Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Conscience


By Colleen Podmore

 

My topic tonight is the conscience.

What is it? How does it work? What happens when the conscience is corrupted? How can we keep our conscience sensitive?

 

What is it?

The conscience is a part of every human being and it helps us to decide between right and wrong. The conscience acts as a guide to our actions. It is sometimes called the ‘still small voice’ and ‘inner voice’.

It will produce good feelings when we do what is right according to our value system and it will produce mental distress and guilt if we do what is wrong.

 

The other day I bought some clothes at The Base and when I got home I realized I had 4 articles but had only been charged for 3. What to do? At first I just thought, ‘Oh well too bad’ but then I thought No – I will have to go and pay for the t-shirt. A couple of days later I got to the shop and explained what had happened and the lady was absolutely dumbfounded. She said she had never seen such honesty!

I just thought – well that’s pretty sad!

Discussion – have you experienced something like this?

 

 

How does the conscience work?

Odon gave a series of messages on the conscience in 2001 and he describes the conscience as being like a torch. Proverbs 20:27 says, ‘The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being’. The conscience (the lamp of the Lord), lets us know if what we are doing is right or wrong according to our value system. Furthermore there is nowhere that we can hide from the conscience. Even Jonah who tried to run away found no relief from his conscience in the belly of a big fish – the only way he could find peace was to repent!

 

In his messages, Odon also describes the conscience as being like a computer programme that can easily become corrupted or changed. When the conscience is re-programmed by satan then ‘right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right’ (Is 5:20) and our value system is changed completely.

We can see this happening in the conscience of the church today and unfortunately many churches serve satan rather than God (Rev 18:3) – examples: marrying homosexuals, witchcraft, gossip, factions, hatred etc.

 

If the conscience is weak it can easily be re-programmed by satan. Eve knew it was wrong to take the fruit but satan said, ‘Did God really say that?’ and she was tempted to take the fruit and eat it (Gen 3:1-6). Afterwards she felt guilty as her conscience condemned her and she hid from God. Then she tried to justify herself by blaming the serpent and a guilty conscience can lead us further into sin. The only solution to a guilty conscience is repentance.

 

I have imagined the conscience as being like a filter which guards and protects our hearts and minds. It warns us when an action may not be right. What I see, hear and do is filtered through my conscience. When my conscience is not working, the heart and mind become polluted.

If we want a clean heart and mind then we must keep our conscience clean. Paul says, ‘So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man’ Acts 24:16.

 

Intriguingly, Paul says in 1 Cor 4:4, ‘My conscience is clear but that does not make me innocent’.

Paul knew that he could claim a clear conscience and still act against the will of God. This happens when we trust in our feelings and lose touch with what the word of God says. When we neglect to read our Bibles.  When we listen to worldly wisdom rather than Godly wisdom.

 

Psalm 43:3 says, ‘Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me…’

 

I remember when it was really important to attend church every Sunday – if I didn’t go then my conscience made me feel guilty. But now I go twice a month and it’s ok because I have more knowledge and understanding of who God is. My relationship with Jesus is not based on my church attendance but rather the condition of my heart. God looks at the heart and not the outward appearance.

 

 

Odon describes 4 types of conscience

 

Sharp/sensitive conscience

We see this type of conscience in David when he hid in the cave and was tempted to kill Saul, but instead he cut a corner from his clothes (1 Sam 24:4).  Furthermore he immediately confessed his sin to Saul

 

Dead Conscience

God describes the Ninevites as being unable to ‘tell their right hands from their left hands’– meaning that their conscience was not working – it was dead. But God sent His servant Jonah to preach and they repented (Jonah 4:11).

 

David’s conscience was also dead when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then conspired to cover his guilt. His conscience was awakened when the prophet Nathan spoke to him and in repentance he was restored – read Psalm 51:10, ‘Create in me a clean/pure heart’.

 

Hebrews 9:14 says, ‘..cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death’

Forgive us Lord, then he will remember it no more but what if we still carry the guilt –tell satan that you have been forgiven, your conscience is clear!

 

Sleepy Conscience

Peter’s conscience was asleep when he denied the Lord – but then it woke up and the Bible says He wept bitterly.

 

Elastic Conscience

Depending on the circumstances our conscience can stretch to justify certain actions and we can do something one day without batting an eyelid. Joseph’s brother’s described themselves as ‘honest men’ even though they had sold their brother into slavery. (Gen 42:11)

 

Knowledge of God’s word can help with an elastic conscience – we all know how patient God is with us.

