“13 “Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the Lord, “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’……18 Then you shall again discern Between the righteous and the wicked, Between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.,”. Mal 3:13-18
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that to serve the Living God is the greatest privilege on earth. Serving God is utterly different from serving anyone else.
Do you ever get discouraged in serving God to the point that you feel like quitting? Prior to my saving knowledge in the Gospel Truth of God’s Righteousness, I have encountered many who have served God for years but they feel burned out and quit. In some cases they drop out from church altogether, claiming that they can worship God better by avoiding church. Apparently, they felt to serve God was too demanding and often unappreciated. Our text emphasizes , “why it is a privilege to serve God?.”
The people in Malachi’s day had grown indifferent to God’s great love. The prophets seeks to show them that the problem was not God’s part. The problem was their sinfully selfish and temporal perspective. Instead, they needed to see things from God’s eternal perspective and serve Him by faith in the Righteousness of God. Behind their wrong attitude was the age-old issue that is found in Mal 2:17, “why do the wicked prosper and the godly suffer even when they are serving God?” God knows that even the elects at NCCkl wrestle with it when we are tempted to think that it is vain to serve God. The prophet shows us that we should serve God because He notices and cares deeply for all who serve Him. There are two groups in our text. A group to avoid Mal 3:13-15 and a group to be in Mal 3:16-18.
A Group To Avoid Mal 3: 13-15
According to the text, this group grumbled against God, complaining that there is no reward for serving Him. They felt they may as well be an arrogant, wicked person who test God and escapes. This group spoke arrogantly or harshly against the Lord but when the prophet confronted them, they ask, “what have we spoken against You?” As vs 14-15 show, they weren’t directly shaking their fists at God, rather they were complaining to one another. These people were not God oriented and so they spoke brazenly to one another, voice their common complaints as if God was deaf and non-existent. Their complain was, “it is vain to serve God and by the way what privilege is it that they get in serving God?” They called the arrogant blessed and said that wicked people who don’t serve are not only prospering but also test God and escape. Vs 15 These people in this group have several characteristics that the elects should avoid namely, they are sitting in judgment on God rather than submitting to His dealings with them, they had a self centered attitude, they had lost motivation for holy living and they constantly focused on the seeming prosperity of the wicked and had lost the eternal perspective.
A Group To Be In Mal 3:16-18
According to the text, God notices and cares for those who fear and serve Him in spite of hardship and challenges. They were probably the minority group, numbers-wise. God always has a faithful remnant who takes it as a privilege to serve Him in spite of many difficulties. Note in Mal 3:18, those who serve God are called righteous whereas those who defy God are called wicked. That is not to say as serving earns the label of ‘righteous’. We can do nothing to commend ourselves to God. Our righteousness is only attained by our faith in the baptism, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rom 3:21-26 Serving God is a distinguishing mark of the righteous person whereas not serving God marks the wicked, who live for themselves. These people in this group possess several good characteristics namely, they fear God and esteem His Name above the opinions of others, they encourage one another in the face of surrounding evil and they are especially noticed and cared for by God.
The point is, we need fellowship with like minded elects in order to recognize the greatest privilege to serve God with our lives.
Serving with the right attitude will enable us to stand firm against wrong ideas that come from the world, the flesh and the devil.
If all that the elects do is attend church and leave but they don’t fellowship with other believers during weekly ministries, they will struggle to maintain a godly perspective in the face of the evil around them. That is why Heb 10:24-25 commands us to think about how to stimulate one another to serve and not to forsake assembling together but to encourage one another all the more as we see the day drawing near.
“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,”. Heb 1:6
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that there are tremendous blessings for those who ‘give it all’.
Elects who ‘give it all’ will experience transformation of life, discover a dynamic spiritual life and constantly taste victories in life’s battle.
In Eze 47:1-12, the passage shows us on how to step into a current of the anointing that is going to accelerate our progress in the spiritual dimension. Ezekiel had to take steps to move into deeper waters. The river in the passage speaks of progression. This river went from ankle deep, to knee deep, to waist deep and eventually to a river that Ezekiel could not cross over and where he had to swim in.
Elects who stop at the ankle deep in their spiritual progress will not be able to see anything that God had bestowed upon them. This keeps many elects from making real spiritual progress. Ankle deep is a place in which elects refuse to grow up, become responsible and dependable. Elects ought to determine themselves to go deeper if they want more. Fear or uncertainty of the unknown could cause the elects to remain stagnant. God has invested too much in the elects to let us quit or drown. Elects should not allow the devil to impede their deeper growth in the knowledge of the Gospel Truth. The ankles speak of an end to the old but not really anything new happening yet. In other words, saved but still wrestling with sinful desires. Saved but constantly feeling like not too sanctified in the unrenewed mind. Saved but still self-centered. Ankle deep denotes one who is barely in the water, self- conscious and having unresolved issues in life. In the water but still seeking things that feed the old nature. Ankle deep elects are always stirring up, murmuring, complaining, envious and unappreciative because they just muddy up the waters everywhere they go.
Elects who are progressing to the knee deep begins to shift from self to Jesus, no longer worshipping the desires of the flesh. The knee speaks of worship, prayer and humility. It portrays an attitude seeking to please God. The deeper we go in the river, the less flesh we see. The deeper we go in the river, the less control we have. The deeper we go in the river, the stronger the influence of the rivers current becomes. The deeper we go in the river, the farther we get from the shore. The deeper we get in the river, the less pull and influence the things of this world will have upon the elects. The life of God for the elects begins in worship, prayer and humility. The knee deep suggests that such a lifestyle is maintained through worship, prayer and humility. There is no progress in God without a life of worship, prayer and humility. We will never be greater than our worship, prayer and a life of humility.
Elects who are progressing to waist deep water will experience a greater revelation knowledge and intimacy with the Lord. The waist (the loins) speaks of the reproductive powers. It speaks to the fact that as elects we should go beyond being barely saved (ankle) to a lifestyle of worship, prayer and humility (knee) and move on to a life of reproducing ourselves. In other words, Jesus reproduced Himself in 12 disciples, we also are to reproduce the Christ life that is in us, in others. I fully believe that every elect at NCCkl should progress to the point they are mentoring others in the faith. Notice Ezekiel was being led into this progressive revelation and experience of the Spirit of God on his own choice. Ezekiel had to take the steps to move into deeper waters by giving it all. This river originates from under the altar. The river symbolizes the life of the spirit of the elects. Notice in the passage, the man with the line in his hand went forth and measured again. The line is the teaching and the preaching of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. Elects will never progress spiritually beyond their knowledge in the Gospel Word. Prayer and worship is great but knowledge must lead us to the next step in order to give it all unto the Lord. If elects want to go deeper with God, they must go deeper in the Gospel Word. It is the responsibility of the shepherd to stretch and expand the spiritual mind. Elects spiritual progress will largely be determined by their ability and willingness to give it all and grasp the Gospel Truth. After Ezekiel had reached the swimming waters in the passage, after he came to the place that was not crossable, so deep, he was brought back to the bank where there were many trees. Once elects have reached a place where to give it all, there may be more than what they want. In fact, elects have reached a place in which God can use them. Elects become qualified to show others the way out. Who was it that led Ezekiel out? We may be tempted to say an angel but the passage says it was a man.
At NCCkl, we are elects who want everything God has for us by giving it all to walk deeper in the river according to the flow of the Holy Spirit.
“I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ ”. Eze 37:14
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know the greatest labour of the church in this hour is to have the Spirit of the Lord upon us. In other words, we must have the anointing of the Lord to accomplish the spiritual labour entrusted to us.
In Luke 4:18-19, we see something very powerful in order to succeed in the labour of spiritual harvest.
We see that Jesus knew He was anointed to labour and what He was anointed to labour.
- Jesus Knew He Was Anointed To Labour
Jesus was consciously aware of an enduement, equipping and a supernatural endowment called anointing placed upon Him. It is the will of God that every elect at NCCkl are consciously aware of this anointing and able to declare ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon me.’ This is not simply an idea or an expression nor a figure of speech, we are talking about the tangible, manifested reality of the power of God resting upon the elects to labour in the harvest field. When anointing came upon Samson, he knew it. This was a conscious awareness that he had spiritual power and anointing upon him. Samson knew when this anointing was upon him and when it wasn’t. When this power, anointing and unction was upon him, he was unstoppable in his spiritual labour for the glory of God. That was a shadow, a type of anointing that was going to come permanently upon Jesus Christ and His covenanted elects whose faith are established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism and death. As God’s servant, I want to stress that this anointing for labour was not just for Jesus nor pastors, evangelists, prophets and teachers but also for all the elects born of water and Spirit. It is God’s will that the elects made sinless and righteous by faith at NCCkl could say with the same certainty and authority as Jesus declared ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He had anointed Me.’ The anointing is the divine enablement and empowerment to labour in the spiritual harvest field.
- Jesus Knew What He Was Anointed To Labour
Jesus was the pattern for us to follow with regard to knowing exactly what we are called to labour in the Kingdom of God. In Acts 18:38, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power when He went about doing good and healing all those who were oppressed by the devil because God was with Him. Jesus in His physical body is no longer here but His anointing is still here abiding in the hearts of those who believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The same Holy Spirit and power is in us and we are His body, hands, feet and voice to carry on His unfinished labour for the lost souls. We are anointed to preach the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, to cast out demons, to heal the sick, to deliver those in bondage, to release the oppressed and to set the captives free. This anointing is God’s power to break every yoke and to restore those who are heavy laden. Isa 10:27 ; 1 John 2:20
It is unbecoming for elects at times to sing songs claiming we got the power and yet not able to understand how much power we are given to serve His Righteousness and Church. The sad reality is, there are some elects who have never really tapped into the power supply even to this day. Unfortunately, they are living weak, inferior and anemic lives and are always looking for someone to bless them, encourage them and lift them up. In other words, some elects live their lives as professional patients whereby they live their lives always in need, always struggling, always hurting and always suffering. What God wants to do by the anointing of the Holy Spirt is to turn every patient into a spiritual doctor. It is God’s desire for the elects to function and minister by the same anointing and to inject God’s power that is able to heal and deliver others from their spiritual sicknesses. Acts 3:1-8
“Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. 2 Kings 4:3
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that blessed are the empty. To a carnal mind, it may not make sense but with God less is more and nothing is everything.
In 2 Kings 4:1-6, the prophet says, “go borrow empty vessels and borrow not a few.” How strange it seems to the carnal mind that the answer to the woman’s dilemma did not begin with fullness but with emptiness. The natural mind would immediately begin to look for an overflow or a great supply to deliver her from the adverse situation. Instead God has always been in the business of making something out of nothing. There is nothing that attracts the attention of God like emptiness. Let me introduce three points on ‘blessed emptiness.’
