Monday, November 7, 2011
Revelations 12 (Part 5) The Church
By Odon Bulamba (5th May 2006)
Today, in some churches, there is an aversion toward people from another denomination. For example, if you are a Baptist and I am a Pentecostal, there is no connection, ‘Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Amen’ ‘What church are you from, brother?’ ‘I’m a Baptist’ ‘Oh, I’m a Brethren’ so no connection.
‘Hi brother Shen, how are you? Praise the Lord! Amen!’ ‘What church are you from?’ ‘Methodist’ ‘Oh, I’m an Adventist’ ‘Ok, see you next time’ and that’s all! But if you tell me you are from a Baptist church and I am also from a Baptist church ‘Oh, from which Baptist church are you?’ ‘Fairfield’ ‘Oh! Do you know such pastor?’ ‘Yes’ ‘such elder?’ ‘Yes’ ‘such man?’ ‘Yes’. We become friends and then we say we are in unity of Holy Spirit … according to the church of human beings. But in the Church of God, we must not follow these ways; a denomination will never take you to heaven. Jesus didn’t say, ‘I give you a church called the Pentecostal Church’ NO! I am sorry to say it, I am not attacking the Baptists or Pentecostals, I was myself baptised as a Pentecostal, so I’m not attacking Pentecostals, but we have to remember that we are not saved by Pentecostals but by Jesus Christ.
Today, Satan is using denominations as a strategy to divide the Church; It is his most efficient tool and almost every denominational church have their own version of the Bible. People who call themselves Eagles (Branamits) use the Zondervan version. The Methodist church uses the New King James, the Pentecostal church uses another version and if you read a version that is not theirs, they will disagree with you.
On top of that, denominational churches establish rules or church regulations. For instance, ‘in our denomination, you can drink wine, but you can’t get drunk’. ‘In our denomination, women cannot wear trousers,’ ‘In our denomination you can’t cover your head,’ ‘In our denomination, women can preach,’ ‘In our denomination, children can heal people,’ and ‘in our denomination, if you speak in tongues, nobody will believe you are in Christ.’ All these things are written in their rules and before opening their Bible to study whatever topic, they need first to check all those conditions. What do our rules say? ‘Today, I saw Odon smiling. According to article 7 of this church, you can’t do that.’ Satan starts to institute rules in churches.
The bigger churches get, the more its members focus on these rules instead of other important things, to the point where I was angry to see that some churches even excommunicate people. They say, ‘Ange, we saw you drinking last Saturday, so you have to leave this church today! Go away!’ Hey! Jesus brought Ange back to His Church while she was lost and paid Himself the price for her sins, and you are telling her to get out of His kingdom! Where is forgiveness! Instead of telling her to repent and come back to Christ, you are telling her that, ‘We don’t need you in this church. What you did is a shame in our eyes and in the eyes of our community!’
But, you, pastor, what you are doing is also a shame in the kingdom of God, because you are called to be a good shepherd. Imagine you are looking after your sheep and one of them gets sick. Instead of taking it to the vet, you say, ‘I have to leave it somewhere so that it can die’, and you say that because you have hundreds of sheep; but Jesus left 99 sheep to get the one that was lost! Imagine, he sacrificed 99 sheep to rescue only one of them. So who are you to throw people of God away from the church?
In the book of Corinthians, it is written somewhere that you mustn’t push out someone because they do something wrong. You are supposed to support them; it says ‘Give their flesh to Satan, but take care of their soul.’ It doesn’t mean telling someone ‘Don’t come back to this church!’ but tell the person to control their flesh and their actions and to look after their soul, because it is more important and that’s what the dragon is doing today, he is in churches making people feel insecure, doubtful and fearful.
For instance, you think, ‘I know that if I don’t take a good decision in this matter, people will laugh at me and maybe others will turn against me’ to the point that today in some churches, people make decisions in a democratic way. Let’s say we are a group of elders of the church and we say ‘We are going to excommunicate our brother Oscar (just an example). What do you think?’