 

So – be careful of your conscience. Ask God to keep it sharp. Always examine yourself, keep short accounts. If you are wrong say sorry. Be honest and more than anything – be accountable. Let people speak to you about your actions especially if they are not pleasing to God!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The God of Isaac

By Odon Bulamba








Exodus 3:6, God is talking about Himself.  He is proclaiming something that may sound a little bit strange, I am your God, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Imagine that God is standing up and proclaiming to all the nations, I am the God of Angela, Colleen, Tyrone.  How will you feel?


Today we are going to talk about the God of Isaac.  The God of Abraham was a little bit tough expecting Abraham to leave his family, friends and all behind and start to walk.  Sometimes God pushes us to do things that we don’t want to do.


After Abraham, you are to have a son and we all know the story.  You are going to have a child.  Abraham laughed.  My wife is over 80 now.  Later his wife also laughed and then later the child is born.  Isaac is called “he laughs”.  Whenever someone tells you something and you laugh, won’t they think you are mocking them or not taking things seriously.


I have been inspired by what the children of this school made for us.  We all know the map of the world, the globe.  God of Abraham and Isaac is for us.  You will live in New Zealand and that is where I want you to be.  You didn’t buy this land.  You didn’t go to see a mortgage broker for you to become a citizen of NZ but God gave it to you freely. Water surrounding you, fish and mussels and all that is in water, use it for you.


South America and North America and Africa and Asia are in their own place.  The children of the school wrote here on the wall, “Celebrations around the world” what do you celebrate?  God of Isaac or do you celebrate only your own life?  Do you celebrate all that God gave you?  Water, land, light, creation? 


Here we come now to the next question the children put on the wall if we remove the “y” and keep “part” and remove the e and t and keep the “plan” are you a part of God’s plan, yes.  You will be happy like Isaac and laugh, you have given this all to me.  When joy hits your heart, you can’t stop smiling or laughing.


Although you are late to get something or late to achieve a project or late in one or another matter, don’t be disappointed, God can still make a miracle.  All the countries on the wall are part of the game.  Abraham was the first patriarch.  Isaac second.  All of these nations on the wall here have drama of life in common.  We all go through those dramas.  These are good lessons that the children of this school have given to us.


Do you have elements of dramas in your life?  What is the role of dramas in your life?  Is it a drama just to wake up, to pray, to feed my body, to take care of my spiritual needs.  After knowing your roles, what are your actions?  Abraham now you have your son Isaac, what is your role?  Abraham is now a father and has to play a role in his family and be there day and night for his son.  It doesn’t matter who you are, you have a role to play, even a child has a role to play.


Children need to learn how to become responsible, how to do good things and what we teach them first is actions.  Our God loves us and wants us to look at our actions because only our actions will go with you on the day of judgement.  If you are not a good role model for yourself, you will have bad actions and those actions will either let you go to heaven or hell.


Your actions with faith, then heaven is yours.  Nothing to purchase.  Then God gave us space,  everything in your life is your own space, you want to pray, you are free, you want to complain you are free. Sometimes satan will step in your space like the garden of Eden but you have to tell satan, “my focus is not you, not what is attacking me but my focus is in God”.  Once you focus on something, time is not waiting for you.  Yesterday is the past and in two seconds we are in the future and in the future we feel the pressure in all areas of our life.  Two years ago life was easier but now it’s hard.  Tension in your life, workplace, family.


Here the children have written on the wall, “Walk of fame” are you walking in fame?  What does that mean to you?  If they will call those who are famous in God’s Kingdom, can you walk with fame and say, “yes, I am really the child of God,” or will you say, “I’m not sure, all the problems are on my shoulders” and complain.


Isaac who was the son of Abraham and born from a mother and father who were over 90 years.  How will they educate this son?  It was somehow a disaster but Abraham could continue to focus on his role. That made Isaac part of the declaration of God because his father understood he had a role to play and focus in order to be a part of God’s plan.


Isaac started to play with other children.  When he turns 8, his mother said, Abraham I don’t want Hagar anymore, she has to leave because her son is making Isaac’s life hard.  Because of you being saved, how many people has God separated from you?  We are all Isaac, those that show joy with laughing.  God will separate us from the world and they will become like enemies because of your faith.


Maybe you don’t have problems but in many families when you are saved, many will reject you and bring pressure and annoy you and attack you.  You may wonder, is this what is called salvation.  When you were born with brothers and sisters older than you, they will consider your advice as nothing.  When you become new born in Christ, the world will start to turn against you and God will separate you from other people.  That’s why Jesus said, if you want to become a Christian you have to leave all behind and follow me.


Isaac’s brother has now left and he has no one to play with.  Children need other children to play with.  Who do you play with as a child of God?  Who do you associate with when you are doing your daily activities?  Who do you share your struggles and joy with?


