Elim Prayer Meeting Message: Be Shepherds of the Church of God
Pastor Faith Kim of Elim Center International delivered a message entitled "Be Shepherd of the Church of God" in the prayer meeting held on Saturday, May 28. The message was based on meditation on Acts 20:28. Following is the sermon script:
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Acts 20:28 "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."
We recently met Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down and as a result, mission of the Christian church started in its full strength. Since that day, apostles of the early church started to live their lives fully dedicated as shepherds of the church of God. After Pentecost passed by, I wish today we can reflect on our position as shepherds of the church.
Today's verse came to me very powerfully as a rhema. It was at the time of one of the recent Pentecosts.
How was that time to me? It was a time when I felt my love wasn't answered but rather seriously betrayed in my ministry field. It was a moment of total failure and despair. A moment of many tears and cries. I felt as if my whole body was covered with numerous wounds. I was feeling like losing myself. I was under waters, not being able to breathe properly. I felt I reached bottom.
Frankly speaking, whether it was serious or not, such a moment hasn't been too rare in my journey of faith and ministry. It rather visited me repeatedly. It is the same even now.
Though we are free men, without any debt to anybody, we live as if we are in debt. That is the life of a Christian, or a minister. We endlessly forgive, love, and serve as if we were born obligated to live that way.
But even if we live in such a fashion, our love might not receive an answer. Or we might meet a moment when we would feel we have done everything we could do already and there is nothing more left for us to do. Anyway, isn't it true that we don't have any debt to anybody?
But when I look back, dramatic growth in my faith was made always at such moments.
"Should I lower myself even this much?" "Should I empty myself even this much?" A moment of such questions is a crisis but can serve as an opportunity. When I tried to lower, empty, love, or serve a little bit more than what I felt reasonable or appropriate, or what was actually possible for me, I changed and became a different person.
It was a miracle. It was something that was never possible with my own strength. A human doesn't have power to love, forgive, and embrace. And we cannot create it. It is impossible.
But when I tried to cry out to the Lord, in obedience to his commandment to love, to enable me to love, the amazing power of God never failed to enter me, and I became a different person in one day. It was truly a remarkable work of God.
But there was always one thing needed from my side. That was a heart that wanted to love no matter what. It was a will that wanted to please God by obeying his commandment to love. Only if we can set up such a will against all things and make ourselves ready to break down, God will surely intervene. God will break down our old plates and give us new ones. It is such a teary path.
The path we are taking is such a path. We come to meet and serve various people at different times. This is a path in which we voluntarily make ourselves slaves to different people though we don't have any obligations. We voluntarily love even those who cannot and don't need to be loved. This path is very foolish.
While walking this path, wounds are unavoidable, and inevitable. But I've realized that when the power of love enters, wounds all eventually melt away. Love is the greatest power. I've realized that it is a real truth that love brings joy. Each memory of hurt becomes a memory of love and joy in the end.
Thus I came to rather cherish every painful experience in my journey of faith and ministry. Since such experiences have made who I am now, no matter how insufficient I currently am, I came to love and be proud of such wounds as my own stigma, which attests that I'm a servant of the Lord.
Now, let's go back to today's verse. The Lord has called us as shepherds of the church. Not a shepherd of a few lambs but for the whole church, the body of Jesus Christ, which he bought with his own blood. This calling is a calling for all of us.
This calling might be felt very foreign, very remote from our reality. Our place might be very humble and shabby outwardly. We might have nothing. We make mistakes, and fail. We stumble, and fall down. This might be our repeated life pattern.
But let's think of the calling of the Lord for David. When he was anointed as the king of Israel, he was not a warrior yet. He hadn't done anything impressive yet. He wasn't an adult even. Even his oldest brother Eliab despised David and said, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness?" It was right before David gained such remarkable victory over Goliath. He was nobody even to his own family. But God picked up David from tending "those few sheep" and set him up as a shepherd for the whole country, the holy nation. Why? That was because he was doing his very best for the Lord in his place.
David said to Saul before going out to Goliath, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine."
He was a good shepherd for his sheep. He was risking his life each day to keep his few sheep. That was the reason why he was chosen to be a shepherd for the whole nation. He who could be trusted with very little could be trusted with much.
I believe all Christians who are trying to faithfully follow the Lord are great. I talk with many of such Christians. They embrace people who cannot be embraced, and carry burdens that are not possible to carry. No matter how small or shabby they might look now, they are giving their very best to the Lord. Even if our places are humble now, we are great indeed. So, in this time, I want to say that today's verse is a gift of the Lord for all of us.
We can love ourselves as who we are, and we can love our daily life dedicated to the Lord as it is. No matter how many times we stumble or fall down, or make mistakes or fail, we can still reaffirm and be proud of ourselves. That is not because of ourselves. Not because of what we have done or what we do. That is because of God. That is because who we are and who we are becoming in Him. Who we are and who we are becoming is solely a work of God. That is God's sacred area.
