Sunday, January 31, 2010
Let’s consider God’s attitude towards us.
When God created Adam, He found Adam good and gave him many responsibilities. God knew that one day Adam would fall into sin. He told Adam, “Be careful, don’t eat the fruit of this tree.” But one day Adam ate from this tree.
As we know, God used to visit Adam every evening and God knew that Adam had done something wrong and He said, “I’m going to see him. Although he has pierced my heart with a knife, I will go and see him. Although he hasn’t obeyed my orders – Me being his God, I am going to go and see him.” The Bible says that God left Heaven to visit Adam in the garden. And that’s the first time we can hear God saying, “Adam, Adam, where are you?” Adam hid himself. Other days they may have been able to meet without being called, but because of his wrongdoing Adam hid somewhere. And God raised His voice and said, “Adam, Adam, where are you?”
God, to whom wrong was done, still came to find Adam and He found him naked somewhere. He said, “Ah, my friend is naked. The one who is similar to me is naked. So first of all, I must cover his nakedness.” The Bible says that God made Adam wear the skin of an animal and this covered his nakedness. God didn’t say to Adam, “From now on, our friendship is over.” God didn’t say, “Because of what you have done, I’m not going to come and see you anymore.” But He asked only one question, “Who told you that you were naked?”
Instead of Adam saying that he discovered it himself, he said, “That’s the wife you gave me.” He is asked why he is naked and responds by saying that it was the wife God gave him. And the wife said, “But it was the snake that tricked me.” And if the serpent could blame someone, he also would say that person tricked him.
So let us consider God’s love. We are in the likeness of God and are called Christians, meaning we walk like Christ and are Christs’ imitators. Therefore, we are also called to leave the Heavens to come on earth and meet people like Adam.
From time to time we have friends and our friends fall into situations that divide us. We were friends but following circumstances our friendship has been broken. From my side, I cannot go and kneel down before someone like Zoe and be reconciled to her because the love I had for Zoe has been turned into hatred and Zoe will also say that she can’t go and see Odon because he did something wrong. She will say, “If he needs me he can come and visit me, but I cannot go and see him.” If God would say that to Adam, how would Adam be able to see God. God knew that Adam would live in the garden but the Bible doesn’t say if Adam knew where God lived. They would only meet in the garden. If God had said, “Adam has made a mistake so I won’t go and be reconciled to him”, how would Adam have been able to see God?
As Christians we have to go and see other people who have done wrong against us. Although they have killed our parents and done wrong things, if they were our friends in the past, we have to act like God and go and reconcile with them. My friend, if there has been a problem in the past between you and me, forgive me and let’s be reconciled.
God himself taught us something – we cannot live without peace. He has even asked us to live in peace with everyone and how could you live in peace with everybody if you are not reconciled with everybody? I would say that reconciliation is the root of the major principle that makes us to live in peace with everyone. Because if you don’t become reconciled with everyone; you will never have peace. If you say that you are not able to lower yourself to that stage, you must accept that you will live without peace in your life.
Jesus himself accepted to be humiliated to a level the world itself cannot accept. God accepted to be humiliated in everything we do. How many times as Christians do we make mistakes and sin against God and we humiliate God’s name? And people around us observing our mistakes will not remember we are human beings but will say it was a Christian who did it. “Ah, you know there is a Christian who did this somewhere!” The name of the person won’t be mentioned, but the name of the whole church of Christ will be blamed. But God keeps tolerating and comes by our side to talk to us.
Friday, January 29, 2010
By Odon Bulamba (2 May 03)
By Odon Bulamba (2 May 03)
It’s a joy to see you again tonight and the Bible says, “blessed are those who share their joy with those who are joyful and blessed are those who share their distress with those who are distressed”. Tonight we are going to talk about a small topic and this topic is a branch of the Great Salvation. This small topic is called reconciliation.
There was once a Christian family who were friends with another family from a different tribe. The Christian family I speak about was a Tutsi family (we can remember the genocide that happened in Rwanda in 1994). And the other family was a Hutu family. When the Tutsi came into power they were chasing the Hutu to exterminate them and their aim was to annihilate them completely on their territory.
So this Hutu family that had Christian friends decided to flee their house and go into hiding in the house of the others knowing well that this was a Christian family and that their lives would be saved there. Once arriving at this house they were hidden in a bedroom. The Christian husband telephoned the Tutsi soldiers. He first put his Christian faith aside, he put his conscience to sleep and put his Bible a side. He said, “I will act as a Tutsi. I don’t need to think that I am a Christian or not. But I am going to act like a Tutsi. In 1952, the Hutu’s took and killed our ancestors. It’s time now to revenge ourselves.”
He asked the Tutsi soldiers to come and they came to the house. This family was asked to come out of the bedroom and the soldiers took a machete and it was given to the wife and she was asked to cut the throat of her first son and she said, “No, I can’t.” She was told that she had to cut the throat of her son. She said no again and so they took the machete and cut off one of her hands. They gave her back the machete and asked her to kill her son and the mum could see how the blood was pouring out of her hand. She was crying with pain and bitterness but she was still forced to cut the throat of her son. Because she was slow, they also cut her foot off and the husband and other children were watching this.
Finally, because the mum had lost a lot of blood she fainted. So they took the husband and said “It’s time now – you must kill your children.” And the husband couldn’t watch his children. He turned his face against his neighbour – he said “You – I know you as a Christian. I really trusted you as a brother in Christ but what are you doing? Is this what you preached to us from the gospel?” This man replied, “Yesterday I was a Christian but today I am a Tutsi. Remember what the bible says ‘Everything has its time’. That was the time to pray; now is the time to kill.”
The man took the machete and instead of killing his own children, he cut his own throat and he fell down dead. His children started crying, “How are we going to carry on with life? How are we going to live without a father or a mother? It would be better for us to die also.” And the Tutsi who were there were not bothered. They just said “You are paying the price for what your ancestors did.”
Thank God that after a certain time, this woman who had a hand and foot cut off, her body healed and once she was healed, the war was over and she went to visit this Christian family who had sacrificed them. She knocked on the door and once she would have come with two feet, now she comes with crutches. Before she had a hand that could move, her hand couldn’t be used anymore because it had been destroyed. So this woman came toward the Christian family and this family was surprised – she wasn’t dead! She said, “No, I didn’t die, I am still alive. But I am coming to you to talk to you. Although I have lost my hand and foot, I haven’t lost the love I have for you. I haven’t lost the kingdom of heaven. You cut my hand and my foot but you didn’t cut my life and one day you also will die as I will die so my presence here is not to accuse you but I am here to become reconciled with you. I know that you made yourself an enemy towards us but as for me I have kept loving you. I need reconciliation”.
So imagine what could be the attitude of the Tusti family? What would be your reaction if you were this family? And it was not easy for this Tusti family but they had to find a solution because this man was ashamed and his conscience started to remind him of all that happened, he stood up and kicked the lady. He said, “Get out of here. You are troubling me.” He was very nasty.
Imagine someone who comes for reconciliation after suffering wrongdoing and then being cast out again. And for us Christians we must learn something about reconciliation. Many situations happen in our lives where we apply hatred and when we practise hatred we reach the point of being murderers. The Bible says that whomever practises hatred is exactly the same as those who murder.
If you say, for example, “I hate this person”, that’s enough for God to say you are a murderer. If you say for example, “I hate a certain situation”, for God it’s the same. In 1 John 3:15 the Bible says whoever hates his brother is a murderer and you know that a murderer does not have eternal life in him. This is the first thing that prevents us from being reconciled to others. When we have hatred it’s not easy to go and see that person. When we have hatred it’s not easy to have a positive attitude. And everything we do will work together with hatred.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
(II Timothy 3:2)
Tonight we are continuing our study of 2nd Timothy where it talks about the signs of the end days. It says that the days just before Christ returns men will be boastful.
