Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Persecuted

Below is the message typed as Odon spoke.  Therefore, it will not be exactly what Odon said.

The message today is about the persecuted and when we talk about persecution we can only think about torture, misery and hard life. 


My message will be built from Acts 3: 1-2.  The man in this verse had only one job and that was to ask for support from others.  Last time we talked about the ninth hour and we know what happened in this story but now we have to think about this man who was begging, without thinking about Peter or John. 


This lame man was born from a mother, like your mum or my mum.  When the mother was pregnant, she didn’t know the boy was going to be lame, she was sure he would be born beautiful and she will love him and give all the care needed so he can grow up with happiness and joy.  “I’ll be a good mother who supplies all his needs”.  Maybe after a few months of pregnancy, she praised God that the baby is growing and maybe she praised Him for this new life she was producing that the world has never seen.  Every baby is unique, even twins can never be the same.  You can love them two at the same level but they will be two different persons. 


When you give birth, everybody wants to know how the baby is.  Babies attract everybody and all want to hold the baby carefully and cover it and protect it.  When the baby cries, mothers want the baby to stop crying but will never shout at the baby but will talk nicely and kindly and make the baby feel happy.  Some silly parents will try to smack them.  Others put them down and believe after a time they will stop crying when the baby gets tired.


At maternity, when someone is giving birth, they are waiting to receive this gift from God.  The nurse will be the first one to see the baby, to know whether it is a boy or girl and the nurse will be the first one to inform you if it is big or small and the nurse will pass the baby to you.  You will feel joy.  After going through the pain of giving birth.  The mother of this boy had pain, cramps and now her turn had arrived and knew she was receiving something precious but then he is born lame.  You are waiting with joy but he turns out to be lame.  How will you feel if you are the mother?  It’s hard. 


You might think, “oh, he will never play sport or drive a car.  This is another burden God you have given to me because for the rest of his life, he will be a dependent child”.  Have you thought about dependency and how you have to do everything for this person who is with you and you feel this is too much, I can’t take it anymore?  God is now giving you this precious gift that is going to suck all your strength, mind and money.  The mum had to accept her son as he is. 


How often do we reject what we believe doesn’t satisfy our needs?  How often do we say, “why this?” because we know it is tough and hard? 


The child grew older but couldn’t do what other children do.  He could only sit down.  I don’t know how he moved from one place to another but his job was just to sit down from morning to evening.  You feel tired when you sit all day.  You need to move around but this child couldn’t move.  When others were playing, he couldn’t play.  Maybe he tried to push himself with his arms but he couldn’t play and maybe other children told him to just stay there because you can’t play with us.  Others might have let him play for a few minutes before they left him behind. 


As days were passing, the parents realised they had to find a place for the boy so they decided to take him to the temple where there is mercy, “If God doesn’t remember mercy to our child, maybe human beings will”.  But I tell you that when things are tough, God doesn’t forget mercy or love, He continues to love and have mercy.


The parents believed the child will be fine at the temple.  Maybe they took a mat and said to the child, “this is your place in front of the temple, sit there”.  I don’t know what position he was sitting in but he was just sitting begging to people.  Let me pick up Ange, Ange pass here, it’s not easy to see me from up there.  I’m at the lowest level.  She may pass without seeing me because my level is too low.  I will call out and maybe even hold her trousers if she doesn’t pay attention.  Maybe she will even step on my hand by accident but she will carry on. 


Those that have headphones on may not see or hear the man begging.  The big job of the person was to ask, not only once but several times per day to each person. “Please help, look at me, I’m suffering, help, help”.  If they drop you at the temple at 7am and pick you up at 5pm every day, how many times will you say the word help?  That temple was visited by thousands of people per day but after saying help, help several times per day, maybe he only returned home with a few dollars or even nothing because many didn’t want to listen to him. 


Others were maybe were like an i-pod with a battery that is dying because they gave yesterday, the day before and the day before so, “today, I have nothing, I have done enough, you should also take care of yourself, your family should help you, it’s not my responsibility” and the compassion they had is dying like an i-pod battery going flat.  “The love and mercy that I have in my heart is disappearing, you should look somewhere else”. 


