“What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.” A. W. Tozer

Sermon #79: My Salvation - A Moving True Story of God's Grace

I was completely taken by surprise when God sent me to jail!

It had never dawned on my spirit that God had been trailing me all along. You might be in a similar situation.
If you are still unsaved, you've got to understand that God is trailing you and will never give up on you. You will, however, need to come to a point of attentiveness, for you to hear and heed His call. If you become too busy with some other things, you will definitely miss that which is most important to you.

I will walk you through my personal experience, to show you one of the ways that God could use to get hold of straying people.

I graduated from the University of Zimbabwe in 1991. When I was still at college, I thought I would get a job soon after completing my studies. I became even more convinced about this when I passed well in my final examinations - I do not, however, mean that passing well was a new experience for me.

I used to rent a room in Hatcliffe, Harare, when I was in my second year at college, because I had failed to secure accommodation on campus. Even though I eventually managed to get accommodation on campus in my third year, I decided to continue renting the room, as storage for a few belongings that I had acquired.

After completing my degree I returned to Hatcliffe. I had some money for my upkeep that I had saved from my student allowances. I was looking for a job, but it seemed employment was eluding me. I had initially thought that I would get a job within the first quarter of 1992, but things turned out the other way.

I came to a point when I no longer afforded rent and food. The student allowances had run out and I had no other source of income.

I have a relative by the name Clever Makaza. After seeing my plight, he invited me to stay at his place. He was by then renting a flat in Eastlea, where he was staying with his family. I opted to stay in a semi-complete house that he was building in Kuwadzana 2.

I had no money. I had no food. I was lucky that I had found free accommodation. But even though I was in such bad financial shape, I could not bring myself to ask for money from anybody, not even my closest relatives. I said to myself, "I am not employed; if I borrow money how will I repay? What guarantee would I give the lender?" I also considered it improper to ask for donations. So I kept my silence on such issues.

Having noted my attitude, Clever would come to my place, look around in the room to see which food items had run out, then go to the shops to buy the required provisions, without me asking. That’s what kept me alive.

Clever subsequently got saved. I considered it totally naive of him to have done so. I wondered why people worshiped God. I thought that Christians were mistaken somehow. I did not believe God existed; to me, God was an imaginary figure.

One day Clever came to my place and said, "Sekuru, may you please accompany me to church on Sunday. Do not worry about bus fare; I will pay for you."

Clever had put me in a hard place by requesting this. I just did not want to go to church. I had no business there!

I could have used the excuse of being broke, but Clever had already pre-empted this. I could have used the excuse that I was required at work, but Clever knew that I still had not got a job. I could have used the excuse that I had other commitments, but Clever knew too well that I spent my days doing nothing but sit.

So I was in a hard place. The matter was compounded by the fact that I did not believe that God existed. I would have opted to spend the day staring at my shadow than attend church; but I had no choice. I could not let Clever down, given all that he had done for me. So I agreed; but I was going to accompany him only as a favor. Imagine.

The following Sunday I accompanied Clever to church, as per his request. That was during the third quarter of 1992. The service was held in Hatfield. I did not see or hear anything spectacular in the service; neither did I understand much of what was being preached.

After church we went our separate ways.

I thought I was done with the church business, but was greatly disturbed when the following Sunday Clever returned with the same request. "Again!" I complained internally.

I began to wonder what Clever was up to, for he seemed to have suddenly developed a passion for disrupting my peace. But I gave in to his request...again.

Yet something remarkable happened to me during the second service! Like in the previous service, I neither saw nor heard anything extraordinary, but for some reason I came to a decision that totally transformed my life!

As I sat there, I became sensitive to the existence and presence of God. It was like waking up from a dark night into a bright morning…a holy awakening! I said to myself, "I should have worshipped God a long time ago. What has been holding me back?"

I also vowed that if ever Clever was to depart from the way of the Lord I would not follow him. He would go alone. As I write this article, I am twenty-plus years old in the service of the Lord; glory to Him!

God works in wonderful ways!

If you read my story carefully, you will note that all that happened to me was a build-up to this climax. It is true that faith comes by hearing the message.

God is talking to you. You need to listen to Him. Whether you are a Christian or non-Christian, there are words coming from God relevant to your situation.

I sat and listened. As I did, God arrested me. Now I am happy in His prison.

Do I want to get out of this prison? No! Never! I want to remain in, not doing my own will but His; not having my own kind of freedom, but His. My kind of freedom would spell spiritual death, but His means life, always.

I have shared my story with many people and have received comments of various shades. Some understood me because they had experienced much the same thing.

I still remember vividly one comment that I received from somebody who evidently did not believe in God. He said, “You gave your life to God because you were vulnerable at the time. You had no job; you had no money, so you had no choice.”