So tonight we will answer three questions:
1. What is boasting?
2. Why is it bad to boast?
3. What are the consequences?
1. What is boasting?
To proudly tell other people about what you or someone connected with you has done or can do, or about something you own, especially to make them admire you. When you are boastful you are really eager/zealous in this area.
2. Why is it bad to boast?
“You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the LORD wills, we shall live, and also do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” James 4:14-16
We have to be careful with what we say to people or to ourselves because we don’t know the future. Someone who is beautiful should not boast in his/her beauty because a car accident could change that in one day. Someone who is intelligent should not boast in his/her intelligence because a hit to the head can take that away in a second. Someone who has just finished his/her studies with A++ should not boast because a fire could burn their degree easily and if you ask the uni for another certificate, you’ll not be given it. Someone who has a nice job earning lots of money should not boast as a job can be taken away easily, you can be made redundant or you could lose your eyesight. Someone who has a perfect wife should not boast because she could leave you for another man. Someone who can really work hard and achieve a lot in one day should not boast because tomorrow they could be afflicted with sickness and be able to achieve nothing. Someone who can sing could get throat cancer or someone who plays sport could get an injury. Someone who is strong could get repititive strain injury.
We have to be careful to not boast in the future because we don’t know what is going to happen. Instead we have to say if the Lord allows, then I will be able by His grace to do such and such.
And we should say, Praise God for…..whatever it is that God has given to us whether it be beauty, intelligence, studies, job, money, husband, singing, strength, sport…
If we don’t, the verse says that all such boasting is EVIL!!
E.g. Tonga is a beautiful country and many people there boast of it’s beauty but it has been predicted that in 50 years this country will be completely taken over by water and there will be no Tonga anymore. And many people in NZ boast about this great country but one day it too could be gone due to the rising in sea level as the ice melts. Where will we go?
“Love does not boast” I Corinthians 13:4
We have to be careful not to boast in a way that will hurt others. If you have a wife; praise God you have a wife because the Bible says that to have a wife is a good thing but remember those around you. Some people who don’t have a wife will feel bad. If you have a job or lots of money or a nice car or house or an ability that others don’t have, be careful in the way you talk about it to others. If you love you will be aware of how your boasting will hurt other people.
Both me and my cousin are sick and he’s been sick for longer than me but I’m getting better faster. But when I speak to him I don’t rub it in that I’m getting better because I know it will be hard for him. He will ask himself, why have I been sick for eight years and I’m not getting better and Hayley has only been sick for two years. That’s not fair. Something like that could even push him to commit suicide.
“He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.” Luke 1:51
When you think that you are someone and you consider yourself higher than others in your heart, God will scatter you. What does God mean when He says that He will scatter you? It made me think of the tower of Babel when the people of the earth all spoke the same language and they had a common goal. They decided to build a tower to reach God to prove that they were at the same level as God. God saw their proud hearts and that was when He put different languages on the earth. When everyone spoke different languages, they were confused and the project was abandoned.
The way they tried to reach the level of God by building a tower is the same as us, when we boast we are saying that we are like God and we forget that our level is much lower. God made them to be confused and scattered and this caused them to have less power, strength, ability, knowledge, wisdom, etc. No one has tried again to build a tower to reach the height that they did, it has never been accomplished. We are not able even today because we are scattered. If the world united we could achieve so much. The Chinese with their mathematics, the Samoans with their strength, the Kiwis with their ingenuity, the Africans with their traditional medicine….we could really do something amazing if we were together.
This helps us to understand that when we boast and are proud in our heart, God will scatter us and our lives will not achieve what it is capable of, we’ll have less strength, less power, less ability, less wisdom because we will be divided inside.
When you think that you are better than someone because of something you have, you forget that God is the one who gave it to you and it’s only by His grace that you have it. You are not better than someone else.
“God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble,” James 4:6
Be careful to not boast because God is opposed to the proud. We want God to be on our side not against us. Imagine entering a fighting ring and God is your opponent. Can you win? Never! But if God is on your side, you can’t lose.
3. What are the consequences of boasting?
1. It takes the glory from God
2. It makes yourself higher than others
3. Doesn’t show love; you can hurt others
1. It takes glory from GodA couple of years ago I helped a young girl at college to do a speech for her homework. I helped her a lot but I did it in a way that she wasn’t really aware of all the help that I gave her. I sat next to her night after night asking questions that would help her, correcting her grammar, helping her to practice speaking it etc. She worked really hard and she deserved to get a good mark but if I hadn’t been there she would have not even have been able to start the speech. She really needed my help. But when she gave the speech and people gave her positive comments, she took all the glory and didn’t remember that I helped her.
It’s the same with God, sometimes when we ask God for help and He answers us, we forget what He has done and we don’t even say thank you. Other times we don’t ask God for help and we are able to do something really good and we think that we did it by ourselves without the help of God. But God helped us we just didn’t realize it in the same way as the young girl didn’t realize that I had helped her. So we must thank God and give Him the glory.
2. Makes yourself higher than others
As I have already discussed, it’s important that we remain humble because God is against the proud and we don’t want to fight God. Also He scatters the proud and we want to achieve great things in our lives so it’s important to stay humble.
3. Doesn’t show love
We have had more than sixteen messages on love this year and we have learnt that it is the greatest commandment and that if we do anything on this earth but forget love, then God finds it useless. So it’s important to not boast.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Moses said these people of Israel, are members of my family, I must set them free, I must fight for their safety, I must fight for their lives. Moses forgot everything around him, at that time he came from the war which he had won in Ethiopia, he was expecting a crown to be called a Prince of Egypt to later become Pharaoh’s successor, but Moses said “no, I’ll put my crown aside along with my success, my money and my victory; I will first save these people”.
Later Moses became a Shepard. Imagine Michael (a dentist) taking a stick and is with his sheep leading them along the road, people will wonder why he must be in his surgery, what is he doing with his sheep? The clothes he would wear would be different, imagine that. Moses left everything he had and took his coat and his stick and leads his sheep. The sheep baaa and he says left, when the sheep run away he has to chase them and bring them back. It’s through this that Moses accepted to humiliate himself, he forgot his victory over Ethiopia, he forgot that he was the first one in the kingdom of Egypt to the point that he lowered himself and became a Shepard.
God said that this is now the right time to visit him, “I want to go and see him, to use him to be the redeemer of my people”. God visited Moses. Moses saw something strange, he said I must first go and see what’s there and a voice spoke to him and said, “take off your shoes”. He didn’t say take off your coat or your hat, he first said take off your shoes because you are on holy ground. Was this ground holy? It was just somewhere ordinary, but on that day, exactly at that time, it was holy ground because God was there. God couldn’t be there if Moses was still in Egypt, or if he was still hanging onto his crown, or if Moses didn’t want to humiliate himself, but God said humiliate yourself more, take off your shoes. Maybe it was in winter and maybe there were thorns, but God wanted Moses to show obedience. Moses did not discuss, he took his sandals off and said, “here I am”, and what did God say? God spoke and said I’m going to send you to set my people free.
Since Moses was born this was the first time God ever spoke to Moses, God talked to him because he humiliated himself and if you really want to listen to God’s voice in your life then humiliate yourself, there are not two ways only one, humiliate yourself.
Secondly obey God and you will hear His voice. So God said o.k. I’m going to send you. What did Moses say? He said I only have a staff, he didn’t say I’ve got a crown, or I have the victory, he didn’t show God the honour he had before man, he said I’m absolutely nothing, the only thing I have is a staff. God said through this staff I will do something, throw it on the ground and what happened? It turned into a snake, and God said, “pick it up”, which is not easy. In our country when people see a snake everybody will scream, sometimes people climb trees. And even if the snake is dead ask my sister if she will touch it, no never, there is fear, many people fear.
