TITLE: REMAIN FAITHFUL TO YOUR CALLING
READING: OT – Isaiah 49:8-13
NT – Ephesians 3:1-6
There are no more Sundays left to get to the 2018 Christmas day, Christmas has come and gone. However, allow me to beat Mark to his game – there are exactly 51 weeks to the 2019 Christmas. Hope you are looking forward to it already.
This is our last Sunday of 2018 and what a year it has been especially for believers living in Zimbabwe. We feel like the remnant of Israel left in the land to brave the harsh times for the sake of the promise.
- The year started off with a lot of hope that we even had a series of sermons on renewed hope – is there any hope still remaining?
- By Easter it was already being felt that the hope is slowly fading away that our theme was centred on encouraging people to hold on to the hope – what could we do? It was so obvious some people had long let go.
- Then came the encounter series – the only way one could hold on was if it was all worth it and there is no going back for a person who has had an encounter with Jesus Himself.
- The curtain came down with a series on JOY. That was the only remaining thing to do to people who had suffered left, right and centre. You might as well enjoy it, was the message.
The New Dispensation that came into power after 38 years of the former president’s rule had brought a glimmer of hope of a new functioning and prosperous Zimbabwe. However, it began to fade as the year progressed when the so called “austerity measures for prosperity” started to bite the ordinary citizens. By now, it is very much clear to all believers that the solution does not lie in the hands of man but to look up to the hills and see where our help comes from? Our help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121)
As a result it was discerned that believers needed to be reminded that they have the JOY of the Lord despite the sufferings they were going through in Zimbabwe.
I believe the ushering in of the New Dispensation in November 2017 excited many people in the diaspora, who had not had the privilege of coming back home for so many years, to start to plan to spend their first Christmas back home in 2018. I do not know if you were one of the few privileged to have had family that had not been home for a long-time this Christmas. It must have been so exciting to see family we had not seen for a long time.
However, a trend was set with these guys, during the time they have been around. If you tried to spend time with them most gave an excuse that they wanted to catch-up with so many people so they were always on the run. Rumour has it that most never got to catch-up with the relatives and most were witnessed partying so hard that all they did was come back home to sleep. Partying under such austerity measures!! Efforts to get these guys to sit down and discuss how tough things were in the country and how we could combine our efforts to make it under such austerity measures proved to be very difficult. The only option remaining for the remnant that have braved the tough times in Zimbabwe was to have the Joy that at least we got to see that they are alive and well after a long time. I am not sure if we were chuffed by the way they spent their forex! I know the New Dispensation was not happy because they arrested and removed their forex dealers on the street – maybe to get the visitors to also give them the large amounts of money they brought back home.
Could you imagine as one of the remnant believers in Zimbabwe, having to tell the family from diaspora that God answered our prayers and has freed Zimbabwe?
We find ourselves in the same situation that was faced with Isaiah in the OT and Paul in the NT. They had to communicate the good thing God was doing even though on the ground it was virtually impossible to imagine.
- Old Testament: Isaiah
Isaiah had the privilege of prophesying before, during and after the exile era. At the time we read in chapter 49, Israel was in captivity in Babylon and any hope of returning to their homeland was not imaginable. This is the time God shows Isaiah what He was going to do with His people and Isaiah had to relay that message.
I do not know how many know that Isaiah was later killed by one the kings (cut in half) because such messages only serve to brew controversy with others. Isaiah not only talks of returning to the land he even goes further to tell the people that even those who had long gone to the diaspora, to faraway places, God was going to return them to the land He gave His children.
- Sounds familiar doesn’t it? It is like telling the diasporians that God brought in the New Dispensation and He is going to have them to come back to their motherland and prosper there. (A country with no coca cola for Christmas, with doctors who have no jobs and yet no-one is treating people in the hospitals)
How challenging is that – the words will not even come. On top of it all, you are to say it like you mean it and show some Joy in you.
Isaiah did not only tell them that God would return the children of Israel to their rightful land and prosper them, he also tells them of the Messiah who is to come through Israel. This Messiah will be so powerful; Words that come out of His mouth will be like a sharp sword and will be born with a virgin mother.
