Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Short Sermon No. 30: Take Me to a Higher Level, O Lord!

“Lord, please take me to a higher level!”

I am acquainted with this petition. I have heard it from various believers, and at various forums. It’s a yearning, a desire that so many Christians have. I too am ever dying for higher and higher and higher levels in this Kingdom life.

This is a noble desire, truly.  We ought to be to ever be yearning for, and walking towards, higher and higher levels in the Spirit. We need to grow; that’s what God expects of us.

However, looking at it, one may conclude that some believers ask God to take them to higher levels without really knowing or taking time to understand either what this higher level is or what it would take or mean to get there.
I view ‘going to a higher level’ as a choice that one has to make for themselves.  It’s not just like “I want to go to a higher level.” It’s more than that.
Let us assume that you are the Head of a primary school. One morning you hear a light knock on your door, tap, tap, tap. “Come in!” you respond, and in comes a Grade Zero pupil and says, “Head, please take me from Grade Zero to Grade Five!” What would be your reaction?
As the Head, you surely would first want to understand where the pupil is coming from. Depending on what he says, you would proceed to make a decision. Let us assume that the pupil goes on to say, “Look Head, I am far above Grade Zero stuff. Not only that, but no Grade Four pupil can stand shoulder to shoulder with me on school work.”
Assume also that the pupil goes to demonstrate his claims by calculating all the Maths problems in a Grade Four textbook without any problem at all. “I get the point; your request is hereby granted,” I guess this would be your reply.
Now assume that you conclude that this pupil has not mastered even 40% of Grade Zero stuff. In that case, I suppose you would reply, “Look, you are not even ready for Grade One yet; how could you ask me to take you to an even higher grade?”
So it’s not just in the asking. God can take to a higher level only those who are ‘takable’, those who are ripe and ready for it. By our mouths, we may express the desire to go, or to be taken to a higher level, but by our conduct, by our grade, by our quality, we may be saying the exact opposite. That’s my view.
A higher level is not like the present level. It means more responsibility. It means improved conduct. It means more polished interactions, it means being higher. Remember, to whom much is given, more will be required.
I think that one needs to meditate on these issues. One needs to ask themselves the question which says, “Have I fully exhausted what I should do and be in the level that I currently am?” This is why, I suppose, that one does not just get into university straight from home! One has to sit for an examination at Advanced Level, to prove that they are indeed worthy to get into university.
So my advice is that, before we talk about a higher level, let’s fully consider the present, because it is what happens in the present level that will determine our readiness for the next level.  Seriously! This is exactly what I do. I know that it will be very easy for me to get to the next level if I excel in the current level...and as I contemplate the next level, I am not under any illusion at all.
Let me give you an example. Many believers, including me, ask God for more money. Somebody once said to me, “For a long time I have been asking God for more money, but I haven’t received it up to now. What do you think is the problem?”
If God gives you more money, He would have taken you to the next level in your finances. Essentially, the question was something like, “What does it take for me to get to the next level in my finances?”
To be honest with you, there are many factors that delay the next level in finances and as far as I am concerned, they all have to do with the individual. God is always ready...but are we? Are you?
 I believe that one’s attitude towards money is the greatest factor that may delay one getting to the next level in finances. One needs to ask themselves why they seek more money, what kind of person they think they would turn out to be after they receive the money, the nature of their fellowship with God after they become rich, etc. Honest answers would help...and it is such answers that will give a true picture of why things might be turning out the way they are.
God wants us to ask from the standpoint of selflessness, not selfishness. God wants to give us more money so that we might be built up, not destroyed. He wants us rich so that we can fellowship better with Him, with us being rich not merely for ourselves, but primarily for the gospel and others. So God is asking you, “My child, what do you intend to use the money for?”
After considering these issues I concluded that god does not necessarily act in the manner that we want and ask Him to; He acts only in our best interest. He is our Father; He wants the best for you and me. As a child, you might not know whether it is honey or poison that you seek at any particular moment.  Over the years that I have worshipped God, I have seen some Christians getting into a sorry and sad state after getting a few more dollars. Some actually ran into the forest, never to be seen! And some abandoned the faith.
So, in all things, the Word of God has already been established. What God has planned for us is known and clear. So the question why certain things might not be happening in your life has nothing to do with God. It is all to do with you. It is all to do with me.
These are just observations. We may differ. We may agree. But even if we differ, we still come to a helpful conclusion, you and me together. So please share your views.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Short Sermon No. 29 Victory for the Christian Believer

"Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and your helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their places" - (Deuteronomy 33:29, NIV). Wow! What more can I say? We are in the best of places...glory to God!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Short Sermon No. 28: How to Overcome the Devil

[Based on NIV except where specified]

“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you’” (Luke 10:17-19).

So we declare that the devil is a defeated foe. The question that begs an answer is: do we see the devil defeated in the life of every Christian? Don’t we see defeated Christians around?

Indeed we see victory, total victory, in the lives of some Christians. On the other end we see Christians who are so defeated that they wish they were dead.

Before I got saved, I used to play with one young man who looked like he was on fire for God. Then he abandoned the way of the Lord.
“Why did you quit?” I asked him.
“I had realised that there was no God,” came the reply.

The reply satisfied me at the time because it was consistent with what I believed. But looking back I now realize that Satan had thoroughly defeated the young man. This is a destination we all need to avoid at all costs!

The devil is defeated. This however doesn’t mean that the devil does not fight Christians. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he just walks away. Neither does it mean that we should relax. What it really means is that if we put our focus on it, we will always emerge victorious over the devil. If we stay prepared, the devil will flee from us.

In the opening verse, we are told of our authority over the devil. We have to believe this; not only that, but we also need to exercise the authority. If we do not exercise our authority, then the devil will do as he pleases with us, to the extent that the words of Jesus would appear a lie.

An armed person could be defeated by an unarmed one if the armed does not appreciate his superior position. He could be apprehended using bare hands while holding a fully functional, state-of-the-art assault rifle, loaded with a thousand bullets!

The point is that we, as Christians, are superior to Satan. But we will not defeat Satan unless we exercise our superiority!

The question that I am going to address in this article is: How could one exercise his/her superiority over Satan? How could one overcome the devil? I thank God, because His Word contains the answer(s) that we need.

I want you to picture a biblical warrior. Imagine him getting ready for battle. I am sure you have seen some drawings or films of such warriors. They used to dress in a certain way and carried a specific kind of weaponry. They would, for example, have a helmet on, a covering for the chest and legs in place, a shield and of course a sword in hand.