Here the children have written “beats” on the wall. God said to Abraham, “I will give you a shock, you will have to give to me your child, not only as an offering but to slaughter your own son because I love such a sacrifice”.  Even if your heart doesn’t beat on that day your heart will beat faster.  Angela, I want you to pick up your knife and slaughter your daughter Eden.  You will say no, this can’t be God.  The hearts of angels will beat because God will be worshiped today.


Here on the wall is written, “Rhythm” and the rhythm of the heart beat will be there.  Here is written “Pitch” and the pitch will make you sing low or high.  Sometimes when I drive my car, I play music and sing with children and if I stop the music, the singing will stop because maybe the pitch is not the same as the key in the music.


Here is a sad face on the wall and the child can be “sad” which represents these minor notes written on the wall or happy which represent the major notes on the wall. Maybe you feel sad because God is asking you to give up something.  How will I sacrifice this for you my God, my work, my salary, this is not a right rhythm for me.  Why are you attacking me God and we try to shut the mouth of God.  I know God you have told me 20x, it’s enough now but God will say, “I know but I need you to understand your pitch and the key you are playing in”.


When you pray when you are sad, your prayers are powerful because of suffering.  You want God to intervene and be the solution to your problem right now but when you are happy do you really pray and what pitch do you use?  “Thank you God but I did all the work so it was because of me that I have what I have”.  I gained $20,000 and my tithe is $2,000 but I think, no that is too much, I will give God $200.


Here on the wall is written “Tempo” and God looks at the “tempo”, “God I will need more blessings”.  The drama of life in the life of Isaac.  Many think that the life of the child who sings is a happy child but there are many who sing not because of happiness but because of sadness.  Isaac who has a father who is 100 years old is taking the knife.  Maybe Isaac thought, God gave me to this family and now my father wants to kills me.


If this happened in NZ it would be on the news and the police would be involved.  Maybe Isaac thought, “If you are my God and the God of Abraham, how do you allow my father to slaughter me? is that love?  You are allowing evil in my life,” because many believe that death is evil.  Sometimes God will come to you with things that are above your understanding and bring big challenges.


As you can see the earth is surrounded by 75% water and yet the earth survives, how does the water not swallow the earth?  The powder in water will disappear but not the earth?  Under the earth is water.  Why can’t water swallow the earth? Because God continues to give you the earth to live for this moment to understand how the earth is prepared for you so you as Isaac can laugh in the future.


Genesis 24, Isaac is 40 years old, you need to find a wife and you are not the one to choose but I will send someone to find a wife for you.  Imagine you are 40 years old and your father will find the wife for you.  It sounds awkward.  This means you have no right to say no, you have no choice, whatever I give to you, that is what you are supposed to take and live with.


God has maybe given you big cheeks or small legs and that is what you are supposed to live with.  God has given me a voice to sing, you are supposed to live with it.  Are you proud of what God has given you? 


Isaac is now found in front of Rebecca and he has to accept to live with her forever.  There are things that you have to accept and understand that it is a gift from God and you have live with it forever, good or bad, your choice or not.  That is challenging.  God puts us in situations sometimes that we don’t like.


Isaac was avoiding conflict so he left Canaan.  Whenever you come across problems do you deal with them or run away?  We are called to live in peace with everyone, fight for that.  Rebecca was seen as beautiful where ever they went and so Isaac (just like his father) told people, “this is my sister”.  After being kicked out of that area, God told him to stay there and I will bless you.  His first blessing was Rebecca becoming pregnant to twin boys, Jacob and Esau.


Rebecca planned a game with Jacob.  Isaac became blind.  How can God allow me to become a blind person?  Sometimes in your life you ask yourself, why you couldn’t understand that situation yesterday but now it is clear.  Because I didn’t know it yesterday, I made a wrong decision and God allowed such a think in Isaac’s life so he had to rely on his ears only.


If one part of your life/ministry is not good, use what is good and don’t stay in that situation forever because you will make a terrible mistake.  Isaac blessed the wrong child.  God informed Rebecca rather than Abraham who should be blessed.  Maybe Abraham thought, “Are you Rebecca a good friend of mine, why did you keep it a secret form me?”  Imagine you have your wife/husband and you know something like that and you keep it a secret and one day you reveal it to your spouse.  The spouse may become angry/disappointed.  God can speak to one and not another but you have to be ready if one has the message to listen and not think it should be me who received the message from God.


Isaac didn’t hate his child after blessing Jacob and gave Esau the last part.  When someone does something wrong to you, what do you do?  Do you forgive or keep hating them?  God of Abraham will bring you through tests where your own children will become a challenge for your life.  Sometimes even lie to us.


I lied to my parents and maybe you did too?  God is asking us to know how to live through the God of Isaac.  Accept your body, mind and soul as it is and accept that God can separate you from people. Who is the Ishmael in your life?  A true brother in your life.  Who is your father Abraham who tried to slaughter you?  Someone at your work will tell you, “No, you know nothing”.  They don’t want you anymore but be like Isaac, keep loving them, he kept treating Abraham as his father and he didn’t share the story with others.


