Message by Rev Jonah on 5th of February 2023
God's placed on my heart to talk about the testing times everyone is going through. We have recently seen the Auckland flooding and a lot of devastation that came with it. We've seen houses destroyed, people missing, families displaced, and chaos everywhere. We are looking unto the Lord for help. I’ve been remembering our little church in Gachibowli, Hyderabad. God gave us that little piece of land in 1998 – what was covered in shrubs and bush is now one of the largest IT hubs in India. On our recent trip to India, God gave me a few words from the Bible to write on our church walls there. One of the verses was, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
We can see any person/family – the tension is not going away and neither is the burden. I was thinking we often say a lot of good things to those who recently came to faith about how fabulous their life would look like believing in God. How the blessings would come about because of their decision to follow Jesus? I feel like we don’t give them a fair picture because most often it’s not a bed full of roses. Jesus said that we will surely have troubles and tribulations in this world and that our faith will be tested. But He also said that in all this that He will walk alongside us; that He will be with us in the troubled waters. He promised that he would not leave us alone nor forsake us.
When people read that verse in Matthew 11:28 about going to God with our burdens and that He will give us rest – they are often comforted by the fact that someone is thinking about the burdens they are facing in this world. That someone cares. Yes, dear family of God, He did say that He will give us rest but make sure it doesn’t lead you to believe that you will have a trouble-free life. He never said He will take away all our problems but that He will be with us as we go through these troubles. He will provide us with the strength and rest we need. He said in verse 30 of that same chapter, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”. I’ve seen some people in India who might just be 30-40 years of age but they look like they’re 70-80 years old. You can tell they are carrying heavy burdens in their lives. Burdens can come from many things – burdens from adultery, lies, deceitful living, joblessness, career, issues in work, family, finances and many more.
We create our own burdens. We make them heavier. We tell ourselves, we want to be in this particular position career-wise by the end of this age. Or that we want to have this much money by the end of this year. We forget the rule we use while travelling – less luggage, more comfort. We do the complete opposite – we drag around and accumulate a lot of luggage wherever we go and in whatever we do. A lot of this burden comes from not taking God at His word and not following His commands. This is the reason behind our heavy luggage and our burdens. God says that he delights in those that follow His commands. In fact, He says, if we say we love Him, we would obey his commands.
My dear family of God, our baggage is heavy but his baggage is light. His commandments don’t cause our grief or burden. Let’s look into this more closely. For example, God says, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:7). We do the opposite. We say things like “Oh my God” “Good lord” or “I swear to God”. If you are thinking to yourself, I never say those things, then what about “Praise the Lord”? We often say it as a way of greeting our fellow brother or sister but without really meaning it. Remember our God is the king of kings and the lord or lords. He is not your next-door neighbour or your cool uncle. Treat Him with such respect and reverence.
Commandments of the Lord are commandments. When God says, 7th day is the day of rest, that’s it – it is the day of rest. There are no ifs or buts. God’s saying that His commands are easy – He is asking us to take His yoke. Let’s take another example. God said, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12) but now children seem to treat their parents like their friends. There is nothing wrong with having a relationship as close as a friend but treat them with respect. Honour them in all that you do. Don’t make it a “special” day only on fathers and mother’s day but every single day of your life. Take their counsel – their experience cannot be matched. God-fearing fathers and mothers have far more experience than you will ever have since you are always going to be their child.
You can examine other commandments of the Lord. For example, God said, do not steal. Don’t steal. The weight of those money bags will be the same weight wearing you down for the rest of your life. Those weights are heavy. Don’t covet what others have – enjoy the things that God has blessed you with. Cherish them – it will give you a grateful and cheerful heart. If you covet, you start your day gloomy and end your day in doom and gloom because you are always wishing you had something you don’t. In today’s day and age, people say, we don’t like to follow the old testament – we only follow the new testament. It’s all about Grace now. To that I say, read the bible carefully. Jesus, Himself said that He did not come to cross off the law but to fulfil and uphold it (Matthew 5:17).
