Monday, May 29, 2017

Blessed are those that mourn

“Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted” Mathew 5:4

By Hayley Boud

Blessed are those that mourn.  It doesn’t sound like a blessing.  When we mourn we are more than sad.  Mourning is something very difficult.  It is extremely hard.  You lose your peace, you don’t feel like eating or doing anything, you lose your motivation.  We usually mourn because we have lost something very important to us.  How can that be a blessing? 

We should mourn when we sin or see sin in others.  When we fall into temptation, we should feel that it is difficult like losing something important because we have lost the most important thing of all, our relationship with Jesus.  We also lose our relationship with others, our reputation, our opportunity to share Jesus and maybe even lose the souls of others. 

This should make us lose our peace and makes us feel sad and not feel like eating.  When we let God down and others down, we should feel that sadness of losing something important to us.  That feeling is a blessing because at that moment, we have true repentance and we can be comforted because Jesus can now remove the sin from us.  We can be comforted knowing that when we repent, Jesus’ blood can clean us and we can get back what we lost and no longer lose it again.

When we repent we make a decision to never go back to the same temptation and by doing that we can be comforted knowing that our relationship with God is restored.  It can also restore our relationship with people and our reputation.  However, we should know that sometimes we lose things for good when we sin.  For example, we can lose the souls of those around us because of our bad example.  E.g. the Anglican minister who was really mean to me.  This made me think that I would never, ever go to an Anglican church.  Had I not been a Christian I would have been put off Christ all together.  This lady would have lost a soul.

Let’s feel that sadness in our hearts for lost souls so that we can be a good testimony and not lose our reputation.  Very often once our reputation is lost, it is lost forever.  This should make us mourn and then we can be comforted by Jesus knowing that He can work through us to save souls so long as we make that decision not to fall into temptation.  If we sin, we should feel the burden of our sin and the consequences of our sin so that we can truly repent and then we can be comforted knowing that Jesus purifies us and He wipes the slate clean.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Family First

By Odon Bulamba

It's a special day for me and possibly for you too.  Why? First for me, I was not supposed to be here this morning.  Due to what I faced for the past several days it is only by the grace of God that I am here among you?  Where I went last time I was overseas, I didn’t go as a tourist to look around but I went to a place where I saw terrible things and did not expect.  Imagine someone telling you Shari, your son is in the hands of ISIS.  How will you feel?  You will be shocked, you will see death, torture and I went across that situation. 

I had to leave New Zealand without knowing where I was going because I had to visit someone who was sick and that sickness was started because she was captured by ISIS and taken from place to place.  I will talk about that more on 19 march.

Thanks to God first of all when I went to Congo last time, our small group here has given birth to a big church there that is maybe 40x bigger than this one.  Like a seed of beans that you sacrificed and then it gives a harvest that is more than one seed.  These people have been watching messages on line.  Now have they started a branch of Little Bethlehem Church.  When I was invited I was shocked to see hundreds sitting on the ground, on stones without a roof, no microphone and they are adoring God and have giving their lives to God.

How can your prayer be the key to opening doors to new churches somewhere else?  When you are praying to save people and telling God, “I want your word to reach others”, God answers.  I would be happy for you to see this church and the fruit of your work and prayers.  I praise God for that.  Now we need to do something for those people.  They want the trust deed so they can register their church and follow us and be a branch of this church.  We are now parents of this small new born church. 

My message this morning will be about family first.  When we talk about family we see mother father and children.  A family is not something that you just pick up but something that God has chosen.  You didn’t have a choice of who will be your mother/father/sister in family.  God made that choice for you.  Ange you are now living in Hockley family.  When God created the world, the Bible doesn’t tell us that He created a space for seven days for angels to live but He created the world for us.  We have fish, birds, and animals just for humanity to survive.  He has created a place just for you and me on earth.

God found that He needed a human being and that that man should never be by himself.  This was the beginning of the family.  He put Adam and Eve together to make the first family and said, “Multiply yourselves”.  Adam had no idea when he was sleeping what would happen but when he woke up, he found this is what I need.

Yesterday when you were young you did not know who you would marry tomorrow.  Then suddenly, here is Nathan for Shari.  Colleen has found Keith.  God will bring someone new in your life that you have never known before and you will make a family and then you will have your descendants.  The best gift ever that God has given humans apart from Jesus on the cross is the family but we always put our family last.

“These children make me crazy, what type of husband/wife have you given me, why did I get this mother?” We complain.  I wish my father was like this person’s parent’s.

Nehemiah 4:12-14, we find a text where Nehemiah came across a strategy of using families.  We have to build a wall in groups of families.  The Lord has given this message to Nehemiah which is opening our minds and hearts today.  Asking the people to look after their families and not be afraid of the enemy but to fight for the friends, family and homes. 

Does your family come first in your life or not?  If God has given me a family, I should put it as the first position.  We can fight for those around us but not for our families.  Who is your family?  We have two: (1) physical brothers, sisters and parents (2) spiritual church.