Do you accept your parents the way they are? Do you forgive others and keep walking with them or have you decided, finish, I will take my own direction like Lot did.  God of Isaac wants to see you laughing no matter what is happening, be happy when you suffer and things go wrong, keep laughing.  Even when the situation is impossible, laugh.  There you will see how God works.


Don’t take the slow beat but move around and jump here and there.  Be happy when your boss is mean to you and then you become the light of the world.  When you are happy you shine but when you are grumpy you will be darkness and everyone will take distance.  But if you love every second and accept the situation as it is, you will see the glory of Isaac and Abraham. 


Isaac understood the place God gave him in Canaan.  You need to understand your place in the church. Stay there.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

God of Abraham - Part 2

By Odon Bulamba











Thank you so much for being among us this morning.  It’s a blessing to be alive and be among those that breathe and walk around.  It’s a privilege when you wake up and your whole body is working.  When we sleep we forget about ourselves and it’s a privilege to wake up and find yourself alive and all your senses are back. Praise God because He gives us all we need to start the day.


Abraham was a human being like you and me.  He wasn’t that special, taller, thin or green.  No, he was a human like you and me.  The only difference between Abraham and others is that he was ready to listen to God when He was talking to him while many aren’t ready to listen to God when He talks to them.


Children can come to their parents and talk without any shame but many adults before to talk to their bosses, they have to think about it, how to approach the boss.  I’ve seen those that freeze in front of their bosses.  Abraham was someone who considered God as his father, he would tell God freely what came into his mind.  


E.g. God came down on the earth with two other men by his side to Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham saw Him and with respect bowed down and spoke to Him, “come to my place, stay with me tonight”.  How often do you invite God to stay in your house?  “God you are not passing today, I insist you come in my house today, I want to see you in my life today, to see you in part of me”.


Exodus verse 15, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that is My name”.  Why didn’t He choose to be called God of Adam?  Or God of Jesus?  Or Enoch? 

Abraham was born in a family of four.  He was not the first born or second born but the third born; the third boy of the family.  God chose this one.  To be chosen by God is not a matter to be the first born or to be the oldest person.  God’s choice doesn’t look at that. 

You may see that you are saved while other family members are not.  This is just God’s choice.  What you have is not what others have.  Abraham had almost nothing.  Materially he wasn’t rich.  He wondered what to do with his life.  God told him, “I’m taking you from your father and I will show you where to go.  Stand up”. 

Church stand up.  If I say let’s go, you will wonder where are we going?  Walk around.  Let’s go.  Where are we going?  When you are going around you meet with people and you will see different things and you will start to see what you couldn’t see when you were sitting at just one place.

Abraham was sent on a journey and discovered new things.  If he didn’t move, he would not have seen those new things.  God was teaching us through Abraham that the first step to be a friend of God is to move, to make a step from place to another.  When things don’t work in your family, what is the first step you take?  To run away or to listen to God and ask Him where to go?  Where do you go?

Abraham being in the situation of sadness, being the poorest and lowest person in the family, he told God I am ready and he started to follow God’s instructions.  Do you follow God’s instructions in times of trouble?  God says forgive, do you forgive?  God says be kind, are you really kind?  Abraham did not leave by himself.  He took his nephew and wife and they journey started.

Very often God will send you blessings that you don’t know.  God maybe brings you a thought and you start to do it and God guides you to another place.  How often do we say no, I can’t just stand up and start a journey without knowing where we are going? 

Before birth we didn’t know where we were.  We don’t know the surprises God has for us.  Do you know where your life is going?  You may plan to go to Tauranga but is it really the direction that God is giving to you?  We need to pray to God and ask him to lead us.  “Show me the way God, what am I going to do today because I don’t understand what is happening”. 

Abraham came across tough situations, battles, temptations and wherever you go, you will find battles, even your own body and mind can fight against you.  It will push you to the limit to see how patient you can be.  You can even start to hate yourself.  This is the path that God has planned for you and you have to go through that.

God bless Abraham.  He went to Egypt and Pharaoh loved his wife.  Imagine someone telling you that they will take your loved one.  The first thing that Abraham did was to be quiet.  When someone is taking something from you, do you control yourself or do you jump and say you have to kill me?  Abraham didn’t want to die and he wanted to keep peace with everybody so he let him take his wife.  How often do you tell God you don’t want to die?