When God says, “do this”, we are afraid, “no God I can’t I’m sorry, in my eyes this is dangerous, if I touch this I might lose my life” and they forget that God Himself is life, they forget that God is the protector. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have shown us that God protected them, He was glorified. Do you believe that God protects you and if not who protects you?
So Moses picked up the snake and it became a staff again, Moses said I’m not quite to sure yet, so God told him a second thing; put your hand inside your coat and when he took it out it was covered in leprosy. Moses saw that God had acted. Moses said, “God I will go where you want, but I will ask You one thing, when these people ask me who You are what shall I say?” And for you, when you are sent by God, do you find the time to ask Him one question? Do you say I agree and I will go and speak on Your behalf, help me to know how to say things in front of these people? For instance, when Ange wakes up in the morning to go to work, does she find the time to pray to God and ask Him, “God where I go to work I know that I will talk to people, help me God so that they will know that You sent me, so what shall I say to these people about You God?”
Many Christians don’t even spend time to ask God “you sent me, so what shall I say”? Even when we exhort others, people don’t even take time to ask God what shall I tell your people, they think oh today I’ll talk about the Spirit, they open their Bibles but don’t understand, so they put the Bible aside and say it’s too difficult, I’m going to talk about something easy, Ezekiel, oh no I don’t want, oh one day Steve talked to us about Isaiah so I’m going to talk about Elijah, but then you say no there’s nothing, maybe tomorrow I’ll find time, so you carry on like that. Oh no, today’s Wednesday and I’m the exhorter, so I take my notes and check what I can do, o.k. our preacher talked to us last Sunday, I’ll talk about that, of course it’s not bad as you’ll share with others what your preacher shared with you last Sunday, but why don’t you ask God so that you will give something to His church, why don’t you go and meet Steve and talk with him and prepare something together seriously so that you can feed the people of God.
So a servant of God must be someone who asks God, “what shall I tell your people?” and then you’ll have God’s answer. What did God answer Moses? Go and tell them “I am who I am”, what a vague answer, I am who I am, who will accept this? Sometimes you might ask God what shall I tell your people? He’ll say go and talk about “alseekenno” and you’ll say what’s that? You first must go and look for the meaning of this word because maybe you only know the meaning of El Shaddai or Jehovah Jireh and you don’t know other words, you’ll say this is vague, but God will tell you go and tell them this! It’s up to you to know where to start and what you’re going to say, this is how we ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to fulfil what God wants, tell the Holy Spirit, “God gave me this so it’s up to You to teach your people”.
On top of all of that, God said to Moses don’t fear, I created your mouth so don’t ask yourself what am I going to say. Moses couldn’t accept it, he was just stuttering. Many servants of God today when they have a programme they get on the phone; “Sylvie, I’m not coming tonight I’m sick, or someone can take my place because I’ve got something on”, this might be true but it is not right if you haven’t taken the time to prepare, it means that you don’t take God seriously.
Finally, Moses went and set God’s people free. You and me today we are like Moses, we were called by God to set the people free, we must bring them the divine message and tell them to leave this kingdom and everything that belongs to Egypt. Do we play our roles or not? If we don’t what are we waiting for, we live on holy ground where we are. How many times have people exhorted us, how many times has God talked through us, what are we waiting for? Maybe you’ll say “God I’m not really good at preaching”, He’ll say what have you got, you’ve got eyes to read that’s enough, you have a mouth to speak that’s enough. There are different ways to preach, show God what you have and from there God will do something. Many people will first learn theology before bringing the gospel, maybe they want something that will help them and push them other than God, this will never work; if you are called Moses are you really Moses or not?
The Bible says go everywhere in the world and preach the gospel, set the captives free and bring them to me. Who doesn’t know this verse? Who was this message for? Many people say it was for Jesus’ disciples, aren’t you a disciple of Jesus? If you are a disciple of Jesus you must also do it, woe to you if you don’t. It’s better to be Judas Iscariot because he killed himself. He hung himself but he still preached the gospel, it’s through him that we have salvation. One day I was talking with Michelle; if Judas Iscariot didn’t exist where would our salvation be? Because to be free, someone had to betray Jesus. So what is our role in the church of God and in our families, do we represent Miriam, or Moses, or Aaron, Amram or Jochebed.
I can tell you today that you are also called redeemers, so go and redeem the souls that are lost, go and encourage others who are weak, it’s time to set people free. If you stay where you are, woe to you!
Monday, January 25, 2010
We’ve talked about redemption, which means to redeem. When we redeem something it means that the thing is free forever, nobody can say that the thing has a debt or should be condemned. So when there is redemption there is something which reflects a picture of birth; when a child is born he can never go back to his mother’s womb and once someone is redeemed this person has no room in the world that they were in before.
The redemption cannot be fulfilled without going through someone. Before redemption there must be a bridge between the person and the redeemer and this is why Jesus came and is the bridge between God and us. Because He accepted to pay the price we call Him redeemer.
In the old days, when the people of God walked through the mud of Egypt God thought that it was now time to redeem His people. God couldn’t leave heaven to come to the earth to redeem them because His time was not there to be on the earth yet. This is why God preferred to go through Moses. He sent Moses to see Pharaoh so that Pharaoh could set His people free. If you look at this in depth Moses wasn’t talking but God was talking through Moses, Moses was just a tool and God used him. People would see Moses as a human being but God would see Himself in Moses’ life and when He said to Moses say this, Moses would just open his mouth and talk, it wasn’t Moses’ will that was fulfilled but it was God’s will that was fulfilled, it was the will of God. Moses didn’t say, “Pharaoh I think that you can do that” instead Moses would say, “you must do that”, that was a command which came from God.
I’m sure you already know Moses’ story and I think that most of you have read it. The father of Moses was called Amram which means “friend of God” and his mother’s name was Jochebed which means the “glory of God”. Moses had a sister called Miriam which means “rebellion” and a brother named Aaron which means “the illuminator” or “the one who enlightens others”. Moses means “one who comes from water”.
So, if we look at that carefully we see that Amram means God’s friend and if you are “God’s friend” you must marry “God’s glory” and that will produce something very good in your life. The very first thing that will be shown in your life will be “rebellion” against sin, if you are God’s friend you’ll be an enemy of sin. Who can tell me what a rebel is? It is a person who opposes the government to change the political system in his country, he fights for his country.
Our country is the kingdom of God, we are called to fight for this kingdom. God gave us everything, He gave Adam the power to reign on earth, but later on the devil took this power away. And us as Christians, Jesus gave us a great authority, this authority is over the power of darkness and over everything. Satan continues to fight the souls of man, he keeps murdering Christians, he keeps on stealing the souls that are called to go to Jesus.
As for us, we are Christians, but we are called to see the injustice that is on the earth, if someone sees injustice he will decide to become a rebel, if someone sees something not right it’s the time for him to become a rebel. And for us, when we see something in our life that is not right, do we make decisions to be in rebellion against our bad thoughts? I can easily see parents who are always correcting their children but they are not able to do the same thing for themselves. They can do something wrong but justify it by saying “I’m old, that’s understandable”, but they will never accept that their own children make the same mistakes, so we must be careful. If we are God’s friend and if we have married God’s glory we must rebel against all devilish power.
The second child born was Aaron. Aaron was called to be a light for others. The second thing in a Christian’s life is to be a light in the world. In your actions you must be a light, in your prayer life and everything you do you must be a light. You are not called to be a light for a cigarette, you can see a light from a cigarette but it will not help you to even pick something up from the ground. For instance, if I drop a $2 coin and give a torch to Zoe and I use the light from a cigarette, I believe Zoe will find the coin before me even though my eyes are bigger than hers. Even if the cigarette is only a few centimetres away from the coin, I will never find it using the light of a cigarette.