- I think Oscar must leave
But Michelle says ‘I think you shouldn’t do that.’
- Why not?
- Because the Bible says …
- No, no, no, put the Bible aside, he must leave, because last week we told Isabella to leave the church, and the week before, we excommunicated someone else.
My dear brothers and sisters, don’t make your decision become the standard or a rule to follow; whenever your church decides to excommunicate someone, don’t take part in this decision, because the measure you are using is the one God will use for you. Jesus asked the wicked people who wanted to stone the sinful lady, ‘Who has never sinned?’ and although Jesus was illiterate, he wrote down on the earth, ‘Whoever has never sinned, stone her.’ So, we should always listen to our conscience, instead of following Satan’s ways.
Now, the dragon, which is Satan, knows that we, Christians are struggling day after day, he knows we are giving birth to the glory of God, to things which please our Creator, and he wants above all to destroy everything that comes out of our heart and soul, so that people won’t benefit from our good actions and words, and consequently not be saved. I will give an example.
I can say that I have been a Christian for 40 or 50 years, but the person who can really testify of it is my neighbour Sonia, because you know the quality of a tree by eating its fruit. And the fruit we bear is not only saying verses each time we talk to someone – I think I know more than 1000 verses in the Bible and I can tell them by heart. Maybe I know 500 or 2000, but that’s not enough ! What we should ask ourselves is, ‘What type of fruit do people see me bearing?’ When I came to NZ, I saw a kiwifruit for the first time in my life, I looked at it and thought, ‘Hew, it doesn’t look like food for human beings, but maybe for bats. I can’t eat that!’ And last year was the first time I tasted one, my first one in seven years that I have been in New Zealand. Every time someone offered me a kiwifruit I said, ‘Go away’ and they would answer, ‘Why?’, and I’d say, ‘Because I don’t like it, it looks too different.’ In my mind, I had already made a judgment against this fruit, but when I tasted it, I realised it was different from what I thought it would be.
How many times also do we judge people by looking at their appearance? How many times, looking at someone, you thought, ‘If something went wrong yesterday, he must be the guilty one.’ To give another example, I know that some people would refuse to sit beside Arabs in a plane. In some countries, Blacks are loathed because they are Black. If something is stolen, it is the Black person’s fault. Elsewhere, if you are an Asian, you will easily be accused of doing wrong and we judge and falsely accuse others because of their appearance.
There was a man in a refugee camp, whom we used to joke about because he didn’t look serious, he looked like a thief, and we said,’ If something is stolen, he must be the one who did it’. Sometimes adults would blame children if something goes wrong, and sometimes innocent children are punished because of the way adults judge them.
God is telling us today to WIN the battle, if we want to have wings like the woman in Revelations 12, we have to focus only on the Word of God; if you focus on your denomination, your rules or your culture, I tell you that you are going far away from God and you will lose your first born.
When Jesus was born, the good thing was that Mary didn’t find a place to give birth. Let’s take Saeeda as an example. Saeeda, can you stand up please; look at that lady, how she is fully pregnant. I’ll come next to Saeeda, I’ll blow my tummy like that, and we are both walking on the street at night time, and we are tired and knocking at Colleen’s door and Colleen answers that she’s got only one room for one person available, to whom will you give this place?
- To Saeeda.
- Why for Saeeda?
- Because she is the weakest.
- How do you know, I’ve got also a big tummy, maybe I am heavier and fatter than her!
- You are not going to give birth.
Exactly, the point is that she has got something special in her tummy that will give her privileges and that is what God requires from us.; to get favour from Him, first, he looks at us, and says ‘What do you have in you? Do you have my Holy Spirit? Do you have good actions? Do you have love, faith? What do you have in you?’ and after seeing what is in you, He will continue to protect you.