Below, I am going to give the outlook that you need if you are to overcome the devil each time he comes stooping at your doorstep.

First: “I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord's mighty power within you” (Eph 6:10, TLB). This is an important instruction. Your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. There is a mighty power within you and that power should be the only source of your strength! But what we see in some Christians is that once the devil attacks, they run almost everywhere for solutions.

The Word is telling you that the source of your strength is inside you. So if you’ve to run anywhere, then you ought to run inside. Some Christians still visit witchdoctors for solutions to their problems; such Christians take the witchdoctor to be the source of strength. This is unfortunate.

Years ago, a dear Christian woman said to me, “Mukuwasha, kana zviri zvekuti mwana arwara ini chero kun’anga ndinoenda,” meaning, “If it is about my child’s health, I will never hesitate to visit a witchdoctor. I will do all I can.” The question is: does such a Christian appreciate the ability that has been deposited in her?
Your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you!

Second: "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Eph 6:11). I have given you a picture of a warrior ready for battle, how the warrior should be dressed and how he should be equipped. Ephesians 6 v 11 is too important to underrate. The verse gives us the outlook that we should have if we are to overcome the devil.

Note that the verse does not instruct us to put on the armor of God; instead, it instructs us to put on the full armor of God. Only then would we be able to stand against the devil’s schemes. Victory is not assured for somebody who puts on partial armor, for the devil will find in that person some weak points to exploit.

Why full armor? It’s because, for example, if the warrior does not have his helmet on, then his head is exposed. Once Satan sees an exposed head, he goes for it! If the warrior does not have a shield in hand, then his entire body is exposed. If he doesn’t have his shoes on then his mobility is limited, for his feet are exposed to thorns and other dangerous objects. If he doesn’t have the sword in hand, then it becomes difficult to take him seriously! So it has to be the full armor.

Third: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Eph 6:12-13).

For a Christian to overcome the enemy, he needs to first be clear in his mind as to who the enemy is. One shouldn’t waste time fighting against an imaginary enemy; it must be the real enemy! If one fights against an imaginary enemy, all it means is that he is already defeated because he is doing nothing about the real enemy. He would be spending his ammunition on the wrong target.

People are never our enemies. Our enemies are never physical. Our battles are never physical. We are not physical beings, but spirit beings. So we have no business fighting in the physical.

Our battles are spiritual, because our enemies are spiritual. Every human being who behaves like an enemy is actually being propelled by a spiritual force; so we target not the human being, but the force behind.

We will lose all our real battles if we think they are physical.

After defeating the devil, the Christian should be found standing. Glory to God! It’s only when you have the full armor of God that you will be able to achieve this. Some Christians achieve shaky victories because they lack certain pieces of the armor of God. At the end of the battle, although having succeeded to drive the evil one away, some Christians appear as though they have passed through a fire; some are badly bruised and some are found not standing, but leaning against trees and rocks. This happens when one exposes part of their territory to the devil.

After defeating the devil, you should be found standing.

Let us now look at the means to victory:

First: “With the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Ephesians 6:14).
You need to keep the belt of truth buckled around your waist. You should never unbuckle. The moment you unbuckle, the ‘fasten your belt’ sign lights up. If you unbuckle, you expose yourself to the dangers of turbulence. As you travel, as you sleep, as you work, as you make merry, the belt of truth should always be around your waist!

But what is this ‘truth’ that Paul wrote about? Truth is what the Word of God says. Paul said if you are to defeat the devil, then you need the belt of truth. The devil might come in the manner of Goliath. You could see him towering over you, with you appearing like ‘just a boy’. But what is the truth? The truth is that Goliath is a defeated foe, glory to God! That’s what the Word of God says; that’s the truth. If you appreciate this, then you will defeat Goliath. He might even flee without a fight. But it only happens to those who keep the belt of truth around their waists.

If one does not keep the belt of truth in place, then you will find them defeated, lying down, in need of rescue. And if you ask them how the devil could have defeated them, they are likely to say, “I looked like a grasshopper against him.”

Second: “The breastplate of righteousness in place” (Ephesians 6:14). Paul was addressing the saints at Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus. So his message is as relevant to us as it was to the Ephesians. We should keep the breastplate of righteousness in place if we are to live victorious lives. The Living Bible uses ‘God’s approval’ in place of ‘righteousness’.

We are the righteous ones of God. But do all Christians keep their righteousness in place? I think it’s not every Christian who does. But what does it mean to keep one’s righteousness in place? First it means that one should always be conscious of this status that has been bestowed on them. They should also understand its importance.

Some Christians actually believe that they are not righteous, and Satan feasts on them because of this. Ignorance is a big disadvantage.

Second, it also means that the righteous should live lives that are consistent with their righteousness. Some of those who appreciate their righteousness actually live like they are not aware of it.

Imagine you bathing a three year old and dressing her nicely. Imagine that you then go on to instruct her to sit on mud. Would she heed your instruction?

“What!” she would exclaim, “You want me to get dirty? Don’t you see how smart I am?” This should be the attitude of the saints of God! At one leaders’ meeting we were taught that among the things that we teach the members of our cell groups, we also teach them language. Which language? The language of righteousness of course! The kind that is consistent with our righteous nature. I am sure there are things that you now avoid because due to your righteous nature, they have become repulsive to you.

“Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Third: “Your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Paul is talking about the shoes that you should put on. He says the readiness that comes from the gospel shall be your shoes. You go only because the gospel has prepared you for the journey. You overcome Satan only because the gospel has prepared you for it. You put on the readiness and run! The readiness is your shoes!

This demonstrates the importance of the gospel. Without the gospel we can never be ready for anything. Without the gospel Satan will find us unarmed.

How much time do you spend in the gospel? Remember the more time you spend in the gospel the more prepared you will be to face both the good and the bad.

Fourth: “Take up the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16). Faith is one’s response to the Word of God. If the Word tells you that you are the dominant one and you believe and act on it, then you have faith. If the Word tells you that Goliath is actually at your mercy, then you should believe and act on that. Whatever the Word says, believe and act on it. Paul says it is by your faith that you could extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. So you need faith; you also need to perpetually grow it and only through the Word could you do so.

Paul said “take up the shield of faith.” It’s within your means.

Fifth: “Take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17). Salvation is a process. It does not end at the point of receiving Christ. We are saved over and over and on various issues pertaining to our lives.