- Blessed Emptiness Is A choice
There is a natural law that states nothing remains empty. It must be filled and it will be filled. Elects ought to recognize that since nothing can remain empty, then we must by deliberate act of our wills choose to be emptied. In our story, we do not know what various things may have filled the many vessels that were borrowed. All we do know is that under God’s command they were of no use to Him until they were first of all empty. Regardless of the condition of the vessel or how it was used, emptiness is an essential criteria. This emptiness we are speaking of is the heart condition. It is an attitude and disposition of the heart that places the entire life before God in total surrender. Only those born of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness have the providence to discern that they are nothing apart from God. It is a life wholly given and sustained by God. John 15:5; John 6:53 Elects are the most valuable to God when they are empty. When elects become nothing, then God can become everything. It is when elects are something that God become nothing. In reality, emptying ourselves is a choice elects must willingly take in order to serve God’s righteousness.
- Blessed Emptiness Will Be Filled
Elects ought to realize that when they empty themselves, God will fill them up. In 1 Sam 15:17 “Samuel said “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? Furthermore, there is a story in Judges where God uses emptiness in a very powerful way. In Judges 7:16 “Then he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet into every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and torches inside the pitchers.” No swords, spears, knives or even stones were used. Just a trumpet, an empty pitcher and a candle. Judges 7:20 What was it that made the clay pitcher valuable to God’s purpose? It was not their beauty, shape, origin, make or who used it but it became valuable to God’s purpose because they were empty and can be filled by God. More so, the pitcher were breakable. Likewise, elects can only become valuable to God if we can be filled and remain breakable. If we want to get God’s attention, we need to show Him our emptiness, If you want to attract the heart of God, we need to show our brokenness. Elects can never serve God’s higher purposes until they are empty and broken. Contrary to the ways of the world, God does His best with broken things, broken pitchers, broken bread and broken hearts.
- Blessed Emptiness Will Be Filled With God’s Anointing
When elects are empty and ready to be filled, they will be able to house the divine treasure of God.
Elects’ brokenness would allow the light that was inside to be seen, released or exposed to the dark world. Unfortunately, many will not be used for God’s higher purpose because they refused to be emptied and filled by God. Hence, those who refuse to be emptied are not ready to be broken. It is the light inside that must be seen, that is the whole purpose. The sacred treasure, the divine holy anointing that must be manifested. Only emptiness can properly display God’s glory. Many elects have forgotten that our reason for being saved through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness is not to have a better, comfortable, happy life and go to Heaven but to manifest the reality of a resurrected living Savior to the world. A Savior Who has the power to save, deliver, heal, loosen, fill and to set the captives free from the bondage of Satan. The emptiness we are speaking of is the emptying of the self life, a condition that must be maintained by us. As we maintain this condition, we can receive the divine flow of Christ’s life within us and among us. It is what we know as the abiding life in Christ. John 15:5-7; Acts 17:28
“7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Gal 6:7-10
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that Jesus Christ is a Radical Seed. As elects we are the offspring of the Radical Seed. Hence, being radical in our pursuit for Christ is not a bad thing as long it is done with the right motive and love for lost souls.
One of the most persistent laws of God is that of sowing and reaping. This principle works in the natural, spiritual, emotional and intellectual realm. Let me highlight two areas of bearing seeds that elects need to be concerned with namely, what we are sowing in our lives and what we are sowing on other people’s lives.
- Sowing And Reaping Gal 6:7-10
The Bible teaches us that we should sow the seeds of righteousness in our lives and to sow the word of righteousness in others. Elects are called to be seed bearers. It is impossible to change the laws of God, we get exactly what we sow in the harvest. It is impossible to delude God on this unchanging principle. Unfortunately, we tend to be smarter with carnal sowing than we are about spiritual ones. What we sow eventually comes back in an identical way as the harvest. Elects can’t sow to the fallen flesh and hope to reap spiritually healthy things. Our lives today at NCCkl are the harvest of seeds planted in our lives. What kind of fruits are we experiencing? What kind of seeds are we putting in the ground right now? Like farmers, we need to realize that we will receive in our lives only that we have sown all along its pathway.
The one nice thing of the law of sowing and reaping is that if we are realizing a bad harvest because of poor seeds sown, we can plow up that field and ‘replant’. This almost sounds the same as ‘repent’ in the spiritual sense. This is the true essence of salvation and faith in the righteousness of God that provides spiritual transformation. It is sometimes reflected in the Bible as ‘plowing up our hearts’ or ‘breaking up the hard ground’. However, the biggest difficulty about this principle is the ‘waiting’ period. It takes time for the harvest to come forth after planting. Part of the frustration of the ‘waiting’ time between seeding and harvest however is the sense of continuous work with little reward for some time. This is why some get discouraged and quit too soon. We can become weary in doing good things and waiting for the fruit can be at times quite draining.
- Sowing And Responsibilities Lk 8:5-15
Jesus assumes all elects as sowers. This parable is about spreading the Word of righteousness around. It is apparent that the farmer sowed seeds every where even though some would have inadvertently fallen on bad soil. It becomes obvious that the sowers task was simply to spread the seed. The seeds are given to him to sow. The farmer cannot make the seed, it is provided to him. No farmer can guarantee the perfect conditions for every seed. Farmers can sow seeds freely everywhere but yet would not know whether every single seed would find the right condition. The farmer’s job is to scatter as widely as possible the seed provided for him. This is an individual responsibility. God has given us the best seed – the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The area to cover is the whole world and to hope for the best. The conditions would determine the quality of harvest. Good things will definitely multiply if good seeds are used. Likewise, if wicked seeds are used and the conditions are ripe, a larger harvest of wickedness will arise.
Jesus explains to the disciples that they have been given this good seed and when they are spread around, it will find a variety of soil conditions to fall upon. Some will produce brief life, some will produce weak life and some will produce huge harvest. There will be variety of responses to the good seed of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness but no matter what kind of response we receive, we should keep on sowing. There will be those who embrace the Gospel Truth for only personal gain and refuse to serve the Lord. There will be those too preoccupied with the affairs of this life to allow spiritual growth to reach maturity. There are those who produce a huge harvest from such small seeds entrusted to them. However, one thing is clear, if we don’t sow, there will be no growth no matter what the condition of the soil is.
Therefore, as elects we are called to be sowers of the seed of God’s Righteousness because only then the Gospel Word can sprout and bring life to the dead soul.
“for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over.” Joshua 4:23
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that everyone has a Jordan to cross. It is something that stands between us and the inheritance of salvation that God has promised.
Jordan crossing is a critical point where we either breakdown or breakthrough. It is one thing to know about salvation but it is another thing to inherit that salvation. Jordan is a place that God had ordained and it acts as a dividing line. It is a place where we need to decide whether to sow faith in the Word or in the flesh to attain salvation. Joshua 3:1-17 teaches us on what it takes to get across Jordan.
- Sowing Into God’s Promise
God promised to send His Son into the world to save man from their eternal destruction. Likewise, God promised Abraham that He will give the land of Canaan to His descendants. In this passage, God does wonders among those who are willing to sow faith into the Word of promise. If there is anything that would keep us from crossing Jordan is unbelief and disobedience to the Word of promise. At the age of thirty, Jesus came to the same River Jordan as the Ark of the Covenant so that John the Baptist could pass all the sins of the world upon Him. None of us can cross Jordan on our own. One can only attain the true salvation of grace by sowing their faith in the Word of promise. Only those who are baptized into Jesus can be baptized by faith into His death in order to rise up again with Jesus to enter into the Kingdom of God (Canaan).
- Sowing Into God’s Righteousness
After the death of Moses, God appointed Joshua as the leader of Israel. Moses was the representative of the Law in the OT. If Moses had crossed the Jordan River with the people of Israel and arrived at Canaan, it would not have been necessary for Joshua to become the leader of the people. However, God made Moses reach the area just in front of the land of Canaan and prevented him from entering it. The reason why God gave man the Law (Moses) is to give one the knowledge of sin, to make the Law one’s tutor and lead him to Christ so that one could be justified by faith in the righteousness of God. Gal 3:24 After the death of Moses, God appointed Joshua, the leader of Israel and ordered him to enter the land of Canaan with the people of Israel. The name Joshua means ‘the Savior’ synonymous with ‘Jesus’. Joshua ordered the priest to bear the Ark of the Covenant and to cross the Jordan River while leading the people as God instructed. Through this incident, God teaches us that He had completely eliminated death caused by sin and subsequent judgment from mankind through the righteousness of God. This is reflected when Jesus insisted to be baptized by John the Baptist when He said, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Mt 3:15
- Sowing Into God’s Power
The Jordan River is the place where Jesus virtually became sin Who knew no sin so that in and through Him we can become sinless and righteous by God’s power. It is where the sins of the world were passed upon Jesus by John the Baptist who represented all man. The historical events surrounding the crossing of the Jordan River is recorded in the OT and NT. It is extremely an important act of faith to release God’s power for the deliverance from the curses and judgments arising from the sins of mankind. In this river, Jesus through His baptism received all the flow of sins that cannot be ceased by any human beings and later died on the cross by accepting judgment in our place for those sins. Throughout the history of humanity, all man were heading for destruction from their birth because of sin. Even though they try hard to control their sinful nature, they could not and that is why they were marching towards the river of judgment that leads to ultimate death. However, Jesus Who is the power of God, cut off the flow of sin and judgment. This story suggest that to be freed from sin, we must pay the wages of sins, which is death and that through Jesus’ baptism and death, we are purified from all our sins to enter Heaven.
It is recorded in the OT that when the priests dipped their feet into the River Jordan, the river turn into dry land. It is already miraculous enough that the water stopped but more than that it is incredible for the river turning into dry land.
This incident serve as a guarantee of God’s deliverance from sins through Jesus’ baptism and death.
The dry land represented the way that all the sins of the world would be forgiven in Christ. All sins went forth from Adam out to all mankind but the curse of judgment ended with Jesus’ baptism. Now all one needs to do to be forgiven of sins is simply to have faith in Christ and receive the Holy Spirit.
“And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.” 1 Sam 22:2
Dear friends, Blessed 10th Anniversary!
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that NCCkl is ushering in a new season. The Scripture above depicts a picture of our spiritual condition when we first started at NCCkl 10 years ago. Don’t get mad at me, I do see that all of you are looking great today. Somewhere back down memory lane, we came bound, oppressed, distressed, debtors, angry and bitter. We came to Jesus with all our problems. Jesus received us just like we were, just like David did with these 400 men. The Lord saw something in us. He looked at the worst and saw the best.
