“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 #99: Little Things Do Matter!

Bad behavior remains bad behavior, however much one might try to put some gloss over it. 

On a number of occasions, I have heard people say, “It doesn't matter. It’s too minor a thing to worry about.” Really?

I believe that each of one's actions or omissions has far-reaching impact on their character or reputation.

Everything you do either has a positive or negative effect on your person. The same applies to each of your omissions - the actions that you avoid taking.

So it's not a matter of “is it minor or major?”

If something destroys your reputation, why would you not worry about it? If something reflects positively on you, why would you not be eager to be associated with it, whether it is ‘minor’ or ‘major’?

Our country would certainly be a much better place to live in if only more people cared, or cared more.

Often people think that it is the responsibility of some other people to put things right. They say, “They should do this and that to make things right.” Why “they”? Wouldn't we be much better if we said, “We should do this and that”? or “I should do this and that, or should desist from doing this and that, in order to make things right”?

Let me give you an example. Our streets are filled with litter. It's unimaginable. We never used to see such dirt. Who is to blame?

First to blame is the person who throws garbage onto the streets instead of placing it where it belongs. That's the first culprit.

You find that even where there are rubbish bins close by, some people still choose to throw litter onto the streets, with no remorse at all! What happened to conscience? What happened to hygiene? What happened to civilization?

The second person to blame is the one responsible for ensuring that our streets are kept clean. If you are the one responsible, and you let things go wrong in such a big way, then people start to wonder what you do on a daily basis to deserve your salary! Challenges will always exist, but do people sit and fold hands because of challenges? Isn't it that challenges exist to give purpose to one's mandate?

I feel overjoyed each time I see people on a voluntary clean-up exercise. That's always a remarkable sight, which should provide an important lesson to those who wantonly litter the streets. Just stop for once and reflect on this: somebody litters the streets without even worrying about it; then somebody gets so concerned about it to the extent of cleaning up the dirt for free. This surely is a serious indictment to the careless!

Littering the streets is an act of disrespect – disrespect for oneself, disrespect for other people and disrespect for God who gave you a litter-free environment for your enjoyment. So in a way, a person who litters the streets is telling the world that he/she too is like a piece of trash.

Each time I get a receipt from a shop, I have a tendency of rolling it with my fingers until it becomes a tiny ball. Tiny as it is, which some people would describe as ‘minor’, I always make it a point of placing it in a bin. I just cannot throw it onto the ground, even where there already is ‘major’ rubbish deposited by some other people!

I have seen another evil – spitting. People have a tendency of doing it everywhere, on the tarmac or pathways that people use to get from one point to another. Saliva and phlegm, eish! One has to duck and dive to avoid stepping on such revolting substance.

What exactly is the message that one would be sending by behaving like that? Who would he/she be trying to fix? Would the same person be comfortable stepping on someone else’s phlegm? Absolutely not!

So what happened to love? I visited the offices of The Zimbabwe Standard newspaper sometime. On the staircase was a sign pleading, “Please do not spit on the stairs – By Order”. Imagine that they had to go to this extent to teach people what they should already have learned as kids!

I have also observed another disturbing trend in our society – use of foul words.

One day I said to my wife, “Mai Isaiah, have you by any chance noted that people in this country have become more foul-mouthed than before?” It is unprecedented! Now children have also caught the bug, for they are forced, on a daily basis, to listen to words not meant for public consumption. Some of the words that people speak in public these days are so horrible that I can never utter them even when I am alone!

And some people say, “He is just speaking. He has not hurt anybody. So what’s your problem?” Just speaking? Has not hurt anybody? “Little things”, so people say. But what's the level of the impact of such behaviour?

If you are one of the people who deliberately acts in a bad way or deliberately avoids doing good, then you ought to change your behaviour without delay. It's important.

There is only way to behave - it is called 'the way of love'.

Love should be your behavior, your life, your being, who you are! If you love people, it means you care about them. If you love people, you will not spit on their paths. If you love people, you will not litter the environment they live in. If you love people, you will not say offensive words to them or in their presence.

I have given you just a few examples of wrong behavior that people choose to belittle. There are many facets to this subject. I cannot cover them all in this short installment. What you need to do is to critically examine yourself.

What are the bad 'little' tendencies that still exist in your life? Write all of them down. Now if you look at what you have written, what sort of picture do you think you are portraying to the world? Would one use the adjective ‘noble’ to describe you?

You need to kick out all trash from your life. It has no business being there. And the time is now!

Just like 'big' things, the so-called 'little' things also matter a lot! Always keep this in mind.