Many Christians live like the light of a cigarette, from far away people see them but when it’s about enlightening a situation they can’t do it; “don’t touch me, don’t touch my life, leave it, even if I don’t care about this, it doesn’t matter I’ll get away with it” but for God everything matters, don’t forget that, on the day of judgement our actions will be with us. The Bible doesn’t say that our little actions or big actions will be there; all of them will be there.
The third child who was born was Moses, which means saved from water. Once you are a Christian your salvation must have a foundation, this foundation must be the Word of God, this foundation will never be your culture, it will never be your race or your political party, the Bible tells us that this foundation must be the Word of God which represents water.
Moses was born, he was saved from water. God wanted to use Moses so his mother kept him safe for a time and then Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses and suddenly Miriam was there and she was asked to find someone to look after the child. Don’t you think that the princess couldn’t find someone in Egypt to look after Moses? But because the Word of God must be fulfilled, the presence of Miriam had to be there, “rebellion” had to be there and this rebellion went to look for someone who could look after this child. Rebellion went and found “the glory of God” and the glory of God went to be with Moses, and when Jochebed arrived she did not say “I am Moses’ mother”, she kept quiet, she observed everything that was happening in Moses’ life. This is the same for God, He also observes us; when we are in a difficult situation the very first thing is that God is informed that there is something not right in this man’s life, so God intervenes, He doesn’t intervene by talking but He comes and looks after us.
In Pharaoh’s house there were other children that were not adopted and these children who were Pharaoh’s descendants always had to be right before the child who was adopted. Also, remember that this wasn’t a Christian family, they believed in other gods, but Moses’ mother kept quiet, if Ramses smacked Moses his mother never asked Ramses “why do you smack my child? ”
About twenty years ago a man prophesied, he said that the very thing that will destroy Christians in this world will be their children, their parents will love their children more than God, they will be there to defend even what their children do wrong, they will never accept their children’s mistakes. This will give Satan a jack (the tool you use when you have a flat tyre on your car). He will lift up the church and people will think that the church is growing but it is actually shaking because you just have to pull the jack out and the car will fall. This man of God said, “you parents must be careful, don’t live like Sarah, because she loved Isaac and hated Ishmael”. But Ishmael was also a descendent of Abraham, he also had rights because he was a descendent of Abraham. God didn’t say to Sarah I must bless you and your descendents will be blessed, but God said to Abraham I will bless you, and your descendents will be blessed. Sarah said that because Abraham will be blessed I also will be blessed and this started hatred and jealousy.
We must know that our children we have do not belong to us. Michael, Nathanael is not your son, he is God’s son and God said it. He will say, “this is my servant, this is my son, and you are only the keeper”. Steve will be told the same thing, “Amber is my servant, I have the right to do whatever I want with my life, so what have you done with my servant?” Steve will say on that day, “I didn’t know”. But if on that day Steve will say, “Oh God I’ve done this and that” it will be great joy, you’ll get a crown. Today many people need children, many people are barren, they even buy children with money, they do everything they can to get a child, but we have received children as a free gift from God and we treat them as being for the devil. We let them grow in hatred, we let them grow in confusion, in pride and other things. God is against that.
So Jochebed looked after Moses for a long time. Moses grew up knowing the Egyptian religion and he also knew what God he should have and how to respect Him. As for us as Christians, we help others to give birth, we must participate and help them. For instance, if you have brought someone to Jesus you must fight so that this person will grow in the Lord, we must do it the way that Joshua did it; the gospel must start in my house, as for my household we will serve the Lord, it’s not about going to other families first, start in your own family first. If Lebon has a problem with me I must first fix the problem with the Word of God, if Michael sees Lebon in a mistake, as a Christian Michael will look after this child and correct him, if Ange sees Nathanael doing something that is not good she will tell him no, don’t do that. Unfortunately, us Christians today when the child comes home he will say “mum you know that the people I were with did this to me, I’m not happy with them”, from there you will be against those people.
When we were in our country there was a mother from our family (my brother Oscar can testify). If she arrived home and found her younger sister (or whoever) smacking her child she would also smack her child too and after smacking her child, then she would ask what happened? Because she knew that if Colleen did this, she is not crazy, and if Odon did this, it’s not for nothing, it’s because there is something. I can tell you this really helped because the children never ran to their mother for help. Something happened, a few years later and the father died and the mother was in a problem and left to go to Canada. The children stayed behind, these children had to live with other family members, so imagine if their upbringing wasn’t good how could they live with other families? If they had lived knowing that every time I can go and talk to Mum or Dad, how could they now live in other families? But because they lived in the light, all the children in this family are married and have a very good life before God and before man.
So us as Christians we must remember Moses. Moses was chosen by God to be His servant later. Moses’ Mum had to look after Moses completely according to God’s will, not her own will; she knew that God would use this child. For you Michael, what tells you that God will never use Nathanael, what tells you Steve that God will never use Chloe? So we are called to look after these children according to God’s will so that God will use them one day. If Jochebed made a mistake what could have happened in Moses’ life, if Moses couldn’t understand the Hebrew language how could he have been able to intervene, if he hadn’t learnt something about the living God how could he be called Moses today? So we must be very careful with our children’s upbringing.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
If we read the story of Ruth we will see that redemption happened later. Ruth who went with Naomi started living in a new country, she was no longer a Moabite, she became a Jewish girl, and she married someone; I think you know the story, redemption happened.
This means that in our lives, when it happens that we go up the mountain and down into the plains, we have to always remember the house of the bread of God. Am I with God or not? What I am doing, does it enable me to be in the house of God or not? If we have love we’re going to have love for our souls, we’re going to have love for our spirit. Who can tell me that they don’t like their life here, who doesn’t like his life? Maybe death can show it because when death comes it exposes the true state of someone. Death exposes the inner thoughts of everyone.
When I was a child, I had a grandfather who was very old. One day I said to him “you should die because you disturb everyone”. He was very angry and said, “You, I’m going to curse you, be careful with me, you can joke with everyone else but don’t joke with me”. He was afraid of death. When you tell young people (especially) to die, they will say, “no I am not ready to die, I need to live and to see what’s going on in the earth”. Most people take care of their bodies but they forget about their souls. They want their body to live for a hundred years and forget that their souls live forever.
Peter! If you are asked to die today will you be ready? Be sincere? Are you ready to die today? Ange, would you accept Pete to die today? It will not be easy, although you may say for yourself I can die but for those who love you, it will not be easy. It’s the same thing we must do for souls, when a soul is dying we must put ourselves in the place of this soul and say it’s not easy. I’ll explain; if Peter died today Ange will not see Peter on the earth anymore, I don’t know if she will happy on that day or not but I think not, Ange will cry because Peter will be gone forever. In God’s love when a soul dies, for people who live in Bethlehem they really cry. How many times do you cry for the souls? If you cry for something that will last for one hundred years and forget to cry for something that will last for eternity won’t you call yourself stupid?
Ange works at the hospital. How many times do you see people die? “Quite a few” Does it worry you? “It’s part of the job”. A person dies and is forgotten after a week, another one will die tomorrow and another after that. But for someone you love and you looked after them, they were hospitalised and then died, how would you feel? I think it would be hard and you’ll cry. For us Christians we are the sons of God and we acknowledge that God is our king, we married love, so we always cry for someone we love, if we don’t love all the souls around us, it will be difficult to love God. The Bible says that if you don’t love your neighbour how can you love God? By loving your neighbour you will also love God, and when you love a soul that dies I believe that you are going to kneel down and cry before God.