Salvation is our helmet. Without it our heads could be destroyed by the enemy’s sword. Paul says “take the helmet”. He does not say “receive the helmet”.

We have come to a point at which we have matured enough to take. The ball is in our court. If one where to go before God and say, “Lord, please give me the helmet,” God would answer, “I actually have been wondering all along why the helmet is still here. It has been available to you for ages but you’ve not collected it. If you want the helmet then go ahead and take it.”

As we stay in and meditate on the Word, as we shut out the many worldly voices that clamor for our attention, we get to a point at which we take. Glory to God!

Sixth: “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Good God! The sword that we use! Mighty through God! The Word of God is our sword. The Spirit of God is the sword that we use. This is why we do not fight in the physical. Our weapons are not physical, but spiritual. Just take a moment to reflect on what the Word of God could do in your life.

Seventh: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). This also is a piece of armor. Prayer; glory to God! We overcome the devil by our prayers. And we do not just pray; instead, we pray ‘in the Spirit”. And we do not pray for just one thing; we pray for various things, we make various requests. Neither do we pray just for ourselves, but we also pray for others, whether in Zimbabwe or not, whether we know them or not, as long as there is a cause we pray. As we achieve victory for others, we also achieve victory for ourselves. He truly is a defeated foe!

Eighth: "With this in mind, be alert" (Ephesians 6:18). As I walked through the plains one afternoon, a snake holed up nearby sensed danger. It raised its head so high that it could clearly see 360 degrees. It focused on me as I walked, making sure I kept my distance. The snake remained ready to strike, ready to destroy. I kept my distance. I appreciated the fact that the snake was on high alert. It was ready for the enemy; never to be found napping.

That’s how alert we should be.

There is lots of noise in the world, but never allow any of it to ruin your focus, your alertness. When the evil day comes, the devil should find you ready and alert. Otherwise you will be bruised!

Stay victorious and God bless!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Short Sermon No. 27: Wealth is on my Mind

I could do with more wealth. I am not the only one in this condition; you also could do with more of it.

I know a number of people who are seeking improvements with regards to the status of their wealth. They are frantically looking in various places for this. Yet when I look at it, I sometimes feel as though people generally take the lead when it comes to wealth creation, leaving God behind, leading to a lot of debris all over the place, as people blunder their way.

“And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD’” (Ex 14:13, KJV). God is wonderful. He says, “As far as your life and wealth creation are concerned, panic ye not.” What comfort! Stand still. Praise God!

Consider this as well: “So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matt 6:31-32, NIV). Your Father, the unlimited provider, knows that you need these things. 

Because He knows you need this and because He is your provider, He will “satisfy you fully” (Joel 2:19, NIV). So “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6, NIV).

I have noticed some misfiring in a number of believers - they desire more wealth to the extent of negating all that God has already done for them. They don't seem to appreciate what they have! They are always anxious, edgy and sullen, simply because they have not got that which they seek.

Consider this: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:16-18, NIV). Believers should be joyful always; they should give thanks in all circumstances. This is something! Whatever situation you might be in, you’ve got to give thanks to God, with joyous hymns, because life is good!

There should be no room for anxiety in a Christian’s life. Jesus’ instruction on anxiety is clear enough. He says, “Do not be anxious about anything.” 

If you find yourself in a closed box with regards to wealth, you now know what to do. Don’t get angry or restless. Instead, present your requests to God, keeping in mind that you should ever be joyful and thankful. Thank Him for what you possess. Thank Him also for what you hope for.

If you have the basics of life, then you are in a good state. God will take you from there to yonder places if you dedicate yourself to living in accordance with His teachings. Just listen to this: “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Tim 6:7-8, NIV). 

Do you have food? Do you have clothing? Do you have shelter, even if rented? If so, then you should be ashamed of yourself if you are living a miserable life! Jesus said, “…we will be content with that.” We will be satisfied with that. You should be content with that. You ought to be thankful and your gratitude should beam right into the throne room.

Of course you should always take steps to create new and more wealth, but your starting point ought to be different from the starting point of non-believers. While non-believers might start from a point of dissatisfaction, believers should make it a point to start from a point of satisfaction.

I have learnt some valuable lessons. Here they are:

1. God delights in the prosperity of His children.
2. God is willing and able to take His children to spacious places in terms of wealth. He can enrich us exceedingly above even the wildest of our imaginations.
3. However, God wants Christians to begin their journey from a point of satisfaction, not dissatisfaction, acknowledging every good thing that He has already done for them.

A satisfied life is a life well-lived. It is a full life, with no regrets. With God the past, present and future belong to you. You can reclaim, with compound interest, everything that was meant for you, but which had somehow eluded you.

Wealth is on my mind, and life is good!

God bless!

Click here to view Christian books by this writer

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Short Sermon No. 26: Doing the Will of God

Listen to this: “As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2, NIV).

I want you to relate to the verse above, so I rephrase it as follows: “As a result, I do not live the rest of my earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” Glory to God! This must be your confession. This must be the reality of your life. What a lovely arrangement! Living for the will of God, not for evil human desires! Do you identify with this kind of life?

Salvation is the most spectacular of miracles. Through salvation, one instantly passes from death to life, from darkness to light – a new creation with no past. The disturbing thing though, is that some Christians think that salvation is both the beginning and the end. I do not see it that way. To me, salvation is just the beginning, a new beginning.

After saying the prayer of salvation, believing and confessing Jesus as the Savior and Lord of one’s life, at this point one enters the household of God. He/she has just entered. So this cannot be an end, but a beginning.

I always watch when people visit me at my home for the first time. As soon as they step into the house, their eyes begin to rove, scanning the new environment. This is a way of satisfying their curiosity and of getting used to the new surroundings. They begin to learn how furniture is arranged and how people generally conduct themselves in my home. That is, or should be, the same with anybody who comes into the house of God.

People come into the house of God as infants. They don’t know anything. They can’t walk. They can’t speak. They are in a new environment, quite different from the natural one. So, it would be logical for them to ask, “How does one live here?” That’s an important question. “What are the rules of the house?”

There is no other principle by which one could live in the house of God except God’s will. God’s will is the guide to life in the house of God. If you want to know how to walk, talk or respond, all you need to do is look at the will of God. In every situation, learn to ask yourself the question, “What is the will of God for me?” Once you establish the will of God, your next step should be to act according to it.

It is because of Christ that we are Christians. I have heard of Christians being described as followers of Christ, brothers/sisters of Christ, joint heirs with Christ, etc. So we need to learn from our brother.