Sarah, please accept these.  What can you sacrifice in your life to keep your soul alive.  Sarah was of great value in Abraham’s life and he accepted to sacrifice her for his life.  Don’t accept to sacrifice your life before God’s plan is fulfilled.  When satan tempts you, feel that your soul is precious and don’t sacrifice your life.  Stay alive so you can serve God.  When you are alive it is the time to collect points and on the last day you will present to God what you have collected.  If you have mucked around, then you will have nothing to present to God.

Sarah must have thought, “Abraham, I know that this is a test”.  Maybe Abraham prayed, “Lord you are the one who has created me and you gave me this wife and someone wants to take my wife.  I know it’s a test.  I can’t fear human beings and I trust in you God and you will not allow Pharaoh to sleep with my wife”.  Big faith!  Give your wife away and tell God to intervene so that person can’t play with your wife.

That was the first test God gave Abraham.  How many tough situations have you faced in your life, you are losing your money, age, effort, everything.  This is the time to call for God, I trust in you God, don’t let this happen.

One time I took Levi to Te Rapa swimming pool and because I was in the water with him, he would jump into the water and knew that I would save him.  That was the case for Abraham.  Imagine if that was Trish and Beau said, “I will give you to that man for tonight”, Trish will find Beau crazy and won’t accept it.  Maybe Trish will say, “No you should respect me”.

Sarah’s reaction wasn’t like that.  It seems she was submissive and accepted to do it.  Maybe Abraham thought she would not accept and when she did maybe he thought, “oh, no what have I done.  Maybe Sarah will think that I don’t love her and blame me”.  How often do you fear what others will think of you because of your actions?  Pray at that time to ask God to intervene.  Pharaoh saw God and He said, “leave him alone”. 

Children will ask their parents to do a service for them from time to time, e.g. cook something else, not chicken tonight and the mother may change the program in order to satisfy the needs of the children.  When we remember that God is our Father, He can also change His program for us. 

Pharaoh gave Abraham a lot of things and Abraham became rich just like that because God’s eyes were upon him.  Whereever you go, even if it is in trouble, do you remember that God is with you or do you feel that you are alone and wonder how you will get out of the situation?  In every step you make, call upon the name of Jesus and tell him to be with you and you will see victory follow you but when you forget and you want to use your brain, effort and muscles, God will look at you and say that is not your role, that is mine, call upon me.

Abraham left.  Later there was a problem in Sodom.  There was a war that broke out and they kidnapped Lot and his wife and belongings.  One of the workers escaped and told Abraham, “your nephew and family and belongings have been taken away”.  Abraham stood up and took 380 workers.  Remember he only took his wife and nephew and now he has 380 workers.  Do you see how easily God can make you a boss?  God can open doors.  You are after $10 and he can give you $100,000. 

Abraham employed those people and trained them like an army which was a matter of preparation.  God prepared them and now they were supposed to fight for the first time.  God has given you an army too.  You have people around you and how many do you train for the spiritual battle in case something goes wrong?  E.g. Let’s pray for Jack.  Do you have a team of prayer in your family/friends that you can team up with in case of any battle to pray?

It’s a shame because many people do not have anyone trained or prepared for their prayers.  Praise the Lord because everyone here has prayer requests and we train each other, feed each other in case of problems and that makes us a small army. 

Abraham had that group and he split the group to share the tasks.  Many in churches do not want to share in the tasks today.  Someone else can do it.  If you don’t fight, who will fight?  How will we win the battle?  We have a role to play, what is your role in the church of God?

Whenever you go to the battle field, I prefer to be somewhere else, playing scrabble, reading and we give priority to our own things and leave others to perish.  In one church in Hamilton, I met this family that can only pray fervently when they pray for money, kneeling down, shouting and even fall down on the ground but when we ask to pray for the sick their prayers won’t last two seconds because it is not important.

Abraham redeemed Lot.  He didn’t say, Lot you were wrong somewhere but thought love must take the first place.  God of Abraham is asking you, even if things didn’t work well yesterday, please intervene to support that person and redeem their souls, their spirits, their minds.  You were not trained just for knowledge but to train others, the joy for others.  Are you the joy for yourself?  How often do you hate yourself or things around you or people God puts around you because they did something wrong 10 years ago, you don’t want to forgive them or hear them.

God was pleased.  God walked to Abraham’s house and met with him.  God can change his plan. The Bible says, “No one can see Me or they will die but God came down to visit him”.  When a stranger visits your house, what do you do?  In your mind do you might think, what are you doing here?  You may tell them you are not interested and not even allow them in the house.  I’ve seen that on several occasions when someone turns up to sell products or religious people come and you say, no I’m not interested. 

If you welcome them, you can give them an opportunity to train them.  Although they are wrong in their messages, they come to help you.  You can show them the mistakes and train them.  I’m here for Greenpeace, share the message with them.  Who created the trees? God.

