Let us Pray
Father, I surrender to you this morning. Use me to speak to us. Teach us Father, encourage us, rebuke us, correct us and guide us in your way. In Jesus Name, Amen
This morning we have had four readings all tying up our topic for the day which is ‘Preaching the faith’
From these readings we will draw some lessons by asking ourselves four important questions on preaching the faith:
- Whom do we preach?
- What is content of our message?
- Who gave you the mandate to preach?
- To whom do we preach?
1. Whom do we preach?
From the Psalm we get our answer in vv. 5-10
We preach the God who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith for ever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD who sets the prisoners free; the LORD who opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD who lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD who loves the righteous. The LORD who watches over the sojourners, Him who upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD who reigns forever, to all generations. Praise the LORD!
Isn’t this a contrast to the gospel we see and hear around us, and that we sometimes preach? The gospel of self, the gospel of earthly possessions?
Let’s get personal for a minute. Why is it so easy to talk about IEBC issues, Shisha Mondays, Ali Mohammad’s legacy, The new Archbishop with even our non-believing family members and friends but when the Holy Spirit nudges us to talk about God we suddenly have the desire to use the bathroom or sms someone or call. I know I am not alone in this.
And by the way it’s not that I don’t want to talk about God, noooo I have a strategy (Don’t we all). Let’s lay groundwork with current topics then jump right in to talking about God…..
The only problem is the right time to jump in never comes. As I pray for myself to arise from the slumber of self deceit that there’s a right time to talk to my family member, my friend, my neighbor whom I know very well has no relationship with the Father; I also pray for you.
The psalmist really lays out the groundwork on whom we are to talk about: God.
We preach the God who made NATURE heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; FAITHFUL GOD who keeps faith for ever; JUST GOD who executes justice for the oppressed; PROVIDING GOD who gives food to the hungry. MIRACLE WORKING GOD The LORD who sets the prisoners free; the LORD who opens the eyes of the blind. COMFORTING GOD The LORD who lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD who loves the righteous. The LORD who watches over the sojourners, Him who upholds the widow and the fatherless;
Make it personal, share about God and who He has been to you.
2. What is the content of our message?
The Deuteronomy reading answers this question with a twofold answer:
The commandments of God and the doings of God in our lives (both past and present) should form the content of our message. Again this is flowing from whom we are to preach, it is all interconnected.
Here Moses the servant of God is speaking to the children of Israel who are still in the desert. He is teaching them how to conduct themselves once they take possession of the promised land and how to reach out to their children – preach the faith to them.
The first content of our message is God’s commandments, God’s Word. Moses instructs the Israelites to keep God’s law. Today we have the Bible, God’s Word, from the Old Testament to the New Testament full of Wisdom and guidance indeed content for preaching our faith. The Gospels and the book of Acts give us practical guidelines on the message we should preach to nonbelievers. Bottom line the content of our message should be God’s Word, Christ Jesus the Word incarnated and become flesh the Good News that God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son that whosever believes in Him shall into perish but have everlasting life! Praise the Lord
If you noticed I said our message SHOULD be God’s Word because many a times it is not. Let’s be honest; isn’t it easier to talk about motivational texts, self help books than it is to discuss the Bible with non believers? Why? I don’t have the answer. Maybe the devil knows that only God’s Word is life giving and thus seeks all ways to ensure that we never share it with non believers…. We can share everyone elses words, but not God. May the Lord help us to remember ONLY His Word is life giving.
The second content of our message taught by Moses in Deuteronomy is testimony. The testimony of God’s doing in our personal lives both past and present. He urges the parents to share with their sons about God’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt and divine sustenance in the desert.
My husband and I have been married for 61/2 years and for the most part of it I have been unwell. We were not able to get children for the first four years of our marriage. I was diagnosed with condition after condition which led to two very painful miscarriages. Finally God blessed us with our two living children even though that journey itself wasn’t easy; both were born before time – but if you look at them now you wouldn’t even guess it.
Every time we share our story to couples having problems getting children, ladies with the conditions I had and some I still suffer from it is amazing. There’s power in giving our testimony of how God carried us through the valley of the shadow of death. You didn’t just go through it for yourself but to exult and shout from the rooftops about God’s doing.
You also have a testimony; share it as you preach the faith. Your life is a living Bible to the non-believers that God is not just the God of the Bible (past) But He is a God who is alive and well today working in the lives of ordinary people like you and me. Hallelujah!
Lest I forget, preaching the faith isn’t just to the nonbelievers. We also need to keep encouraging each other as believers by sharing the faith. Testimonies of God’s providence and comfort through difficult times encourage other brothers and sisters who are going through fiery trials!
3. Who gave you the mandate to preach?
Paul answers this question by stating:
11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel.
