Saturday, 22 September 2012

Make Your Mistake Work For You!

And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon--the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite--heard about it, that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord. But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy.  And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, "We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us."

Joshua 9.1-6

Have you ever made a mistake?  In Joshua 9, we saw that the Jews made a huge mistake in their dealings with the Gibeonites!  Remember, the Gibeonites had tricked the Jews by dressing up in old clothes and sandals and bringing old dry, moldy bread and worn-out wineskins.  They used all this as ‘evidence’ that they came from a far country, and thus the Israelites should make a peace treaty with them because they were not the enemy from the Promised Land.  What a bunch of lies!

And the Israelites fell for this trick because they ‘took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD’ (Josh 9.14)!  And imagine how foolish the Israelites must have felt afterwards, when they found out they had been duped by the Gibeonites into making a monumental error!

Yet, the story doesn’t end here.  Even though they made a mistake, they didn’t allow that mistake to stop them.  Read the last verse of the chapter - ‘And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, in the place which He would choose, even to this day’ (Josh 9.27).  See what they did!?!  They made their ‘mistakes’ work for them!  The Gibeonites became woodcutters and water-carriers for the Jews!  They learned from their mistakes and turned it into something useful.

Perhaps that speaks to you - you’ve been taken off guard by the enemy.  He has tricked you into making a mistake and now you don’t know what to do.  Or perhaps the mistake was of your own doing - simply bad decision making.  Ask God to use your mistakes for your good.   For ‘we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose’ (Rom 8.28).  Our mistakes are not mistakes in God’s plan – they are opportunities to see God’s sovereignty and power at work!

Alexander Whyte writes – ‘No matter what mistakes we may make, the worst mistake of all is not to try again; for the victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings’.

So don’t make the mistake of not trying again.  That’s what the enemy wants – for you to give up, to walk away in defeat.  Instead, learn from the mistake and put it to work for you!  And continue walking in faith with God!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Our Spiritual Citizenship and Ambassadorship

In Phil 3.20, Paul tells us that we are citizens of Heaven.  And that is a glorious thought to meditate on!  But in 2Cor 5.20 Paul tells us that we are also ambassadors of Christ on earth!  See, not only are we citizens of heaven and foreigners on earth, but we are also ambassadors of Jesus while on earth.  Citizenship in heaven describes who we are and where we’re really from (I can hear some of you slapping your foreheads and exclaiming - 'I knew he was from the heavens, from outer space!').  But ambassadorship describes our duty while living here on earth.  It is what we are called to do while living here.  Look at some of the characteristics of ambassadorship…

Ambassadors must live in a foreign country, even though they are citizens of a home country.  That’s what they are called to do - live in the foreign country. They must also remember that it is a temporary home.  For the Christian, we are called to live on earth although it isn’t really home.  Our true home is heaven, we are in fact citizens of heaven.  But we live temporarily in a foreign land called earth (and yes, it does seem foreign at times!).

Ambassadors represent their homeland and its leader to others.  As Americans, we represent the USA the President.  As Kiwis, you represent NZ and the Prime Minister wherever you live.  And as citizens of heaven and ambassadors of Christ, we are to represent heaven and Jesus to others.

Ambassadors are under the authority of their home government, even though they temporarily live in foreign land.  For instance, a US ambassador must obey the US President - if he says leave, come home, then the ambassador must submit and obey.  Are we as Christians, submitted to our ultimate Authority, the Lord Jesus Christ?

Ambassadors are ultimately under the laws and customs of their home country.  We as citizens of heaven are not under laws and customs of earth - yes, we must respect and abide by them.  But ultimately, we are under the spiritual laws and principles of God’s Word.

Ambassadors should have a true love for and a loyalty to their homeland, its citizens, and what it represents.  In fact, they must defend it and them!  As citizens of heaven and ambassadors of Christ, do we have a true loyalty to heaven, its citizens (our brethren) and it’s Leader - the Lord?  Are we willing to defend heaven - to even die for it?  Are we willing to die for its King of kings and Lord of lords?

So remember, we are citizens of heaven!  But while we live on earth, we are also ambassadors of Jesus Christ! So let's live out our identity and fulfill our duties!

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. -- Colossians 3.1-3 --