When we have two feet and the strength to take care of ourselves, we believe that those that can’t do it, are not good enough.  Those that cannot move for themselves, that’s their business.  This man called Cain, he gave an offering to God but it was rejected (without God explaining why) while his brother’s offering was accepted.  Cain became jealous and killed Abel.  The blood of the young brother went before the throne of God, “look my brother killed me”, the blood was crying to God. 


In Revelations, we see the same situation, those who have been persecuted are crying to God.  Why are thy crying?  Maybe because of the need they have or the suffering or because someone is making their lives harder.  Many people in the church are crying for the persecuted but in different ways.  Some pray, some offer money and some don’t care and those who are persecuted are Christians like you and I from the same family of God.  Imagine you have your brother or sister from the same father and mother and you live in the same house and because they are lame you don’t want to assist them.  What will happen if you don’t help them?  Who will do it? 


Maybe your mother will ask you to take your brother to the hospital and you reply, “No I’m tired, it’s not my turn”.  Everybody says the same thing and declares that someone else can do it and the job to help the brother is pushed from one person to another.  If you were a lame person and others don’t want to help you, how big will your heart be? How angry will you feel?  How happy will you be in your family where your brothers and sisters don’t have time to listen to you, help you or care for you. 


There is only a small proportion of the church that God decided to make them to be persecuted.  They didn’t want to be born and be called persecuted but God has allowed it to test the church, “because I told them to love one another”.  Before you love your father, love one another.  “You can’t love me, your God, if you don’t love your neighbour.  Be in unity”.


This is scary.  Before you see me, see your brother Graham first.  If you love him and give everything to him, then I will be happy.  How can I love someone lame?  We can’t sing or play together because her abilities are not like mine and so we put them aside and don’t care.  Jesus continues to say, “the day I come back, I will ask you a few questions, when I was in prison you didn’t visit me, when I was hungry, you didn’t feed me.  It’s clear.  When I was in hospital you didn’t visit me”.  We may become like those foolish ones and say, “I never saw you in prison, hungry, in hospital” and you will get the answer that we all have read and understand that Jesus is talking about those around us who are suffering and we didn’t help.


The lame man was collected in the evening and was most likely asked, “how much did you earn today?  What did people say?  Did anyone ask about your family?”  They would be curious to know about his day without offering support.  How often do we go somewhere to learn about the stories of persecuted?  We go to an event just to hear the stories of the persecuted man who is coming to church today because of curiosity and then we only talk about how lucky we are here in New Zealand. 


To be in New Zealand doesn’t mean you are safe.  In God’s eyes you are not safe because you are failing the test He has given you.  After hearing the stories, what did you do?  You were informed but you did nothing so you failed your test.  It will be harder to be free like New Zealand than to beg on the mat because the one suffering will never be asked, “why didn’t you help?” because he was the one suffering but those passing without seeing or those complaining, they will be asked, “what did you do?” 


Sometimes God is mean, He will give us someone like that for 40 years.  How can we handle that?  Sometimes I say moving the furniture in the church once per week becomes a pain and we complain, this person didn’t help, I do it every time because we believe the job is hard.  Imagine carrying the big man on your back, feeding him, taking him to toilet.  You might say better for him to die.


Like Job’s wife said, “just abuse God and you will be better off”.  We might lose our joy and our love for others because of the work we do for the church.  God is looking at you, you still have another 40 years before you get the crown.  Your crown is prepared but I want you to persevere until the end but when you start to complain, you start to discourage yourself and then your courage will start to die.  I’ve heard people being asked, “can you be the leader?” and they answer, “no not this time because I have another program”.  We can compare God’s program with our own programs.  This is God’s program! 


We would rather watch rugby and God’s program is not a priority.  What brought satan down?  By making himself like God by putting himself first.  The decision is mine so I make myself like God.  God I’m busy, I have my own business.  I don’t have time to care for these people.  Why did you create them?  Why can’t you just give them legs?  Why only me?  Others are there.  They can play this role.  Slowly, you start to find yourself detached from God because of arrogance and trying to compete against him.