Sermon #98: Walk In It

From the time God 'arrested' me I have sought to learn; I have sought to understand the deeper things of God. It’s an endless process; I am still learning.

Over the years, while querying certain things in my mind, I have come to believe that there are two kinds of Christians; just two.

The first group comprises Christians who mean business; Christians who are serious about worship; Christians who are totally focused on the Kingdom life. Such Christians are always alert, always seeking deeper knowledge pertaining to this wonderful life. Above all, such Christians walk their talk. I am sure you have met Christians of this kind. There are not many of them in the world, by my estimation.

On the other hand, there are Christians who appear absent-minded, regardless of the period they’ve worshipped God, to the extent that those who ought to be teachers are still fighting for milk reserved for those in kindergarten. Such Christians are ignorant even of the most basic Christian principles and are not even worried about this. It actually appears as though they are unaware of their new-birth status. This is quite disturbing!

It’s not enough just to be born again. God does not expect us to end at the point of receiving Christ in our hearts. He expects us to go further and live the new life. Yes we are children of God, but we must also walk in the light of our new birth!

Why should Christians live like they are not born again? Why should Christians act like they are still in the world?

Our new birth should burst from the inside and manifest on the outside. We should not just hear the Word and shout, “Praise God!” but we should go on to live it!

Look here: Christians are supposed to be Christ’s ambassadors. Zimbabwean ambassadors abroad are addressed as Your Excellency because they represent the Head of State. They talk the same language as the Head of State, they behave like the Head of State, they do only those things that they know the Head of State would approve; otherwise they would be recalled.

In the same manner we have a Heavenly Head of State, and as Christians we should be representing Him here on earth in the appropriate manner.

People should never see us in us; instead, they should see Christ in us! If people continue to see us in us it means that we are not walking in the light of our new birth. It is just like an ambassador going around claiming to be a Head of State, representing only himself! Would the real Head of State be happy with such an ambassador?

As soon as God 'arrested' me I awakened to His abiding presence. Even as a brand new Christian I became acutely aware of the will of God on various issues pertaining to my life. I believe the Spirit of God started ministering to me right from the time I said, “I do”. I went on to correct whatever I felt needed to be corrected. Wherever I was, I felt like the Father was towering over and in me all the time; I still feel the same way.

God was molding me, just as He continues to do; teaching me to walk in the light of the new birth - teaching me how to be a true representative of Christ on the earth.

There is one verse in the Bible that makes my heart beat a little faster each time I read it. Here’s the verse: Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1, NIV).

Each time I read this verse my attention is drawn to two words. These words are “set apart.” Paul was set apart; glory to God! Peter was set apart. I too was set apart. You were set apart.

The striking thing in this verse is that Paul was fully conscious of his calling; this is why he could speak like that. He said, “I, Paul, was set apart for the gospel of God.” Excellent! Paul could live within the confines of his calling because he was always conscious of it. He was separated unto the gospel. His knowledge of this resulted in him living in the light of his separation!

Are you conscious that as a Christian you were separated unto God? If you are, why would you still live like you were separated unto another?

The Bible says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl (Matthew 5:14-15, NIV). This means only one thing; if you are not living in line with your new birth then you are a light located under a bowl. This kind of light is the same as no light, for it benefits nobody, and God would not be too happy with a light that does not serve the purpose He intended for it.

But what’s the Lord’s instruction on this matter? Here goes“…let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16, NIV). Do you see why God gets disappointed when you fail to walk in the light of your new birth? It’s because people will not see any good deeds in you and will therefore not praise God because of what they see in you. But if your light shines as it ought to, then people will see the sparkle in your life and will want the same thing. You will be able to draw them to God so that they praise Him together with you. You see?

You need to be thinking about these issues always. The world is groaning for salvation, but salvation will only come to them if we, as Christians, live lives that will shine over the unsaved. But if our lights are in reality darkness, then how would we succeed in exhorting others to come to the light that they do not see in us?

Here is something to think about always: “…let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16, NIV).

What kind of a Christian are you?

God bless!

Sermon #97: Are You a Responsible Person?

Today I am going to deal with a very important topic.

I am going to focus on the need for each one of us to act responsibly and I am glad that you've spared some time to read this sermon.

I believe that people were created to be responsible citizens. I am convinced that God never intended that people would act irresponsibly. God is a God of integrity, He's a God of excellence, and nobody could grow into a mature child of God if they continue to act irresponsibly.

When I look around today I see that I have been a victim of irresponsibility, in some way. There are several areas of my life that have been negatively affected by somebody else's irresponsibility, and the same surely applies to you. Just look around you and see for yourself!

But now is the chance for us to rectify things!