What this brother did not appreciate is the fact that the decision that I took was not a physical one. It did not come from my brain. It was a spiritual decision that cannot be explained on the basis of human reasoning.

I sat and heard the preacher talk about God. The preacher was so soft-spoken that (in the physical) one could not have been inspired by the words she said or by the way she gave her presentation. I was new to church and obviously could not understand some of the things that the preacher was talking about.

But as I sat in that service, listening to the words, the Holy Ghost worked on me, triggering a mighty awakening on my part. Suddenly, it was like I had known God for ages!

I did not know that God could give me a job; neither did I know that God could straighten my financial status. I did not know that God could give me divine health and guide my ways. The sermon never touched on such things.

The only thing that my spirit grasped in that service was the certainty of God’s existence; and the need for His Lordship over my life.

So I gave Him my life. It had nothing to do with my financial crisis; although it was the financial help that I received from Clever that made me give in to his request to accompany him to church. It certainly had nothing to do with my ‘vulnerability’ because at the time I did not expect anything from God! I did not know exactly how my life was going to change after accepting Him; all I knew was that by accepting Him I had made the best decision ever.

Never be fooled. You might not be lacking any material thing, but if you are not saved, a God-shaped vacuum still exists in you. That vacuum is crying out, “Please fill me!” This cry, if not satisfied, becomes louder by the day; it would take a lot of negative strength for one to continue to ignore it.

Faith comes by hearing. Remember this always.

Sermon #78: The Writer in You

As soon as my first book hit the market, I started to receive e-mail messages, phone calls and short messages on my mobile phone from people from various places and backgrounds. Some just wanted to congratulate me. Some wanted advice.

It would have helped me a lot if I had also received messages from critics, but it seems critics decided to keep their opinions to themselves. It is true that critics, especially those who are strangers, can give very useful comments on anything, because they have nothing to lose by calling a spade a spade.

This article is directed to a special group of people. You might have something in common with this group.

Each member of this group asked me a question that goes something like this: “I have always wanted to write but have not started yet. Do you think I too could write the way you do?”

This is an important question. I am going to give my thoughts on it, to assist you.

Here is a useful saying: “All human activity is prompted by desire” - (Bertrand Russel). This is true. You've got to believe it. ​Here is another: “If you wish to be a writer, write” - (Epictetus).

Honestly, I cannot say whether you could write like I do or not. I actually think that it would be improper for you to try to write like me or like any other person. I do not write like anybody; I write like me. That’s important.

Your writing style should be unique; it should be yours. You will not succeed by copying other people’s styles.

I was reading something the other day, probably a book or magazine, when I came across a powerful statement. The statement went something like this, “If there is something that you are dying to tell, advise or teach the world, and you can arrange ideas in a logical sequence, then you can write.”

I found this statement truly encouraging!

The only difference between writers and non-writers is that writers write and non-writers don’t.

If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be a teacher, teach. One does not become a teacher by obtaining a teaching degree. A teacher teaches. If he does not teach, then he is not a teacher even if he holds a teaching degree. So even if you have some brilliant writing ideas, but you still haven't written them down, then you still are not a writer!

I am a writer because I write. I developed an interest in writing around 1984, but only started writing in 2004, a whole twenty years later! I could have started before 1990 if I been serious then.

Come to think of it, almost everybody has written something in their lifetime. Even pupils in primary school write stories. They have been taught how to arrange paragraphs, to ensure that they do not mix up issues. They have been taught that first things should come first, and that the end should come at the end. It is common knowledge that when one writes about a journey that they undertook, they don’t start by saying, “When I arrived…”

The question is: do you have something that you are dying to tell, teach or advise people? If you have, then you've got a good foundation; you've the motivation to write. If you are not sure, then how would you even start?

I am always dying to tell the whole world about somebody. I just cannot remain silent about Him. That somebody, whom I am dying to tell people about, is God. God is the primary subject of my writing.

I do not mean that every writer should write on the same subject. You could have a different subject, but the bottom-line is the same; it should be a subject that excites you!

If you write about a subject that you are passionate about you will have no difficulties. I always tell people that I never run out of ideas; I only run out of time. I can start writing a new book any time, without the slightest of difficulty.

I know what to write about, and I am passionate about it. When you see me walking down the street, be sure that Christian book and article titles are spinning in my head. “What should I write about next? What title would be most appropriate? What about the content?” These questions are always with me wherever I go.

Sometimes I wake up in the dead of the night to write. One day I got up three times to write things down. Inspiration just flooded my spirit as soon as I got into bed. I don't want to delay putting finger to keyboard when ideas show up; so I get up and write them down.