- The Mission
Is anybody glad God saw something in us? David looked and accepted a bunch of rejects and decided to turn them into the greatest military fighting force the world has ever seen. They became an elite army of the highest level of courage, ability and integrity. The Lord is doing the same thing with us at NCCkl, building an army of soldiers to advance the Kingdom of God. An army held together by commitment to God, the church and the lost. An army made alive in Christ, full of force and energy. It is not in the defense but on the offense to fulfill the Great Commission forcefully and aggressively by engaging and overcoming resistance. Lk 10:19 Make no mistake, God is not speaking of everyone in the church. He is speaking specifically to the elects that are consumed with the kingdom mandate to proclaim His sovereign grace. The elects are chosen to serve in the frontline because they are best trained, best equipped and most qualified in the battlefield.
- The Vision
The Lord entrusted us with the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection so that we can set people free from demonic power and advance the Kingdom of God. NCCkl is marching forward into a new season when so many churches have become lukewarm, self seeking, self preserving and self centered. God is raising up a Vanguard Church. Not a place where we hide out from the devil and pray for Jesus to come and deliver us but a place where we are trained, equipped and mobilized to take the world for Jesus. I know this prophetic statement is not for everyone, it is a little too sharp and too penetrating for those who prefer comfort but there is a breed of people that know they were bred for battle. They know God did not save them to fly away to Heaven but serve His righteousness on earth. We are not just the family of God but we are also the army of God. An army is made up of different ranking officers, each is specifically trained and equipped to carry responsibilities and the authority of that rank. The higher the rank, the higher and the greater the responsibilities as well as the authority.
- The Commission
A Vanguard Church does not just happen. Much like the special forces of military services, the vanguard church is governed by God. It must go through a process where God has to identify and call His elect and separate them from the main stream. At first, this is very difficult because it feels like we are alone and isolated. To be a vanguard church, we have to know that we do not rely on majority consensus for our confirmation of God’s call for our lives. The vanguard church demands extreme commitment, extreme loyalty and extreme passion towards God. It is hard sometimes because we can be mistaken to be too fanatical. This happens because true radical devotion and commitment to Christ exposes luke-warmness, half-heartedness and indifference in those who are mere church goers. True unbridled passion and devotion to Christ always awakens criticism and persecution from nominal Christians. As your shepherd, I stand as a prophetic voice and declare what I am hearing what God is saying. God is saying that He is not looking for a low-flying, don’t rock the boat and don’t disturb anybody kind of church because they are so preoccupied with the world. God is looking for vanguard church. Vanguard church is going to lead the way passionately in sowing seeds of soul. We are going to bring the lost out of the darkness into the light.
I am anointed, called and appointed to lead the vanguard church of extreme radical Holy Spirit filled, devil hating and Jesus loving warriors into battle in the new season.
Vanguard means a position at the fore front of a new season with new ideas and development. Moving together with radical passionate worship in pursuit of the Presence and the glory of God. There will be a supernatural release of the Spirit and anointing of revelation that will begin to materialize in our minds like concepts and ideas, The concepts and ideas are going to be so revolutionary that they are going to place us immediately in positions of influence and resources. Let us stand today against the backdrop of carnality, slothfulness, spiritual indifference and take our place as the vanguard church of the Lord Jesus Christ in these last days.
“And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering,.” Gen 4:4
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know what sacrifice pleases God. The first recorded offering made to God is found early in the book of Genesis. It says that God respected Abel and the sacrifice that he brought but it also said God did not respect Cain and the sacrifice that he brought. Was it the sacrifice? Was it the attitude? Was it both?
The sermon for today is titled ’Sacrifice what?’ I would like to highlight three points about the sacrifice that pleases God using Rom 12:1 which the Apostle Paul was urging, fervently asking us to become.
- Sacrifice Must Be Total
There are a number of different animal sacrifices instituted in the OT. In some of them, the complete animal was offered by fire and it would be totally consumed until nothing but the ashes were left. It was a total sacrifice. The animal could not just sacrifice part of his life and go on living the way it had before. The sacrifice was total, it was complete. It is clear that we are looking at such a sacrifice that had to die. If nothing had to die, then there was no sacrifice. Therefore, if we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, then something has to die. In Rom 8:13-14, Paul explains what needs to die so that we can go on being a living sacrifice.
A living sacrifice does not live according to the flesh because it leads to death but if by the Spirit, we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live.
When we become a living sacrifice, when we respond to God’s calling, we put off the old man, the old way that we used to live. The sacrifice is total, we cannot cling to even a little bit of our favorite former ways. Col 3:5-9 The totality of who we are must be committed to following God, our emotions, our thoughts, our desires, all of it. For us to become a living sacrifice does not mean that we literally sacrifice our physical body but it does mean that we completely turn that life, the life that we have, over to God to use as He sees fit. A total sacrifice is a continual sacrifice. When we are a living sacrifice, it is not just a one time event in our lives. It is something that has to be on-going throughout the rest of our lives. 1 Cor 15:31-32
- Sacrifice Must Be Holy
The verse in Rom 12:1 continues to allude that as living sacrifice we ought to present ourselves as holy. To be holy is to be like God for He is holy. A holy God wants to have a holy people. 1 Pet 1:13-16. Peter wrote that we are to be holy in all our conduct and behavior. He says we are to be obedient children. We must obey God to be holy. Peter also writes here that we are not to conform ourselves to the former lusts. It refers to the old desires that we had before we were born again by the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism and death. This is describing again on how we need to put to death the lusts of the flesh and be led by the Spirit to be holy as God is holy. To do that, we need to always have God’s Word in our mind and in our hearts to guide our actions. To be holy, we must continue to practice righteousness by consistently meditating on the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. God delights when we obey His voice. To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Sam 15:22 As a living sacrifice we need to be holy and pleasing to God. It is vitally important that we obey God’s voice and strive to walk by faith in the holiness of God.
- Sacrifice Must Be Acceptable
A living sacrifice means to be acceptable to God. Looking back to the sacrifice that Abel and Cain offered, God disrespected Cain’s offering because he denied that he was a sinful creature under the sentence of divine condemnation after the fall. Instead of accepting and approaching God’s way, he offered to God the fruits of the ground, which God had cursed. He presented the product of his own toil, the work of his own hands. God refused to accept it. This is to validate that salvation is only through grace by faith in the absolute finished work of Christ that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. However, Abel brought the first born of his flock and of the fats portion. It consisted the flesh, blood and fats of the lamb. This acceptable offering represents Jesus Christ Who is the Firstborn that came by the flesh, blood and the Spirit. Salvation is attained only when we bring Jesus, the perfect sacrifice given to us before God. Lev 22:17-21. As elects, after being saved by Jesus Who came by the baptism and death, we must continue to bring Jesus our acceptable offering before God in all that we do. A living sacrifice must be perfect without defect to be acceptable. Which of us are free of defect? Which of us are perfect? How can we ever fit that description? We can become an acceptable sacrifice, free from defects through Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us so that He can sanctify and make us holy. We have been washed from our sins by His pure water and blood. We have been made perfect by a single offering so that we can become an acceptable offering to God. Heb 10:14
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Rom 12:1-2
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that self preservation is natural but self sacrifice is supernatural. The entire design, finishing and materials of the tabernacle found in the OT sacrificial system depicts the portrait of Jesus Christ. There was only a single entrance to God’s Presence within the design which is the eastern gate. Jesus is that door or gate, the entrance to God. When we enter the tabernacle through the proper way, the first thing to greet us is the altar of sacrifice.
Most of us would have preferred to find the ‘table of showbread’ where God makes provision for us but we find ourselves first at a place of sacrifice. Nothing of real value comes to us without real sacrifice or we would not appreciate it.
A biblical faith is one that recognizes the priority of sacrifice and willingness to give rather than receive.
One cannot bypass the altar of sacrifice into God’s Presence. Let us examine the materials, message and manifestation of a true sacrifice.
- The Materials Exo 38:1-7
The ‘acacia’ wood was the basic material of the altar. It is a tree that grows in the desert under severe conditions. This wood was chosen for its quality of being nearly indestructible, a shadow of Christ Who is eternal. The wood was then covered with bronze. Bronze symbolizes judgment in the OT. The altar of sacrifice by its appearance reminded the believers of God’s judgment. It was on this altar that the sacrificial animal was presented for God’s judgment to be atoned for sin. It symbolizes Christ’s ultimate expression of sacrifice when He took our judgment of death after taking all the sins of the world through the baptism He received from John the Baptist at the River Jordan. There were four horns on the altar to bind the sacrificial animal. The wood of the altar symbolizes the humanity of Jesus and our sacrifices offered to God after being born again. There is no such faith for an elect that does not include the ‘sacrifice.’ Anyone that thinks they can live for God without a need for sacrifice will only find a dead Christianity. The order of approach to God cannot be ignored or replaced with other means.
- The Message 1 Kings 1:50
Unfortunately, today we hear much preaching that attempts to draw people into Christianity that promises all kinds of earthly ‘goodies.’ The preaching that expects no sacrifice by the hearer is a hollow Christianity. There is too much ‘shallow Christianity’ now in the world. Christians who only want but do not give. Jesus clearly taught us about sacrifice by His own statement, “I came into the world not to do my own will but to do the will of Him Who sent Me.” The search for the real God will always bring us first to the place of sacrifice. Sacrificial giving of an elect is displayed by one’s lifestyle, faith, resources and attitude. The ‘horns of the altar’ symbolizes our becoming a willing bound sacrifice. In 2 Sam 24:24, David clearly states that he could not accept for ‘free’ the land and the sacrifice from Araunah. David would not offer a sacrifice to God that cost him nothing. A commitment to Christ that is without sacrifice is no commitment. There are enough worldly calls that promise ‘at no cost.’ This doesn’t work in the Kingdom of God. A dynamic faith is real, it will not just have the appearance of sacrifice. Jesus sacrifice of Himself through His baptism and death was the greatest and costliest. He also brought us the greatest and most valuable gift, eternal life. There is no easy cheap way to give the finest gift. Faith in the righteousness of God and the quality of our new creation life will only be as good as the sacrifice we make because of it.