The law of the Lord is always there. The commandments of the Lord are light and easy. If we don’t have the commandments, then how would we know what sin is or if someone has violated it? Sin comes to light because of the commandments. Law is like a diagnostic tool – think of it like a blood test. It doesn’t cure but shows you what is wrong. It only shows where the disease is located. Likewise, the law is essentially comparing your life against God’s standards. We read God’s word to understand His commandments – to understand his likes and dislikes. So in essence, Jesus came to do what we could not achieve by ourselves in our own strength. He fulfilled the law. The solution is not the law. The solution is Jesus. He bore our sins and gave us liberty.
So those who say, now we live under Grace – you are right. We do live under Grace but I think we might consider what Grace stands for. Grace in the Greek language translates to “given ability”. You might say to do what? Grace doesn’t exist to keep on sinning. Grace is given to us to give us the ability to not sin; to keep the law of God. God has given us the gift of His Spirit – The Holy Spirit. We now have a counsellor. He knows the law. In the new testament, God said that He wrote the commands on your heart (Romans 2:14-15). There once was a Pastor who was coming back from preaching God’s word. It was late at night and he was waiting at the red signal. After seeing the lights haven’t changed and there was no vehicle in any direction, he felt tempted to go through the red light. Immediately, he heard a still small voice saying that it is not right to do that. Right the next second, a huge truck passed by his car at a very high speed. He couldn’t have seen it coming in the dark.
My dear family of God, listen to God’s commandments. Life is good when you listen and obey His laws. God’s grace will give you the ability to follow God wholeheartedly. God bless you.
It is only when we have come to a thorough end of ourselves, that we are ready to come to the Lord. Jesus invited people saying, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden” (Matt.11:28). Jesus does not invite everyone to come to Him. Here we see Him inviting only those who are sick and tired of their sin-defeated lives. The prodigal son came back to his father only when he had “spent everything” and “no man gave him anything”. Then only did he “come to his senses” (Luke 15:14-18). We can grow spiritually only when we come to that point in our lives where we don't care for the honour of men, and have stopped complaining about people and circumstances - and are now sick and tired only of our own defeated lives. That is true repentance.
Otherwise, we will be like premature babies, who need to be kept inside the incubator constantly (constantly warmed and encouraged by others). We must not find our security even in the church, but only in the Lord. Ezekiel 36:25-30 prophesies about the abundant life that Jesus would give us under the new covenant. It goes on to say in verse 31 that when we come into that life, we will “loathe ourselves for all the evil that we had done in our previous days”. One of the primary marks of a man of God is that he has a cry within himself at all times saying, “O wretched man that I am. How shall I be totally delivered from all sin?” (Rom.7:24 - paraphrase). He constantly longs to be free from all the defilement and even the smell of sin in the flesh.
God wants you to be strong in the day of adversity (Prov.24:10). But you must build up your knowledge of the Lord in this time of peace if you want to be strong in that day of adversity.
God's ways are not ours. He has to break you first - through many frustrations and failures - and so He sends you where you can get that spiritual education that He has planned for you.
None of us would ever have thought of sending Moses for 40 years into the wilderness to look after sheep and to face the humiliation of having to stay with his father-in-law and work under him, all those 40 years, in order to prepare him to be the greatest leader of Israel. But that is God's way. God did something similar with Jacob before changing him into a prince of God (Israel). The most difficult task that God has is to break a man. But when God succeeds in doing that, the power released through such a man will far exceed that released when the atom is broken!
Paul said about his experience, “We are knocked down, but we get up and keep going” (2 Cor.4:9 - Living). God allows us to be knocked down now and then. But we don't stay down like others. We get up and keep going. And that is what infuriates Satan even more. God also gives us an education in sanctification through being knocked down, so that it turns out for our very best. So I continue to proclaim the victory of Jesus and the defeat of Satan even more since that day, everywhere I go. Hallelujah!!
- Zac Poonen
Originally posted on https://www.cfcindia.com/node/74089
Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
The educated man is ignorant, the strong man is weak, and the wealthy man is poor who doesn’t understand the true meaning of Christmas.
What good does it do us to put a man on the moon if we can’t get God in our hearts? What good is it to know astronomy, how the heavens go, and not know Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star, and how to go to Heaven? What good is it to know botany and the study of flowers and not know Jesus, Heaven’s sweetest rose, the Rose of Sharon, who can perfume any life? What good is it to know the events of history, yet not know that history is His story? What good is it to know geology and the ages of rocks and not know Jesus, the Rock of Ages? “For it is in Him we live and move and have our being.”