If you focus on a specific subject, ideas will come to you, as if by some law. An appropriate title for an article or book can come to your mind as you polish your shoes. You need to keep a small notebook on hand, so that you immediately write down ideas as they come, in case you forget them.

You might wonder why I am so passionate about my writing. Writing, as you might appreciate, is not an end in itself; it should be purposeful.

When I say I am passionate about my writing, I actually mean that I am passionate about what my writing is intended to achieve. I am passionate about souls, to win them over to Christ, and to encourage them to be steadfast.

One statement, given by the Master, jolted me into action. Immediately after reading it, I began to urge my fellow countrymen and those beyond to focus on what should be the number one priority in their lives. The statement that I am referring to goes like this: "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36–37). I hope that you now appreciate my motivation.

So if you want to be a writer, start writing today. First write a small plan on your chosen subject. You could end up hilariously surprised at how much you used to underrate yourself!

After writing my first book, I was later surprised that I had written something that went on to generate lots of interest among readers. I would read the book and ask myself, “Is it really me who produced this?” Similarly, you could be holding back value from the world!

I hope that I have helped you, or generated controversy. Whatever the case, I think it was worth it.

Sermon #77: Take Me to a Higher Level, O Lord!

“Lord, please take me to the next and higher level!”

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

This is a noble desire and request, honestly. Every Christian ought to ever be yearning for, and walking towards, higher and higher levels in their journey with the Lord. We need to grow; God expects it of us.

However, looking at it, one may conclude that some believers ask God to take them to higher levels without really knowing or taking time to understand either what this higher level is or what it would take or mean to get there.
I view ‘going to a higher level’ as a choice that one has to deliberately make for themselves.  It’s not just like “I want to go to a higher level.” It’s more than that.
Let us assume that you are the Head of a primary school. One morning you hear a light knock on your door - tap, tap, tap. “Come in!” you respond, and in comes a Grade Zero pupil and says, “Head, please take me from Grade Zero to Grade Five immediately!”

What would your reaction be?
As the Head, you surely would first want to understand the basis of such a petition. Depending on the reasons given by the pupil, you would proceed to make a decision. Let us assume that the pupil goes on to say, “Look Head, I am far above Grade Zero stuff. Not only that, but no Grade Four pupil can stand shoulder to shoulder with me on school work.”
Assume also that the pupil goes to demonstrate his claims by calculating all the Maths problems in a Grade Four textbook without any problem at all. “I get the point; your request is hereby granted,” I guess this is how you would reply.
Now assume that you conclude that this pupil has not mastered even 40% of Grade Zero stuff. In that case, I suppose you would reply, “Look, you are not yet even ready for Grade One; how could you ask me to take you to an even higher grade?”
So it’s not just in the asking. God can take to a higher level only those who are ‘takable’ - those who are ripe and ready for it - those who can properly handle the higher level. By our mouths we may express the desire to go, or to be taken to a higher level - but by our conduct, by our grade, by our quality, we may be sending an exactly opposite message. That’s my view.
A higher level is not like the present level. It means more responsibility. It means improved conduct. It means more polished interactions. It means being higher. Remember, to whom much is given, more will be required.
I think that one needs to meditate on these issues. One needs to ask themselves this question: “Have I fully exhausted what I should do and be in the level that I currently am?” This is why, I suppose, that one does not just get into university straight from home! One has to first sit for an examination at Advanced Level, to prove that they indeed are worthy to get into university.
So my advice is as follows: Before we talk about a higher level, let’s fully consider the present level, because it is what happens in the present level that will determine our readiness for the next level. Seriously! This is exactly what I do. I know that it will be very easy for me to get to the next level if I excel in the current level...and as I contemplate the next level, I am not under any illusion at all.
Let me give you an example. Many believers, including me, ask God for more money. Somebody once said to me, “For a long time I have been asking God for more money, but I haven’t received it up to now. What do you think could be the problem?”
If God gives you more money, He would have taken you to the next level in your finances. Essentially, the question was something like, “What does it take for me to get to the next level in my finances?”
To be honest with you, there are many factors that delay or even permanently block the next level in finances and as far as I am concerned, they all have to do with the individual's circumstances. God is always ready...but are we? Are you?
I believe that one’s attitude towards money is the greatest factor that may delay one getting to the next level in finances. One needs to ask themselves why they seek more money, what kind of person they think they would turn out to be after they receive the money, the nature of their fellowship with God after they become rich, etc. Honest answers would help...and it is such answers that will give a true picture of why things might be turning out the way they are.
God wants us to ask from the standpoint of selflessness, not selfishness. God wants to give us more money so that we might be built up, not destroyed. He wants us rich so that we can fellowship better with Him, with us being rich not merely for ourselves, but primarily for the gospel and other people who might be in genuine need. So God is asking you, “My child, what do you intend to use the money for?”
After considering these issues I concluded that God does not necessarily act in the manner that we want and ask Him to; He acts only in our best interest. 

