My Sermons

Onward Christian Servants

 TEXT:                       Luke 10:1-4

I have a friend whose emails always end with a signature: “saved to serve.” Every time I receive an email from him, I am reminded of this truth that as a Christian I am not only God’s child but also his servant. This truth applies to all believers. There are no spectator ions in the kingdom of God. There are no bench warmers in the Church but all are children as well as  servants of Christ.

And in the passage we have read, we see three important things that Christ has to say to us regarding our role as servants in this world. As we go out to serve, we  need to reflect and keep in mind these three truths that Jesus gives in the passage:

The first truth that Christ tells us is that the service is vast. The vastness of the service (v. 2)

Jesus says, “I am sending  you out to serve but the service is vast. It is huge, therefore, pray that God should send out more servants into the field.”

Friends, the work of the Lord out there is very huge and the laborers are a few. But sometimes we don’t act like the laborers are a few, do we?

I remember meeting an old Christian friend of mine after so many years since we last saw each other. He asked me what I am doing nowadays. I told him I am in the ministry and asked him what he was doing. He told me that he is in business and he went further to say that there are a lot of people involved in ministry and thought that his services are not need.

I said, you are wrong my brother. The laborers are a few, God desires you to serve him as well. I don’t mean that you should stop being a businessman, not at all.  But you can do business and still serve Christ.

I know many who think like that. Many who believe that service for God is only for pastors. But this is not right. “The laborers are a few.” For us who are already in the ministry Christ is also reminding us to “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

I don’t know how many of us in ministry do remember to pray earnestly that God should send out more laborers. I often fail in this area but Christ desires us to pray for more laborers to come into the field.

 Another truth we can draw from Jesus’ words in the passage is that Christians ought not to spend time opposing or fight against each other instead of serving together because the laborers are already a few. For the years that I have been in ministry, I have seen that Christians can shoot at their fellow Christians for various reasons instead of forming a strong front to serve Christ.  

 So, Christ is reminding us that the service is so vast. Please pray earnestly for more laborers. Probably, Jesus said these words after noting that when he earlier sent out the twelve on a similar mission as we read in Luke 9, the twelve apostles met someone who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name. And the Apostles stopped him because he was not one of them. But Jesus rebuked them and said, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.

 As Christians, we are not competitors or enemies but children of one Father seeking to glorify him through the power and grace of Christ. Therefore, Jesus commands us to pray for one another.

 The second truth that Christ is giving us in this passage is that as his servant I am vulnerable. The Vulnerability of the servant (v. 3)

Christ reminds his servants that they are very vulnerable when he says that I am sending you out as lambs among the wolves. Now, when you compare lambs to wolves you see a very huge difference. Lambs are weaker, wolves are stronger. Lambs are defenseless, wolves can defend themselves.

 I wish Christ had said that I am sending you out as a strong lion among the weak deer or impalas. But no, he compares his servants as lambs among the deadly wolves. Why? Christ wants us to know that as we serve him, we need not to depend on ourselves but to always depend on him.  We are lambs and he is our Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays his life down for his lambs.  We should trust Christ to take care of us as we serve him. Don’t put your trust in your academic qualifications or your eloquence or your smartness. All these will fail. Only Christ will never fail you.

 God in Proverbs 3:6 and 7 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

 Serving the Lord might be very challenging indeed because we are like lambs serving among the wolves. This calls us to trust Christ always. As we serve, we need to remember to trust in Christ always. He is our good shepherd and there is no way we can serve without his help and guidance.  If we try to serve God without Christ, we will surely fail.

 Martin Luther is one of the people that God has used  greatly and graciously. However, as great as the story of Martin Luther sounds, Luther knew very well that he could do nothing on his own. Without Christ, Luther’s work was in vain. That’s why he confessed in that famous hymn, “A mighty fortress is our God:”  

A mighty fortress is our God, a strong wall never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient enemy conspires to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

If we in our own strength confide, our striving will be losing;
Unless God’s Man is on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
You ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord of Hosts is His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

As we serve, we should remember that we are vulnerable and the battle is not ours. Only Christ can win this battle. We should trust him and him alone.

