Today is the 4th Sunday in lent we are exactly 21 days from Easter and today is also known as Laetare Sunday which comes from the Latin and means to rejoice. We are exactly in the middle of lent and by now we need some joy. Too much fire and brimstone will burn anyone out. Besides, while the Lord wants us to repent, he wants us to turn away from sin and turn towards him. God is love, and love is supposed to be about happiness and when we are happy, we rejoice in the fact that we are happy. We don’t go around with their heads hung low and guilt ridden over the things that we did the day before. There is a time and a place for everything. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said: “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude. Reconciliation is defined as “the restoration of friendly relations.” It is not possible to be reconciled with an inanimate. You cannot be reconciled with your car. Neither can you be reconciled with something impersonal or someone who is impersonal. As an example, you cannot be reconciled with your dog or your cow because they do not have the capacity to forgive you. They do not possess the necessary framework or desire for a friendly relationship with you, specifically. Yes, I know it may seem otherwise, but I guarantee you that your chihuahua will love me just as much as he does you if I feed him enough. Not so God. God will never love you less than He does at this moment. God wanted to restore friendly relations with us so much that He came here as one of us and let us kill Him. Just so that He, could be reconciled to us. Today I want us to be reconciled with our father and the only way we can be reconciled with God is to be a part of Christ. Not apart from Christ. That is why God desires to be reconciled with us. For us to be reconciled with God it was necessary for him to send his only son to us so that we could nail Him to a tree.

Jesus Christ paid that price for our sins so that we could reside within Him and He within us. So that we may know the love of God as children of God. In order to do this, we have to be in Christ today and every day. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. Look to Christ today. Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. [Hebrews 12:2] Many Christians look to others for comfort, solace, and understanding. We look to doctors for healing, lawyers for justice, ministers for forgiveness, and friends for comfort. We look to these others more than we look to Christ and what do these people find when they look everywhere else; they find disappointment. Do not get me wrong on this, understand that help from others should be appreciated. I am not saying we should deny our friends or families love. That their help is not desired or important. What I am saying is that by relying solely on this world for your needs, will most often be short lived and result in disappointment, because real and lasting help can come only from the Lord. [Micah 7:7] But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Can I get an Amen! So, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! Learn from Christ today. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. [Colossians 3:16] Sometimes Christians neglect the Word of Christ. It takes time to read your Bible. Time that we often don’t have. I understand believe me, none better. I am working 14 hours a day 5 days a week going to seminary part time, college full time and I’m Pastoring this church. Sometimes we get so involved with our personal pursuits that we forget to pursue God. I am so caught up in my personal life that if it wasn’t for the fact, that I have given my life to the Lord. I would probably never have read the bible. Gone to church, yes, communion, yes. I would have checked all the right boxes, but I would not have been right. It’s important that if we are to live for Christ today, we must read and meditate on his Word, because it teaches us how to live a victorious life, a life in Christ, victorious over sin, self, and Satan.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. [Romans 15:4] All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. Lean on Christ today. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. [Proverbs 3:5] As Christians we fail when we lean on own power, when we trust in our position, and take pride in our possessions. When we as Christians in our pride set ourselves apart from God, when we step away from the Lord, when we fail to be reconciled in Christ, we fail not just ourselves but the world. Because we have been entrusted with God’s message to the world Jesus has reconciled us with God and through Him, we are to be reconciled to the world. We must trust in Christ today. Because it is, He that enables us to accomplish our tasks and bear our responsibilities. The Lord helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him. [Psalm 37:40] So, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. Lift with Christ today. As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. [2 Corinthians 6:1] What exactly does that mean not to accept the grace of God in vain. We’re not talking about vanity here. God’s not talking about how good we look or how high an opinion we have of ourselves. Rather He is talking about vain efforts, as in producing no result, being useless. We have been given the greatest gift in the universe. Do not squander it come do not accept the grace of God and do nothing with it. It is not useless it is not a thing that produces no results. It is the living and Holy Spirit of God. When it comes to doing God’s work, many Christians falter because of a lack of cooperation from others. We think we are alone. We think we are powerless and by thinking these things, we rob ourselves of the power that is Grace. When we ignore Jesus, we ignore God, we ignore the Holy Spirit. We are not alone. Christ is with us, beside us, and within us. He will enable us to assist the less fortunate, comfort the sick and lonely, and witness to the unsaved about Christ. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. [John 1:1] In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. We have the Holy Spirit within us. Jesus is with us. God is with us. [Philippians 4:13] I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Amen!

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Love as Christ today and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. [Ephesians 5:2] Christ loved us so much he died on the cross, taking our place. Stop and think about how much you would have to love someone just one person to die for them. I don’t know about you but to be honest with you I cannot think of any person in this world that I love enough that I would die for them. Particularly not as Jesus did, nailed to a tree, beaten nearly to death, ridiculed and degraded. Remember he died for us as we were yet sinners as we are still sinners. Jesus didn’t give his life for Saints. He gave his life for drunks and prostitutes, for murderers and thieves, for our enemies, for unbelievers and those who believe in other gods, he gave his life for the world not just for us.  Therefor we must love God and all of those others as well. Enemies and friends, saints and sinners, not just our neighbors. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. [1 John 4:11] To live for Christ today we should look to Him, learn from Him, lean on Him, lift with Him, and love as He loves, and we will be reconciled with Him.

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