The Wednesday night prayer and Bible Study program is only 1 hr and 15 mins, just once per week and each of us only lead once per month with that privilege as his daughter to come close to God and serve Him.  Instead of being proud to be associated with God’s business, we think, no God I don’t need you.  God is sad, I gave to you talent and ears and eyes and didn’t make you lame so you don’t have to depend on others and so that those around you can depend on you but you say, no I have my own program and you start to persecute God.


When you are together, praying, sharing, leading, you are supporting others and those souls that are begging start to get feed from you.  Give love, prayer and once you do, the name of God is glorified.  Those who are persecuted over the world are waiting for us, what do we do?  Physically they are suffering and spiritually.  Some don’t know how to pray.  Others don’t know how to read the bible.  You know how to read and pray and you don’t have time to help those people.  God has given me the capacity to understand and to read the Word of God but I can’t put it in practise by helping others.  We don’t help. 


Our only job is to complain that others don’t play their role.  Are we really helping them to play their role?  Maybe they are weak and our job (those who are strong) is to support the weak.  How much support do you give to the church of God, to pray for those who can’t read or understand Word of God, or those who sleep while the preacher is talking?  What is killing the church today is that everyone wants to come with a new theory of judgement, “I don’t like how you pray sister”.  We come with judgements that don’t unite us but divide by bringing different opinions.


Jesus used to go to the mountain to pray.  His disciples fell asleep.  “You can’t even pray with me for one hour” Should we really pray together?  Today we have churches that tell you, whenever Robbie is praying, be quiet and listen.  There is no verse that says that.  You can all pray at the same time (corporate prayer).  If colleen prays for fifteen minutes, I will have nothing to say and so I think about what I should say to people and not God while the prayer should be in secret between you and God.  When we pray as a group of people it is not easy to listen to what all are saying, easier to pray yourself.  When there is corporate prayer and one starts to finish and we all start to finish because we don’t want others to listen to our prayer to God.


But in church today we judge others’ prayers, others’ messages.  Did you start to intercede in your heart or just look at your watch so we can go home?  God is telling us to not be like those passing the lame without helping him.  Why didn’t they take him into the temple with them?  They could have invited the man inside, “Maybe it will rain?  Or it will be too hot?  Come inside”. 


When others are crossing a painful situation, do we bring them close to God or do we not care? Do we help?  God gave us the authority to pray for others to give them healing in His name and they will get it.  We have that power.  He has chosen us to go over the world and we can pray for someone in Sudan while we are in New Zealand.  Go everywhere in my name spiritually, there are no borders.  Why don’t we pray?  If we can’t come close to them with spiritual things, why can’t we offer physical ones?


Some people think that the Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton campaign is going to be funny.  Don’t you see the danger?  House prices now are making people cry in New Zealand. This is a serious problem that is coming.  Those who are poor are being persecuted and suffering because someone is torturing them.  We have the power.  Authority comes from God.  We can tell God, we need a key.  Why can’t we talk to God?  The beauty of New Zealand is going downhill, with the country and the church because we don’t listen to those who are persecuted.  We can see misery coming.


2 years ago, $1 could buy something but today we can’t buy anything with $1.  Prices are going up and up while salary is the same.  How are we going to afford living in New Zealand without God’s help?  How will we overcome the situation we are facing?  The church doesn’t talk about the persecuted anymore.  If you say, “Pastor, I’m going to visit Eastside”, he will say, “why what’s going on there,” because they don’t want you to go and there is no unity between churches.    There is no connection between churches and we break the chain while Jesus put us together like a chain. 


Why don’t we support each other?  There are very big churches in New Zealand but they may be born lame.  They have problems.  All of us have problems and handicaps and we need each individual to do something.  Talk to someone, tell God, look at my friend, do something, intervene.  He is there is listen to you and offer to you what you are asking for.  What are you asking from God?  When you see those on the street, children in poverty, those who are dying, those you are persecuted in other countries, terrorism.  You are not doing anything.  I’m not asking you to shoot the terrorist but to tell God.  God lock that door. 


Colleen when you were little and scared, what did you do?  You might scream and shout for help from your parents, “mummy, help”.  I will shout for help.  How often do you shout for help because of what is happening in front of you or do you say, all is alright, we are in New Zealand, we are safe?

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