we will do everything we can to make that right, to bring people together, to bring confession. What would it be like if all of us were absolutely quick to give forgiveness, even when it appeared that we have been hurt or wronged? What would it be like if we'd be quick to offer forgiveness and quick to receive it and hold one another up in prayer? James 5 says that it will heal us, and that he will answer our prayers.
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