- The manifestation Rom 12:1-2
Paul spoke clearly in the NT, “….offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” What is symbolized by the altar of sacrifice? The elect ought to be a living sacrifice. One difference however, in the OT, the sacrifice was killed. In the NT, Christ’s baptism and death paid the price once and for all so that the elects do not need to physically die. We are to be ‘living’ sacrifices. One problem with this, unlike a dead sacrifice, living ones tend to want to crawl off the altar, especially when they feel the heat. This is when we need to take hold of the horns of the altar, to keep from leaving the altar of sacrifice. We too must be bound to the altar by constantly establishing ourselves in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. Paul says, “this is our spiritual act of worship” meaning the basis of spirituality is our sacrifice even in worship. A dynamic worship service is not so much about what I get, as much as what I give through my sacrifice of praises, offering, time and talents. The goal therefore is not to gain but to give. Ironically, when we give we do gain. The sweetest gaining come from giving. The will of God is found in our life of sacrifice. When we really give ourselves, we literally, ‘test and approve’ what God’s will is for us everyday and in every way.
“In whose hand is the life of every living thing, the breath of all mankind?.” Job 12:10
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that our life is in God’s hand. This is to ascertain that our lives hangs by a thread of sovereign grace. God owns every soul. God made us and we belong to Him by virtue of His being our Creator.
When an elect cries out to God, ‘have your way’ in my life, it is a sign of acceptance that God can give and take life as He pleases according to His infinite wisdom. God never does anyone any wrong. Job 1:20-21 ; 1 Sam 2:6 ; Deut 32:39 ; James 4:13-16 Our life is not our own. It belongs to God and He decides what life is for. In our message today, let us examine what matters most to Jesus when it pertains to a life of sacrifice.
- Value The New Creation Life
Jesus does not want the elects to waste their lives after being born again. If God wills, many of us have several decades to live on earth before we go back home. All of us have to give an account of what we did with our lives. A person’s “life does not consists in the abundance of his possessions” Lk 12:15 Accumulating things is not what life is for. This night our life will be required of us and then whose will this possession be? No sane person on his deathbed ever was comforted by his possession. Lk 12:16-21 ; Mt 16:24-26 Is it possible to waste our life? After embracing the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, few things should make us tremble more than the possibility of taking this onetime gift of life and wasting it. More and more we smell eternity. How can we use our lives well for God’s glory. Life is so short and so fragile and so final. We got one chance to live our life and then a certain judgment. Heb 9:27 We should decide resolutely that our remaining energy and freedom, we will pour out for Christ and His Church so that when we meet Him, we will smile at His Word, ‘well done good and faithful servant.’
- Essence Of The New Creation Life
What is the essence of the new creation life? It is a life that puts the infinite value of Christ on display for the world to see. The passion of the new creation life is to joyfully display the supreme excellence of Christ by the way we live. Our new life is given to us so that we can use it to make much of Christ. Possessions are given to us so that by the way we use them, we can show that they are not our treasure but Christ is our treasure. Money is given to us so that we will use it in a way that shows money is not treasure but Christ is our treasure. The great passion of the new creation life is to magnify Christ. Phil 1:20-21 Paul’s all consuming passion was that in his life and his death Jesus Christ be honored, that is, that Jesus be made to look like the infinite treasure that He is. The reason we have new life is to make Jesus look great. Phil 3:7-8 Paul displays the worth of Christ by counting everything else as loss for Christ’s sake. It is a life that uses everything to show that Christ is more valuable than it is. Money is used to show that Christ is more valuable than money. Time and talent is used to show that Christ is more valuable than time and talent. Food is used to show that Christ is more valuable than food is. Houses, land and cars are used to show that Christ is more valuable than they are. Family, friends and our life are a place to show that Christ is more valuable than any of them. We display the supreme worth of Christ in our lives by treasuring Christ above all things.
- Essential Things For Living The New Creation Life
a. Life and death are given to us as a means to display the supreme value of Christ. Phil 1:20-23
b. The supreme value of Christ is displayed when we treasure Jesus Christ above all earthly things and all other earthly persons.
c. This treasuring of Jesus Christ above all earthly things and persons is most clearly seen in what we gladly willing to risk or to sacrifice in order to enjoy more of Him. 2 Cor 12:9-10
Are we going to waste our new creation life away with the rest of the world by striving to minimize our sacrifice and maximize our comforts in this life? Are we going to work for the bread that perishes? Build bigger barns? Lay up treasures on earth? Strive for the praise of man? Or will we see in Christ baptized, crucified and risen as all satisfying treasure of our life. I believe when God raises up a generation like us at NCCkl, a completion of the Great Commission will come to pass. It will not come to pass unless a generation is joyfully willing to lay down their lives.
If our passion is to display the worth of Christ, treasure Him above all things, risk and sacrifice for the display of His supreme value, then God will use us mightily to fulfill His purposes in these last days.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” Heb 11:17-19
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know what is sacrifice at its highest point. Abraham came to the place where he gave back to God what was always God’s in the first place. Abraham’s faith teaches us to hold lightly what we value greatly.
Elects ought to know that it is the kindness of God that led Abraham to Moriah to offer Isaac. Likewise, it is God’s kindness that leads us back to the place of sacrifice where we yield up to Him our dreams, our desires, our plans, our hopes, the things we own, our loved ones and finally we give to God the life He gave us in the beginning.
It is God’s kindness that is on display in this story.
No wonder in Hebrews 11:17-19, the writer focusses on three aspects of Abraham’s amazing faith where sacrifice is demonstrated at its highest point.
- Sacrifice At The Highest – Test vs 17
In reality, this story presents several problems. How could a loving God ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son? Some critics have dismissed the story on the grounds that it presents a grotesque caricature of the God of the Bible. It would have been enough if God had simply said ‘take your son’. Instead, God qualified that phrase in three ways. ‘Your Only Son’ – not forgetting Ishmael was also his son but meaning that Isaac was the promised son. Isaac – the son for whom Abraham and Sarah had waited for 25 years. ‘Whom You Love’ – which might seem as if God was mocking him but these words were to reassure Abraham that God knew what He was asking. By saying it this way, Abraham would know that God understood what it would cost him to obey. This is what God told Abraham to do, sacrifice your Isaac by killing him and burning his body as an offering to God. At that point, the man of faith only had two options. Either you obey or you don’t. If you stop to argue, that in itself is a form of disobedience. If you try to talk God out of it, that too is disobedience. If you offer an alternate plan, that is also disobedience.
- Sacrifice At The Highest – Trust vs 18
At this point, the writer wants us to think about what was at stake. We naturally focus on the unimaginable sorrow of losing a child. Nothing in all the world seem more trying than for parents to bury their children. In this case, God told Abraham to offer his own son. Abraham was fully prepared to do it, so prepared. In fact, Heb 11:17 actually says that Abraham ‘offered’ Isaac as a sacrifice, meaning that when he laid his son on the altar and raise his knife, Abraham fully intended to put him to death. Naturally our minds focus on that aspect because it is so poignant and personal. In Gen 12:1-3, God had said that He would bring forth a nation from Isaac’s descendant. Here we are faced with what seems to be enormous contradiction. God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac while having promised to bring forth offspring through Isaac. The promise and the command seem to flatly contradict each other. Abraham did not know how God would do it. He just knew God would do it somehow. Herein lies a lesson for all of us. When God makes a promise, it is folly and disbelief to wonder how He will keep His word. Faith does not reckon with ‘how’. Faith believes and leaves the ‘how’ in the hands of God. There are times in life when our only job is to take the next step. We aren’t called to figure out the big picture or to explain where it will lead. This is the true life of faith.
- Sacrifice At The Highest – Triumph vs 19
In this verse, we learn something that is only hinted at in Gen 22. Twice in that chapter Abraham intimates that he expects that somehow, some way, God was going to work things out so that Isaac would live. Gen 22:5 Abraham believed that he and his son would somehow return together. The writer of Hebrews tells us why Abraham could talk like that. Abraham believed that God could raise the dead. Gen 22:7-8 Abraham reasoned from what he knew about God to what he knew about the situation. Abraham offered his son, the Father offered His Son. Isaac carried the wood, Jesus carried the cross. Isaac was laid on the altar, Jesus was nailed to the cross. Abraham was willing to put his son to death, the Father willed that His Son should die. The ram was offered in the place of Isaac, Christ was offered in the place of sinners. Abraham received his son back ‘figuratively’, Jesus literally rose from the dead.
What are we suppose to take away from this true story? In summary, God is saying, ‘I asked for your most precious possession and you gave it to me.’
“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead…” Phil 3:10-11
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that Jesus is the greatest gift that God willingly shared with humanity. Born as a Man on earth, the Son of God came to share His life with all men. Through His baptism, Jesus took the sins of the world upon His body, experienced death for every individual person and was raised from the dead to secure our justification of faith in the righteousness of God.
Likewise, elects born of the Spirit of Christ ought to share their life with others. God has not stopped sharing His Son through us to those who believe in the righteous act of Jesus. In our text, the Apostle Paul nicely sums up what the elects are supposed to be before sharing with others. Christianity is definitely not a religion of rules and rituals that one must work to climb the ladder of heaven. In fact, it is a personal growing relationship with the risen Christ that results in our growing conformity to Him.
Our goal is to know Him and to become like Him in order to share our lives.
- The Goal Of The Elect Is To Know Christ
Jesus said the same thing when He prayed, “and this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent.” John 17:3 Christianity is primarily a growing relationship with the infinite God Who has revealed Himself through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. As with all relationships, it begins with an initial encounter. It is the same with our relationship with Jesus Christ. Everyone has a story about their first encounter with Jesus. However, we can know a lot about someone without knowing the person Himself. As such, ‘sharing becomes you’ requires us to know who Jesus claim to be, things He did and taught, understand His baptism and death for our sins and that He was raised bodily from the dead. Like any relationship, once we have met, we must cultivate that relationship. Cultivation requires time. Closeness and intimacy are essential to foster strong relationship. We cannot know the Triune God except as He has chosen to reveal Himself to us in the Word. Heb 1:1-3
- The Goal Of The Elect Is To Be Like Christ
When we met our future mate, fall in love and got married, our life was permanently changed. We would never be the same again. It is the same, only much more so, when we meet Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Jesus marks us for life, the more we spend growing to know Him, the more we are different. Phil 3:10-11 shows the components and direction of the change that goes along with knowing Christ.
a. To be like Christ requires knowing the power of His resurrection. Eph 2:4-6; Acts 26:18; Col 1:13
Changes to one’s life is accomplished not through human persuasion or through self improvement program. They require the same mighty power of God that raised Jesus from the dead.
b. To be like Christ requires knowing the fellowship of His sufferings. 1 Pet 4:19 ; Rom 8:17-25 ; 2 Cor 1:5
Our Savior came to suffer for our sins by accepting the baptism of righteousness and to be crucified on the cross. His entire ministry was marked by misunderstanding, rejection, opposition, betrayal and death. While we can never enter into His suffering in the same way that He suffered, yet there is a sense in which we can never be like Him if we do not go through suffering and learn to entrust our souls to our faithful Father in doing what is right. Fellowship points to closeness or intimacy.
c. To be like Christ requires being conformed to His death. Gal 2:20 ; Col 1:15 ; Rom 8:13
This phrase is related to ‘fellowship of His sufferings’ and grows out of it. It also has another dimension which Paul describes in many other places, that of dying to sin and self through the baptism and death of Christ. When we trust in Christ, we are placed ‘in Christ’ which means we are united with Jesus in His baptism, death and resurrection. We have to live experientially what is true of us positionally. This is what Jesus meant when He said that whoever follows Him must deny self and take up His cross daily. Lk 9:23
d. To be like Christ will be realized in the resurrection from the dead. Phil 3:11 ; Rom 8:17-21
Paul is referring to the future resurrection of the righteous at the return of Christ, when our mortal bodies will be transformed into the likeness of Christ resurrected body, free from sin. We will then share in His glory throughout eternity.
