[Did you miss last Sunday’s services? They can still be found at Worship Archive – November 22nd 2020.]
Sunday Services from Connexion for November 29th 2020:
Sunday Services from Hillside Circuit for November 29th 2020:
Theme: What if we employed our spiritual gifts
Occasion: 1st Sunday in Advent
Old Testament: Isaiah 64: 1-9
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9
Gospel: Mark 13: 24-37
[Click or tap on a Bible reference above to jump down the page to the Bible reading to listen and/or read it for yourself and then click or tap on Back to top to come back here.]
Here are the songs for Sunday morning service. Click or tap on a song to open it in YouTube or go to the Songs for worship webpage to find them embedded.
Joy to the world.
At this time of giving.
The Servant King (From heaven You came).
Come Thou long-expected Jesus.
Long ago prophets knew.
My peace I give unto you.
You can listen and join in with prayers from the Methodist Service Book, they can be found at the Prayers for worship webpage.
[Click or tap here to jump down the page to see the text version of the above message so that you can read it for yourself.]
[Click or tap here to jump down the page to see the text version of the above message so that you can read it for yourself.]
1 Shepherd of Israel, you lead the descendants of Joseph,
and you sit on your throne
above the winged creatures.
Listen to our prayer and let your light shine
2 for the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Save us by your power.
3 Our God, make us strong again! Smile on us and save us.
4 LORD God All-Powerful, how much longer
will the prayers of your people make you angry?
5 You gave us tears for food,
and you made us drink them by the bowlful.
6 Because of you, our enemies who live nearby
laugh and joke about us.
7 But if you smile on us, we will be saved.
17 But help the one who sits at your right side,
the one you raised to be your own.
18 Then we will never turn away.
Put new life into us, and we will worship you.
19 LORD God All-Powerful, make us strong again!
Smile on us and save us.
1 Rip the heavens apart! Come down, LORD;
make the mountains tremble.
2 Be a spark that starts a fire causing water to boil.
Then your enemies will know who you are;
all nations will tremble because you are nearby.
3 Your fearsome deeds have completely amazed us;
even the mountains shake when you come down.
4 You are the only God ever seen or heard of
who works miracles for his followers.
5 You help all who gladly obey and do what you want,
but sin makes you angry.
Only by your help can we ever be saved.
6 We are unfit to worship you;
each of our good deeds is merely a filthy rag.
We dry up like leaves;
our sins are storm winds sweeping us away.
7 No one worships in your name or remains faithful.
You have turned your back on us
and let our sins melt us away.
8 You, LORD, are our Father.
We are nothing but clay,
but you are the potter who moulded us.
9 Don’t be so furious or keep our sins
in your thoughts forever!
Remember that all of us are your people.
1 Corinthians 1
3 My prayer is that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!
4 I never stop thanking my God for being kind enough to give you Christ Jesus, 5 who helps you speak and understand so well. 6 Now you are certain that everything we told you about our Lord Christ Jesus is true. 7 You are not missing out on any blessings, as you wait for him to return. 8 And until the day Christ does return, he will keep you completely innocent. 9 God can be trusted, and he chose you to be partners with his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 In those days, right after that time of suffering,
“The sun will become dark,
and the moon will no longer shine.
25 The stars will fall,
and the powers in the sky will be shaken.”
26 Then the Son of Man will be seen coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 He will send his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the earth.
28 Learn a lesson from a fig tree. When its branches sprout and start putting out leaves, you know summer is near. 29 So when you see all these things happening, you will know that the time has almost come. 30 You can be sure that some of the people of this generation will still be alive when all this happens. 31 The sky and the earth will not last forever, but my words will.
32 No one knows the day or the time. The angels in heaven don’t know, and the Son himself doesn’t know. Only the Father knows. 33 So watch out and be ready! You don’t know when the time will come. 34 It is like what happens when a man goes away for a while and places his servants in charge of everything. He tells each of them what to do, and he orders the guard to keep alert. 35 So be alert! You don’t know when the master of the house will come back. It could be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or in the morning. 36 But if he comes suddenly, don’t let him find you asleep. 37 I tell everyone just what I have told you. Be alert!