I will not talk about the book of Ruth, I will not teach about this book, but I tell you that there was a redemption. Go and read these four chapters of Ruth and discover this redemption.
The third redemption is the last one, which is what Isaiah, wrote. This redemption will happen in the last days. Each human being will see this redemption, although some people will reject this redemption it will still be there. For tonight this was only an introduction about redemption to give you an idea to know that there are three redemptions in the Old Testament; the first is in the book of Exodus, meditate on it and next week I’m going to ask questions about it; the second redemption is in the book of Ruth, read it also, there will be a few questions; and the third is Isaiah. So go home and read and discover. We will discuss about redemption altogether, in Boaz time, in Moses time and what Isaiah prophesied for the future. We’re going to stop there for tonight.
Question: How can we love people that we don’t know? Love is eternal, because God loved me He created me black and because He loved you He created you white, He created everyone, but our souls are only one colour, this colour is identical and in all of that we all have red blood, all our bones are white etc, this is to show us the value and colour of a soul. The love we have must not be limited to the physical. When we speak about God’s love we first see the value of the soul of a man. For example; if my father died today I will glorify if he has gone as a Christian, I might even sing, but if I only look at the physical body then my love is limited and as you know love practices justice, and when love practices justice it means that love is just, so I can’t love this one more and this one less.
Without forgetting there are different kinds of love, when we speak about God’s love this love is perfect, when we speak about human love it’s a love that is a little imperfect. But because the spiritual always gives birth to good deeds that are physical you will find that the one you couldn’t love yesterday, you will love them today and tomorrow you’ll love them more.
I’ll give you an example; what’s happening today in Iraq with the war; when you watch TV and see people shot, how do you feel? When you get together to pray, do you pray for them or not? You will see that many people pray for these Iraqis, they pray for peace, they pray that God might stop the war, of course it’s love, it’s not bad but do they pray for their souls that they might be saved, few Christians really pray for the souls in Iraq that they might be set free.
You will find in the church today the carnal love has more place than spiritual love and when you practice carnal love you can say that I love Peter more than Odon, because I’m led by the flesh, but when you are led by the Spirit of God everyone who is around you will manifest the glory of God, through this person you will see that God manifests Himself, physically it’s not easy to define but you will feel that you love, that’s how it is. Sometimes try to discern the souls, if you love someone’s soul it’s better than loving their body, because we know that this body will eventually decay and die. If a soul is dead you will never see this soul ever again.
It’s like someone who has $5 and loses it, you might be bothered but after ten mins or two hours you’ll forget about it, but if you lose your job, you’ll think about it longer, maybe you’ll even hate your life. The carnal life can be compared to this $5, but when you love the soul of man we know that the source of life is there, this will have such a great value in our love. A few years ago I talked about love, love is joy, love is patient, but this patience is not the effort I make to be patient, it’s something that comes from the inside. I put myself in other’s shoes and ask myself what the Bible teaches me about this person, I find an answer and put it into practice. So love one another and avoid discrimination and avoid prejudice, let’s practice pure love instead of practising carnal love, it’s not possible with human nature but everything’s possible with God, so ask God and God will give it to you.
Let’s pray, everyone is to pray for himself, and pray for the group in general that God will help us to understand the meaning of redemption
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Redemption means to be redeemed. For example someone can be arrested because he was speeding. This person is required to pay some money so that he doesn’t have any further problems with the police. If this person doesn’t pay, he risks to go to jail.
Sometimes someone can do evil, and someone else will say that I will pay for this person. There was a man aged 85 who had a son who was arrested for armed robbery. The penalty in this certain country was death. However, his father said, “since I am already 85 yrs old and my son is only 30 it would be better that I give him the chance to carry on with his life and I can die, I will pay the price for his life, because if he’s killed today maybe after two weeks I will also die from worry, it’s better for my son to be set free and I die”. This old man was shot and his life was gone, he accepted to pay the price; this is what we call redemption.
When we pay the price for someone’s life there is no room for fear and selfishness will not find any room. If you consider redemption carefully you’ll see that it works together with love because when you love you are not selfish, when you love you are not afraid, when you love you are ready to sacrifice yourself for someone else.
The redemption that we’re going to talk about tonight is a word that God created; in God’s eyes this word has great value. I know that in some churches there are sometimes preachings about redemption, this is about when Jesus died for us. But tonight we’re going to add something a bit higher to this redemption that Christians know; we’re going to go into the Old Testament.
In the Old Testament there are three kinds of redemption; these three types help us to know how to find redemption; the first redemption is found in the book of Exodus, secondly in the book of Ruth and thirdly in the book of Isaiah.
The first redemption in the book of Exodus is about the children of Israel, these children of Israel were loved by God, they were the people of God and God loved them very much, but they were slaves in Egypt for four hundred years. God had promised that the Israelites would become slaves. Who did God promise that to? God had promised this to Abraham since a long time ago that His people would be slaves for centuries, but these people were redeemed by God from the beginning and God loved these people very much. These people lived all this time in Egypt, and eventually the time to leave Egypt was there. First of all they were redeemed, they were the people of God, but they went through a situation as slaves and God came back a second time to set them free.
This means that we as Christians are really the people of God and sometimes we might enter the kingdom of darkness and go through difficult situations in sin but in the end God will set us free again. This doesn’t mean, however, that we have to live in sin thinking that God will set us free later.
These people were the people of Israel, they had in their minds that they would be there for four hundred years and after that they would be set free. When this freedom came nobody could stop it, nobody could tell the Israelites not to leave the country, nobody could tell them to stay because the price for the redemption had been paid, the price had been paid and nobody could say no.
This is the first step; these people left Egypt and took the direction toward the country that God had promised them. So meditate on that and you’ll understand the rest.
The second redemption is in the book of Ruth; as you know Ruth was a woman who lived in the country of Moab. There was a man named Elimelech who was Jewish, he was born and raised in Bethlehem and he married a lady called Naomi. Naomi also lived in Bethlehem and they had two sons.
Bethlehem means “the house of the bread of God”. These people lived in Bethlehem in the house of the bread of God. Elimelech means “my God is king”, so Elimelech acknowledged that God is his king and he lived in the house of the bread of God. Elimelech fell in love with a woman called Naomi and Naomi means “love”. “God is my king” got married to “love” and both of them lived in “the house of the bread of God”. Does this make sense?
Someone who acknowledges that God is my king will always marry love. This is the first principle of redemption, if you acknowledge that God is your king you must first try to find love, this is why Jesus said that love is the first command. If God is my king (me Odon) I will get married to love, and me and love together will live in the house of the bread of God.
John tells us that the Word is the bread of God and Jesus Christ is the bread of life. If I acknowledge God as my king, I will live in the Word and live in it with love and I will have love for the Word of God, love for people, and love for everything that God gives me. There maybe enemies but I must love them.
This couple lived together in Bethlehem but one day Elimelech said that famine is here so we must leave, we must leave Bethlehem to go to Moab. Moab was the son of Lot. Lot married a woman who gave birth to two daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and they hid somewhere. Lot’s daughters saw that their father was getting old and so were they so they asked themselves, “who will we get married to?” According to the Israelite law they couldn’t marry foreigners. An idea came into the eldest daughter’s mind and she said, “we will give our father wine so he can get drunk and when he’s drunk I will sleep with him and have a child”. Wow, what a solution! Was it good or not?
She slept with her father and got pregnant. She told her sister to do the same thing, which she did and she got pregnant also. Their father did not realise what he had done to his daughters, he was completely drunk. If it was the right thing to do then these daughters wouldn’t have had to make their father drunk in order for their father to accept to sleep with them. This means that it wasn’t a good thing. I don’t know what was wrong with the father because he accepted to drink so much wine that day. So us as Christians we must learn something about that; the devil organises strategies so that something is born in his kingdom. We must be careful with the wine we drink; the Bible says be drunk in the Spirit, but don’t get drunk with wine.