This is the baby we were celebrating on Tuesday that He was born into this world as a Saviour of the world. This also is the reason Zimbabwe’s believers, despite the harsh economic challenges, instead of joining various queues all day, joined the rest of the world in celebrating this Saviour of the world.
- “Shout for Joy, O heavens!
- And rejoice, O earth!
- Break forth into joyful shouting O mountains!
- For the Lord has comforted His people
- And will have compassion on His afflicted.
When a person understands what Jesus did for them on the cross, the words of Isaiah begin to make much sense. Paul helps in Ephesians for us to understand better what God was saying through Isaiah.
- New Testament: Ephesians 3:1-6 – Paul
Paul faced a similar situation to Isaiah, by the time he writes the letter to the church at Ephesus he was under house arrest in Rome. His situation did not warrant him to speak of any freedom that comes through knowing Christ. Yet he had to tell them – maybe that is the reason he called it: God mysterious plan for the gentiles. How could he tell them something that according to human understanding was virtually impossible? It is just like telling the diasporians about them coming to live happily ever after in the new Zimbabwe. After all, this plan was never revealed to past generations yet God had decided to reveal it to the generation at the time of Pauls writing.
The mystery was that the gentiles who will believe will be incorporated into God’s children.
- Both now shared equally the riches inherited for believing
- Both are now part of the same body
- Both will enjoy the promise of blessings, because they belong to Christ Jesus
And someone had to pass this message to the gentiles. And at this time, God had assigned Paul to pass the message. And guess what it came with consequences – they suffered for it. Yet this never distracted him for sharing this good news to the gentiles.
- “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Bodily and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ”.
Paul understood that this was from God and with God all things are possible. So he had to remain faithful to his calling.
Isaiah suffered for foretelling people what God was going to do and Paul suffers for forth telling people what God has done.
- PLEASE START FLIGHTING THE MINISTRIES AND THE FRESH EXPRESSION AD
- Was God speaking to us this year despite the austerity measures?
- What can we take with us into 2019 despite the austerity measures?
The lesson from OT Scripture is to know that the Servant who was being mentioned was God coming in the form of a human to save the world from eternal separation from their Creator.
Even though Israel was in captivity and was to be brought back to its promised land, it was about the Messiah coming through the virgin birth. Today we know both prophesies were fulfilled. Israel is on its land and the Messiah came, as we were remembering His coming on Christmas day.
This should be an assurance that the prophesies in the Bible will be fulfilled even the remaining prophesies will be fulfilled.
Isaiah 49:10 tells us that the Messiah will take care of His own
- “There will neither hunger nor thirst nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water”.
The same prophesy is also referred to by John in Revelation 7:16-17 which is also a picture of heaven for the second coming of Christ and that God will gather his people scattered all over the earth to Israel.
Paul confirms in Ephesians 3 that the coming of the Messiah was fulfilled and that the work of the Messiah now includes the Gentles and this was what God had called Paul to do, to tell the Gentiles that they are part of God’s plan. This had to be told to the Gentiles then and it still has to be told the Gentiles now.
It takes people who have understood who God is and that all His plans will come to pass to fulfil His calling regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in Zimbabwe. Austerity measures or not, God is still on His mission the same way in the time of Isaiah and in the time of Paul. He was not distracted by the suffering the people were facing then neither is He distracted by the temporary suffering we are going through as a country. God’s mission will be fulfilled.
So either we become part of it or we lose a chance to live our calling. As HPC we have so many ministries running throughout the year. Seek the Lord where He wants you to be part of in 2019 and discover and live your calling.
- The ministries have been running on the screen do not be left behind.
We have already ministries here, and there are also others that take place at places such as CCC, Braeside, Miracle Missions etc. They are on the notice next to the church reception.
Session has also discerned that the Mission Shaped Ministry (Fresh Expression of church) is important. It is a part-time course that aims to equip anyone who wants to understand how they can start or make the ministry they are involved in, fulfil the Great Commission – making others disciples.
It is scheduled to start at the beginning of February 2019. There are 24 modules which will see you committing at least the first and second term to do this course. Plan to come for the opening session it will definitely excite you if you are ready to save.
Do not let 2019 come and go without committing to do something for the Kingdom of God.