Jesus was not just another child. He was not just the Galilean peasant, the great teacher. He was supernatural.
You won’t understand Christmas until you understand that this child was born of a virgin. This child is the very Son of God. Never forget this. Read the words of Isaiah 9:6-7. Let his prophecy about this child speak to you today.
James 1:4 - "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
I talk a lot about faith. But there’s another force that goes along with it that’s just as important. It’s patience—the ability to stand fast on the Word of God even when your victory seems slow in coming.
Patience is not automatic. It won’t go to work unless you let it go to work. So many people don’t understand that. They somehow think faith and patience will go to work for them without their help. They just let the devil tear their lives apart and then they say silly things like, “Well, I guess God sent that trial to strengthen my faith.”
Don’t you ever get caught saying that!
In the first place, James says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God...” (James 1:13). And in the second place, that trial isn’t going to make your faith stronger. In fact, it’ll destroy it if you’ll let it.
If I were to give you a set of weights, would that set of weights make you any stronger? No. As a matter of fact, if you dropped one of them on your foot, you could end up painfully weaker. It’s what you do with them that counts, right?
Well, the same thing is true when you run into some kind of trying circumstance the devil’s brought your way. If you just lie down and let it run over you, it will damage you. But if you’ll let patience have her perfect work, if you’ll remain consistently constant, trusting in and relying confidently on the Word of God, you’ll end up perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
“Wanting nothing.” That phrase alone should convince you that patience is no consolation prize. It’s a first-rate power that will put the promises of God within your reach. It’s a force that will make a winner out of you.
Ps. 91:14-15 - "Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore... He shall call upon me, and I will answer him
"And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you...ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23-24).
These are by no means all of the scriptures on the subject of prayer. But these scriptures alone are enough to set our hearts on fire. They're enough to start us praying. Why? Because El Shaddai said to us, "I will answer." The Almighty God - the One who is more than enough - has promised to answer those who set their love on Him!
Confession: I have set my love upon Almighty God; therefore, He answers me. I call upon Him, and He answers me. I ask, and He gives me. I seek, and He causes me to find. I knock, and He opens it to me. What things soever I desire, when I pray, I believe that I receive them, and God causes me to have them. Whatever I ask in Jesus' Name, Almighty God gives me. My joy is full!
Ecclesiastes 7:8 - "The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride
Hebrews 13:5 - "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life
Think of the person you love the most. What is your deepest desire for that individual? If you’re a parent, you may be thinking of your children. Maybe you desire for your children to get an education. But if that is all you desire, you are going to raise a clever devil. Do you desire for your children to learn culture? If culture is your hope, all you are doing is making the world a better place to go to hell from.
“Well,” you say, “I want them to be materially well off. I want them to have sufficiency.” Let me ask you, What difference will it make if they have it all, then die and rise to judgment, to face a God they do not know?
Jesus came not as a great philosopher or educator, not as a communist or social worker. Jesus came as Savior for man’s greatest need. The desire that you ought to have for all of your loved ones is that their needs would be met, and their greatest need is salvation.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).
Mark 10:44-45 - And whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many
A non-commissioned officer was directing the repairs of a military building during the American Revolution. He was shouting orders to the soldiers under his command, trying to get them to raise a heavy wooden beam.
As the men struggled in vain to lift the beam into place, a man, who was passing by, stopped to ask the one in charge why he wasn't helping the men. With all the pride of an emperor, the soldier responded, "Sir, I am a corporal!"
"You are, are you?" replied the passerby, "I was not aware of that." Then, taking off his hat and bowing, he said, "I ask your pardon, Corporal." Then the stranger walked over and strained with the soldiers to lift the heavy beam.
After the job was finished, he turned and said, "Mr. Corporal, when you have another such job and have not enough men, send for your Commander in Chief, and I will come and help you a second time." The corporal was thunderstruck. The man’s name was General George Washington.
We all want to be honored, respected and appreciated. So badly, sometimes, that we try to demand it. The fact is, that these things cannot be demanded or even requested. True honor, respect, and appreciation only come one way - When we become servants.
Let's ask the Lord to help us to become the servants he would desire. After all, He did set a great example by laying down his life for us.
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life