“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world..” 1 John 4:17
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that it is God’s plan from the beginning to make man like Jesus Christ. Emulating our Master cannot be achieved without spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity in turn cannot be achieved without a deep understanding and persistent application of the virtues of Scripture. All we know, all we understand, all we believe about the truths of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness must come together into patterns of thinking which become habitual and then we must follow through with our words and our deeds as well.
The Gospel of God’s Righteousness not only saves us but also teaches us to emulate our Master’s faith, perseverance, generosity and His wisdom.
Let us identify some of the character traits of our Master that we the elects should emulate.
Without a doubt, Jesus was the ultimate servant. Although He was praised as a great teacher and had a great following, Jesus made sure to teach us to be servants by actually doing it Himself. Mk 10:45 Despite having the authority to get anything He wanted, have people praise and pamper Him, Jesus did the exact opposite by lowering Himself in serving others.
Jesus never looked away from people but He always looked upon them and had compassion. Mt 9:36 Whenever people were around him, Jesus understood what their real needs were and sought to address them. At times, for some, physical healing was necessary, for others the root issue was spiritual.
One of the most startling things said in Scripture is found in Luke 23:34, when Jesus was on the cross and proclaimed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Even while bleeding and experiencing pain, Jesus had His heart set on forgiveness – even forgiving those who put Him there in the first place!
Obviously, Jesus had a love for others. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t be compassionate nor a servant. Jesus claimed that there is no greater love than to die for others. If anyone doubts His love, all they have to do is to look upon His willingness to be baptized by John so that He may carry our sins upon Himself and die on the cross for our sakes. He endured with joy the horrible death so that we can be saved and sanctified in order to be rescued from this present wicked age and world order.
No matter how busy His ministry got, He found time to be alone and pray. Whether it is the Garden of Gethsemane or on a mountain top, Jesus constantly prayed. People always try to find Him and He never turned them away but He also made sure to make it a priority to spend time with His Heavenly Father.
Jesus had no lack of commitment whatsoever. Wherever He was, whoever He was with, He was fully committed to His goal and mission. Despite praying fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane to avoid the agony of bearing the cross, He stayed completely committed to the Father’s will. There were certainly many obstacles during His ministry but Jesus stayed on track and finished strong.
Jesus had every opportunity and right to demand praise and accolades for His miracles and teachings but He never did. Even when the crowd sought to make Him King, He rushed away from their grasp. He did not want to become a sideshow performance that people could enjoy. Instead, He wanted to seek and save the lost and offer forgiveness for the sinners.
8. Self Control
Prior to His earthly ministry, Jesus spend time being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Although He was offered food, power and privileges, Jesus controlled His desires and submitted to the will of the Father. Yes, He had desires for food and such but He had a greater desire to obey His Father and accomplish His will.
“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” Gen 8:22
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that the time of spiritual harvest which God has appointed is drawing near. Therefore, the elects at NCCkl have a huge responsibility to fulfill in these last days. If we look around, we will find many signs of spiritual and physical decadence occurring rapidly.
It is imperative for God’s elect to be properly informed about the Age we are in. The world will become more chaotic and the ministry that NCCkl does will shine forth even more brightly.
Spiritual harvesting must not be done out of obligation but must be done with faith which believes in the righteousness of God.
In Mt 9:35-38, Jesus gives us a picture of the world being ready for a great spiritual harvest. Jesus is seeking for laborers to gather the harvest into the barns. As elects, how should we respond? The Lord told the disciples that there are three ways that people will respond to the needs of others.
Elects ought to have an outward response, an inward response or an upward response. Today, through this passage we are going to look at each of these responses since we may react in or more of these ways when we face hard times or when we see others in need.
- Our Outward Response vs 36
Jesus was affected by what He saw and He was moved with pity and sympathy in this verse. The word ‘compassion’ means to suffer alongside. God’s eyes are eyes of compassion but what does He see? Nearly all the population of the world currently are desperately in need of salvation from eternal death. They are without a shepherd and aimless. They are constantly being harassed and severely attacked physically and spiritually. Many are under the captivity of Satan’s deception and endure immense suffering. How do we the elects see the world around us? Are people mere passing trees? We must look outwardly like Jesus with compassion, reflecting the concern God has for people. Elects must view the world outwardly by putting on the lens of God.
- Our Inward Response vs 37
If the word ‘compassion’ describes the vision we should have outwardly, the word ‘laborer’ in this verse describes the commitment we should have inwardly. The Bible describes us as workers, laborers, servants, stewards, soldiers and ambassadors. All these words convey our position. We are at the disposal of our Master. There are so many elects who will be rewarded someday not because they did something spectacular or had some great gifts but because they were faithful in what they did and how they did it. God knows there would always be a remnant that would remain faithful to Him. We must view ourselves as people at the disposal of our Master, Jesus Christ. The elects must recognize their divine call and actively participate in God’s redemptive plan for mankind. 1 Cor 4:1
- Our Upward Response vs 38
In vs 36, Jesus speaks of the need of people. In vs 37, Jesus emphasizes the need for laborers. In vs 38, Jesus wants the elects to pray. Prayer reminds us that we have a Master and the harvest belongs to Him. We are His laborers given the greatest privilege to serve His Kingdom on earth. As we remember our position as laborers, we should also remember Whom we serve, the Lord of Harvest. We are called to pray but many of us are strangely indifferent about prayer. Maybe we are afraid that if we pray for the Lord to send laborers, we will end up being called ourselves. As elects, we are an important part of what God wants us to do in this fallen world. Unfortunately, only a few elects are working for Jesus and that is why He says, “the laborers are few.” Perhaps, the lack of laborers in NCCkl going into Christian service as a career is the result of our failure to obey Jesus’ command here in vs 38 – to pray for laborers to be raised up. When we pray for the Lord to thrust forth laborers into His harvest, pray that God will give them the heart of a shepherd. Pray that the Lord will give us a heart of compassion for the lost souls. This is why we are in NCCkl – a beam of hope in the middle of a hopeless world. Let us be God’s laborers, viewing people compassionately, submitting and praying to Christ our Master and allowing Him to use us for His purpose.
“Now when Jesus ……….only speak a word, ……….I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! “ Mt 8:5-10
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to recognize that faith in the Word of God produces a wonderful and blessed life. Blessed are those who have true faith in the Word of God. Though we may have nothing to show before God, if we only have faith in His Word, then the blessings will come to us in abundance.
The passage about this centurion speaks to the elect that faith in God’s Word is the authentic faith before God. God is pleased with such a faith.
This faith comes when we believe in God, Who does everything and fulfills everything just with His Word.
At NCCkl, we encourage and facilitate Word saturated fellowship among members to exercise their faith by ‘only sharing a Word’ with one another. Let us identify several key factors found in this passage that enhances wholesome fellowship among fellow members that glorifies God.
- Why Is It Important For Elects To ‘Only Share A Word’?
- Elects ought to share God’s Word because it encourages others to follow the path of righteousness by faith. We might not know the entire Word of God but if we share the Word, it releases supernatural healing and restoration to others.
- Elects ought to share God’s Word because today’s Christianity is drifting away in a wrong current. The sad reality is that many are now following the mistaken faith based on emotions, experiences and materialism due to lack of wholesome fellowship. Such paganistic beliefs will make inroads if it is left unchecked and cause erosion of genuine faith in the Gospel Word. As a result, unbelief will slowly creep in and take center stage during our fellowship and will hinder progressive growth in the new creation life.
- Elects ought to share God’s Word because there is a huge difference between the faith of those who believe in pseudo gospel that consists visions, sign and wonders and that of those who put their absolute faith in the Word of God. Compared to the faith of the centurion, the faith of today’s misled Christians are one that seeks after miracles and signs for temporal relief. The faith of this centurion is the same as our faith which believes in the Word.
- Elects ought to share God’s Word because the remission of all our sins is fulfilled by the Word of God. There is nothing that a paralyzed person can do on his own nor can a spiritually paralyzed person make his sins disappear by his own will. Elects saved from eternal death must constantly share the Word of deliverance to others. No one can receive the remission of sins and be born again apart from faith in the Gospel Word. Heb 1:3 ; John 1:13
- Elects ought to share God’s Word because God’s Church is a gathering of those who have been born again of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. It is the gathering of the sinless and righteous, who are called to be the saints of God. 1 Cor 1:2 A place that enables one to put down their own thoughts and understanding, believe in the Word of God and saints sharing the Gospel Truth to others.
- Why Elects Can Be Bold To ‘Only Share A Word’?
The word ‘sharing’ sometimes sends a shiver down the spine of some elects. There are many excuses elects use for not sharing the Word of God. Here are some truth from Scripture that encourages us to take a bold step outside our comfort zone and into the exciting world of sharing our faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.
- It is by the power of God that people are saved, encouraged and refreshed. It is not our effort, ability and this should take the pressure off us when people are not responding when we are sharing.
- When we share our faith, we gain a deeper understanding of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. In sharing, we ourselves are reminded of God’s awesome work in our lives. This deepens our love and understanding of Christ. Philemon 6
- When we share, be prepared for rejection. Even Jesus was rejected. Success in sharing is measured not in the outcome but in our obedience to the command of Christ. Mt 19:16-30
- The Holy Spirit will give us the words. Lk 12:11-12 If God can speak through a donkey like He did in Num 22:28, elects should be no problem for God to use! Take God at His Word.