Physical side you will see a father who does not really love his family or mother who doesn’t care much about her family.  We church sometimes don’t care about each other.  We live as pieces of puzzles and we lose the shape when we are separated by the wind.

When God created the first family, satan was not happy and so he tempted them to divide them.  Satan knew that once the families stick together, then he will be defeated so he first wanted to separate them from the love of God.  Your first temptation in life will come from your family.  Your mother/father or sister can be a stumbling block for you.  That is why Nehemiah is saying fight for your families and your houses and then for your friends. 

It was not your choice to be born in your family but ask yourself why God put you in this family.   Ask yourself, what role should I play in this family?  What is the mission God gave me in this family?  Many fail in this.  Including pastors, preachers and prophets.  They can organise the church but at home there is fire. 

Someone can be a director of a big company but their family can be divided.  Satan is trying to separate you from your family to hate your family.  Do you love every person of your family?  No.  Do you share your opinion with all your family members?  No.  Can you walk proudly with each member of your family?  No.  Sometimes yes but not every time. 

You might defend your child but inside your heart you know where you stand face to face with God.  We try to avoid realities what God has given to us as responsibilities.  “Go to school now so I can have a rest.  My child is a burden.  I can’t move around because of my child”.  Some children as they are growing old, “oh mum this is old fashioned, you know nothing mum, my generation is different to yours.  You don’t belong to this generation so I have nothing to do with you.  I’m grown up now”. 

When you gave birth you can say proudly, “this is my baby” and some cry and hold the baby with joy.  “Who does she look like?”  Comparisons will begin on who they look like.  The baby is a gift from God.  Your first responsibility is to raise that child.  For no reason the child will cry.  “What is your problem?”  No reason.  “Angela, take care of your child I need to rest, take her away”.  The mother has to carry the child away.  As the child is growing older, you don’t realise that they are growing.  Yesterday a baby and today, no more a baby.

The seed that you put in the child is growing with the child.  If satan visited your family as a child, he will visit four times more.  The child stand up and talks harshly in front of everyone, you can feel ashamed.  Neighbours will judge.  This is what you get from not educating your child.  It can be satan, it can be a challenge that God is using to remind you that you have a gift from Him and you must help your child.

I once saw a court case where the mother said, “no my son will never do that” but finally the son said, “I did it”.  The mother was shocked.  Never say you know your children very well and you will defend them.  Possibly say, “as far as I know but I should ask my child first”.

When Nehemiah put the families together, he gave them tools to fight with.  What have you given to your family to fight the wars.  When you come home angry, with problems, when your children are not living safely, what have you given them to protect themselves?  Of course we pray to protect them but do they have any weapon to stand against the attack of Satan.  If yes, how did you train them to use that tool?  You can’t say, “I invited my child to church, that is enough”.  They need to practice. 

Many will consider their parents as evil.  How will God think about that?  You are treating the person I gave you as evil.  If my parents are evil, then I should pray for them and love them.  But if I just tell people my parents are evil, God who made that selection for you will be shocked and ashamed.

Genesis 49, this is the time when Jacob wanted to die.  Jacob was a good friend of God who was chosen in the womb of his mum.  He was dodgy and tricky but he was a friend of God and God named him Israel and we are the children of Israel.  God has chosen this same Jacob who was naughty to give birth to the 12 tribes.  God has chosen the one who could lie in order to earn and gain and God thought this is my choice.  It doesn’t matter how good or bad your child is, keep praying, keep fighting for your family.

What does it mean to fight?  It means you engage yourself in a battle and you forget your jeans, your glasses and put them aside and use your strength.  Some are born weak but because of practising, they build up their strength and become strong.  In your family who do you think you should fight for?  Should you only fight for your sister or yourself and forget the rest.  Joshua said, “my family and I will serve the lord”.  Us today, “Lord I want to serve you” but we forget our families. 

Jacob was given 12 children, and in Genesis 49, he started to bless them.  Rueben you are this but I don’t like this.  He was attacked.  Simon and Levi, you are my children, your anger is not good.  Those two gentlemen had a sister who was raped and they became angry against the man who raped their sister and they waited for the time of circumcision and so they attacked the men for revenge.  Now, Levi is cursed and Simon are cursed while it was the time to get the blessing. 

As you can see Jacob invited the family.  How often do you invite your family, how often do you have time to talk to your family, not for a party but talk as a family and bless them and pray for them.  How often does that happen?  Never.

God has made you as a light of your family but at zero occasion you invite your family to talk and bless them.  We don’t have time for that but to hold a party we can have ideas and we can make something special for you. 

Your anger is not good.  To become angry is not a sin but your anger should look at the sky and once the sun is going down, your anger must stop.  You can become angry but once sun goes down, stop your anger.  Don’t bring back what took place two years ago. 

Families have secrets.  This is a family issue, we can’t talk about it outside of our compounds.  Jacob kept secret in his heart and now the time came to tell off his family so they could learn from their mistakes.  “I, Jacob, your father, I was a terrible person, I lied to my father, my boss” but he didn’t want his children to go through the same mistakes.  He didn’t want them to be on the wrong path.  Be careful because the curse is following you.