God of Abraham is a God who looks at your actions.  When was the last time that God came to your house to eat or slept in your bed.  Maybe you have never invited God to sleep in your bed the night.  Welcome God in your prayers, come tonight and eat with me.  Invite God to eat, don’t be selfish, “send someone to share this meal with me and I will believe that person has been sent by You.  I’m sleeping now, I want you to be the watch man, protect me”.  If you are telling God to cover your house but you are not giving God the place to sleep in your bed, then invite God to sleep with you. 

God of Abraham means “God who wants his children to listen to him” and those who invite God with them every time are children who want to listen to their God.  “Be with me God, defend my causes, protect me, be my God”. 

What is the role of God in your life?  Many people think it is just to look after them, their provider to supply to them and others believe in God only when they are in trouble, that’s when they will call upon Him.  Believe me, the role of God in your life is to first of all be your father and after that, your friend.  Children will tell their parents everything and trust their parents more than anyone else.  When a father says be careful, children remember.  God is in you because you are the image of God so you should be with Him everywhere and remember His presence in your life.

God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Odon, Leah, the God of all generation.  Everything I have belongs to God.  Who am I to oppose God and His will?  God teach me how to walk with you and to understand my role as a child and how to live with my Father.









Saturday, June 10, 2017

God of Abraham


By Odon Bulamba




It’s a joy to meet again this morning.  Today all over the world people have been celebrating Easter.  Some are shouting, drinking, spending night in a night-club but here we are meeting this morning not because of the Jesus that passed away but the Jesus that is back to life.

Today’s message is a bit challenging.  I will take it to another dimension where we have to think together and discover the true meaning of Jesus’ resurrection.  God of Abraham.  Why talk about Abraham rather than Jesus’ death and resurrection

Read John 20

This bank note is just a sheet of paper when we don’t know what it is.  It becomes important when we think about its value.  Some people may get killed for this.  Some work hard all their lives to get money.  Maybe for $20 per hour, some will work hard.  Sometimes when I go around the world and I take the NZ banknote, they will say, “no we don’t need this, we need our own currency”.

For the resurrection of Jesus, many will say they don’t know this and they only need their own currency and their own preaching.

Early in the morning, Mary decided to go to the tomb of Jesus that was on the third day.  Remember Jesus told everyone He would come back to life on the third day.  Mary woke up early and picked up perfume and decided to take it with her to perfume the body of Jesus.  Imagine at 5am someone asking you to walk through the cemetery.  You won’t feel comfortable.  I should wait for the sun to rise when day is there. 

Mary with her courage got up early in the morning to start the journey.  Maybe others asked her why?  This is the power of the message today.  How to do things that look strange to human beings that look sense to Jesus.

How often do you wake up early to go close to God to start to pray.  Perfume represents prayers.  When do I wake up early while it is still dark to worship our God?  When Mary entered the tomb, she saw the stone rolled aside and the Bible says that she ran back to Peter and the other disciple that Jesus loved (John) to tell them, “they have taken Jesus somewhere”.  Mary didn’t check inside the tomb but went to talk to Peter and John.  I don’t know where they took his body. 

Very often when we approach a situation from far away and we see just signs, we panic.  Here Mary forgot completely that it was the third day, the day that Jesus was supposed to come back to life.  She forgot about the resurrection of Jesus.  After telling Peter and John, the Bible says that Peter and John started to run together to go towards the tomb.  As they were running, John was faster than Peter and he took off.  Maybe Peter was heavy or fat like me so he couldn’t keep up.

John didn’t think about Peter.  He split from Peter, “You are too slow, I need to go faster”.  In your life you will start a journey with someone, maybe start a business, begin studying or working with someone and somehow the other person will progress faster than you and get all the shining glory but you are back there and they get all the blessing.  My companion is so far ahead but I am behind.  We started together but now you leave me behind.

Haven’t you come through a situation where your friend was with you but they took off and left you behind and they don’t hold your hand to run together but because they are sharper and faster than you.  For example, some are blessed to know the Word of God and others don’t, some get healing quickly and others get it slowly.

Although John was faster when he reached the tomb he stopped and didn’t enter inside the tomb to check if the body of Jesus was there but saw the linen clothing.  Peter who was slow in running, met him there.  Don’t worry in life if someone has gone ahead of you, let God take you there slowly because you will find them stuck somewhere and they won’t know where to go.

John didn’t have courage to enter the tomb while this was the purpose of going.  It’s like you and me going to the cemetery and me asking you to enter the tomb.  The tomb doesn’t have light inside.  Don’t envy those who take off fast or started the journey early.  Keep with your God and you will reach there in the right time.