What was Jesus’ attitude towards the will of God?

Listen to this: “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38, NIV). By saying this, Jesus meant that there absolutely was no room in Him for his will. Jesus never followed His will. He did not come down from heaven to do His will. Similarly, God did not save you so that you would do your will. Like Jesus, you should confess that you were not saved to do your will but the will of the God whom you worship. Not only that, but you should also go on to align your life with your confession.

I want to bring to your attention three kinds of will that cry out for a person’s attention. There is the will of God, one’s own will and the will of other people. Some Christians follow their will, some follow the will of other people, some follow the will of God and some follow a cocktail. Consider Jesus; He was not a confused man. He lived a clearly focused life. Everything about Him was based on the will of God. Won’t you emulate Him? Won’t you learn from Him?

One day, Jesus’ disciples came to Him and urged Him to eat something since He had not eaten anything on that day. In His response, Jesus told His disciples that He had food to eat that they knew nothing about. As the disciples wondered whether somebody could have brought Jesus some food, Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me” (John 4:34, NIV). Jesus’ best food was ‘doing the will of God’, but to some Christians of our day, nothing beats pizza!

It is important for us to live for the will of God. That’s the way we could bring salvation to the world. That’s the way God could use us to achieve His goals on earth. That’s the way God would find it easy to move us to higher levels. A Christian would not grow to maturity unless he/she is dedicated to doing the will of God.

As the cross and pain beckoned, Jesus prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42, NIV). Jesus wished God would take away the cup from Him. He however understood that it was not His will, but the will of God that had to prevail. He therefore gave free course to the will of God, giving us the opportunity to stand in His grace, as we do today.

Every Christian is destined for heaven. It is however important to note that we don’t need to wait for death for us to live the heavenly life. When we received salvation God, through the Holy Spirit, came to reside in us. So I could argue that heaven is already in me and I am in deep in it.

In heaven, everything is subject to the will of God. So you too should live for the will of God, never for your will. You should not just be a child of God, but you should be a child who lives for the will of his/her Father – a totally obedient child – a better child of God.

Is your life fully aligned to the will of God? If not, you should make the following declaration: “I will no longer live the rest of my earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” Now go on and live it!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sermon No. 25: If Worshipped Only

One could only be a child of God if they worship just Him. Somebody said, “God is God if He is worshipped only.” I support this statement. As far as I am concerned, it is unheard of, even in the natural world, for one to have a multitude of fathers.

"You shall have no other gods…” (Deuteronomy 5:7, NIV).
It is critically important for worshippers to examine their worship constantly. True worship is both exclusive and well-defined. It stands alone. One should never mix it with another kind of worship, because once that happens it ceases to be true worship. It actually becomes one big risk.

When one becomes a new creation, he/she becomes a ‘different’ creation. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV).

The old has gone, the new has come. One cannot be old and new at the same time. The moment that one gives their life to God, they become new, without a past or background. They have just been born.

An infant does not know anything called ‘the past'. The infant only knows the present, and looks forward to the future. The past that a Christian recalls at the time of their re-birth relates to the time when they were still unsaved. It is actually a ‘natural’ past - the kind that disappeared. This is the life that was replaced by the new life.

When one receives salvation, they should straight away begin to examine every aspect of their lives in the light of the new creation status. They should begin to ask questions like, “Does this still relate to me?” or “Should I continue along these lines?” or “What is God’s position on this?”

Every living being is a worshipper of some sort. Before one receives salvation, they would be following a certain kind of worship. However, after receiving salvation, one should abandon this and adopt just the kind of worship that pleases God, the ‘in spirit and truth’ worship.

At the time that one receives salvation, they are an infant in the House of God. They do not know anything, because they have no past. Whatever they will proceed to learn, they will learn from the Father. When they eventually face certain situations in their life, they say, “In situations like this, this is how the Father expects me to proceed…”

The problem with some worshippers is that they just cannot separate their natural past from the new creation status. While claiming to be Christians, they proceed along the path of the natural. They say, “We have always worshipped like this…” Where did they get that from? If they are a new creation, then they have no past. They therefore cannot talk of how they used to worship, because they are just beginning to learn how to worship. How could they have worshipped in the past when they were born only a few seconds ago?

There are types of worship that emanate from mankind, and there is a kind of worship that emanates from God. Every worshipper should learn to abandon the man-kind of worship, if they are to be children of God. There are choices to be made regarding worship. Some of the choices might be difficult to make, but one should understand that worshipping God comes with a price tag.

What did Paul do to gain Christ? Listen to this: “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8, NIV). For him to gain Christ, Paul had to lose his past. This is the meaning of the ‘new creation’. He had to lose everything that he stood for. The same applies to you. You have to face a loss. You should part ways with those things that are unacceptable in the Father’s House, including those that might appear right at face value.

I write the way I do because I know that our God is a jealous God. “He is a holy God; he is a jealous God” (Joshua 24:19, NIV). He says, “You should be mine exclusively; you should cut ties with another” He adds, “If you are in touch with another, then it means either that we were never married, or it is time for us to divorce.”

That is the jealousy to which I refer. I appreciate it fully; it is just not right for one to cling to the created instead of clinging to the Creator!

God is God if He is worshipped only. Keep this in mind.

God bless!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sermon No. 24: The Journey

The urgency of it not only besieged me, but its intensity also took me by surprise. A scream jammed midway along my throat.

It was something that I needed to do, one thing I eagerly wanted to be, something that I had eagerly waited for; and it was time. My eyes shifted to the handcuffs, cold as ice, slowly eating into my wrist-bones. Drops of sweat covered my palms, and my brow was no different.

I looked at my legs; the leg irons were still in place, ironically shining, determined, evidence of what I had been all these years, and what I still was. “Oh God I want out!” I sent out a cry that pierced the quietness, unsettling even me, as my soul longed for a breath of fresh air.

Walls on every side, threatening gullies along the way, vigilant predators; for me it was nothing but the prison of life. As I pondered my next move, I observed that I had grown one dreadlock, its roots etched in the desert of my skull. As I continued to watch, one more sprouted. Soon my head was all dreadlocks, all green, life’s oil, so I guessed.

Then a whirlwind blew around me several times, lifting my chest and sending me gasping for breath, and in their trembling, my hands displayed shimmering muscles, evidence of new strength acquired. With one hand on the Eastern wall and the other on the Western, Samson-style, I brought my enclosure down; in one, mighty heave it all turned to dust.

