Today’s Scripture:  Matthew 5:23-24

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Introduction: For those of you who think that reconciliation is only about us and God then you don’t really understand that the desire of God is not just for us to be reconciled to Him, but for us to reconcile our broken relationships with one another.  If you don’t believe that…then take a look at our scripture for today. I have a feeling that today’s message is gonna be a really good and powerful one, and I hope that it touches your hearts and challenges your thinking…Amen!?!

Today’s Message:

So for the first four days of this study we talked about God’s side of reconciliation. Pastor Stephen used to say that it’s important to teach the God side of things first, and then talk about man’s side.

Friends.  It’s important when you lay a foundation on any subject in the Bible the first thing we ought to teach as I was instructed by my father in the Faith is the God side.  Why?  Because in the beginning…God.  He is the Alpha and Omega (or for those of you who don’t already know what those words mean) He is the Beginningand the End.  Everything originates with God so no matter what it is we’re talking about whether it’s reconciliation, tithing (giving), or love…it all starts and ends with the God side…and then sandwiched in the middle is how we are to respond to Him.

Today, we see what man’s side in reconciliation is, and what I would like to point out to you is that the reconciliation we are responsible for is between one another. That’s what it says right? First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

The reason we can begin to work to reconcile our relationships with others is because we’re reconciled to God.  Once we’re reconciled with God, and He begins to work on us and in us…there’s going to be some things within our hearts that begin to change. Things like if you have a strained relationship with your parents God is going to slowly, but methodically work on your heart (and theirs) to bring that relationship to a place of reconciliation.  How do I know that?  Well…I had a broken relationship with my parents for about ten years, and now we’re closer than ever before.  It’s only been within the last couple of years that my relationship with my parents has gotten to where it is today…and I can assure you that God had to work on both sides of the relationship…and He did. I had a strained relationship with my in-laws.  Guess who God began to deal with about that strained relationship?  That’s right…me.  We were in the middle of a series at New Life Christian Center (Centerton Campus) on Family Ties.  In the series, Pastor Cass Hill talked about the Be-Attitudes in which he got to the part about being a peacemaker…not a peacekeeper.  It was through that message the Lord dealt with my heart reminding me that if I’m going to be in ministry…then my home life needs to reflect that…and if I’ve broken relationships with my parents and my wife’s parents…then that’s not a very good example…so it was up to me to make the peace…and I did.  Today…my relationship with my in-laws is getting to be much better…and that too is God.  Again…He had to work on both sides…but in the end…I’ve good relationships with my parents and my in-laws…and that means my home is in order. Another thing that’s bothered me for years is that I’ve not had any kind of relationship with my daughter…she’s 16 years old.  Just recently she commented on a picture of my parents with a desire to get to know them, and through that comment we’ve begun talking.  Not a lot…but just enough that lines of communication are open.  Friends…God did that…and soon I expect that relationship…and I suspect that God’s going to work in both my heart and her mother’s heart to where that relationship may be somewhat reconciled as well. See…God’s not just in the business of reconciling our relationship with Him, but He’s also interested in reconciling our broken relationships with others.  The more broken relationships we have reconciled…the less people we have between us and God.

Jesus is not saying that in order to be saved you have to be fully reconciled to every person you’ve ever done wrong. Whenever there is a question as to whether or not something is going to impact your right standing with God…your salvation…always take a look at in comparison to the thief on the cross. The thief didn’t have time to get down of the cross, and make amends for all the wrongs he had done…did he? Yet, he was ushered into the Kingdom of God the very moment Jesus said; “today you will be with me in paradise”.