Not only did Peter see the linen clothes but he entered into the tomb and then saw the napkin that had been around Jesus’ head and that the linen was folded in the corner.  John didn’t see because he didn’t step inside. There are things that you will only receive if you take the step of perseverance, when you accept to come closer to Jesus.  If you say, I’m a catholic/protestant but I stop here and don’t want to get closer then you will only see the linen clothes but if you step in, you will also see the napkin.

Peter told John, look here is the napkin and then he believed.  What did he believe? Not that Jesus was alive but that the body of Jesus was not there.  Peter doesn’t remember it was the third day that Jesus was supposed to be alive. 

John 20: 8 & 9, how often do we do this in life, “God I have been praying to you, I go to chapel and you are not there so I go home disappointed.  People have abandoned me.  I have tried my best to come to your tomb to look after you and you are not there, you keep silent where are you God?  I give up religion and faith, I go back home because I am tired”.  “Many people will ask and it is given to them and others knock and the door is opened but when it is my turn, you don’t answer or show up or consider my problems, God you don’t love me, I give up”.  How often have you given up in your life? 

Peter and John went home.

John 20:11, she didn’t stay there she went back to the tomb and was outside and she started to cry.  Peter and John left and didn’t even consider Mary, they left her there and took off.  I have seen a mother leave a child at the supermarket because the child doesn’t obey.

Why was Mary crying?  Because she was left behind? Because the body of Jesus was not found?  Peter and John didn’t search for the body?  She brought that issue to Peter and maybe she trusted Peter would do something?  Peter let her down.  How often in your life do you share a serious problem with someone and they let you down?  How does it feel when they don’t care?  That is what Mary was crossing.

Mary was crying and she looked inside the tomb and she saw two angels.  How will you react if you see an angel?  You may scream.  If I see two people sitting in the tomb I will be afraid.  Only one body was in the tomb but now there are two.  In Africa, we will believe they are ghosts and I won’t come close.  Ghosts are not a joke. 

Several years ago, I was in the church praising God and we saw fire flying inside our church.  The fire came in and all together we saw it.  How many people remained in the church?  Many were trying to jump out the windows to escape.  Fear made us scream and shout for help.  It was a witchcraft.  Whenever a danger comes, not many will face it.

Mary saw those two people.  They asked her, “why are you crying?”  How often has God asked you why are you crying?  Maybe because of your children, boss at work, pain in your body, your finances, what you are trying to achieve is not successful, your neighbours make your life hard, your police, those around you treating you badly.  It is up to you now to tell your God why you are crying.  “This is my problem.  I’m not crying for joy or fun but because something is wrong”.

I have never seen a shop where they sell tears.  Tears don’t come out because you want to please yourself.  Some people can pretend to cry but normally tears only come out when you are joyful or very sad, you can’t control yourself.  The power in your heart pushes your tears to come out.  In New Zealand when you cry someone will rub my shoulder and say, “it’s alright”.  It doesn’t change the situation and it is still your own problem.  I will suffer until the day I find a solution.

Mary told the angels, “I’m crying because they have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have taken him”. When someone dies, we usually put them in the grave and abandon them but not Mary, she continued to look after a dead body.  A dead body is eaten by the worms.  She felt bad for the dead body not being there.

Maybe she was disappointed because those two people weren’t what she wanted.  She turned around and saw this man and it was Jesus.  Mary used to live with Jesus but she doesn’t recognise him.  “Here I am”.  She looked at him and thought it was maybe a gardener of the cemetery.  Jesus asked her, “why are you weeping?”

Mary said, “if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him”.  She assumed that Jesus maybe took the body of Jesus.  How often do we assume things wrongly and judge people?  I’ve lost my phone, “oh Tyrone if you took my phone give it back”.  Why should I think Tyrone took my phone?  Because he is suspect.

Very often we suspect people doing things they may not do. When we suspect them we don’t even want to know more.  I see someone touched my stuff, it must be that guy.  To suspect is not a sin but going closer and asking the person if they have seen the stuff is better.

John 20:14, “when I’m talking you will know it’s me”.  By listening to a person’s voice you can tell who they are.  Mary still did not recognise Jesus.  Jesus called her name meaning he knew her.  Imagine someone says your name on the street, you will turn around.  If you recognise the voice, you will know who the person is that is calling your name.  Mary spent a lot of time with Jesus but did not recognise him.

The sheep know the voice of the shepherd.  Wasn’t she a sheep among the shepherd?  She called back, “Master”.  What pushed her to call him master without recognising him as master?  Jesus said, “don’t touch me but go back and tell the brethren that I am getting ready to go back to my God and your God”.  He doesn’t call them disciples but brethren.  Who are the brethren?  Those that Jesus used to preach to became his brothers. “Mary tell them that I am ascending now to go back to my God and your God, my father and your father”.

