Wednesday, May 2, 2018

"Being set free!" Stephan Mühlberg, CH, Spring Bible School

My name is Stephan and I am part of the staff of this bible school. I would like to go through a few points in Matthew with you this morning.

First, I want to share a little of what happened to me not long ago. I don’t know in which situation you’re now, all the challenges and wounds you brought with you from home. Personally I have been extremely privileged in my life, and the consequence of it was that I found myself lost in God’s blessings. I was actually searching for a meaning in the blessings themselves rather than in the one who is the origin of these blessings. I had to realize that I was lost even though everyone was saying that I was living a good Christian life. I discovered that I was not really such good Christian and that I also really needed help! 

God used a life situation to test my faith and brought me closer to him through it, which I thank Him for. He made me understand this one thing and it was not pleasant at all to me. I got it wrong, I needed to change my attitude and let God change my heart. It hurt in the first place, but it then freed me from the inside! And that is something I want to share today!
In that sense, I want to make the parallel with the ministry of my Boss in heaven when he came down on earth. You probably all know the beginning of the story with Christmas, God coming down on earth to become a human, yet fully God. You should know that Jesus later was baptized and right after was tempted by the devil. And then he starts his ministry with these words:
"From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matth. 4:17

These are the very first words of Jesus when he began his ministry! If Jesus starts with it, and if Jesus matters to me, then that is how it all starts in life, how a new season in our your life starts, how every day should start. And today, we are at the beginning of an exciting time of our life and I would like us to think about this. Repentance and how we all need to change and it is tough! It is even impossible on our own strength, but not for God !

Repentance is often seen very negatively or even has been misused by church leaders in your life to make you feel bad. Actually it is the whole opposite! That is the way to the ultimate freedom you could only feel when God reveals Himself to you and accepts you. And it is life changing. It hurts in the beginning because we are humbled, but it is worth it!
I recently read in the news about a young man who had absolutely everything the world could offer, but never was set free. A DJ called Avicii, I personally liked his music. This guy was young, good looking, and highly gifted; he had all the money and attention from people he wanted, with a beautiful woman at his side and yet he put an end to his life last week at the age of 28… how is that possible? Why? His family stated that : “he could not go any longer” and that he “wanted to find peace”. He never found it down here and now it is unfortunately too late. Let us learn from others and don’t make the same mistakes on our search for true life.  

What is the main problem today in our world? Nuclear war threat? North-Korea? Plastic waste? No these are only consequences of a bigger issue. I believe problem number 1 is that we all are forgetting who God is and are not interested in Him anymore. One thing God taught me and that deeply changed my point of view. I can best change the world in allowing God to change my heart.  I understood that the problem starts within my heart. I am the problem and not the others, I am not better than anyone else, cannot change anyone around me. I really need grace!
At the same time, God also revealed me who I am and how much I am loved and accepted by Him. And this feeling and knowledge is giving me such deep peace and freedom, because I found the truth and can testify that the truth has set me free. I still am afflicted and don’t understand sometimes what God is doing with me, but I know this one thing: God loves me. And knowing/feeling this, I can tell you with a deep conviction that he also loves you, simply for who you are here and now! He wants to be in a relationship with you and keeps being interested in you, more than any human would ever be. 
To finish, I would love to give us a mission for today and for the upcoming weeks. That we may all put effort in seeking the Kingdom of God personally and also as a whole community. This means to put our focus / thoughts and energy in the right place. We do not have to worry about anything else. As Jesus says a few chapters later in Matthew. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [our needs] will be given to you as well." Matth. 6:33-34.
More practically, whenever I am wondering what’s God’s will for me here and now, I can remind myself of Paul’s beautiful, yet very challenging recommendation to the Thessalonians:
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1Th 5:16-18
What a great and fulfilling mission it is to be commanded to rejoice, to be able to talk to our Creator in an intimate way and to give Him thanks no matter our life circumstances!

May the grace and the peace of our Lord Jesus-Christ be with you.