The Bible says that, God our Lord, is the Word. When Jesus came down, the Bible tells us in John 1, ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God’ and so on. In the beginning was the Word, nothing else. Now if you want God to cover you as a sun, to protect you, you have first of all to be in the Word, if you are not in the Word, forget about it. I know today, many people become bishops and pastors or whatever they want after studying theology at University for instance, and that’s fine; it is not bad to study theology, but you have to hold at least read the Word for yourself. I can try to please human beings but if I am not pleasing God, it is useless.
Now, this woman who was crossing this hard time in labour pains didn’t get any support, she was just there facing the dragon. Imagine now that you were alone with satan, like Jesus was alone on the cross and he cried to his father, ‘Father, father, why you have forsaken me? Why did you leave me alone? Imagine you are crossing a similar situation, you are looking for help but nobody is coming to help you. How would you feel? Maybe you would judge people, ‘Hey, I was crossing a hard time and you didn’t come, I was really suffering and no one visited me.’ Some people would even think it would be better to die. Others will say, ‘I give up with God because it is too much’.
A man recently asked me, ‘If God exists, why does He allow suffering?’ Think about it. God is full of joy, He is full of mercy, he loves everybody but why does he allow suffering? It says in the book of Jeremiah, ‘Woe to the man who trusts in man’. It would be a real shame if you continue to trust in human beings. Trust in God first and because God knows your life and your future, He will lead you. I can trust today in my brother or in my sister and tomorrow I’ll be disappointed, I can trust in money and tomorrow I’ll be disappointed. I can trust in the glory of my country and tomorrow be disappointed but if you trust in God, in your Lord Jesus Christ you never be disappointed and you will understand that He is in control if everything and you will accept joy and trouble.
You can be in a painful situation or in a situation where nobody visits you; it will be fine, because we were not created to live a life full of joy. There is a time for everything; that is what the book of Ecclesiastes tells us. There is a time to cry and a time to laugh; there is a time to eat and maybe to vomit; there is a time to sow and a time to reap; there is a time to jump and also a time to sit; there is a time to drink physically and a time to drink the Word of God. Jesus said that whoever is thirsty come to me and I will give him the water of life. So, when you are crossing a hard situation, in your Christian life, remember that there is a time for that to happen and that it will pass. Don’t think, ‘Because it is hard, I can sin’, or ‘Because it is hard, I must find a solution myself’. Trust in God and God will trust in you. Stay away from Him and He will stay away from you but if you come close to Him, He will support you.
God was not stupid to command Joseph (Jesus’ father) to take Jesus to Egypt, He was not unable to stop Herod and his army to not harm the child, but He wanted to see how obedient Joseph was. He told him, ‘Take him’. Imagine, it is night time, and in a dream you hear God telling you ‘Wake up, take your wife/husband and your daughter and leave. Walk from Hamilton to Wellington’ (more than 400 km). ‘Ah! I’m going to take my horse’ ‘No, no, no, take a donkey’, and you know how polite donkeys are, how good and fast they are. You may know what they do when they are tired. Have you ever seen how a donkey behaves?
Joseph was told ‘Take a donkey’
- ‘Where can I go with a donkey? My wife, sit on the donkey, hold the baby and let’s go’. Donkeys don’t walk when it’s dark. If the moon is there, they will go out, but if there’s no moon, I can tell you, you can beat them or hit them but they won’t move. If you are strong enough, you will maybe lift the donkey up, put him on your shoulders and continue your journey. That’s it. But during that night, this man was told ‘You have to travel with a donkey’. ‘Oh my God, You send your angels from heaven to earth to tell us to do this. Heaven is maybe more than 10,000km high, so why can’t they carry us to Egypt?’