As I sauntered out of my debris, my feet stepped on soft ground. I felt like something heavy had dropped off my shoulders. I also felt like I had jumped from a spider’s web, but landed softly, if only to give me the opportunity to recount what happened. I raised my hands high. What a new order of things! I began to jog; it just had to be, for it was time.

Perfume filled the air; the kind that could come only from mature flowers. A wind blew gently, sending the leaves hissing, my soul rejoicing. Sweet beaky sounds invaded my privacy. The beauty of freedom!

I looked at my shoes, after that at my clothes. They told the story, the complete story of my life. “I sure have been traveling; a long journey, through valleys and thickets, and it shows,” words escaped my mouth. As I stood, with my mind I took a picture of myself; a picture that was soon to be the only one of its kind. As I stared at the picture, a voice cut through the silence. “Is that you, Phanuel?” the voice asked with absolute clarity.

My ears picked yet another sound. Although I could not tell what it was, I could tell the direction from where it came. At once, I waded through the lilies and the budding bushes, and there before me slithered a small stream. The ease with which the water flowed, the purity and the peace there was! After spending ages in the muddy waters of life’s prison, the kind that could easily define a people, the water of this stream brought with it the change that I had been eagerly seeking after.

I was dying of thirst and I smelled heavily of sweat. I bent down to drink from the stream, but something immediately caught my attention, stopping me before I took the first sip. I stood up, gasping, trying to catch my breath. What a sight! My face; I had seen my face in the water! All the time that I languished in prison I never had the chance to look at my face. All I ever did was imagine it. The cracks, the wrinkles and the paleness that I had seen in the water astounded me. “Is that you, Phanuel?” “Oh God I wish it wasn’t me!” I cried out. “But that’s me my God; but that’s surely not me!” I added, struggling to give sense to the contradiction.

It was time. I stooped once more and with eyes closed drank until I was full. After doing so, I began to feel as though I had become one with the stream, a constant, tranquil flow of amazing beauty, so I allowed my soul to imagine.

Time for a complete bath, a deep one! I discarded every old piece of clothing. Water violently splashed to the edges of the stream as I took a dive. I spent my sweet time under the water that I came out ‘waterlogged’. As I emerged from the water, my soul watched in wonder as the desert traced its footmarks back to source.

Then, skin lotion! It was time, and nothing could hold me back. As I oozed with sunshine and smiled into space, the voice spoke again, “Is that really you, Phanuel?” Meanwhile my skin was beckoning, waiting, salivating, hungry for lotion. I took my time, carefully applying the lotion, until every pore was thoroughly nourished, following which I put on a new set of freshly pressed clothes.

Finally, I once more stood in front of my kind of mirror, this time tall, assertive, fearless, ready to take on Goliath. “Welcome Phanuel!” the message of the voice had now changed. It was the journey of life. I stepped back from the mirror, turned and began to take brisk steps into space.

“Goodbye, Phanuel,” the voice faded behind me. “Welcome, Phanuel!” Ahead of me, the sound of drums, horns and tambourines filled the air. It was the sound of victory. The future looked bright.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sermon No. 23: Look, the Lamb of God!

John is on my mind.

I was reading the Book of John one day and it occurred to me that I should write a small article on just two verses that caught my attention.

The first verse says, “When [John] saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’” (John 1:36, NIV).

As I meditated on this verse, I noted two things. The first is that John was exceedingly excited about Jesus. I could tell by the exclamation mark at the end of his statement, that the sight of Jesus simply blew John up. John acted like a small child who was seeing his father after a long period of separation. It's the kind of excitement that one would not be able to contain.

Then a thought came to me saying, “This is how excited I should always be about my Lord.” How true! You and I have to be this excited, always. This is what God expects of His worshipers. He is never excited about people of low temperature.

I also learnt another great lesson, i.e., if one is excited about Jesus, they just cannot afford to keep quiet, even if they wanted to. They would find themselves shouting, “Look, the Lamb of God!” I realized that I too was doing exactly the same thing. For some time I have been writing articles on Jesus and the Kingdom life. That is my way of saying “Look!”

You too have a similar obligation. You should always confess Jesus. You should always talk about Him, whether to Christians or non-Christians. You really have no option.

This is what happened to those who heard John shout — “When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus,” (John 1:37, NIV). Praise God!

When they heard John shout, the two disciples followed Jesus. This is soul winning. This is what God expects us to do, to win Him souls. Other people won us over to Christ. We should in turn do the same for others. “How?” you might ask. By shouting, “Look!” You can do it your own way. John did it his own way. However, whatever way one chooses must amount to, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

Is it just the unsaved who need to look? The answer is 'No'.

Christians face various challenges in their lives. Because of this, some of them take their eyes off Jesus and begin to focus on their challenges, in the process giving undue respect to the challenges. This practice magnifies the challenges and makes them look invincible. We need, once more, to point such Christians to Christ. “Look at Jesus, not at your problems,” we should advise them.

It is not every Christian who emerges victorious from a fight with the devil. Victory is for Christians who fix their gaze on Jesus, not those who fix their gaze on their challenges. Those who fix their eyes on their problems continue to face defeat until they revise their focus.

As children of God, we must keep looking at Jesus, whether we are in trouble or not. That is why we are called ‘Christians’.

Look, the Lamb of God!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sermon No. 22: On Being Led by The Spirit

“…those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14, NIV).

Who are the sons of God? Who are the daughters of Abraham? It is “those who are led by the Spirit of God”. Glory to God!

The unsaved cannot be led by the Spirit of God because they are not of the Spirit. They, however, might eventually become of the Spirit. On the other hand, the saved need to seriously think about Paul’s statement in Romans 8:14.

A Christian should always be attentive to the Spirit’s direction. We need, as Christians, to keep our antennas high and searching, so that we remain in touch with the thinking of the Spirit at every point of our lives.

Consider the radar; it’s always on the alert. Once an airplane gets into the radar’s area of coverage the radar immediately shouts, “There is an airplane in our airspace!”

That’s exactly what Christians should do. We should never miss the Spirit’s mind concerning our lives, not even once. A Christian who is always attentive to the Spirit is able to capture the thoughts of the Spirit at every turn.

It doesn’t mean that one should necessarily hear a voice, although some people do hear God’s voice. Even without hearing a voice, one would know what God’s thoughts are with respect to any area of their life, if they are attentive.