12 For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
What do you answer anyone who questions your mandate, your authority so to speak of preaching the faith? Just like Paul you have received a message and a command to preach the faith, we all have received it as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is found in Matthew, written there as clear as crystal for both ourselves and our audiences:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mat 28:18-20 RSV)
We are to GO – denotes action , nothing passive about this command. We are to MAKE DISCIPLES – denotes process, life long process. You don’t have to be in it the whole way, the Lord might just use you to sow a seed, another to water, another to prune, another to finally harvest. Just obey and do what the Lord leads you to. We are to BAPTIZE – now this is a tricky one. Rev. Izza Kalle will handle it another day and explain to us why the lay peeps like us no longer baptize….when did baptism become a privy of the clergy??? That’s for another day. Bottom line baptism should take place in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And then we are to TEACH these disciples to observe all the Lord has commanded us. And it ends with a promise, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, TO THE CLOSE OF THE AGE! Hallelujah! Isn’t it always good to know that you are not alone as you preach the faith?
So don’t second guess yourself, you are under command to preach the faith. It’s not a request, its not a suggestion. It’s a command. May the Lord help us to be obedient.
4. To whom do you preach?
Our last question is whom do we preach to. The Gospel according to St. Mark tells us EVERYONE! The parable is very clear, we are to sow seeds indiscriminately. The parable goes on to describe the different types of hearers but that is not our mandate; we are to sow and then the Lord is to cause the growth.
Brothers and sisters, if you are like me then you must have fallen into the folly of deciding who is worthy to hear the gospel and who isn’t. You dismiss people from their looks, their cultural background, their gender, their economic standing, their past (how can I forget that one, it’s normally a classic sideliner). If we are to be honest with ourselves, what we are basically doing is just making excuses not to preach the faith. The Lord has not called us to help Him decide on who’s in and who’s not our simple task is to sow seeds to EVERYONE!
Whoever the Lord brings along your path sow seeds, preach the faith.
And don’t let the enemy whisper words of discouragement about the ¾ grounds in the parable which did not yield anything, just sow. Keep sowing seeds, keep preaching the faith.
As we wind up, I feel it is important to address the central issue of the sower, ourselves – you and me. Two main things hinder our preaching the faith: the response we get and our personal struggles.
A wise old man was sitting at a river bank when he saw a cat that had fallen into the water, flailing around trying to save itself from drowning. The man decided to save the cat. He stretched his hand out but was scratched by the cat. He pulled his hand back in pain. However, a minute later he stretched his hand out again to save the cat, but it scratched him again, and again he pulled his hand back in pain. Another minute later he was again trying for the third time!!! A man who was nearby watching what was happening yelled out “O wise man, you have not learned your lesson the first time, nor the second time, and now you are trying to save the cat a third time?” The wise man paid no heed to that man’s scolding, and kept on trying until he managed to save the cat. He then walked over to the other man and patted his shoulder saying; “my son…it is in the cat’s nature to scratch, and it is in my nature to love and have sympathy. Why do you want me to let the cat’s nature overcome mine?
The reaction or response we receive when we preach the faith can more often than not discourage us. As in the story, those we are trying to reach out to can literally scratch us as those watching add salt to injury by discouraging us. But we are not to give up. Our Father God has and continues to provide to us an example on how to counter resistance when preaching the faith. He consistently shows His love to a rejecting world, epitomized by Christ’s death on the cross to reconcile man back to God. Yet the world still rejects Him. So be of good cheer, you are in great company; God’s company. Keep preaching the faith; keep sowing seed.
Turning to our personal struggles, if you are like me then you are not perfect! Instead you are work in progress. The Father is daily working in you through the Holy Spirit to make you into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. It is not as easy process, we sometimes bite the dust. Then we rise up again and keep on working our salvation with fear and trembling. Well the devil our enemy is well aware of our imperfections and it is on these that the ‘accuser of brethren’ capitalizes to discourage us from preaching the faith.
He accuses us loudly to ourselves, our family and friends (anyone who will give him a listening ear) and even before the Father of our failures in the past and present. He whispers loudly into our ears every time we want to arise and preach the faith. He shows us how we lack credibility since we haven’t hit the mark yet, he thaws away on our confidence, pulls us down and causes us to shrink back.
But my brothers and sister, I want to encourage you this morning that the Father is well aware of your short comings and your inadequacies and despite of them has chosen to use you hallelujah! It’s not breaking news to the Father, that you are work in progress. No it is not. That is why He has deposited the Holy Spirit in us to embolden us to walk in righteousness and Holiness. The Holy Spirit to embolden us as was evidenced on the day of Pentecost to boldly preach the faith. Praise the Lord!
We are not to preach the faith from our own perfection, in our own strength or to our own glory. No. We preach from our brokenness, in the strength of the Holy Spirit and to God’s glory!
Let us pray
Father, stir our hearts afresh to preach the faith. Thank you for speaking to each one us in a personal way. Help us to be that good soil, the ground that bears fruits 30, 60 and 100 fold. All this to your glory Father. In Jesus name, Amen!
NB: This sermon was preached at ACK St. Francis Karen during the youth service on 5th June 2016