 The third truth that Christ is giving us as his servants in the passage is that the service is urgent.  The urgency of the service (v.4)

 As an African when I first read this verse, you know what my reaction was? I thought to myself: “How can this be. Greet no one?” Yes,  that’s what actually the verse says, “Greet no one on the road.”

 Why? Because the service is urgent.  The customary greeting of Jews was very similar to our customary greetings in Africa. The greetings are not short but long ones. We stop and inquire about family and other relations.  We have long greetings. Similarly, the Jewish greeting was very long. And Jesus says if you greet everybody you meet then you will not have enough time to  accomplish your mission; therefore, greet no one because the mission is urgent.

 Friends,  God has sent to us to serve him and the service is urgent. We should avoid all things that can delay and deter us in our service. It might not be a greeting as such but we should avoid all things that can distract and delay us in our service.

So many things we can think of that can distract us from serving Christ. Perhaps some elements of our culture. We might also think of the love for money. There are some people who are failing to serve Christ for the love of money. They know that they are called to serve but because they love money more they fail to go and serve their Master. This is not to say that money is bad. Money is good but the love of money is not.

God in 2 Timothy 6:10 tells us: “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wondered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

 Friends, God is calling us to go. We should avoid any other thing that might distract us from going out to serve.

 I remember reading somewhere that in some churches in China, a new believer is welcomed into the church by the pastor saying, “Jesus now has a new pair of eyes to see with, new ears to listen with, new hands to help with, a new heart to love others with.”

 As Christians we are the hands of Christ. May we be available to be used by him because as we have seen in the passage that  the service is vast; the service is also urgent and the servant is vulnerable. Therefore, lets us joyfully go and serve in Christ’s might alone. Onward Christian Servants!.

 Let’s pray:

Standard
My Life as a Christian

Reflections on my 2013 Birthday

Today, I celebrate a gift of over three decades in this world from our Father whom all blessings flow. As the day is progressing I have taken some time to reflect on my journey of thirty plus one years. One thing that has lingered in my mind is the truth that God can do all things and no single plan of his can be thwarted (Job 42:2).

Over the years, especially, the time that I have been a Christian, I have fully understood that God’s plan for my life cannot be frustrated by anything or anybody. Where I am today and what I am doing today is exactly what God planned before the foundations of the earth were laid.

This is a source of my comfort, especially in hard times,  hence I can’t  agree more with what Martin Luther once said, “… the greatest and only consolation of Christians in their adversities, is the knowing that God lies not, but does all things immutably, and that His will cannot be resisted, changed, or hindered.”

But life is not only about hard times, there are also good times. In those good moments too, it is also of great consolation to know that God is still in control. Another instance this morning has even confirmed this great lesson even more.

Last year in November, I was offered a place and tuition scholarship to study at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS).  Like any other person who would find themselves in my shoes, I was very excited. Then the process of planning to go and study begun which eventually led to visa application then to visa interviews. Now, the thought of  ‘visa interviews’ sent a cold chill down my spine, particularly, as I faced the possibility that my application could be turned down and my cherished dream to study at PRTS would be shattered.

The process of visa interviews began today at 8 O’clock in the morning. My wife and I passed through all the necessary stages then came the last stage of actual interviews. Our names were called on a speaker within the waiting room and we went into the ‘interview room’ our hearts in our mouths with the fear of being denied the visa.

To our amazement, the interviewer just asked very few lighter questions like why did I chose PRTS of many seminaries in USA. She also asked my wife and I regarding our previous visits to US respectively. Then she found out when we got married and confirmed if we met at African Bible College where both of us were students. Then, that’s it! Visa granted. “Come tomorrow afternoon to collect your visa…good luck,” she ended the interviews.

We could feel our hearts settling down as joy and amazement took over anxiety and fear.  Just like that? Yes, just like that. Then we recalled that “God can do all things and his plans cannot be thwarted.” It was God’s will and plan that we get the visa today which also happens to be my birthday and nothing or anybody could stop that.

Friends, may this great truth also comfort you both in joy or pain. Never ever forget to remember that God will always accomplish his will. William Cowper was right when he composed that famous hymn, God moves in a mysterious way, and said:

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

 Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Oh, what an amazing God!