- Our job is to plant seeds or water the soil. God takes care of the growth. God is the One Who gives life both physically and spiritually. We should take the opportunity given to plant seeds by sharing the Gospel Word and to water seeds already planted. Ultimately, it is God Who helps the person to grow.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey..” Zech 9:9
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know who God chooses as His servants and how they are used by Him. Many are receiving the remission of sins and we need servants to lead and give them guidance in their walk with the Lord.
Who then are those used by God? Let us glean from Matthew 21 :1-11 to identify correctly the servants that God uses for His glory.
- God Uses Servants Untied From The World Mt 21:1-3
God uses those who have been loosed from their worldly ties. Those who are tied to the world cannot become servants because they still hold fast to many things of this world. Those who have been freed from the world are used by God as His precious instruments. Among the elects, some can become God’s servants while others can’t. Those who are unqualified to become servants are those still tied to carnal and material pleasures. God loosens the ties through His servants. John 11:44 Our Lord Himself does not untie them personally but loosens them through His servants. The donkey mentioned in the passage was also tied to the world. A stake was driven into the ground and the donkey was tied by a rope to this stake. The donkey work for his master. Just as the donkey is a worker to his master, we are also God’s servants once we are born again. However, if we are still tied to the world, God cannot use us. Only when we are released from the world can the Lord ride us and enter Jerusalem with us. How many ties do you have that bind you? One may be tied to his acquaintances, to his emotional attachments, to power, to basic needs or even to oneself. All these ties must be loosened by God’s servant before we can be used by God,
- God Uses Servants Redeemed From Satan Exo 13:13
When Jesus and His disciples came near Jerusalem, He said to two of His disciples, “go into the village opposite and you will see a donkey and a colt. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything, tell them that the Lord will have need of them.“ This is something only the Lord can say. Jesus Who has redeemed us is more than able to do this because He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, including the donkey. The Lord commanded His disciples to loosen the tied donkey and bring it to Him. The disciples obeyed and did as they were told. Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on this donkey. All of us, without exception, must be put to death because of our sins. However, by believing in the baptism and the death of the Lamb of God we have been born again and redeemed from the curse of the Law and Satan. These donkeys, having received the remission of sins are God’s servants. Even though we are Adam’s descendants and were destined to die for our sins, now having been redeemed through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, we can be used as servants of God. It is by using servants like us that God fulfills His will and purposes on earth.
- God Uses Servants That Are Lowly Mt 21:5
The Scripture above describes how Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem. The King of kings was riding a donkey that was loosed from the bondage of the world. He rode the donkey into the city out of humility. The Lord is the King of Heaven but He entered Jerusalem riding on a lowly donkey. In the Bible, donkeys refer to the descendants of Adam who have not been born again. Adam and Eve, did not believe in the Word of God and disobeyed it out of stubbornness. God described them as donkeys. Someone who has a stiff neck and is stubborn is called a donkey. Who are made servants of God? Even though we are still as stubborn as donkeys after being born again, God continues to use us as His servants in our insufficiency. While it is a donkey that Jesus rides, it is a special donkey that has been freed from the world. It is glorious to be used in the work of the Lord. The Lord works through us, the elect, the people of God who are imperfect and haughtily stubborn.
God works in us so that we will not live for our own flesh but for the souls of others.
We are so thankful to God for using someone so lowly like us. We must desire to do the work of Jesus, that is, to serve the Lord. How glorious it must have been for the donkey to carry Jesus on His back on that triumphant day. When the donkey carried Jesus on his back, normally it was supposed to be whipped by his master. Instead, the multitudes spread their clothes before the donkey. I can say that the donkey enjoyed the greatest glory of its life time. Even though there are countless donkeys in the world, I believe that the donkey chosen and used by Jesus is the most blessed one.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Mt 6:33
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to serve the Gospel of Christ without wavering in their faith till the end. The Lord says that for the righteous believers in the Gospel Word, the wisest life is led when we set our minds on serving the Gospel.
What will then happen in contrast if the born again live according to their fleshly desires. The Lord says that He will annul such people’s salvation and cast them into separation no matter how they may have confessed with their lips that they believe in the Gospel Truth. The Lord calls such people wicked and lazy servants. The Lord says that in the end times, He will sort out the wicked from the righteous and cast them out into the darkness. Mt 13:49 ; Mt 25:26 Let us explore essential characteristics of a faithful servant who serve the Gospel.
- Serve The Gospel To Those Who Cannot Repay Us Lk 14:12-14
We can apply this passage to both the physical and spiritual aspects of our lives. While living on earth, we should refrain from inviting the rich and treating them to a meal. This is because the rich can repay us and once they repay us, our hospitality is all rendered in vain. Whenever we spend money or treat someone to a meal, we should do so for those who cannot repay us. How can we spend our money on those who cannot repay us? We can do this when we spend our money to serve the Gospel. If we were to invite the rich and just give them some material hospitality, they will feel burdened by this and think about ways to repay us somehow. However, the poor will be unable to repay us when we serve the Gospel and our reward is in Heaven.
- Serve The Gospel After Calculating First Lk 14:28-33
All the words spoken by the Lord are the truth. God’s Word continues to be something very important for those who serve the Gospel in this fallen world. Therefore, we must think about how we can continue our lives of faith incessantly and unwaveringly until the coming of the Lord. We must count and calculate it well to succeed in our endeavors. We will gain much help and strength if we were to live out our lives by thinking and calculating in advance whether we can serve the Gospel no matter what challenges we face. Furthermore, the Lord says to us that people who try to serve the Gospel after having taken care of their own difficulties first cannot serve this beautiful Gospel. What the Lord requires is a higher commitment from His faithful servants. It is neither a fleshly requirement nor a religious requirement. God requires us to follow Him unconditionally when serving the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The Lord’s disciples are those who serve the Gospel to the end. Those who throw away worldly passions and follow the righteousness of God can follow the Lord despite their lacking or shortcoming. They can serve the Gospel with the Lord’s strength, power and blessings. Not just anyone is useful to the Gospel and not just anyone can serve the Gospel. Someone who is of great use to the Gospel is a person who leads a life of perseverance and endurance.
- Serve The Gospel After Denying Ourselves Lk 14:25-27
If we are to become the disciples of the Lord who serve the Gospel, we must first know three things according to this passage. Our Lord said “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” To become a disciple of the Lord to serve the Gospel, we have to do likewise. It is easy to be saved from our sins by believing in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness but it is not easy to become the disciple who serve the Gospel. First, to become the Lord’s disciple we have to hate our loved ones and even our own lives. What does this Word mean? When God says that we should hate our loved ones, this does not mean we detest or disown them. This means that if our own lives or relationship with our family members hinder us from following our Lord, God tells us to hate this relationship and worldly things. Secondly, to serve the Gospel, the Lord told us, “whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Lk 14:27 We have to bear our cross and follow the Lord. We all have difficulties. Only those who can follow the Lord in difficulties can serve the Gospel effectively. Thirdly, what do we need to become in order to serve the Gospel? “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Lk 14:33 What does God mean ‘by all that we have’? The Lord is not referring to material things when He speaks of this. Indeed the Lord provides us with materials.
The Lord is saying that to serve the Gospel we must forsake our pride and self righteousness.
To serve the Gospel after we are saved, we should not insist on our own righteousness or faithfulness. This third test is much more difficult and harder than the first and second test to serve the Gospel of Christ.
“not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Rom 12:11
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that serving becomes us when we are united with Christ in spiritual union. This spiritual union occurs when we are baptized into Christ Jesus. The Bible explicitly declares that Jesus came to the world not to be served but to serve. As such, elects baptized in Christ are ultimately saved by grace through faith to serve the righteousness of God.
God has bestowed upon us all divine power to serve through our personal knowledge of Christ Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence. The will of the Father is not for us to go out and serve with our own human strength and grit.
Much more than that, the will of the Father is first our sanctification by the Gospel Truth so that we may receive the Holy Spirit Who will serve through us.
In this message I seek to enlarge our understanding on some key ingredients that Jesus adopted during His ministry on earth. Listed below are some indispensable approach required to serve the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.
- Jesus Served With Purpose
Serving becomes us when we do all things in Christ with purpose to glorify God. Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, He was purpose oriented when fulfilling the office as a Messiah. He relentlessly proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom, administered grace to humanity and demonstrated mighty works as the King of the universe. Elects are anointed by the Holy Spirit to do likewise. The disciples were purpose driven and never lacked in zeal. They served the Gospel with earnest endeavor to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- Jesus Served With Power
Serving becomes us when we operate through the demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. Jesus served with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Serving the Gospel is spiritual. The adversary in the spiritual realm constantly wants to undermine our services for the Lord. Human resolve and resilience is not enough to lead one to the saving knowledge of Christ. Our total reliance and guidance by the Holy Spirit is paramount. The disciples served the Gospel with supernatural power. 1 Cor 2:1-5
- Jesus Served With Urgency
Serving becomes us when we serve the Gospel with urgency. Jesus was always on time to serve the dire needs of the people. Salvation from eternal death is the most important thing in one’s life. Death comes like a thief. There is no place for procrastination when we are engaged in the service of the Lord. The disciples serve the Gospel as though there was no tomorrow. The disciples emulated Jesus and showed urgency when evangelizing the lost to fulfill the Great Commission.
- Jesus Served With Love
Serving becomes us when we serve the Gospel with love. The essence of drawing men to God is love. After all, it’s God’s unconditional love that saves us. The disciples served the Gospel with love as though they owed love to men. Elects who have experienced God’s love are duty bound, obligated and indebted to administer the love of God when serving the Gospel to the lost. However, love does not tolerate sin, compromised the purity of the Gospel or dilute the seriousness involved in repentance, faith and judgment. Jesus was unperturbed when establishing the absoluteness of the Gospel message even to those who disagree.
- Jesus Served With Joy
Serving becomes us when we serve the Gospel with joy and gladness. Paul declared that the joy of the Lord was his strength. Jesus endured His baptism and the cross with joy knowing that those who would believe in His righteous act would be saved. Jesus wants His joy and delight to be complete and overflowing in us when serving one another. Nothing can be more joyful than serving the Lord.
- Jesus Served With Compassion
Serving becomes us when we serve others with compassion. Jesus showed utmost empathy and pity towards those who were in need. We were saved by the abundant mercy of God and not because we were wonderful human beings. A heart without compassion is useless to the Master’s work. Likewise, the disciples of Jesus out of compassion laid down their lives for the lost.