This is why I love the story of the thief on the Cross so much.  It puts on display the most important relationship that needs to be reconciled first, and that’s our relationship with God.  Listen, I have no doubt that if I didn’t have the relationship with God…not only would my relationship with my parents still be broken…but I can imagine life would be a whole lot more different. Forgiving others is NOT a salvation or reconciliation with God issue, and we know it’s not because if it was…the thief on the Cross would’ve had to make amends with everyone he stole from before he could be in Paradise with Jesus.  I mean…it really IS that simple friends.  The simplicity of salvation is right here in this story…and don’t you know it’s one of the least talked about stories in pulpits everywhere? Why?  It’s so simple that religious folks don’t want you to know about it because if we got a real handle on just how simple becoming a Christian is, and being set on the path to Heaven it would ruin a lot of their wonderful sounding sermons about being better people first and then coming to God for forgiveness and salvation.  No…first we go to God…and then we do the rest…and we don’t do the rest on our terms or in our time…but His. Look…every single one of us can come to God just as we are.  He will do the conforming, transforming, and work in our lives and hearts that He wants done in them.  It’s not up to us or our responsibility to change our lives…our responsibility is to be a whosoever that calls upon the name of the Lord.  Once we’re saved it’s the Holy Spiritthat works within us to go about the process of cleaning up our lives. That’s why you can be saved for 5 years being allowed to listen to classic rock n roll, and then one day God begins to deal with your heart.  Suddenly listening to classic rock bothers you, and you begin to understand that God’s changing your heart.  Some things will change in an instant…others will change over time…but the point I’m making here is that Ephesians 2:10 says that we are GOD’s workmanship.  Later we’re told that it’s He that will do the work in us until the day of completion.  Well, when is the day of completion?  When Jesus comes back for us. He calls us to repentance, He provided the substitute for our salvation, and He does the work within us always molding us into the image of His Son.  Remember the song…You are the Potter…I am the what?  Clay.  So, let’s rest in the fact that God’s doing the work in us, and on us…Amen.

There are 5 reasons that we need to seek reconciliation with people…and before you ask if this has any bearing upon our reconciliation to God when it comes to our salvation…it does not. (1)…That, in order to worship God acceptably, we must do justice to our fellow-men. (2)…Our worship will not be acceptable unless we do all we can to live peaceably with others. (3)…It is our duty to seek reconciliation with others when we have injured them. (4)…This should be done before we attempt to worship God. (5)…This is often the reason why God does not accept our offerings, and we go empty away from our devotions. We do not do what we ought to others; we cherish improper feelings or refuse to make proper acknowledgments, and God will not accept such attempts to worship him. There is a theme from the 5 reasons why we need to seek reconciliation with people, and it has to do with our worship of God. It has nothing to do with our position IN God, and it has nothing to do with our salvation.

“It has nothing to do with our position IN God.”  Friends.  As I just talked about our position IN God is settled when we become a whosoever that’s called upon the name of the Lord to be saved.  We are reconciled to God, but there’s work to be done while we’re still here in the world.  It’s too distracting to worry about making sure you’re earning your way to talk to someone else about getting right with the Lord.  I believe that’s part of the reason why He made the ministry of reconciliation so simple.  He doesn’t want you to worry about YOUR place in Heaven because the moment you become a whosoever that’s called upon the name of the Lord…that’s taken care of.  He wants you to be assured of YOUR place in Heaven so that you can be focused on being an ambassador for Christ…and being a witness for Him to lead others to do the same.

There are many religious folks who take this verse, and use it to support their argument that we have to clean up our lives in order to be able to come to God for salvation. But that’s not what these verses are talking about. It’s talking about how we worship God with our giving…you know…what we put in the offering plate. Yes. If we wrong someone it is OUR duty to seek reconciliation with the person we had wronged, and yes if we have sinned we ought to perform a what 1 John 1:9 says. However, again this does not impact our eternal security or our salvation…it impacts our ability to worship God.

There are a lot of verses that many religious folk try to use to support their argument that justification by faith isn’t enough, and the main one they use is this one:

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26 (KJV)

However, do you realize that if you take into context what James is talking about it brings us to what we talked about in a previous message about the works we do ought to be done out of LOVE.  See…religious people like to take one verse, and turn it into an entire supporting argument for their stance.  However, when you read the entire package in context this is what you find:

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  James 2:14-18

Do you realize that this passage is talking about service to the least, the last, and the lost?  It’s talking about not just loving people with words, but action.  What does 1 Corinthians 13:1-3talk about?