Standard
My Life as a Christian

Our Defense Lies in Prayer

“We know that our defense lies in prayer alone. We are too weak to resist the devil and his vassals. Let us hold fast to the weapons of the Christian; they enable us to combat the devil. For what has carried off these great victories over the undertakings of our enemies which the devil has used to put us in subjection, if not the prayers of certain pious people who rose up as a rampart to protect us?

Our enemies may mock at us. But we shall oppose both men and the devil if we maintain ourselves in prayer and if we persist in it. For we know that when a Christian prays in this way: “Dear Father, Your will be done,” God replies to him, ‘Dear child, yes, it shall be done in spite of the devil and the whole world.’ “- Martin Luther

Standard
Christianity and theology

Give Me More of Christ Not the Devil

There are some wrong things done in the Church which are obvious and it doesn’t take long to notice that they are wrong. But there are some wrongs which are not obvious or may be we choose to deliberately ignore them and little by little they get established and grow roots. Eventually, there are no longer regarded as wrong. One such wrong which in my view has grown roots is a certain attitude towards the devil or Satan. Some Christians tend to mock, insult or make fun of devil.

I remember meeting one preacher at a certain Christian gathering and saying “Brother, make sure that the devils gives back what he owes you.  Squeeze his neck until he vomits all your blessings.”

Now what is wrong with that, you may ask. Well, the Bible discourages us from doing that. The Word of God in 2 Peter 2:10, 11 reads:

“Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, where as angels though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord” (ESV)

Apostle Peter is writing about false teachers and he describes how they conduct themselves and one thing that he points out is that they blaspheme the glorious ones. Now, the glorious ones in this passage refer to Satan and his fallen angels and not the angels in heaven that’s why Apostle Peter goes on to explain that angels though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against Satan and other fallen angels.

Jude also gives us a similar message in Jude 8-10:

“Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you’” (ESV)

Jude is also discouraging Christians from insulting or making fun of the devil and other fallen angels like the false teachers he describes in the passage were doing. Therefore, I would like to remind us of this truth again: as we sing or preach, let’s avoid the temptation of insulting or making fun of the devil. The word of God discourages it.

Another sad thing I have also noticed is that sometimes preachers or Christian singers spend more time talking about the devil than Christ in their sermons and songs. This should also be discouraged because at the end of the day, listeners get to hear more of the devil than Christ and Satan enjoys that because we end up shifting most of our attention from Christ to him thereby letting him control much of our thoughts and actions.

I should also warn here against two extremes which Satan would want Christian to go. One is the extreme where he wants us to believe that he is too weak or he doesn’t even exist. If we go to this extreme, he will attack us when we least expect. The other extreme is the one where Satan wants us to believe that he is all-powerful like God. If we go to this extreme, we will always walk in fear of him; however, the truth is that Satan is under the power of God (Job 1:12).

Martin Luther who is said to have often fought against the devil as if fighting a physical being once gave a true picture of the devil in regard to his war against Christian in a hymn titled, “A mighty fortress is our God.” He said:

                                 For still our ancient enemy (Satan)

                    Does seek to work us woe;

                    His craft and power are great,

                    And armed with cruel hate,

                    On earth is not his equal.

 

                    If we in our own strength confide,

                    Our striving would be losing,

                    (If) the right man (was not) on our side,

                    The man of God’s own choosing.

                    Do you ask who that may be? 

                    Christ Jesus, it is he;

                    Lord Sabaoth,(is) his name,

                    From age to age the same,

                    And he must win the battle

That’s it! The devil being a fallen angel is more powerful than us; however, we thank God for Jesus Christ because only Christ must win the battle.  Let’s not buy into the lie that we can defeat the devil with our own strength. Only Jesus can do that in and through us. Let’s not waste time insulting or making fun of him rather let our response be like that of Archangel Michael, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan”

Standard
Christianity and theology

This Deadly Temptation

This is a deadly temptation indeed. From the beginning of the New Testament Church, it has troubled the Body of Christ and it continues to do so. Of course, it comes in various forms but the essence is the same namely Christ is not enough.

In Scripture, we first encounter it in Acts 15. Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch in Syria where they were preaching that salvation is through Christ alone.  However some Jews who had been converted to Christianity and still felt that Christ alone is not enough for salvation came down and started teaching that “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses you cannot be saved” (v. 1, 5). Paul and Barnabas debated and argued with them that salvation is through Christ alone but these people did not back down.