We should be humble but also be honest. God has already put in each of us real power of love which can save numerous people. While we have been struggling, wrestling to love, God has already given us power to love. But some have accepted our love, and others haven't. But it doesn't change the truth that we have this amazing power within us. It is with us. Even if such power hasn't born many visible fruits yet, there will be a day when fruits will be born in an amazingly abundant way. Such real power in us is what we have gained for our tears and cries to the Lord. And it is already part of who we are.
It is very clear. Such power is not ours, and is not with us because of what we have done. Miracles repeatedly occurred while we were trying to love those who couldn't be loved. The power of God intervened in our life, and entered us. The Lord poured down his own love in those who didn't have love so that his love could be delivered to souls through them.
Thus we can have great expectations for our future. There are things God has invested in us. We know God isn't someone who will suffer a loss. He will let us to put what we have to work to gain more for his own glory.
Thus even today we can reaffirm, be proud of, and love our lives which are dedicated to the Lord. That is actually how God is looking at us. We are carrying God's potentials.
Will the Lord suffer a loss? Never. What is important is thus that we live each day with our very best with a heart of love. Then, the rest will be taken care of by the Lord. He will change us first, and thus as a result, the fruits of our lives will also change.
I believe the path we are taking is truly so high and so great. With evil in us, we cannot continue this journey. It is either evil in us lives and we die, or the evil dies and we live. We come to understand that we cannot continuously walk this path of love, not giving up evil. There is no compromise. Thus we should die every day. We come to confess that only this path is true. I feel if we keep walking in this path without giving in or up, we will all become saints as Jesus Christ wishes.
Before, I lived individually for myself. It was a very natural consequence. If his problems are like huge mountains which he can never break down or move no matter what he tries, how can a person think of another life style besides that? But now, even though I very often forget, I know my life is for the church and for the world. I believe the life of each and every one of us Christians is for the church and for the world. Humans are amazing beings. Adam was with God in the garden. His life was so heavenly. But, he fell. Afterwards, his life became like the hell. Between his sons, the first murder occurred. His life went from one extreme to the other. This much, the human capacity is huge. Humans can choose to live worse than a beast or live like Jesus Christ. Then, I think we should challenge to live like Jesus Christ.
Our place is a place of incarnation. Isn't that we are God's chosen holy ones? But we touch people who are ungodly, and deal with what is ungodly. Since we want to save the world, we cannot remain separate from it, only to keep our holiness.
I've seen how broad spectrum a human has as you must have seen as well. I came to finally gain a better understanding of the message about good fish and bad fish. Sometimes we come to meet those whom we have no other choice except leaving alone.
A place of shepherding is a place where we repeatedly experience betrayal. What I feel is that it is not that it can be defined as betrayal, only when a person leaves us. There is no experience more hurting than people cannot perceive or understand love, even when we give our all to them sacrificing so much. Not realizing such great love of the one who loves is already betrayal. Through the experiences of being betrayed, we come to understand the position of God. Even though he has already given us his all and is continuously doing so, we take such great love for granted, we don't perceive love, and further we even complain. We betray God numerous times even a day.
One thing more. We come to realize an amazing mystery in this place of being betrayed. Even if we end up leaving a person alone, in fact, in love we cannot actually leave anybody alone. In love, there is no give up and thus that person is still in us, in our hearts. It is a world that we just wait until the appointed time since he cannot respond to love yet. The reason to be distant for a while is for becoming closer in the end. In love, there is no give up. We believe that we will all become one in Christ.
Thus, though the path looks deeply sorrowful, there is overwhelming hope in God. It is the same with us. No matter what kinds of paths we are taking now, no matter how far we have reached in this journey, there is no wound, no despair, but only remarkable growth and overflowing hope.
We, who are realizing such a world, are God's true hope, in fact. God's all hope lies in us. Each and every one of us is walking the path of sanctification and glorification. It comes very realistically to us in our real life situations. We are truly becoming sacred, and glorious each day. The hope of the world is in us. We are the hope. We, who are trying to swallow up the world with the spirit of incarnation of Jesus Christ and turn it to the Kingdom of God, are the real hope.
We can see with the eyes of faith that numerous souls are returning to God! The whole world is returning to God! The Kingdom of God is really coming! And it is through us! Truly, we were set up as shepherds of the Church!
Now, you are proud workers in this place. Each person's form is different here, but no matter what positions you hold, what jobs you do, you should go with a motive of love, to save even one more soul. When we hold onto such a motive of love, our life and ministry will not get dry but become anew each day. Isn't that we are the ones who should lead the whole world powerfully? Isn't that we are the ones who were called as shepherds of the Church, which he bought with his own blood?
Let's read today's verse one more time. "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."