He is our Father; He wants the best for you and me. As a child, you might not know whether it is honey or poison that you seek at any particular moment.  Over the years that I have worshiped God, I have seen some Christians getting into a sorry state after getting just a few more dollars. Some actually ran into the forest, never to be seen! It's called 'abandoning the faith.'
So, in all things, the Word of God has already been established. What God has planned for us is known and clear. So the question of why certain things might not be happening in your life has nothing to do with God. It is all to do with you. It is all to do with me.
These are just observations. We may differ. We may agree. But even if we differ, we still come to a helpful conclusion, you and me together. So please share your views.

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The Book of Romans - A New Testament Bible Commentary 

Sermon #76: It’s Because of Christ

I am who I am because of Christ.
I am where I am because of Christ.
I have what I have because of Christ.

It is because of Christ from the beginning to the end. There is no ‘me’ or ‘I’ in the middle. That’s my attitude; that’s what I believe.

Christ came into the world for a purpose. 
He suffered for a purpose. 
He hung on the cross for a purpose. 

The moment we set aside this purpose and begin to focus on our own sufficiency, we begin to drift away from the path of grace.

Sadly, there are attempts by some Christians to exalt the ‘me’ over the ‘Him’. “It was because of me that the Lord blessed me,” they say. “It is because I am this and that and have done this and that before the Lord that I now have this and that,” they say.

The question then becomes, “If you are self-sufficient, why did Christ have to go through all the suffering for you?”

Salvation is a mixed bag. Every good thing that one may require is already in the bag. The moment one enters the Kingdom, he enters into everything that God provided through Jesus Christ – eternal life, family, friends, love, hope, mercy, grace, health, wealth, peace, food, drink, clothes, accommodation, income, joy – what people generally refer to as all-round prosperity.

The Bible says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” - Ephesians 1:3 (NIV). Note this – He has blessed us. It starts in the spiritual realm, after which it becomes reality in the natural. The blessings are already available. God has already blessed us through Christ.

Are you a believer? If so, then you are blessed in Christ Jesus - you have entered into the realm of what Jesus has already provided for you! Is it because of what you had done? No, not at all! It was actually for His name’s sake! In fact, you deserved punishment for what you had done!

I have heard some Christians declare, “When I get into challenges, I simply point at all that I have done for God, and I pray, ‘Lord, check my record.’”

I get chills whenever I hear somebody say this!

Which record should God check - your own record or your record in Christ? If God were really to check your record - really, really checking it, do you think you would pass the test?

Would God do anything for you based on your own record? Because God would not check just the aspect you are proud of, but the entire record, if you really want Him to go by records!

Isn’t it that Christians are hidden in Christ – it is no longer them that live but it is now Christ who lives in them? Why not let just your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’? Where could this ‘me’ and ‘I’ mentality be resurrecting from?

The ‘me’ or ‘I’ mentality reminds me of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying. The Pharisee stood and prayed something like this, “Thank you Lord because I am just awesome in every way! I am not like the rest!”

But the tax collector humbly prayed, “Have mercy on me…”

The Bible says the tax collector’s prayer was accepted, but the prayer of the awesome one turned out to be solely for his own consumption!

If you want to ask for something from the Lord just go ahead and do just that; it’s your right. But never try to justify yourself by the works that you have done. If you did, God would respond, “Now that you are relying on your goodness, what does my Son have to do with it? It’s now all about you. So you’ve got to see this through to the end!”

Here is what the Bible teaches: “Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” - 1 Corinthians 1:31 (NIV).

That’s the point.

Never boast in yourself or in the works that you do or have done before God. Instead, whenever you want to boast, boast in what the Lord has accomplished for you, something you did not deserve in the first place!

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” - Galatians 6:14 (NIV).

Let us not empty the cross of its power by emphasising our own works. By emphasising our own works we continue to crucify Christ and make His suffering of non-effect. We nullify the reason for His coming. We also take ourselves back into bondage, into living by our own works, not by the grace of God.

But what is the position regarding doing good works?

The answer is: I am yet to see a really born again person who shuns good works or chooses to be disobedient in the sight of God.

Good works are the DNA of every child of God. The risk we face, however, is the tendency by some to substitute Christ with the good works - with them going about shouting, “I am the man!” or “I am bad! I am bad! You know it!”

Doing good works - being obedient to the Master - is what Paul referred to as living “lives worthy of God.”

That’s what I believe. That’s how I live.

Please share your views on this.