I know it’s a few days late but here is the next installment of Message Mondays, combined with Throwback Tuesdays, this time about a concept in a sermon i recently hard, about abounding in good works.
In church a few days ago, I was struck by a verse in the profound and compelling message of a visiting speaker, whom was the previous full time pastor at my church from 10 years ago and for 25 years before that. He is now in full-time mission, planting various orphanages in developing countries with an organisation that he founded; and he spoke on the topic of abundant grace and how God gives it to us freely, and that grace is a topic that us Christians have a hard time grappling with (and will continue to grapple with until Jesus comes back I suspect). While I would have to listen to the sermon again and again to fully unpack the richness of the Word in there, and I’m not going to delve into the intricacies of the sermon, I am going to point out the verse of 2 Corinthians 9:8 which was the basis for the sermon. This verse spoke to me immensely, so let me unpack that a bit, and also what the take home message of Sunday was in my opinion
‘…and God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…’
‘Abound’ in every good work? What does that mean exactly? For me, the previous parts of the verse was simple- God blesses me because he loves me, and in all times, He provides for my every need. But the last part? It totally stumped me. So I researched a few days later. It turns out that abound means ‘to exist in large numbers or amounts’ according to Google. So in context with the rest of the verse, this means that God will essentially ensure that with His power in us, that we will excel in doing good works. Though not necessary for us to earn salvation or to gain favour; good works, I believe, are the natural overflow of our relationship with Jesus. So if you look at the verse from the perspective of Christians in relationship and communion with God, and God blessing them, allowing good and selfless acts to pour out of them into the community, then the verse suddenly clicks and makes sense.
How does this relate to the essence of the service last Sunday? Well the implications of this verse, that we show others’ God’s love and do good works out of the love for our Heavenly Father, was clearly on display when the visiting speaker spoke at the end of the sermon about his thriving orphanages around the world. As we as a congregation, had a talk via Skype to the workers of an orphanage in India established by our ex-pastor, it was evident from the Skype call that there was real joy on the faces of the children, as they sang a song for us, prayed for our church, and just showered us with God’s love. That is the meaning of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), and the visiting speakers passion for the lost overseas is his ministry, is the good works that God has called him to do as a response to his relationship with God.
What I understood from 2 Corinthians 9:8, was that everyone’s mission field is different, and whatever we choose to do, God will bless it and let what we do abound in favour and grace, as long as it is in His will and plan. So, what is it that is on your heart? It may not be an overseas mission’s trip, or many, like my ex-pastor; it could be something closer to home. Maybe you’re a teacher, and your calling is to help the students, gain love and acceptance as their home life is in ruins. Or maybe you’re a doctor, and your mission field is to operate on patients and save their lives. But whatever you do, this verse is saying that God will use it to bring people to Himself and to further the kingdom of God if we allow Him to move and take charge in our lives, and not hijack the ‘good works’ and turn them around for our benefit. Isn’t that exciting and encouraging?
To finish, let me show you a couple of throwback videos from Audio Adrenaline, a successful pop/rock band from the 90’s, who have since reformed, and had 2 changes of lead singer within the past 2 years. The first video “Hands And Feet” is a call to action, and an eye opener in terms of sharing the gospel with the poor. Check it out below. The other video is the more recent 2 years old “Kings and Queens”, which extends from that concept, and speaks in detail of loving the least of these. Enjoy, and dwell upon the verses that I have highlighted to you. Hopefully God will speak to you about your mission field and where you are supposed to be in the near future!