Therefore, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem where the first recorded church council of apostles and elders gathered to discuss the matter. The council resolved that it is not necessary to be circumcised in order to be saved because salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone.

Fast forward to the Epistle to Galatians. Paul is addressing the same problem of Acts 15.  Judaizers (Jews who had been converted to Christianity) continued to preach that Christ alone is not sufficient for salvation.  Instead, they were adding circumcision to it. So, salvation, according to them, was through faith in Christ plus circumcision. Unfortunately, some Galatians started buying into this error and Paul was angered by this deception and wrote Galatians:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are returning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:5-8, ESV).

Now, what type of gospel did Paul preach to the Galatians? Back to Book of Acts, Paul preached that salvation is through Christ alone. And what did those who troubled the Galatians preach? Salvation is through Christ plus circumcision. So, Paul, boldly, declares that if anyone, even if he is an angel, should preach that salvation is through Christ plus… should be accursed. This how serious and deadly this temptation of adding on Jesus is.

We are not yet done, so let’s skip some pages of the New Testament and come to the Letter to Colossians. This epistle was written to oppose what has commonly become to be known as “The Colossian Heresy.” The heresy involved a lot of things but to sum it up, it also taught that Christ alone is not sufficient for salvation. It taught that apart from Christ one was supposed to among other things deny themselves (2:21; 2:23); worship angels (2:18); and have special knowledge (Gnosticism) (2:18; 2:2-3). Apostle Paul then wrote the Church at Colossae to remind them that Christ alone is sufficient (1:15-20; 2:2-3, 9) for our salvation. There is nothing we can add to Christ for God to save us.

Again, let’s fast forward to almost 1, 500 years later.  This deadly temptation continued to rear its ugly head in the Church. During this time, there was only one church and there were serious errors being taught in this church. Then, God, through his Holy Spirit, raised a man by the name of Martin Luther who by God’s grace boldly stood up to oppose the errors, especially, the one that said salvation is through Christ plus good works. Of course, it should be noted that before this man, others also opposed the errors in this church including John Hus and John Wycliffe.

Martin Luther opposed various errors in the church basing on Scripture and his opposition reached the climax on October 31, 1517. The climaxing of his opposition led to what is now known as Reformation which also led to the birth of what are now called Protestant Churches.

Reformation emphasized on five main issues which sometimes are called Five Banners of Reformation or Five Solas of Reformation namely Christ Alone (Solus Christus), Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura), Faith Alone (Sola Fide), Grace Alone (Sola Gratia) and To God alone be the glory (Solus Deo Gloria). For the sake of this post we will just dwell on Solus Christus (Christ Alone).

Martin Luther opposed teachings like you need to believe in Christ and also punish your body through penance and fasting to be saved. He opposed the teaching that stated you need to give money to the church and believe in Christ to be saved.  All in all, Luther and the other Reformers like John Calvin opposed any teaching that added on Christ as means of salvation.  After, devotedly, studying Scripture, the Holy Spirit opened their eyes to see that salvation is through Christ Alone for only Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one can go to the Father unless he goes through Christ alone (John 14:6).

We now come to our time. Has this deadly temptation ceased to bother the Church? Not at all! It has just put on a new form. Today, some still preach that Christ is insufficient.  It is very disheartening to note that the preaching that focuses on Christ alone is becoming less and less popular. Instead those preaching Christ plus miracles or Christ plus success and riches or Christ plus prediction of minute details of life are becoming more popular and crowd pullers.  Whatever happened to the old but ever relevant and satisfying truth that Christ alone is all we need, I don’t know.

I pray that the Church today will sober up and realize that the Head of the Church, Jesus, is sufficient. We don’t need to add anything to him to make him sufficient or more appealing. Fellow preachers, please preach Christ Alone.  He is our all in all.

“For by (Christ) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross…and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 1:16-20; 2:9, ESV).

“Dear Father,  give us this day the understanding of the sufficiency of Christ and deliver us from this deadly temptation of adding on Christ.” May all God’s people say…”Amen and Amen!”

Standard