Text version of message for Hillside Circuit on November 29th 2020 in English, with Mr Ivan Chigwada:
In the Christian calendar the period of four weeks before Christmas is called Advent. The first Advent was when Christ was born, while the Second Advent which will mark Christ’s return, is what we read about in the Gospel of Mark. Today being the first Sunday in Advent, is a very special day for us Christians, as we are reminded to start preparing to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ. If we prepare as well as we can for God’s coming, we surely shall not miss His arrival and shall know His presence. The birth of Jesus Christ which is the greatest event in the Christian calendar is the very source of a spiritual gift that distinguishes believers from non-believers. That spiritual gift is faith. In the Gospels faith denotes implicit trust in Jesus and in His authority and as that faith deepens we realize that faith in Jesus Christ is the way into the heart of God, and the gateway into the Kingdom of God.
Our theme for today is ‘what if we employed our Spiritual Gifts.’ What really are spiritual gifts? Before moving on, let me make it clear that today’s Scriptures and sermon are not crusade material but are directed at the saints of God who are already in a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour! Going back to our question we find that the Bible at 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 has these words of Paul who writes, ‘A spiritual gift is given to each one of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice, to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives another person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.’ Armed with this knowledge of what they are, and aware that a spiritual gift is given to each one of us the question is, are we who are endowed with them even putting them to use in the first place? Put differently the question is while the Holy Spirit has already done His bit by distributing Spiritual Gifts among believers in the Church of God, why does it appear as if we who are in the church are not putting those gifts to use for the benefit of each other as the Bible instructs? Are we afraid of failure? Don’t worry you cannot fail as you are not operating in your own power! The Bible instructs us to love one another so that call to love should motivate us to go on and employ our spiritual gifts correctly so that we can help each other! We cannot claim to be ignorant because the Bible the Word of God has this for us. Are there consequences for incorrectly employing Spiritual Gifts and are there rewards for correctly employing Spiritual Gifts? Do we come across instances of the abuse of spiritual gifts, do we see the gifts as a source of division in churches or do we see the gifts being used as a uniting agent to glorify God and bring other people to God? Please note that you who are Members of the Body of Christ listening to this sermon are each empowered and endowed with a Spiritual Gift! If all of us the redeemed of Christ regularly employed our Spiritual Gift there would be joy in the Kingdom of God!
Literally the question ‘What if we employed our spiritual gifts’ is what Paul is addressing in his letter to the Church at Corinth. Corinth was home to a group of believers who were commendable in all respects save for not employing their spiritual gifts to build up one another. They had adopted the same attitude as the Pharisees who went to Christ to find out which was the greatest commandment. Instead of benefitting believers, the presence of spiritual gifts in the Church at Corinth had become the source of tension as there now were quarrels about which was the better of these gifts. My brothers and sisters, there is no better gift, just as there is no greater law. Such ideas are the work of the Devil. When the Devil is at work in the Church of God, Christians quarrel instead of edifying one another, leadership wrangles occur, Christians are divided into factions as if one faction leader ever died for the sins of the world and messages from the other spirit and not from God take root. I am reminded of the unsavoury messages that went around the Church before the MCZ Annual Conference! We must not allow messages from the wrong spirit to take root in the Church of God! By the grace of God let us pray that such a thing never happens again. This is very important because when the Devil is not at work in the Church of God you ‘have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for He is faithful to do what He says, and he has invited you into partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.’ 1 Corinthians 1:7-9. Through the working of the Spirit, spiritual gifts strengthen and enable believers to cooperate with one another and not quarrel. Amen!
The Psalmist and Isaiah have the message of a powerful God for our lives. When God comes to us He is like a consuming fire that consumes everything in His path. This is because we are so impure and had it not been for God’s mercy we would not be saved. Remember the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, when God appeared to them, there were thunderstorms, smoke and an earthquake. If God were to meet us today, His glory would overwhelm us, especially when we look at our unworthy efforts at presenting ourselves before Him as a good lot. Sin makes us unclean so that we cannot approach God, any more than a beggar in filthy rags cannot dine at a kings table. Our best efforts are still infected with sin. Our only hope, therefore, is faith in Jesus Christ, who can cleanse us and bring us into God’s presence. When we rely on our faith in Christ we have the passport into the presence of God! The life of a forgiven person reflects the love of God and attracts other believers. If we go to God demanding acceptance on the basis of our good conduct, God will point out that our righteousness is but filthy rags compared to His infinite righteousness. Praise be to God, thanks to our faith, the faith on Jesus Christ, from now on, we upon whom the Spirit has imparted the gift of faith, going to Holy God and being accepted as righteous, cease being an onerous task.