You might decide to go somewhere, but before you go, you need to ask yourself the question: “What does the Spirit say about my plan?”

You might have been wronged by somebody and you are in the process of considering your options; you should ask, “What does the Spirit instruct me to do under these circumstances?”

You might be in a clothing shop, trying to grab some fashion; before you buy, you should be in a position to tell what the Spirit’s mind is regarding any item of clothing that you might be admiring.

God is a God of our entire lives; not just part of our lives. We shouldn’t surrender just a portion of our lives and affairs to God; instead, we should surrender everything! God should have a say on everything about us.

I do not believe people who say God approves of everything that we might decide to do or to be; if He did then to me He wouldn’t be God. In addition, we should never confuse our will for God’s will. Under all circumstances, it should be very easy for a Christian to come to a decision. All one has to do is ask themselves, “What is the mind of the Spirit on this?” The mind of the Spirit becomes the decision!

There are children of God who are in not so good a shape. These people allow God to direct them only in some areas of their lives and keep certain areas exclusively to themselves. They reach certain decisions and stay put even if God were to direct them otherwise. This is disobedience!

Several Christians behave like this. Even when they know too well what God’s direction is regarding something about their lives, these people proceed as if they knew nothing. Just because they like it that way, they say, in effect, “Even God will not shift me from this.” What do you make of it?

The Bible mentions some people who ‘wandered from the faith” (see 1 Timothy 6:21). I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the disobedient Christians eventually wander from the faith, because their conduct is already inclined that way. They might end up disobeying the Father in everything!

I implore you to act and react only in a manner that’s consistent with the direction of the Spirit. There might be something that you love to do, or a behaviour that you might find irresistible, or gatherings that you can’t avoid. The bottom-line is, “What is the mind of the Spirit regarding this?” You should always be convinced that your conduct in life is exactly what the Spirit ordered.

“What is the mind of the Spirit on this? What does the Spirit instruct me to do? Would God be pleased if I were to do it this way?” That’s how Christians make decisions.

Just as I was about to fall asleep one day, the thought of writing this message entered my mind. I then decided to postpone the writing until the next day. However, when I asked myself, “What does the Spirit say I should do?” I realised that the Spirit wanted me to wake up and write the message straight away. So I did.

I sure hope the article has helped you. If it has, then it was worth my writing. Remember that you will never mature if you don’t give the Spirit free reign in your life.

God bless!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sermon No. 21: On Being God’s Friend

There is this thought that keeps coming to my mind. The thought is provoked whenever I read the following verse: “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God's friend” (James 2:23, NIV). Abraham was called God’s friend; what closeness! How was this possible? It was because Abraham believed God. Marvelous!

Now when the Bible says Abraham believed God, it means that He believed everything that God told Him. When God said “Leave this place,” Abraham left the place. When God said, “Give Me your son,” Abraham gave Him his son. Abraham believed everything God told Him; hence he was called God’s friend.

When I read the Bible I find that God told His plans about Sodom and Gomorrah only to Abraham; He did not tell it to anybody else. I believe that God told Abraham because the two were as close as one. God didn’t want Abraham to feel let down by his Friend. If God had not told Abraham about it, Abraham could probably have subsequently queried, “But my Friend, why didn’t you give me just a hint of what You were planning to do? Am I no longer your friend?”

In the process of considering what He was going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah, God remembered His friend. Listen to this: “Then the LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?’”(Gen 18:17, NIV). How beautiful. I imagine God saying the same thing about me. I picture Him saying, “Shall I hide from Phanuel what I am about to do?” Glory to God!

So when I look at this I conclude that God told Abraham because Abraham was His close friend. He could tell him His secrets and plans. When God eventually told Abraham about His plans, Abraham actually bargained with God on a friend-to-friend basis; and God never took offence at Abraham for asking almost the same question several times. Imagine somebody asking, “What if they are fifty?” then “What if they are forty-five?” then “What if they are forty?” then “What if they are thirty?” then “What if they are twenty?” then “What if they are ten?”

Our God is a patient God. He answered all these questions without any hint of impatience; after all, it was a close friend who was asking the questions.

This is my view: Although every Christian is loved by God, not all really get into the closeness that God had with Abraham. There are Christians who have dedicated their lives completely to ‘walking the tight rope”. If certain things are not of God, these people will never associate with such things. These people believe everything God says, and everything that God has said through the medium of the Bible. I believe that these people are first Christians and they have gone a step further to become God’s friends.

On the other hand there are Christians, really born again and heaven-bound, but they appear and live like they are not. They choose what to believe and what not to believe. If God says, “This colour is red,” they believe. When God takes another colour and says, “This is blue,” they say, “But it looks greyish; it can’t be blue.” God cannot get into deeper closeness with such Christians because they are unreliable. In fact, some of these Christians are actually in danger of abandoning the faith. If it were Abraham, he would have said, “Yes” on both occasions, because it was God who would have given the colours!

I say this not to offend, but to encourage. You need to examine yourself and to change whatever might need to be changed, all the time guided by the will of God. If you chose the Christian life, then you need to be on the move, always. There is no room for monuments in Christ; there is room only for divine movements, people who are always on the go.

Every Christian is building his/her life on the foundation called Christ. But what does the Bible say about this building exercise? Listen to this: “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward” 1 Cor 3:12-15, NIV.

Are you building using gold? Or are you building using straw? The Bible says whatever you are building will undergo the test of fire. Can straw withstand fire? These are questions that every Christian needs to be always seized with. We should not move aimlessly in this faith; rather, we exist to aim for the PRIZE!

“Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil,” (Eph 5:15-16, NIV).

God bless!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sermon No. 20: Views on Life & Personal Success

People look at life differently, depending on what they believe.

In year 2003 a friend introduced me to success motivation and personal development. I then began to attend workshops on the subject, but came out a bit confused.

What confused me was the almost exclusive focus on wealth. I thought to myself, “Does success mean just wealth?” I believed that success was broader than just the material things. I also believed that success was supposed to be based on a certain foundation.

I sought God’s view and came across a verse that struck me. It says, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John v2, NIV). “This is it! This is the definition of success!” I seemed to shout to myself.

If you are enjoying good health, if all is going well with you, if your soul is getting along well, what more would you seek in life?

John wished his friend nothing but real success. I believe this kind of success can only come from God. So as far as I am concerned, God is the source and foundation of genuine success.

I hope that I have helped you…or ignited controversy. Either way, I think it’s worth it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sermon No. 19: Yes You Can!