The first daughter gave birth to Moab; Moab means, “I found him through my father”. The second daughter gave birth to Ben-Ammi, which means “son of my descendants”. Moabites were well known for their seduction, it was their role. Because seduction goes against God’s will, I would say that all the Moabite people were impure, although Ruth called them the people of God later.
So Elimelech decided to live in the land of the Moabites; he left the house of God, he left the bread of God’s house and went out of this house to live in the house of seduction and he wasted so much there.
Mahlon was the name of the first child born to Elimelech which means “weakness”. What was the? The second sons’ name was Kilion which means “fallen”. The first name given to the one who called God his king was weakness. As Christians you acknowledge God as your father and king but it happens at times that you might give birth to weakness. The first thing that attacks the Christian life is weakness, weakness in decisions you’ve made, weakness in your life and in everything; such as in prayer, reading the Bible and visiting people. God never gives the gift of weakness to people; it’s us who creates this so we can walk the way that we like.
Next, there was birth to the son who fell and when you are weak you will find yourself falling sometimes. When you are weak in prayer it’s very easy to fall into temptation, when you are weak in the word of God it’s very easy to fall into confusion. For example, I can ask who was Abraham’s third son? And you will see what people will do, some will scratch their head, some will look down, some will pretend to open their Bibles and read just to deviate; the lack of knowledge leads us to confusion. When we used to have Bible studies, people would preach and teach and I was always the one to disturb. I would ask challenging questions to the point that those who were teaching didn’t have an answer. It wasn’t to tempt them but I wanted all the Christians to think together and find a good answer.
I was asked one day what Jesus’ race was and what was Satan’s colour, ‘of course it was black’, and Angels, ‘they were also white’. For me, as an African, because I’m black I would say that Satan belongs to my race and the white people would say God belongs to us, Jesus is our race. Following this many people started creating God according to their tribe. When the missionaries came to our country to preach the Gospel a few years ago they would help us understand it by using pictures, and the devil was always black. The people who were taught by missionaries were black, everybody would look at themselves and say is this man mocking us, is this the Gospel of love or did he come to abuse us? As for us black people where is our place in all of that? This means that all these kinds of things can create confusion because people don’t have the knowledge.
What gave birth to weakness in your life? What gave birth to the death that you have in your life? If you are weak today are you waiting to give birth to ‘fallen’? If you have Mahlon (weakness) why would you carry on and give birth to Kilion (fallen). Because Elimelech gave birth to these two sons, his life did not last long. He died. He didn’t die in Bethlehem but he died in the city of Moab. The one who called God my king was gone and love (Naomi) stayed alone. Love said, “Although weakness is here and fallen is there, I will still carry on to look after them”. Although we die in our actions or our spiritual activities, the love of God is always with us, whatever our weaknesses the love of God is always with us.
Even though Naomi’s sons were like that, she made them grow up and they even got married. After getting married, weakness continued to be weak and fallen continued to be fallen. Whatever keeps being weak will break, and whatever is fallen, if it doesn’t get up the sand will cover it. So these two sons also died.
But love was still there, it was Naomi. Naomi was still alive, weakness passed away, temptation passed away and pretension passed away but love remained. Who were the two daughters in law of Naomi whom married her sons? They were Ruth and Orpah. Naomi told these two women to go back to their own families “as my sons have passed away, go back to your own families, I am already old therefore I can not conceive anymore sons for you that you could marry them, furthermore I don’t have a husband anymore”.
Naomi was a bit tough with her daughters-in-law but they said to Naomi, “we love one another so we’re going to go with you”. Although our actions and our attitudes are not good, if we’ve got love people will like living with us. Although Naomi was harsh with these two daughters they still said that it’s better for us to go with you. Naomi said, “where am I going to go, I’ve lost my husband, I’ve lost my sons, I have to go back to the place I came from, I don’t want to live in this situation, I don’t want to live in this area of seduction, I will go and live in the house of God”.
The daughter’s insisted and said it’s an opportunity to go and see the country of this lady, maybe we’ll have love like her or joy if we go back with her. How many times do people follow you? How many times do people say, “we’re going to go with you where you pray, we’ve discovered love in you so we’re going to live in the church where you pray, teach us the message so that we might know the love of God”. At times we might be tough like Naomi was and say to the drunk people, “no stay where you are, I don’t have time to think about drunk people, I don’t have time to think about people who are not believers, stay in your world, I will only think about those who are Christians”. Where is love? Where is love? Love teaches us that we even have to love our enemies, love teaches us that we have to love everybody, despite one’s race or whatever, so do we love or not?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I John 1:7“If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, purifies us from all sins.”
It’s not a command but a choice. God doesn’t force us to walk in the light, He won’t come down from heaven and make us. We have to decide ourselves if we will walk in the light or if we won’t. It’s our decision.
This means all of us. This is not only for the person next to me, but for myself also. It’s easy to look at others but we must look at ourselves and ask, “Am I walking in the light?”
It’s a steady progress towards Christ-likeness. One step at a time; moving forward.
Walking requires both feet, each moving at its turn. This is the same for our Christian faith. Our faith must walk together with our works. As it says in James 2:17, “faith without works is dead”. When the foot of faith moves forward, it requires the foot of works to move also. If only the left foot (faith) moves and the right foot (works) doesn’t move, then you will not go anywhere. You will be stuck in the same spot. Both feet need to move in order to go forward in our Christian faith.
This is the same with prayer and the Bible. When we pray we need to use the Bible. We need to find verses to back up what we need. For example, a lawyer uses the law to convince the judge. The judge knows the law better than the lawyer but at the trial the lawyer will remind the judge, “In this Act, Section 1.2, it says...” and then the lawyer reads out the section that is applicable.
Jesus Christ is the highest judge (Rev 1:14, His hair is white like the white wigs a judge wears) and He knows the Word of God (the highest law) better than us but we should remind Him. For example, we can tell God, “it is written in Mathew 7:7...” and tell God what He wrote.
What is very helpful for the Christian life is to right down our prayer requests every day and next to those requests, write down verses that apply. Then after a few years those verses will already be written in our hearts (without even forcing ourselves to memorise them) and we will know where to find them in the Bible. That way, if we are ever without a Bible, we will have those verses ready in our minds to tell God and it will come naturally. For example, recently I had to take someone to the hospital and I didn’t have my Bible with me. I needed to pray for that person and I was able to remember many verses that I could tell God to help the situation. It wasn’t difficult; it was easy because I had been writing down verses for years and now those verses are written on my heart.
Also, reading the Bible with prayer is very important. We must pray before we read the Bible. We must make sure we have repented and are clean. We must pray for the Holy Spirit to help us and we must pray for God to remove any evil spirits that might distract us or make it difficult for us to understand.
Prayer and the Bible go together. It’s impossible to move forward in our Christian life without moving the left foot (prayer) and the right foot (the Bible).
Being in the light. If you turn on a light, the light spreads out and at the edge the light is weak but in the centre the light is strongest. Let’s be at the centre – “in” the light and not at the edge with one foot in and one foot out.
1 John 1:5, God is the light.
John 1:1, God is the Word of God
If we want to be in the light we must be in God Himself (Jesus Christ) and we must live according to the Word of God.
Let’s look at bats to help us understand more fully. Bats look like birds but they are not. There are also Christians that look like Christians but they are not Christians in their actions.
Bats hate the light. When the light is there, they close their wings over their faces and hide themselves from the light. Sometimes we do that also. When the truth is there, we don’t want to know, we prefer to pretend we can’t hear. We hide ourselves from the truth. When the message is about reading the Bible and I feel convicted because I didn’t read my Bible today, I try to shut out the light and I try to ignore my conscience.