We cannot sufficiently deal with all the Spiritual Gifts in a one hour church service. Paul refers to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is taken up in the Gospel of Mark where the Spirit gives us a message of special knowledge. Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Mark is headed ‘Signs of the End of the Age’. This message was meant for those hearing Jesus and all those believers who would come after them! For a start way ahead of its occurring Jesus warned his hearers about the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem and Jewish way of worship a matter successfully executed by the Romans in AD 70! He tells them that upon seeing the invading armies they were to run for their lives and go and hide in the mountains. His heart went out to women who would be advanced in pregnancy at the time as these would find it hard to run. He warned people that there would be no time to go into their houses to collect provisions or call out those still inside, one merely had to run for dear life. To limit the misery of the people the invasion would be swift and fast, leaving God’s elect and other survivors free to get on with their lives. Isaiah 64:11 prophesied this event clearly saying ‘Our holy and glorious temple where our fathers praised you has been burned with fire and all that we treasured lies in ruins.’ To this terrible news Christ then added a message of special knowledge that at His return the world as they saw it would come to an end. Those being told of that could not believe that the world could end, but we who live now in a time of nuclear weapons know fully well that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un can end it ALL! We know that the world can actually come to an end. The great news though is that Christ says that it is not nuclear weapons that will end it, although a few of these will be exploded here and there by North Korea, Iran and America. The world will end when Jesus returns! That is the good news! You are a child of God who has faith in Jesus Christ. Ignore the antics of politicians. There is even more very good news. Before all this happens, to God’s elect there is assurance. Despite that no one knows and will ever know when this will happen Christ urges us to look forward to his return in joyful anticipation. ‘Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back…..What I say to you, I say to everyone: “Watch!” Then there is further assurance from the words of Paul. You and I shall ‘have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for He is faithful to do what He says, and he has invited you into partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.’ You and I have the power if only we could employ our spiritual gits! Admittedly our spiritual resources get deepened through prayer and worship but by employing our spiritual gift of faith and others we shall be conveyed into the presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to be with them forever. Some of you will want to know how to establish which spiritual gift one has been blessed with by the Spirit. That is easy because the workings of the Spirit are precise. In your prayers to God ask Him to reveal the spiritual gift you are endowed with and ask for guidance on how to use your gift. At all times the Spirit directs that those He has empowered with His power, shall serve at His opportune time! The Bible says that spiritual gifts are the enabling tools that assist believers to help each other. The Spirit will send you to His people you fellowship with so you can exercise your gift, He will not send you elsewhere! We call it time and place!
Does this really work? Yes it is fact and truth. I heard a testimony from a fellow Christian who said that he felt an uncontrollable urge to go and pray for a sick friend who was dying in a hospital. He went, prayed with the sick person and after sharing with the person, the man made a confession of some big thing which had been bothering him and from then on the sick man was at peace! The man’s spirit was healed! I have attended many Church Meetings where there were instances when people violently disagreed but when a believer upon whom the Spirit had endowed the gift of wise advice spoke, all disagreements melted and progress was made. I have seen instances where invited preachers delivered a wrong message and when some member of the congregation on whom the Spirit has given the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit spoke, calm was restored in the Church. I can go on and on but these examples should be enough. This is what happens when we employ our Spiritual Gifts.
In closing let us go back to a question I asked at the beginning of my sermon. Are there consequences for incorrectly employing our Spiritual Gifts and are there rewards for correctly employing such Spiritual Gifts? The Bible once again comes to our rescue with the story of the Parable of the Talents at Matthew 25 verses 14-30. Those who will incorrectly employ their spiritual gifts shall be publicly condemned and cast out into darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those who will correctly employ their spiritual gifts shall be publicly praised and rewarded through being endowed with more resources for their use. This is so because the two things that God gives us are time and place, we do the rest. Time and place are the invaluable gifts from God, most people never fully grasp why place is an advantage. Why are we where we are at any point in time? Place is always an opportunity. Place is either an opportunity to improve or an opportunity to seek improvement. You are not tied to any place, migration is as old as mankind. Man has always sought favourable places to take advantage of forgetting that each place has lessons to be learnt because it is God who puts you there.