I remember when I was still a teenager. I was a stranger to God then. I kept grudges; real grudges, I mean. I would tremble in anger, even against an elder, sometimes to the point of crying.

But He moulded me! If you see me now, you see a totally different person. Simple. I can forgive easily. I associate with everybody without problems. It is now very difficult for anybody to make me angry.

But it is not my power or genius that has made me so. It's because He touched me, He continues to touch me, I let it be so. I really love this life; I just wouldn't function without God!

Here is a lesson that I learnt from this experience: God will mould you if you are flexible to His hand. He can't and won't mould clay pots from dry clay; we all know that. Only wet, "mouldable" clay will do.

If you are a Christian, the power to forgive is already in you. Victory over anger has already been deposited in you. But the deciding point is this: Are you willing to forgive? Are you willing to let go of the bitterness? Is your will subject to God's will? If it is, just say, "I am willing, my Lord!" and God will activate all these abilities in you.

In the end it is entirely a personal decision. It's not the Pastor's, or mine; the decision is YOURS.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Short Sermon No. 18: Scandals in Church

When I opened my e-mail box recently, I found the following message: “Hi. I have got a friend who asked me this question, ‘Jesus died for our sins but why do we continue to sin? Are we putting our Lord to test? Look at sex scandals in churches’ I tried to explain with the little that I know but he was not satisfied. What’s your take on this?”

I took some time to consider the issue. What I am going to share with you are my own views on this subject. I however do not claim to be an expect on this; so I urge you to keep researching.

Here is the definition of sin: “All wrongdoing is sin.” (1 John 5:17, NIV). People often say, “But it’s possible for me to do wrong unaware.” My view is that if you are unaware, then it is not counted as sin; what really matters, as far as I am concerned, is the wrong you do with your eyes wide open. The e-mail message that I received was on sexual immorality. Could any Christian truly stand up and claim that they were unaware that sexual immorality was wrong?

As he taught the Romans, Paul once said, “Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” (Rom 14:22, NIV). If you do something that your conscience considers wrong, then you commit sin. If you’ve doubts about the appropriateness of anything, then avoid it. A Christian should have a clear conscience about everything he/she does. Anybody who gets into sex scandals does so fully aware that they will be doing something wrong. They therefore get into it already self-condemned. To me, that’s sin.

The will of God regarding sin is summed up in the following words spoken by Jesus Christ, "Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8:11, NIV). The Bible teaches in several places about the need to always wage war against sin. Here are examples: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” (Rom 6:12, NIV); “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Heb 12:4, NIV).

Jesus is the Lamb that took away the sin of the world, to declare us free from sin. Through His blood we were born again and became a species superior to sin. However, it appears to me that a Christian could, by choice, continue sinning, thus disobeying God. It really depends on how serious one is in his/her relationship to God.

We are soldiers, as Christians. We have effective weapons. But the weapons will not be of any help to us if we do not deploy them. When we were born again we were given power over sin. But that power won’t be effective in us unless we use it.

Indeed we were given power to achieve many things, but we will not achieve anything unless we apply the power. So I view a Christian as a person who has the potential to overcome sin. But it depends on whether the Christian is willing to exercise the power. Indeed a soldier could easily be captured by an unarmed enemy if the soldier ignores his arsenal!

Jesus Christ knew His mission well. He also was fully focused. He knew that all He was supposed to do on earth was the will of God. “I did not come to do my will…” He would say. So there is God’s will on one side; then there’s an individual’s will on the other. People easily get into sin if they let their own will be their master. But people would avoid and overcome sin if they focus on the will of God. Jesus said, “Get away from me Satan!” But some Christians still embrace the devil with both hands.

There are also Christians of a ‘forgiveness’ mentality. Such people deliberately sin, then ask God for forgiveness. They do this relentlessly. I know that our God is a forgiving God. But I also think it would be unsavoury of one to abuse His forgiveness. There must always be a sincerity in the one who asks for forgiveness. And as far as I am concerned, it is better to live within the confines of the will of God than to constantly seek forgiveness. Jesus Christ is our role model. Have you ever come across a verse in the Bible in which He sought forgiveness for Himself?

So, sad as it may sound, some Christians do engage in sexual immorality; sometimes with pastors involved, only because they are interested more in satisfying their will than in following the will of God. Yet God is eargerly waiting for every Christian to mature!

The problem is that some Christians do not appreciate who they are. They act like trash when they are supposed to be light to others. The moment that a Christian appreciates that he/she is light and salt of the earth, then he/she starts to behave accordingly! He/she would say, “I can’t behave like that; don’t you know that I am the salt of the earth?”

You should also understand that not everybody that attends church is a Christian. Some are hypocrites, anti-Christs. Their purpose is to rubbish the church. Hypocrites always do what they know best, i.e. obeying their father.

These are my views on the issue.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sermon No. 17: Attitude & Action

I have, on a number of occasions, overheard people say, “I am a Christian; I should therefore live a life that’s free from problems.”

That’s an unfortunate attitude. Whenever these people get into problems, as is sure to happen, they complain, “Why should this be happening to me? Why have you left me alone my God?” I don’t think God is amused by this kind of behaviour.

A Christian with this attitude finds themselves in perpetual frustration, because they are ill-prepared to deal with problems when they show up. Their weakness arises from their belief that they should never encounter problems in life simply because they are God's children. Because they don’t expect any problems, they have never sought to understand how Christians could deal with problems; neither do they care. But when problems show up, all they can do is lament.

This should never be the case with you.

God never said Satan will let Christians alone. The truth is that Satan remains totally opposed to every child of God and will do everything within his power to place stumbling blocks across the Christian’s course. Jesus Christ was no exception either. If you read about His life, you would agree with me that Jesus faced problems at every turn.

My position is that a Christian is not defined by freedom from problems; in fact I believe that there is nobody who could be free from them. While I understand that God protects His own, I believe that a number of times He actually rescues them. I also believe that problems build character; they teach good lessons. I would have been damaged if I had never encountered problems in my life.

A Christian is not defined by freedom from problems. Rather, he/she is defined by the way he/she views and deals with them. In this article I am going to give you one attitude and one action that are, or should be, the hallmarks of every Christian.

Here is the attitude: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it.” (Daniel 3:17, NIV). Exactly! It’s true that Christians find themselves in furnaces on many occasions. Some get burnt in the process; but some come out unscathed because they trust in God.