- Jesus Served With Humility
Serving becomes us when we serve the Gospel with humility. Our Lord Who is God humbled Himself to be born as a man to serve the Gospel. The humble heart attracts grace. Humility is the hallmark of a true servant. The Spirit of Christ enables us to serve the Gospel in humility. With humility we should be eager and strive earnestly to serve the Gospel of God’s Righteousness in these last days.
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matt 9:35-38
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to pray and do God’s work. The age of tribulation has indeed begun in this age and time where countless sinners are lost and wandering in their sins. Elects need God’s supernatural empowerment to preach the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that can save lost souls. Though we at NCCkl are few in number, let this year be a year when we testify God’s true Gospel Word in this age of the end times.
God is working among the righteous to bear witness to the Gospel Truth. Elects at NCCkl are already anointed and inspired to serve the Lord. Let us examine who among us can become God’s worker.
- Only The Righteous Can Become God’s Worker
It is those who believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection and whose souls have been born again are able to save souls. Only they can preach the Gospel Word of righteousness. It is only when we receive the remission of sin, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and make us God’s worker. Acts 1:8;Acts 2:38 If one can witness that his sins has been blotted out and that he now has no sin in his heart, this is the evidence of the fact that the Holy Spirit has come into his heart. It is because the Holy Spirit guarantees our witness that we have now become sinless by believing in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. When we have an opportunity to preach the Gospel, we may feel nervous or afraid but it is ultimately the Holy Spirit Who really works in our lives. Mt 10:20 On contrary, anyone who does not believe the Gospel of God’s Righteousness is not qualified to become God’s worker. Why? It is because Christian sinners cannot bear witness to the Righteousness of God. As such, Christian sinners whose hearts have retained their sins cannot be used by the Holy Spirit as His instrument. No matter how much such Christian sinners are devoted to the work of God, sadly everything is in vain.
- Only Those Who Love Souls Can Become God’s Worker
Among the righteous, it is only those who have compassion for the souls of sinners and whose hearts desire to save them can become the workers of God’s Gospel.
They may not be particularly gifted nor articulate or have anything else that is even remotely remarkable but the righteous whose heart desire every soul to be saved are qualified as God’s workers. Among the righteous, those who love souls, even though they themselves have no power but still desire others to be saved are able to meet the challenges despite their insufficiencies. Whatever we may lack can be filled by faith and taught by God’s Church. It is not easy to save lives, whether spiritually or physically and so proper discipline of faith is really necessary. Elects must discipline themselves until they become experts at preaching the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. We must be filled with God’s Word to serve the Gospel and to lead souls. God’s workers can have spiritual fellowship with sinners only when they listen sufficiently to the Word of God. Elects themselves ought to have the spiritual knowledge of the Word and strong faith in it. However, this training cannot be attained on one’s own. We must be inside God’s Church and hear the spiritual Word that the Holy Spirit speaks to His workers through the Church. No matter how much understanding one may have on the Word on his own, this itself cannot turn into a spiritual sword. Only when we hear and learn the Word through God’s Church, can our knowledge of the Word turn into a spiritual weapon. It is only then we are barely touching others with this spiritual sword. Then they will come to be saved from their sins and be healed from the spiritual illnesses of sin.
- Only Those Who Pray Can Become God’s Worker
Even now, at this very moment, God is still looking for workers to send them into the harvest of lost souls. God is looking for workers who would be faithful to their callings, preach the Gospel of God’s Righteousness and live by faith. By saying that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are too few, God told us to pray to Him to send us more workers to harvest. Having said so, our Lord is also telling us, ‘you who are praying shall go.’ Those who pray to God to send God’s workers are asking this precisely because their hearts yearn to do God’s work. They pray for this because they have compassion for all the lost souls. This is why our God is telling us that we who are praying for this should ourselves go out into the field as His workers. Do you believe in this? In the end times, we need workers who can lead the people of God and nourish them with the bread of life.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord..” 1 Cor 15:58
It is pertinent for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that staying faithful in a faithless world is not a simple matter. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. The important issue is not how we start but how we finish. When we believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, the Lord makes His residence in our hearts. The Lord doesn’t just patch us up with a spiritual bandage and send us on our way. Scripture tells us that we become a brand new creation.
Now, even though we are saved by the water and blood of Jesus, we may find that we continue to struggle in living out a Christian life focused on bringing glory to God. When we lead people in the way of discipleship one of the issues we must deal with is the boring nature of it all. I mean, there is only so many ways we can ‘spice up’ the habits that characterize consistent growth in Christ. There will be many days even elects won’t feel like reading the Bible, pray, serve or do any other practices of spiritual development. Consequently, we might be tempted to reframe or describe spiritual growth as some grand adventure completely free of drudgery. In the end , what we will find is that consistency wins over everything else time and time again.
In today’s message, I want to explore what it truly means to renew our minds by focusing on the Lord, challenging us to examine how our actions are influenced by our consistency.
- Consistency Emphasizes Faith Over Experience
What makes an elect get up and do the same thing day after day regardless of whether we feel like it or not? We could argue that it is simply being a creature of habit but we could also say that such action is driven forward by our righteousness of faith in the Gospel Truth. Elects do the same spiritual practices because we genuinely believe that the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection is the only way to be saved and to remain saved by grace through faith. Elects read the Bible because we believe it is the Word of God and pray because God hears us. The alternative to this kind of consistency is a life driven by experience. If that is the case, our spiritual development is likened to a yo-yo moving up and down with the flippancy of emotion.
- Consistency Causes Roots To Grow Deep
When elects opt for consistency over excitement, we will develop the kind of practices that will carry us through the seasons of spiritual dryness that all of us will encounter. In other words, our roots are grown deep. When elects integrate the same, repeated practices into our lives, day after day, we will find that eventually when we don’t feel anything, when we are suffering, when we simply cannot pray anymore, we will find our roots will have extended well past the shallows to see us through.
- Consistency Works Into Other Areas Of Life
One of the side benefits of this kind of spiritual discipline is that it will work into other areas of life as well. Elects will find, I believe that not only we will be disciplined ‘spiritually’ but physically, emotionally and mentally. Then again, that is why ‘spiritually’ is in quotes because I seem to remember Jesus say that we should love God not only spiritually but with every part of ourselves.
Dear friends, time is our powerful ally. One drop of water at a time and slowly, the landscape changes.
A consistent spiritual life will lead us to attain the fullness of Christ according to the perfect will of God.
“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification…” Rom 4:25
Blessed Resurrection Sunday!
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that with the celebration of ‘Resurrection Sunday’ comes a magnificent reality. This is the glorious power of the resurrection that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. As elects, we believe that God has spoken to us through His Word. We believe God’s Word is true. Ultimately, Christianity is far more than just a world view or a philosophy of life. In fact, Christianity is a living hope and eternal inheritance.
The resurrection provides 5 gifts that make Christianity stand out as unique, remarkable and superior to every other faith.
- The Resurrection Reverses The Garden Curse
We don’t often think of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden when we think of Resurrection Sunday. The Scripture actually tie the two together. The first pronouncement that man would die was in Gen 2:17. God warned Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. After their disobedience, in Gen 3:19 God confirmed the consequences of their sin. From that point on all men were subjected to the punishment of death for the disobedience of sin. Rom 5:12 However, Jesus as the ‘last Adam’ 1 Cor 15:45, negates the final effects of the curse. Though one day we will face physical death, the death of the elect is only a temporal condition while we wait for a resurrected spiritual body like Jesus. 1 Cor 15:49
- The Resurrection Justifies The Elect
Justification is the pronouncement from God that He has accepted Jesus’ perfect sacrifice through His baptism and death as the punishment for our sin. This acceptance by God results in the freeing of the elect from the terminal consequences of sin that leads to eternal damnation. Rom 4:25 tells us that Jesus was raised because of our justification. No elect born of the water and Spirit need ever be concerned with his/her eternal destiny. The resurrection of Jesus Christ makes our destiny a surety. We will enjoy eternal life with Christ in our own resurrected and transformed body.
- The Resurrection Transforms
We already know from 1 Cor 15 that we would receive a transformed body during the resurrection of the righteous. Sometimes we tend to forget that the resurrection provides transformation in this earthly life. We have dramatic examples in the Scripture of this very fact in the lives of those born of the water and Spirit. Following Jesus’ death, the disciples hid themselves away from the Jewish authorities. When the risen Lord showed Himself to them, they were radically changed. The result for the disciples was a transformation from fear to courage. Each of them took the message of the risen Christ with them. They had become dynamic ministers of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. They served for years, with each of them dying a martyr’s death proclaiming the risen Saviour.
- The Resurrection Is Revolutionary
In our English bibles we read the word ‘resurrection’ and think of nothing more than rising up from the dead. However, in Greek there is more than one word used to translate ‘resurrection’. One of those words has a root meaning to rise to revolt as in political revolution. How appropriate is such a word! The person who embraces Christ is doing nothing less than experiencing a revolution in his soul, rejecting the sinful nature for the transformation of a new nature. Rom 6:5-12. The elect is to experience nothing less than a revolution of character having rescued from the dominion of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of light. Col 1:13
- The Resurrection Provide Purpose And Meaning To Life
Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity is meaningless. 1 Cor 15:13-17 How dreadful life would be without the sure hope of the resurrection.
Knowing our future state of a bodily resurrection that God intends, it gives us purpose and direction for life.
Nothing else in life offers the hope, purpose and meaning that the resurrection of Jesus does. Unfortunately, the unbeliever mistakenly looks to a future of uncertainty. None of the religious faith in the world could offer the hope that the resurrection of Jesus Christ brings.
“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days..” Dan 6:10
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that consistency is an essential mark of an elect. In this message, the person of interest is Daniel, the OT prophet. When studying Daniel’s life, we can find the consistency in everything he did. Spiritual consistency is defined as holding together, firm or coherent. When I think of consistency, I think about words like practice, continuing, perseverance, determination and faithfulness.
Daniel is known in the Scripture to be one who was obedient, faithful, diligent, dependable, endowed with a good spirit, a man of prayer and a man who was a diplomat. Our text shows what Daniel did when crisis came.
Consistency is an earmark of an elect.
There are three things I want as elects in NCCkl to consider about the subject of consistency.
- Elect Need To Accept Absoluteness For Consistency
Consider the world’s insatiable appetite for consistency. How important consistency is for athletes, employers, employees, military personnel and doctors to meet their expectation. Consider the Bible’s admonition for consistency. 2 Pet 3:18; 1 Tim 4:12-16; 2 Tim 4:18; Acts 14:22 & Acts 18:11. Elects ought to see how the world demands consistency and how the Bible declares that we as elects should be consistent and continue in our divine call. The plain fact of the matter is that like Daniel, we are consistent in the things that we think is important. For example, if we think it is important to read the Word, then we will consistently read it, etc.