When I am reminded of promises I made, or when I am reminded to pray, or when my character is touched, I cover myself with excuses or justifications.
Bats are asleep when there is light but when there is darkness, they wake up and are active. Some Christians are like that. During the prayer meeting or during church, they are fast asleep but when the meeting is over, they are wide awake. They can then go out from the meeting with energy. They might leave the prayer meeting where they were asleep and go to the rugby match full of life. Some Christians can even go to the pub, some even drink or smoke. Some forget they are Christians and their character becomes like a non-christian. Sometimes we can tell course jokes, get angry and swear or abuse others or speak rudely or gossip, sometimes we forget that we are not bats but we are birds.
The bird is comfortable in the light. The bird flies around completely exposing itself to the light. We as Christians need to be like that – accepting Jesus Christ, accepting the Word of God.
When I was in Tonga I saw bats for my first time. They live in trees and these trees are completely packed with bats. I thought that bats slept peacefully during the day but they don’t. They are constantly fighting with each other. If one bat accidently touches another bat, they fight and they make a lot of noise.
But birds can live peacefully in the trees together. They live quite happily together and at night they sleep peacefully (in comparison to bats). As Christians, if we live in the light, we will have this same peace. We live together peacefully because we live according to the Word of God which tells us about love, patience, joy, forgiveness etc. But when we don’t live according to the Word of God, we don’t have peace, we don’t have fellowship with one another.
Therefore, if I don’t have fellowship with other Christians, or if I am not living at peace with other Christians, I need to ask myself, “am I living according to the Word of God? Or am I impatient, unforgiving, unloving, rude, selfish, arrogant?” We can ask ourselves these questions and find the truth. If we find we are living according to the Word of God, then praise Him but if we are not, this is the right time for change.
This means with other Christians. I used to wonder if it meant God Himself. I thought it might refer to our fellowship with God but it is talking about our fellowship with other Christians.
According to the dictionary, fellowship means “a feeling of friendship and support between people who do the same work or have the same interests.”
Fellowship is not the act of spending time together but it is the result of supporting one another and working with one another. It’s not bad to spend time together but we should have the aim of spending time together for God’s work to be accomplished and in order to support and encourage each other to do God’s work.
“the blood of Jesus Christ purifies us from all sins”
We know that nothing can clean us except Jesus Christ. His blood is the only thing that can take our sin away – nothing else.
Praise God because He removes all our sin; not just the small sins but even the sins that we feel we don’t deserve to be forgiven of. We just have to confess it and admit it and ask Him to remove it. We can use this verse (I John 1:7) to remind God that when sin we are in darkness but we are now coming back into the light to receive forgiveness. It’s only by coming back into the light (Jesus Christ) that God can remove our sin.
Our sin can’t be removed if we continue to live in darkness. We can only be forgiven if we leave darkness and come into the light. We can only be forgiven if we leave satan and come into Jesus. We can only be forgiven if we leave our sin and choose to live a life of holiness.
If we sin and say, “It’s ok, I’ll ask for forgiveness later,” then we are just joking with God and Gal 6:7 says, “don’t be deceived, God cannot be mocked, a man reaps what he sows.” So if you think, ‘I’ll sin today and say sorry tomorrow’, God is not mocked and you will reap the consequence of that sin (eternal death) unless you leave darkness completely and change.
1 Peter 2:9, we were chosen and called out of darkness into God’s light. God has chosen us!! Why would we go back?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In Col 2:18-23 do not let anyone who delights in false humility in the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize, for such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen and his un-spiritual mind puffs him up with idol notions, he has lost connection with the head from whom the whole body supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews grows as God causes it to grow, since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world why as though you still belong to it do you submit it to rulers, do not handle, do not taste, do not touch, these are all destined to perish with use because they are based on human commands and teachings, such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom with their self imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgences.
Amen. So Jesus is asking us why we continue to live like people who are ruled by human beings. It’s true that we can do things thinking that they are in secret but in front of God there is no secret. God can see everything, he knows our lives better than we do, and when we do something God is there observing us and it’s too hard for Him sometimes because of our actions.
Paul wanted to tell us, why do we really accept to live with the rules of human beings, don’t do this, or do that or don’t touch this or that; why do we accept to live like that? If I decide once and say, “Jesus I give you my life, my life belongs to you Jesus Christ”; I think that from there I don’t have the right to lead by life anymore because it belongs to someone. I can never go to Pete’s place and put on his shoes, I have to ask first. Pete can say yes or no because those shoes belong to him, but as Christians we hardly ever ask Jesus, we don’t ask.
Before being born I was not whoever I am today. I was somewhere and God gave me that life, and when I was born I started to live but God has the right to take back my life. When I met Jesus I decided that my conscience tells me and the gospel tells me that I must give this life back to God, “God this is your life, lead me the way you want, I want really to live as a Christian I want to belong to you forever”. I’m sure that a Christian has ever told God that they want to become a Christian for only 2 months or I want to be yours Jesus for 2 years, never, everyone says I give my life to you, lead me.
So Jesus says, “o.k. sign here”, maybe you’ll sign and you give it Him. Now Jesus will start to tell you “do this, what you are doing is not correct do this, stop that”. You’ll start to say, “Jesus, what’s this? It’s too much, I can not handle it anymore, you are putting more pressure on me.” Jesus will say, “it’s my life, you have to do it”. Unfortunately many Christians at that stage forsake the Christian life and say, “no, I cannot carry on in that way I must do this, I must do what I want”.
It’s not really what they want themselves, it’s what their body wants, my body sends me to drink beer, my body sends me to smoke, my body sends me to steal, my body sends me to do something worse in Gods eyes. I will decide and say to Jesus, “no I made a mistake, I didn’t give you my life one hundred percent, maybe I’ll give you forty percent, maybe I told you Jesus that I will not steal anymore but I didn’t tell you I will never drink beer”.
Another man in Africa told us once that Jesus Himself is God and He knows that drinks are important for human-beings, he told us to enjoy life, and I can’t find my joy anywhere in this world except in the nightclub. That’s the only place I can go to find my joy because I can see people dancing, I can drink, music will be there, that’ exactly what I want. He forgot completely the joy in the Lord.
One day Jesus will come back to us and tell us to give Him a report of the life that He gave us, you’ll have to give Him feedback. Jesus will say to you, “You kept that life for a few years and when you were 25 you gave back your life to me, but I as the owner of the life, I found that I didn’t enjoy it, why did you destroy my life?” So you have to justify in front of God and at that time beer will never be there, cigarettes will never be there, whatever was pushing you to do it will not be there.
We met another man who preached to us in Kenya once. He was a brother and he told us that one day he went to meet a prostitute, and he was a servant of God. After meeting that lady, two minutes later he started to think, ‘what did I do, why am I here? I spent my money to pay that lady, I spent my time, my personality and then I disturbed the Holy Spirit in my life, who am I, am I really normal or not?’
And some people today can just spend whatever God gave to them. They use the money God gave them for useless things, they can spend their time talking about useless things, they can even spend the time just to criticise others. I can meet my sister here and say “oh, you know Colleen, she’s not a good lady, she’s like this and that”, “oh really, how do you know that”. “Brother Paul told me, he was there at that time and such things happened”. And then you’ll say “oh yeah, I know that she’s not good also, cause I can remember one day I saw such things”. Maybe you’ll spend 10 or 20 minutes talking about useless things and finally “goodbye”, “goodbye”. Why didn’t you pray for Colleen, why didn’t you say ok because she’s crossing a hard situation, why didn’t you say let’s pray so that God can help her.