From my mistakes, what do I teach my children and myself, my cousins or am I just there to point my finger and blame them.  After talking to the children, Levi was the only one that was not cursed because of his behaviour.  Those children continued to live but they were supposed to put aside anger.  Your family breaks apart because of anger.  How often do you become angry against your mother, wife, children for small things and that anger doesn’t stop there but after two weeks you continue to talk about it, “I will never forgive that, it is unacceptable”? 

We go back to the past and dig it up to bring back to the presence.  Your anger is destroying your family.  Your anger must stop when the sun goes down.  “Triden, you are my son but you promised not to do this anymore but why are you doing this again” and sometimes we are proud to show others that we are angry with them.  God is looking at you and asking, “do you want me to remove these people from you?” Sometimes mothers will say, “Stop it, I will kill you” and we can sometimes even swear.  How will you feel if God takes away that child from you?  Yesterday you were complaining and today you have a rest but you don’t want to rest anymore.  Levi and Simon knew they were wrong and knew they should deal with anger issue.

Same with us.  When Pete does something wrong you will see Ange’s hand become strong.  We are in a battle.  When a child does something, parents become angry and vice-versa.  Anger is one of the best tools to divide families.  Once angry, how will you pray for me?  How will you ask God to help me and save me?  When you hear stories about your father, you become angry but is that really from God?  It is our task to protect our family.  Whenever Leah is doing something wrong, instead of helping Leah I judge Ange and make her angry so she can attack Leah.  Some enjoy breaking peace in families.

Praise God, we have eyes.  When your child is wrong, we don’t need to shout at them and tell the neighbours but talk nicely, responsibly with respect.  When you are angry, can you control your mouth?  You vomit everything on that person and destroy peace in your family.  If I attack Ken in front of Michelle, she will not be happy because I attack her brother.  If I attack Nicole in front of Leah, she won’t be happy because she is her aunty.  What we say under anger, we tear apart our families and then we are the first to complain and criticise.  Family is called to live in unity.

Some people show others that all is good but in their heart there is fire and behind the person’s back they say things like, “oh that person is bad, what they did to me, I can’t accept this.  I will judge, criticise, hate and show the world she is a monster”.  As family of God we are called to forgive and live one for another.  As the Bible says, let those who are strong help those who are weak.  If you are stronger than your family members, then why don’t you intervene and support them.  You are the first to stone them, expose them, mock them. 

Moses went to the mountain and came down and saw those worshiping a gold statute.  Levi was the only one who put up his hand and said we are on the side of the lord.  Yesterday we were wrong but today we put aside anger and learn.  Levi who was cursed in Genesis 49, if you read Leviticus you will see God has blessed those people because they were the only people to serve God, to carry the arc.  Don’t say that someone is a bad person in the family because they may change and you will be amazed that the weakest one, God will rise up and make the strongest one.

If God can change Levi and the people who did great things in Bible.  Why not in your family?  Who is the Simon in your family?  Who is the Reuben in your family?  Do you know very well your family?  You need to teach your family how to act and handle problems and situations.  Other parents because of pressure and stress sometimes they can teach the children, “look what your father did, look what your aunty did” and we start to accuse our family to our own children. 

If you can’t handle your situation, will your child be able to handle it?  How will your 4 year old child handle it?  We are called to kneel down and pray and not look only at the wrong side but look at what these people have done for your family in a positive way.  Once you start to see the positive, you will see no one else could do that for you.  What we do is unique.

My mother told me recently that when I was only two years old she misplaced a coin that she really needed for soap and I picked it up and she couldn’t find it while I was holding it and at front of the shop I put out my hand and she took the money without asking.  Other things our children do in our lives can change the situation.  If I had thrown away the coin or not offered it to her, she could not have bought the soap. Teach your children how to say sorry and then forget about it.  Don’t humiliate your children, father, husband in front of everybody. 

We are called to know that anger is not a good took to use in our families.  You were not born angry.  If so, be angry over good things.  I can’t read my Bible for two days, I’m angry with myself, I must read it now.  That is a good anger.  To destroy with your anger is terrible.  I have seen husbands run away from wives because of anger.  Control your anger then you will know how to help your family. 

If you don’t have love for one of your family members, now is the time to start to love them.  When Jesus used to fish, he never used the fishing rod but a net.  He would tell people, cast your net.  With a fishing rod you will only catch one fish at a time.  One time Peter cast his net on one side and caught nothing until God told him to cast the net on the other side.  Cast your net on the other side to help your family to be caught.  If you keep saying, no this is the way I want to treat them, then they will never be caught for Jesus.

The net is you and me and we can bring many in with love.  If your relationship is poor then go through another family member to bring you back together because it will be sad on the last day of judgement if you don’t see all you love in heaven.  Won’t God say it is because of you, “I gave them to you, what role did you give to your family to prepare for the battle?”  Pray and make a step and go out to ask for forgiveness and build your relationship.