I have given you the appropriate attitude. To achieve victory, however, one has to translate their attitude into action. One might believe that God is willing and able to deliver them from problems. This however will not make them any different from the one who doesn’t. The difference only comes from the action that one takes on the basis of what they believe in. If you are a believer, you ought to implement your belief through the actions that you take. If you don’t take action, then your good attitude will not be of any help to you.

Here is the appropriate action: “The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we're going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.” (Luke 8:24, NIV).
I am inspired by both the attitude displayed by Jesus Christ and the action that He took. Jesus retained his composure in the midst of problems; that’s attitude. He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; that’s action. The storm subsided, and all was calm; that’s the result.

Here are three lessons for you: First, you need to trust in God. Second, you need to rebuke the wind and the raging waters. Finally, you need to make your results show.

God bless!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sermon No. 16: To God be the Glory

“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” (Deut 8:17-18, NIV).

Today I have two kinds of Christians on my mind.

The first kind is comprised of those who earnestly pray to God for a financial breakthrough. When they get the breakthrough, these people forsake God and immediately run into the wild, like warthogs, as if their breakthrough came from Satan.

The second kind is comprised of Christians who, after receiving the breakthrough, go on to take the glory…like, “I am bad! I am bad! You know it!” thus disregarding the fact that they asked and were given. “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor 4:7, NIV).

“Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:15-16, NIV).

May you give glory to God at every turn!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lost Ark of the Covenant

Some people have sought my views regarding the lost Ark of the Covenant, with specific reference to its linkage to Zimbabwe. My position is that I am yet to reach a position. I still need a great deal of additional information on this issue. It seems to me that the information provided so far is not adequate enough for one to be convinced of the Zimbabwe connection.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sermon No. 15: Raise Your Bar

I remember it well; I can clearly visualise it. But back then, I thought it was just a game that children played.

There was this game that we often played while herding cattle and goats down in Njanja, Zimbabwe. I was about nine years old then and had two friends, both roughly my age. We would agree to play a game to entertain ourselves, because staring at cattle and goats grazing was to us the most boring undertaking.

Our options included swimming, playing soccer, bull fighting and high jump. We often opted for high jump. We would cut three long sticks and find ourselves a sandy place, which normally was close to the small stream that ran through our village. We chose sandy places to protect ourselves from injury, for after jumping, one would need to land softly. We would stick two of the sticks into the sand, about two metres apart and use the third as the crossbar, which we tied to the vertical sticks using string made from the bark of the mutondo tree.

We would then tie the crossbar initially at about half a metre from the ground. Then we would take turns to jump, each contestant evidently eager to emerge the champion. If we all managed to jump the initial height, we would raise the crossbar a little. We would again take turns to jump. We would continue like this until we reached a level at which only one of us could jump, and that person became the champion, to the disappointment of the other contestants.

I noted that those who failed to become champions, me included sometimes, would be greatly disturbed by their failure and would be engulfed by a strong sense of inferiority. The matter would become worse whenever the champion took our failure as a subject for ridicule. We would also wonder what it was that made the other boy superior and we would put extra effort in our practice, with a view to eventually dispossessing the defending champion of the crown.

We were never satisfied with the comfort zone; we were always eager to go beyond it. We never kept the crossbar at the same height. Instead, we continued to raise it until we got to a level that was beyond us. Even when we got to this level, we never took that to be the end of the road. We would continue to focus on the game, putting more effort in our practice and competing more and more. That’s how some people break a world record and then after breaking it they go on to break it again. It’s called ‘breaking one’s own record.”

I write today to urge you to ceaselessly raise your crossbar; and I am not referring to just one area of your life, because I believe that personal growth needs to be whole and balanced. In every area of your life, in every noble endeavour, you need to keep pushing the boundaries; you need to keep enlarging your territory.

I am never excited by the position called ‘best’. Instead, I respect the position called ‘better’, because after a ‘best’ there should be a ‘better’. ‘Better’ is always better than ‘best’. That’s how I look at life. People need to keep moving forward. Your life, your speech, your performance, your conduct in general,  should all exhibit continuous progress.

Look at this: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me” [1 Corinthians 13:11, NIV]. I am always inspired by this kind of talk.

What catches my attention most is the fact that Paul spoke in the past tense. He said, “I was a child”. When he was still a child, Paul thought, talked and reasoned like a child. That’s normal. But here is the exciting part: “When I became a man…” Glory to God! I appreciate the substance of it.

Paul said something like, “I was a child at one point, but never remained one; I graduated into a man”. Do you catch this? He said when he became a man, he put childish things away. Oh God help us; there are still so many men and women in our society who still cling to childish ways like they are clinging to some kind of treasure!

As a child, Paul thought, reasoned and spoke like one. But when he became a man, he pushed all childish things away. But today we have so many men and women who still think, talk and reason like children, causing others much concern. Talking should never be taken to mean the emission of any kind of sound. Rather, the sound ought to be structured, well thought-out and deliberately helpful, otherwise the result would be indigestible.

I often hear people say, “Mungatevedzere zvababa Moyo here?” [Meaning “You should never take Mr. Moyo seriously.”] This is so because even though Mr. Moyo is 50 years old, he still thinks, talks and reasons like an 8-year old.

You need to put childish things away; all of them! Start thinking, reasoning and talking like an adult. This is critical. You either grow up or lose credibility; no two ways to it.

What does the Word of God teach on these issues? It says, “Grow…” [2 Peter 3:18]. Praise God! This is a clear instruction. The Word of God also says, “Set an example...” [1Timothy 4:12]. But if one is living a roundabout kind of life, how could he/she set an example for others? The only example that such a person could set is a bad one, an example unfit to be emulated.

When God exhorts you to set an example, His desire would be to see you transformed into a light that shows others the way; a good example.

This teaching should be construed in the context of one’s Christian life, career, education, marriage, family relations, social relations, business, etc. In all the facets of your life, you ought to ever raise your crossbar. Go to a higher level. Seek what’s better and go for it!

I once had the opportunity to listen to the speech of one man who was filled to capacity with divine observation. Here is one of his statements (a rebuke, actually): “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” [Heb 5:12-13, NIV].

This is a serious indictment! The writer was of the view that his audience should have transformed into teachers, but they were, unfortunately, still struggling with elementary issues. What a disappointment it would be for you to awaken to the fact that the person who is supposed to teach you is himself/herself still struggling with vowels (a, e, i, o, u); my goodness!

Back then, I thought high jump was just a game that children played. I have now discovered that the game pointed to fundamental principles of life.

God bless!