When I realised that a number of people were acting irresponsibly, even some who are supposed to be esteemed people in society, I decided to recheck my definition of the word “responsible” because I had begun to think that I could be using a wrong definition.

I said to myself, “If these people, who are supposed to know better, knew the meaning of the word ‘responsible’, they would not be acting in this manner.” 

English is a second language to me; I therefore need to rely on the dictionary a lot. I suppose that even those who are really English do consult the dictionary from time to time.

So I consulted my only dictionary, The Random House College Dictionary. The dictionary defines the word ‘responsible’ as follows: answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power or control. Having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable.

Read the definition again. After you do, you should take a minute of silence to consider the question which says: “Am I a responsible person?” Be honest. Are you accountable for the things within your power and control? Do you always make use of your capacity for moral decisions? 

I now request you to pause reading for while. During this break, write down just three occasions in which you acted irresponsibly. If many of them come to mind, write down all of them.

After you are done take some time to look at your list. What picture do you see? What were the consequences of your irresponsibility either to you or the next person? Looking back, don't you wish you had acted (more) responsibly?  

You need to keep in mind that the picture that you see is the same picture that the world sees in you. 

I have come to believe that most, if not all, of the problems that every person faces today arise out of either their own irresponsibility or that of somebody else. I think that the world would be a far better place today if everybody had acted responsibly in the past. Similarly, our children and grandchildren will only live a great life if we act responsibly in the now. Think about it.

The call to act responsibly is getting louder and more frequent by the day, and as you read this sermon, you must find it in your heart to heed the call. It's an urgent call. Now is the day that all hearts should burn for what is noble, transparent, constructive, right, morally correct.

You and I have several areas that are within our power and control. In each of these areas we need to ensure that we conduct ourselves with integrity; we should demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility.

We shouldn't have anything to hide. Instead, we should be in a position to explain all our actions or omissions without stuttering. As you read this sermon, you can be sure that there are lots of people who are busy hiding information on the actions that they have taken, simply because such actions cannot stand scrutiny! Any action that cannot stand scrutiny borders on selfishness, hence irresponsibility.

Let me quote from the Bible.

Paul gave Timothy the following instruction: "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care" (1 Timothy 6:20). Paul was teaching Timothy to be accountable for his actions - to make maximum use of the capacity given him to make moral decisions. Timothy heeded the instruction and went on to become a great leader in the service of the Lord.

What is it that has been entrusted to your care?

There surely is at least one thing that you act guardian over. I have; you have. What are you doing with or about it? Are you guarding it; are you plundering it; are you acting irresponsibly towards it?

If you are a pastor, you have the congregation in your care. If you are a teacher, you have the students in your care. If you are a parent, you have the family in your care. If you are a health professional, the patients have been placed in your care. If you are a driver, the passengers are in your care. If you are a city father, the city has been entrusted to your care. If you are an employer, your employees are under your care. If you are a ruler, the nation has been placed in your care.

I think that you now appreciate why I think that most of our problems arise from the irresponsibility. 

So many people have died on the roads simply because the driver acted irresponsibly and even ignored rebuke by the passengers. Road accidents are sometimes caused by motorists speeding through red robots, pedestrian crossings or junctions at which they must give way to other traffic.

Drunken driving is also a major contributor to road accidents.

One day I overheard two men engaged in a conversation. They were laughing and I thought that they were talking about something really exciting. One of them said, “My friend, I still am at a loss how on this earth I managed to drive home yesterday evening. I was so drunk that I could not get out of the car after parking it. My wife and children had to pull me out of the car and carry me into the house.”

What do you make of this? Sounds familiar?

I also know of a number of cases in which teachers were either sacked or imprisoned for sexually abusing students in their care and children who have taken to the streets because parents failed to take proper care of them.

These are just examples. The cases of irresponsibility are too numerous to mention.

If we fail to act responsibly in the here and now, then we certainly do a great disservice to future generations. 

With our actions or omissions, we shape the future. Let us not underestimate the power that we wield in determining the kind of future our children will possess. They look at us, they witness our actions and omissions, they listen to us speaking and sometimes they judge us.

How beautiful it would be for us to be guided by noble principles! How marvelous it would be to be real role models in society! How pleasing it would be for the future generations to look back and conclude that their elders taught and raised them up right!

We need to preserve the environment so that we bequeath it to our children in a condition that they would enjoy.

We need to build our economies and the social sectors to a condition that is better than we found them, if our children are to see us as builders, not demolishers.

We need to leave a legacy of honesty, love, work and peace.

It is within our power. It is within our means. Yes, we can. I believe that we have sufficient willingness to do so. So let us work together. Let us be of service to the human race. Let us think progress.