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:1-3

It says that if we do all these wonderful works, but we do them without love (which is the chief attribute of God…”God IS love”…those who love know God, and those who do not love don’t know God) then they are worthless.  So…if faith without works is dead…the what we’ve read here is that works without love is meaningless, empty, good for nothing, and worthless. So…if the world will know God’s people by love.  Then that means that love is the ultimate proof of faith…not works.  If the main way we as Christians are identified by the world is through love…then that’s also the way we showcase our faith…and it’s also supposed to be the MOTIVE behind our works. So this argument about faith without works being dead isn’t about proving ourselves worthy of being saved…it’s about proving to a lost and dying world that our motives and actions for serving them is out of LOVE…not a need for us to “earn” our way into Heaven…because we can’t “earn” our way into Heaven, AND if earning our way into Heaven is our motive for serving others…then it’s the WRONG motive…and we’re doing no one any good. So…take a moment to let that sink in.  Chew it around for a few minutes…and I believe you’ll realize the Holy Spirit just gave us all fresh revelation about what faith without works is dead really means…and why it’s an invalid argument when it comes to gaining or maintaining our salvation… I think that point right here was worth reading this entire message for…Amen!?!  That was good stuff right there.

I love the fact that the Bibleis so clear. When it comes to God’s side He has taken care of the most important thing, and that’s the divide that came between us. When it’s matters of eternity…He has already taken care of everything, and our sole responsibility is to receive it. When it comes to matters between us and others…it is our responsibility to see to it that we are living as peacefully with others as possible. Reconciliation with God was His responsibility. Reconciliation with people is ours. Can’t get much easier to understand then that.

I think we’ll close this message here.  Reconciliation between God and us is His responsibility, but reconciliation between us and the world is ours…isn’t it awesome to have a point that simple?  God has already taken care of everything we need in order to have a restored and reconciled relationship with Him, and He will be right there to help us restore the broken relationships in our lives…but it’s our responsibility to seek out those we have broken relationships with…and attempt to reconcile them. I’ve found that God will do the work on both sides, but we have to be the peacemakers if we want the blessing of being one.  After all, Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers”…not the peace-keepers…Amen!?! Conclusion:Man, what an awesome message this was.  I am so pumped that God can use me to write such a powerful message, and for there to be such revelation coming forth from it.  I hope you enjoy reading this message as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Well friends, since this series is about reconciliation…I have also been given a better way to close out messages…because the most important thing is for those who don’t know Jesus…to meet Him. So…if you’ve never trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior…you can do so right now…at this very moment.  It’s really easy to do.  The Bible says that “whosoever” shall call upon the name of the Lord…they shall be saved…and if you will take a moment to believe in your heart that Jesus came and died and rose again for you…and confess with your mouth that Jesus is your Lord & Savior…you’ll be saved.  Just pray this simple prayer out loud, and you will become part of the Body of Christ…and your eternal destination will be Heaven…and just like the thief on the Cross…from this day forward should you leave this world…you too will be with Jesus in Paradise.

Dear Lord Jesus…come into my heart.  Forgive me of my sin.  Wash me, cleanse me, and set me free.  Jesus, thank You that You died for me.  I believe that You are risen from the dead and that You’re coming back for me.  Place me IN Your Ark right now, today.  Fill me with the Holy Ghost.  Give me a passion for the lost, a hunger for the things of God, and a holy boldness to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I boldly confess that I am a whosoever that has called upon the name of the Lord…that I am IN the Ark…and that I am saved…I am born again…I am forgiven…I am the righteousness of God IN Christ Jesus…and I am In the Ark and on my way to Heaven because I have Jesus in my heart.  In Jesus name I pray…Amen!

Friend…if you prayed that simple prayer…you’re born again, and you’re a part of the Body of Christ.  ALL of your sins are forgiven, and you are reconciled to God.  Continue to pray, seek out a Bible believing and preaching church, and let them know you need to get plugged in and that you’re a new believer. Of course if there’s anything we can do to help you get established in your relationship with God…please let us know.  We have some Bible study resources available…and of course we’re have messages all the way back to January available right here on our WordPress page. If you need to contact us…our information is listed on our:  Where You Can Find Us page, you can contact us through email at: christlikeministriesarkansas@yahoo.com, you can become a fan of ours on Facebook at: www.Facebook.com/ChristlikeMinistriesNWA, and you can also follow us on Twitter (@ChristMinistNWA) is our Twitter handle, and there are other places as well. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Corinthians 16:23-24) Blessing & Grace to you Bryan J. Kizer Christlike Ministries NWA