- Elect Need To Know The Necessity For Consistency
It is an undeniable fact that life or death can depend upon one being consistent. Consistency could be the very trait that enables us to make it through our dark valley. It certainly drove Daniel to his knees when crisis came. Daniel benefited tremendously from his previous consistent walk. Consistency itself can be a friend that encourages us to press on and stay true to our commitments.
- Elect Need To Develop An Appetite For Consistency
Looking into the life of Daniel, a sanctified, God honoring walk with our Heavenly Father does not come about by chance, luck, good intention or osmosis. In fact, it does come about by an appetite that has been cultivated over a period of time. Elects must acquire a standard, a disciplined mind set and a consecrated desire for consistency. The appetite should not be feasting on a self promoting and pharisaical motive. No, the elects at NCCkl should aspire to consistently possess right motives in all they do for God’s glory. This attitude ought to be maintained at all times to fulfill our walk and service unto God.
Dear friends, as elects, can we characterize our life as consistent? Our prayer time, bible time, giving, witnessing, godly attitude, walk etc.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Heb 10:23
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that spiritual consistency is a magnificent outcome of a well-developed spiritual life. Neglected spirituality naturally tends to stagnancy, then gradually falls into spiritual deterioration. Spiritual nourishment and right association are very essential to every elect.
Obedience to the Gospel Word of God’s Righteousness is a great door to spiritual consistency. Faith animates our Christian service but fear and love of God maintains our spiritual consistency.
God loves people who walk with him consistently. Spiritual derailment and seasonal spirituality are very visible these days in the lives of many professing elects. Every elect must be awakened and not be weakened.
This sermon has been weighing heavy on my heart. Before I begin, I have to make a disclaimer. I am not even close to perfect but am trying to identify places in my life where I can demonstrate consistent character and pursue a life of integrity. If we can work to eradicate inconsistency in our lives, we open up more room for God to use our lives in influential ways. Here are some practical steps that I am seeking to practice in my life to unlocking consistent character.
- Identify Aspects Of Behavior That Require Change
In Ps 139:23-24, David willingly ask God to show him areas of life that need polishing. As elects, do we do this enough? God knows us intimately, therefore we should not be afraid of being transparent with Him. God desires for us to be whole and healed. Elects at NCCkl have to decide what they ought to change in their behavior to align themselves closely to what they believe. Be brutally honest with God with yourselves. 2 Cor 7:1
- Face The Obstacles That Causes Us To Make Excuses
Elects ought to face the obstacles that causes them to make excuses or justify their lack of change. Kick this nasty habit. It has become second nature for us to lie to ourselves in order to justify actions that bring hindrances to our spiritual consistency. We were created for more than that. It may be confusing to think that consistency comes about because of change, as these concepts seem contradicting to each other but it is true. These are obstacles in our way that can be removed by faith as small as a mustard seed. Mt 17:20 Removing obstacles and justification is the way of saying, ‘God, I trust You…..I have faith that You can guide me to escape temptations that I face and help me to choose holiness this moment.’ Holiness is a by product of integrity and consistent character.
- Take Your Thoughts Captive
Elects ought to take their thoughts captive and bring it to the obedience to Christ. The keys to unlocking consistent character is found in 2 Cor 10:5. Honestly, this is one of my favorite and least favorite Scripture. It can be exhausting, initially, to practice paying attention to every single thought that comes into our minds. It is much like learning a language ….it takes a lot of time and effort at first and then it becomes internalized and habitual. We need to work to be conscious everyday of the decisions we make, however big or small and how close they bring us to being the person we really want to become. Captivating our thoughts and taking responsibility over what we do with them is the key that will get us out of any tempting situations that arises.
- To Be Persistent
Elects ought to nurture a life of spiritual persistence to attain spiritual consistency. Don’t give up trying. This circles back to my intro. It will be easy for me to stop trying to pursue righteousness, holiness, integrity and consistency because I mess up sometimes. It is possible that I might think, ‘well, I have already messed up so badly, so I might as well just keep doing it…..this is just who I am.’ Be really careful to allow your mind to believe this statement even a minute. This doesn’t just apply to ‘big sins or negative behavior, it can be laziness, worry, anger, fear or distraction…..whatever it is, it is not worth getting off the road of consistency. God wants to use our persistence to teach others!
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience..” Heb 4:11
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that unbelief keeps the people of God from entering into the Promised Land and the rest God had promised. Heb 3:19 Elects can draw reference from this verse that unbelief poses constant and dangerous temptation to one’s faith. As such, persevering in faith to the end becomes an indispensable act for all elects at NCCkl.
Entering the rest of God is an alternative expression for entering the Kingdom of God. Elects are to strive diligently to enter into the rest of God. God’s Word is clear that entering the rest of God is neither something guaranteed nor something that happens automatically, once and for all, when one first believes. In contrast, it is something we need to give due diligence till the end. Mt 13:1-23; 1 Cor 9:24-27
In spite of the fact that Jesus paid it all for us through His baptism, death and resurrection, some elects continue to struggle in their faith. If that is your situation today, I implore you to stop trying and start believing. How to enter God’s rest?
Heb 4:12-16 depicts that the Christian life is not one of striving to earn favor rather a life entered into God’s promise and lived out by faith in the Righteousness of God.
- Take Heed To The Word Of God vs 12-13
The Bible is the written Word of God that reveals to us the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. Vs 12-13 is a classic passage on the power of the written Word of God. These two verses reveal several characteristics regarding the written Word of God. It is noteworthy to recognize that the Word of God is living, powerful, cutting and revealing. Elects must be founded in the Word of God to avoid unbelief seeping into their faith.
- Hold Fast To The Son OF God vs 14-15
This simply means that the elects must hold fast to the confession of faith in the person and in the works of Jesus Christ. ‘Hold fast’ means to seize, to grasp with power, hold on and don’t let go. In these verses, we discover that Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God, our Savior. He is also our High Priest. The High Priest in the Old Testament entered into the Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement for the people of God. Jesus has entered into the heavens into the very presence of the Father, as our High Priest. Note that Scripture declares Jesus Christ as a faithful High Priest, a sympathetic High Priest and a victorious High Priest. Elects must consider Jesus Christ as their Apostle and the High Priest at all times to avoid unbelief in their faith.
- Come Boldly To The Throne Of God vs 16
In the Old Testament only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies once a year. After Jesus’ baptism and death, the veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom signifying that the way to God’s Presence was open for everyone who believes in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. In Christ, elects are invited to come boldly to the Throne of grace. This verse is an open invitation to prayer. Elects have the glorious privilege of approaching the very Throne of God. Prayer is our hotline to Heaven, to God Himself. Elects are admonished to come boldly to the Throne of grace in time of need. As we approach the Throne by faith in the Righteousness of God, we will find God’s mercy, grace and promises. Mt 11:28-30 Elects must recognize the open heaven available to them by faith in order to avoid unbelief particularly in times of trouble.
“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Heb 6:11-12
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know why due diligence is important to God. The Bible has a lot to say about diligence. What is it? What should we be diligent about and what does God promise for those who are diligent?
In Heb 6:11-12, Paul was addressing converted elects by the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.
Christianity consists of three things – knowledge, experience and practice.
These three things the elects whom Paul was addressing evidently possessed. They were acquainted with the principles of faith in the Righteousness of God and had tasted the heavenly gift. Let us explore the diligence expected of them:
- Due Diligence Is Important For Knowledge In Realizing And Enjoying The Heavenly Blessings
Paul begins chapter 6 by admonishing the elects, “let us go on unto perfection.” In fact, such a spiritual perfection or maturity was also expected by Christ. I conceive this implies that the elects ought to comprehend all the blessings of God and to have a perfect knowledge of Christian doctrines so that we would no longer be tossed around by every form of teachings. It also implies a perfect possession of all Christian graces that would enable the elects to have full assurance of hope in Christ. More so, elects ought to advance steadily toward spiritual maturity that would lead us to perform Christian duties effectively for the glory of God. Furthermore, it implies the entire dedication of the elects to God, doing all to the glory of God and looking for the glorious appearance of Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
- Due Diligence Is Important In Order To Attain The Blessed State Of Christian Experience And Practice
Here we shall have to answer a query. If this be Christianity, how is it that we see so little of it in the world? The answer is here : “that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” These blessings of which I have been talking about are not given to idlers. Spiritual sluggishness is incompatible with Christianity. Christianity is exhibited by the elects who endure relentless spiritual warfare by exerting all their spiritual prowess. What kind of diligence then is expected of elects?
- “that you do show the same diligence” as they have shown in the commencement. Elects ought to continue using the same diligence when they were first awakened from spiritual deadness. The same amount of zeal, energy, sincerity, loveliness and the excellence of faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness must be displayed.
- Elects are to use the same diligence, diligence proportioned to the end of our spiritual journey. We profess to be Christians, what, then, is the object proposed to us by the profession of Christianity? Surely it is more than a name. Certainly it is eternal life – it is to save deathless, immortal souls!
- Diligence is to be proportioned, not only to the blessings to be obtained but to the evil to be avoided. The evil to be avoided here is the everlasting loss of the soul, the punishment which awaits disobedience to God throughout eternity.
- There must be diligence, again, proportioned to the time allotted to us. How long have you and I to live? How long will probation continue?
- There must be diligence, again, proportionate to that which our enemies are using in seeking our distraction. Are we ignorant of Satan’s devices? Does Satan ever slumber? Are not his temptations, as well as his emissaries, countless?
- There must be diligence, again, proportionate to the means that God gives us for this important end. God has given grace to elects and a measure of the Spirit is given to elects to profit. We have the influence of the Holy Spirit to draw near to God and to receive continual strength of grace.
- There must be diligence proportioned to our daily mercies. Our whole life is one continued mercy. Our salvation is a mercy. Then ought we not to be diligent in the services of God, seeing that the mercies of God are so inexhaustible?
- There must be diligence proportioned to the price paid for our redemption. We are not redeemed with silver and gold or corruptible things but we are bought with a price. Ought we not, considering how valuable we are in the sight of God, considering at what we have been entrusted by our Savior Who saved us – to use diligence proportionate, that we rob not God?
- There must be diligence, finally, in proportion to the relation in which we stand before God Who is our Father and our God. In proportion to the accountability which we must render up to Him in that awful and dreadful day to which we are hastening.