Above all, let us strive to act responsibly, always.

Are you guarding that which has been entrusted to your care?

Do you have a clear conscience regarding how you have conducted yourself in the past? Can you stand with your chin up and shoulders high, without shame? Would God and man describe you as noble, responsible? Would they take you to be a person of integrity? If that is not the case, then you've some serious work to do, and NOW is the time!

Guard whatever is entrusted to your care. Act responsibly. What a powerful instruction!


Sermon #96: Being A Friend of God

There is this thought that keeps coming to my mind.

The thought is provoked whenever I read the following verse: “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God's friend” (James 2:23, NIV).

Abraham was called God’s friend; what closeness! How was this possible? It was because Abraham believed God. Marvelous!

Abraham believed whatever God told him; he also acted on God's instructions according to the exact will of Him who instructed him. Now that's a real friend, if you ask me. Are you willing and ready to conduct your life likewise?

When God said “Leave this place,” Abraham left the place. When God said, “Give Me your son,” Abraham 'gave' Him his son. Abraham believed everything God told Him; hence he was called God’s friend.

God told His plans about Sodom and Gomorrah to Abraham. I believe that God told Abraham because the two were close, way too close.

God didn’t want Abraham to feel let down. If God had not told Abraham about it, Abraham could probably have subsequently queried, “But my Friend, why didn’t you give me just a hint of what You were planning to do?”

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

So when I look at this I conclude that God told Abraham about His plans because Abraham was His close friend. He could tell him His secrets and plans. God could confide in Abraham. Can He safely confide in you?

After God told Abraham about His plans, Abraham actually bargained with Him; and God never took offence at Abraham for asking almost the same question several times. Imagine somebody asking, “What if they are fifty?” then “What if they are forty-five?” then “What if they are forty?” then “What if they are thirty?” then “What if they are twenty?” then “What if they are ten?”

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

This is my view: Although every Christian is loved by God, not all really get into the closeness that God had with Abraham.

Some Christians have dedicated their lives to walking the tight rope. If certain things are not of God, this kind of Christians will never associate with such things. I believe that these people are first Christians and they have gone a step further to become God’s friends.

On the other hand are Christians, really born again and heaven-bound, but they appear and live like they are not. They choose what to believe and what not to believe. If God says, “This color is red,” they believe. When God takes another color and says, “This is blue,” they say, “But it looks greyish; it can’t be blue.” God cannot get into deeper closeness with such Christians because of their unreliability.

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

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

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

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

God bless!

P. S. - Some people believe that every Christian is a friend of God. I believe that a friend is a confidant, somebody you try to please at all cost, somebody you walk very close to in all respects. That's the way a friend relates to God. I do not believe that every Christian, although born again, is such.

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Sermon #95: On Being Led by the Spirit

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

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

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

A Christian should always be attentive to the Holy Spirit’s direction.

We need, as Christians, to keep our antennas high and searching, so that we remain in touch with the thinking of the Spirit at every point of our lives.

Consider the radar; it’s always on the alert. Once an airplane gets into the radar’s area of coverage the radar immediately shouts, “An airplane has just entered my airspace!” That’s exactly how alert Christians should always be!

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

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

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

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

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

God is a God of a Christian's entire life; not just a part of it. We therefore shouldn’t surrender just a portion of our lives and affairs to God; instead, we should surrender every aspect of it! God should have the final say on everything concerning our lives.

I do not believe people who say God approves of everything that we might decide to do or to be; if He did then to me He wouldn’t be God. Does your earthly father approve of everything about you? Hasn't he directed you at one point to change certain things concerning your life? What more the Heavenly Father, the Father even to your father!

We should never confuse our will for God’s will. Under all circumstances, it should be very easy for a Christian to come to a decision. All one has to do is ask themselves, “What is the mind of the Spirit on this?” The mind of the Spirit becomes the decision!

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

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

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

I implore you to act and react only in a manner that’s consistent with the direction of the Spirit. There might be something that you love to do, or a behaviour that you might find irresistible, or gatherings that you are weak to avoid. The bottom-line is, “What is the mind of the Spirit regarding this?”

You should always be convinced that your conduct in life is exactly what the Spirit ordered.

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

I have met Christians who say, "But I do not know the will of God regarding this aspect of my life." In response I normally say, "Do not worry about what you do not know now. What are you doing about that which you know?"

If one did their best regarding the will of God that they know, they are in a good place. I think going forward, the more such people learn about the will of God, the more they adhere to it. In addition to advising them about their situation, I also urge such people not to remain a minute in a state of ignorance because nothing stops them from searching the scriptures for answers!

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

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