Maybe Joseph didn’t sleep that night because he looked after his wife, or maybe because baby Jesus was crying all night, and then he is told, ‘Wake up and go!’ I don’t know what time it was, maybe around 3.00am. Then, he woke up, woke up the donkey ‘Donkey come here!’ ‘wrrrrr!!!’ you know how stubborn donkeys are. ‘Come here, we must go’ and he started to pull the donkey all night until they reached Egypt. Maybe during this journey, Mary complained, ‘I’m cold, I’m hungry. Stop, I need to go to the toilet. Stop, I need this’ It is not easy to sit on a donkey’s back for hours and on top of that holding a baby. Maybe she had never rode a donkey, maybe it was the first time, and Joseph was supposed to pay the price of all of that.
If I were Joseph, I would have told Mary, ‘Give me the baby, I will hold him and sit on the donkey while you pull the donkey because I am tired.’ But because he knew the message from God and respected it, although it was a simple dream, that you and I often reject, he believed in that dream, he stood up and he obeyed God’s command. Do you obey when God talks to you in a quiet voice? Do you obey when Jesus Christ sends a simple man to teach you something? Do you obey when someone a child comes to you and gives you some advice? What is your reaction when your 2 year old daughter tells you, ‘No, mummy, don’t do that!’ How will you act or react? Will you take it into consideration? Today, Jesus, our Lord, is teaching us that we shouldn’t neglect anybody and any message. Take it, analyse it and follow God’s instructions. If it matches the Word of God, do it, just do it!
In my country, most people believe that babies save adults. In two occasions, while my sister was a new born baby, a thief broke in the house. It was around 3.00am when my baby sister started to cry, she was really upset, so my father woke up, he turned on the light and the thief had already cut a hole in the door window with a diamond. They usually cut it from outside, pull their arm inside and open the door. Because the baby cried, my father woke up and saw the window was open and he was inside the house. So thanks to the cry of my sister, who is here with us tonight, the thief’s mission failed.
My father said, ‘Oh! What is this?!’Coming out from his deep sleep, after snoring for hours, he opened his eyes and saw strangers in his house. What would you do if you saw strangers in your house at 3.00am?
- I’d probably scare them.
Other people, especially women, would scream. Why to scream?
Children can help us in different ways. I know some people who wanted to travel, but who were unable to because their baby was sick, and the plane crashed. Once, children were going to a certain place and got lost, and their parents went to search for them. While they left the place, something happened. So don’t neglect children and don’t neglect people who are looked down upon by everybody; we need to help them and they also need to help us. Jesus came for people who are sick, people who are weak, people who are poor, for those who have a low social status, that is why he didn’t go to school, so that we, people who didn’t study much, would be proud of having Him as our Saviour.
Imagine if Jesus were a doctor in philosophy, what would people who have degrees or nothing at all say? Only intellectual people could be Christians. If Jesus were rich, what would poor people think of Him? If Jesus were white, what could Blacks do? If He were Asian, what could European do? What was Jesus’ skin colour? This will be my last question. Do you know?
- That’s an interesting question because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit doesn’t have any colour and He has not any bit of Mary or Joseph.
- Our soul doesn’t have a colour
Yes, that’s true. Another man told me that Jesus was multicoloured. And what colour is Satan? Some people say Satan is a black man and he looks like this or like that, he is an African, but Jesus was white and some people say that angels are white. Why wouldn’t they be Asian? Are there not any angels who look like Asians? Or Maori? Or Indian? Why’s that? Everything that is spirit doesn’t have a flesh like we have, remember this. That is why our soul doesn’t have any colour. When our soul goes before our King, our Creator, and our Lord Jesus Christ, we will all look the same, no black, yellow, or green person. All of us will be the same. Why can’t we now start to bring the kingdom of God down here? It says in our Father’s prayer, ‘Let Your kingdom come’. If the kingdom of God is in us, why are you a Baptist and I am a Pentecostal? Why are you an Adventist or I am from another denomination? Why are you what you are and I am different from you?
We will stop here tonight and we are going to pray. We are going to pray that God help us to win the battle, because we know that Satan is beside us every second. We are going to ask God for His protection and His strength so that we win every type of battle we will go through. Pray for your family, for your children, for yourself and for the new generation in this country, because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Let us pray.