But you’ll never find the time to pray for people; we are just there to know things like what’s going on in Peter’s life. “Hello Michelle, where’s Peter?” “He went to work” “is Peter working actually, where does he work, how much does he get?” You can see that we really spend our time on useless things and that’s a big fruit of the religious spirit.
When we are going to church on Sundays every Christian wants to be really clean, maybe you’ll prepare a shirt or trousers to put on and then you’ll go to church to pray with other Christians, it’s good to gather together so that you can praise your Lord, it’s not bad, but what’s your purpose when you prepare your body. Maybe I can ask that question, today is Sunday you wake up and say I have to go to church, you’ll have a shower and after that you’ll get your clothes ready and then put them on and go to church. Why are we preparing ourselves before going to church? Why do we clean our bodies, why do we put nice clothes on? What’s the reason for that? Is it culture, is it because the Bible says we have to do so, why? Peter, when you go to church why do you look really nice? Maybe you don’t know. Many people don’t think, they just think that because it’s Sunday I must be there so let me put this on. Maybe we just want people to comment and praise us.
It’s good to embellish our bodies, but our hearts also need care. You know that you are going to pray, find some time to wash your heart, to wash your soul and then try to find really nice clothes for your heart. Let your heart put on those nice clothes and then go and meet God. Human-beings will only see the physical aspect, but God will look inside you, many souls are completely naked in front of God, they are really dirty and when God is looking at them He says that they are wasting their time, they are not praying, they do not really know what they are doing, God’s presence will never touch you, never ever.
When we are praying as Christian’s we all need to hear or listen to God’s voice, we all want to feel God’s presence, we want to feel that God really touches us, everyone wants that but why don’t you hear God’s voice, why doesn’t God touch you? That’s the first question every Christian must ask himself. When I’m praying sometimes I can have some feeling, sometimes I can listen to God talk to me, sometimes even God touches me, sometimes I can even see things, but sometimes also there is nothing, I can pray for 2 or 3 months. The book of Acts tells us that God is not far, He’s here at this moment, why doesn’t he touch us if He’s here, it’s not hard for God just to raise up His hand and start to touch everyone among us, it’s a matter of one second, but why doesn’t He do it? The main thing is because of the religious spirit.
When Paul was called Saul and he met Jesus for the first time he discovered that he was living that religious spirit, he was doing things thinking that he was acting on behalf of God but he discovered that what he was doing was not from God it was from himself and the people who were sending him. So from that day Paul accepted that he was nothing, he recognised that he was not acting on God’s behalf, and God touched him. So we are here and God can touch us also if we will recognise that we have something wrong in our lives, and that thing in our lives that is wrong is maybe criticising others, maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s abusing people or God, we have just small things and those small things can make us become useless in front of God and God will never and ever talk to us.
We have some insects called termites, which eat timber. They are really small, they are not strong, they do not even have bones but they can start to eat timbers and finish them while with my teeth, which are stronger, I cannot eat the timber unless I want to break my teeth. But those small insects will start to eat them slowly but surely and then you’ll sit on the chair and fall, meaning that Satan doesn’t use strength because he’s weak, but if we’ll give him the chance he’ll come into our lives and start to eat slowly.
For example, you can know something in the Bible like Jesus who healed a blind man. Someone will ask you where it is in the Bible. You don’t know, however, two years ago, you knew where it was written in the Bible. You can start to lose little by little small things and ten years later someone can give a story from the Bible and it’ll become like a new story for you, you’ll start to doubt, is it really a new story or not. Sometimes a preaching can become like a story you’ve heard for the first time while someone actually preached that story ten years ago. Why is that? It is because we are not feeding our spirits, we are not reviewing what we are learning, Satan is there and will start to eat what we receive and then we’ll lose.
Once termites eat something it is impossible to replace it, it’s not easy. When someone loses Jesus Christ in their life and goes far away, Satan will not give you the chance to come back easily. The Bible says that if someone had 7 evil spirits and are cast out of his life and he gives those spirits a chance to come back into his life, 49 evil spirits will return.
So you’ll now see that Christians are living worse lives than pagans. Pagans believe it’s better to live the way that I am instead of living like you. At court, in our society, pagans can say that if I see what Christians are doing it’s better to live the way that I am. This is because the spirit that doesn’t belong to God leads us and we are out of line.
We must really pray for our souls. To pray for others is not bad but we have to pray for ourselves, “God, do I really belong to You or not? Jesus, help me to understand, the spirit that’s leading me, is it your spirit or not, whatever I’m doing on this earth does it please you or not?” I know that God is good; no one will say that I don’t know if I’m a good person or a bad person, no one. Everyone knows whether the actions they do please God or not. Your conscience will tell you what you are doing is not good, your mind will even tell you this is not good, but your body will push you to carry on.
So we have to tell God that before everything I ask you to help me so that I can be able to overcome the temptation of my body. That is the first thing, tell God, “I want really your help, your help is to make me overcome what my body is pushing me to do, I accepted to die with you and I rose up with you, I gave my life to you so why is my body leading me instead of you? Jesus, help me to understand how we can lead people.” Then you’ll hear and listen to His voice, Jesus will talk to you, you will know what you are doing is not good, come back to Him. He’ll talk to you and you’ll reply and you’ll feel that joy will start to grow up in your life.
There is nothing more encouraging for a Christian than to hear the voice of God. You’ll feel really that you are filled with joy, you’ll testify to people and say I heard God’s voice this morning, and then you’ll really feel encouraged to keep praying everyday. But if you never hear His voice and you are waiting for Jesus to come down, you’ll never hear it. Come close to Jesus and He’ll come close to you, go far away from Him and he’ll go far away from you, that’s the principle.
We’ll stop there and end by saying that the religious spirit is not a good spirit to have among Christians, it’s not a good spirit to have in the church of Jesus Christ, it’s not a good spirit for ourselves because it does not enable us to co-operate properly with God. All parents need to have a good relationship with their children and vice versa. No parent will be happy if his child or children are crazy, who can not submit or except what he is saying, but if you have nice children who respect what you are saying, you will be proud of your children. God is also proud of us when we respect Him, He’s proud of us when He can testify and tell people, “you know Joan she’s my daughter, because she respects me, she does whatever I want her to do”. At that time God will start to speak to you. It’s not hard, it’s a small thing; try to avoid the religious spirit.
Thank you so much our God because You are the same yesterday, today and forever. We thank you God for Your presence among us, we need You Lord Jesus to help us because we are weak, we need Jesus our Lord to touch our hearts so that we can live according to your will. It’s true that many times we can go far away from your will, we can forget about your word, we can forget about your presence in our lives, we can even forget that the life that we are living doesn’t belong to us. Oh Lord Jesus God of mercy, we ask you God to touch us, to transform us, to take away from us that religious spirit, to take away the pride, to take away whatever doesn’t please You, God help us, give us strength, we need your strength God, we need the Holy Spirit to lead us, we need your power to be with us everywhere, we need God to hear your voice, we need God to feel your touch, we need God to see your presence in our lives. It’s true that Satan is attacking us, it’s true that Satan is against our souls to be saved but God our Lord You are the only God who can protect us, God we call upon you, come and protect us, don’t allow Satan to protect our lives, we want to be led by You from now up to the end of our time on this earth. Thank you God because you are here, bless every person who is present here; bless also people who are absent among us. Lord our Lord we will go back home now, we need you to lead us, we need you oh Lord to protect us, we need you Oh Lord to touch our activities to touch our studies to touch our jobs, to touch everything that we are doing, our families, our husbands and wives, our children so that everybody in our family, everybody in this world can be saved through us. We need oh Lord your light in our lives so that we can be a light for others. We are praying in Jesus name who is our Lord, Amen