The God of Jesus is my God.  The father of Jesus is my father which means that Jesus is my brother.  If your God Jesus is my God, then we are brothers and belong to the same family.  Jesus lowered himself to say my God is your God.  When I shouted on the cross, “my God why have you forsaken me”, this was not only my God but your God.

Jesus is telling us that I’m bringing you up a level higher so we can have the same father and same God. Mary went back to talk to the disciples and told them what she had seen.  Mary didn’t report to all the brethren, only the disciples.

Are you among the brethren?  Or only a disciple?  When God tells you to go somewhere, do you only go to one tribe and shrink the mission to those that we know and those that will accept us and listen to us and cut off others.

The Ruakura centre has a few hundred of workers and in one office you will have 20 people and then you have a small team in the office.  The small team doesn’t care what is happening in the other offices (except to gossip).  Our mission is not limited.

Jesus appeared to his disciples.  The same evening, the third day evening, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, “peace be unto you”.  Have peace?  It changes nothing.  It doesn’t mean I will get it.  Peace where? In my heart, in my family?  Jesus instead of saying, “hooray, here I am”, He said, “peace be unto you”.  He knew the disciples were waiting but He comes talking about peace.  The disciples talk about their own things.

He showed his hands and side.  It means that they don’t recognise him and that it is the third day and that the Lord is alive.  Then they started to have joy, it is the Lord.  Today is the third day today, we forgot about that. 

Jesus instead of joining His disciples to rejoice, He said again, “peace to you”.  We are celebrating and talking about joy and Jesus talks about peace.  Peace to you, this is weird.  Instead of celebrating our joy.  Peace as the father sent me, I send you too.  Where? 

Jesus breathed on them.  Receive the Holy Spirit.  Breathing on me and I will receive the Holy Spirit?  This is a big challenge of faith.  For the first time in Genesis 2:7, God breathed on someone’s nostrils and that was Adam.  Jesus comes and breaths on the disciples and they receive the Holy Spirit.  When someone breathes on you, maybe you will find it strange, annoying, maybe their breath stinks, we will think they don’t respect themselves, how can they breathe on us adults.

Jesus vanished.  Thomas was not present.  When Thomas came back, they told him the story. “No Jesus can’t come”.  The pictures on the bank note are different on each side but still the same bank note.  Jesus was showing everyone that He was showing one side of Him and now I’m talking about the true story of resurrection. 

When you see the print on my hand and side with your human eyes, you can see.  When I speak and breathe, you can’t see it.  Thomas said, “I have to see Him before I believe him and I need to touch the scars to put my fingers in the print so I can believe that Jesus is alive”.

For some, when things are tough in their life and someone tells them that they prayed for you and that they will get what they need and the Bible says this is the answer to your problem, they won’t believe it unless they see it in their hands, unless they touch it, that is the only moment that they will say God has answered.

We get very easily disappointed in life because we don’t get what we see with our eyes.  Jesus didn’t appear to Thomas for eight days and then He called him, “these are my hands, touch them now”.  “My God and my father”.  Thomas didn’t repent that he was doubting.  When I am wrong, instead of saying, forgive me, I think that it has past now, let it go.  We sometimes forget that accepting we are wrong and asking forgiveness, is the only visa to heaven.  You can have money, know the Bible but without repentance, you won’t enter the Kingdom of God.  It doesn’t cost anything. 

Jesus said to Thomas, “better those who believe without seeing”.  Do you really believe without seeing?  When you are going through problems and challenges, do you believe God is the solution without seeing? Jesus is nearby you and telling you why are you weeping?  Tell Jesus your problem and trust Him.  You don’t need to touch Him as He told Mary not to touch him.

A prophet in Africa has 500,000 followers but he works for satan and people become one of his to gain what they need.  In order to get what they need, he must cut the back of their neck with a razor blade and then he sucks the blood.  You will collect money.  Then he will tell you, the power from your blood doesn’t work anymore.  I need your son, husband or wife because I need more blood.  People sacrifice each other because of the love of money and they want to see answers quickly. 

Pastors go there to collect the power so people will fall over when I speak.  This is the end of the time when Jesus is telling us, “peace, don’t look for anything else”.  Not joy.  Peace because if you have peace you don’t care about the rest and you will only have peace when you decide to do what is right.  If someone hurts you, forgive them and keep your peace. 

God chose Abraham because he was a man of peace.  Someone took his wife.  A king.  Abraham allowed his wife to be taken because he needed peace.  If you were Sarah, how would you feel?  God asked for Abraham’s son to be sacrificed.  For peace, Abraham gave his son to God.  Sarah wanted a son and she told Abraham, “you must take my servant”.  To have peace, Abraham did it.

Fight for peace in your life, family, work place.  Churches often forget about this message.  We try our best to forget about peace and only think about joy.