“To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice, to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives another person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, may God grant us who make the Body of Christ, the special knowledge to know and employ the spiritual gifts that He has given us so that we may use them to help each other as His children living in His Kingdom? From Ivan Chigwada have a blessed week, month and year! Amen!
Text version of message for Hillside Circuit on November 29th 2020 in English, with Dr Themba Hwalima:
In reading today’s theme, our starting point should be to understand the meaning of the phrase “Spiritual Gifts” in the first place.
In my search for this understanding, I found the following very helpful Biblical Definition of the Term “Spiritual Gifts.”
“A Spiritual Gift is a special divine empowerment bestowed on each believer by the Holy Spirit to accomplish a given ministry God’s way according to His grace and discernment to be used within the context of the Body of Christ.”
We learn this from the Apostle Paul about Spiritual Gifts and their application in the service of the Lord:
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
(1 Corinthians 12: 4-7)
Our theme, “What if we employed our spiritual gifts”; is asking us to pause and ponder as to what we are doing with our Spiritual Gifts. Perhaps more specifically and directly we are being challenged to revisit our relationship with God to see if we are utilizing our God given spiritual gifts in our assigned ministries in the service of the Lord.
In this regard Psalm 80 must be read in the broad context of the Old Testament and in particular the Book of Exodus. The Psalmist has addressed at length the consequences of people of God turning their backs on the Lord. He has shown us the trials and tribulations that Israel went through as a direct consequence of disobeying and abandoning God.
It is however the question of the application of God given Spiritual Gifts that we are concerned with today. As the Psalmist tells us, our lesson in this regard starts with the young man Joseph the son of Jacob.
Joseph, a tragic story from a human perspective; escaping death by a whisker in the hands of your own blood brothers. Being sold into slavery as a consolation, to the devastation of his father’s heart. Yet unbeknown to humanity, a deployment of Spiritual Gifts in the service of the Lord. An instrument for the assignment and employment of Spiritual Gifts for a greater good, the provision, protection and eventual liberation of God’s children from slavery in Egypt.
We see here typical examples of the employment of Spiritual Gifts by Joseph, the interpretation of dreams, unique and rare managerial skills all leading to recognition by Pharaoh; yet all in the service of the Lord.
This practical demonstration of the utilization of spiritual gifts in the service of God and for the good of the Lord’s children was to be followed by God’s servants who were deployed to Egypt by God after Joseph.
We are talking here about familiar servants of the Lord who include Moses, Joshua, Aaron and others who led the struggle for the liberation of the children of Israel and those who led Israel into the promised land.
All these were using spiritual gifts with which they were equipped, which were manifested in their accomplishments. The story of Moses and others in the Old Testament amply demonstrate what happens when people employ their spiritual gifts in the service of the Lord.
As the Apostle Paul affirms to us, and indeed as we see in practical experiences of the Jews in the Old Testament; and as amply demonstrated in the New Testament,
“7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
(1 Corinthians 12: 7-11)
Our problem sisters and brothers in Christ is not one of want of spiritual gifts nor that of lack of spiritual empowerment. For as the Apostle Paul confirms in his letter to the Corinthians, our Lord God all mighty through His son our Lord Christ Jesus has enriched us “in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge.
(1 Corinthians 1:5
I therefore sisters and brothers in Christ positively, and with conviction; define our problem, not as one of deficiency in the gift of spiritual endowment. It is instead one of lack of will to serve The Lord. It is one of want of interest to answer the call to work for God in the ministry assigned to us.
Yes indeed, like God’s servants of yester year, such as the Prophets and the Apostles and many others; we are all spiritually gifted and equipped to serve the Lord in our assigned spheres of the church, of the kingdom of God.
Our challenge is therefore like that of Jonah about whom we learn in the Old Testament. Jonah ran away when God deployed him to Nineveh to preach the Word of God for the salvation of that sinful city. When Jonah eventually went to Nineveh under spiritual compulsion to preach the Word of God, the city repented and was saved from an impending calamity and destruction.
That is what happens when we answer the call to serve the Lord. The Lord’s purposes are achieved and fulfilled through us.
Like Jonah, this is our challenge too, to stop hiding. To stop running away and say yes Lord I am here, send me. Yes, Lord I will go; yes, Lord I will serve you, I will serve in your church, I will serve your community Lord; I will serve this nation. Do we find it difficult or impossible to say yes Lord I will willingly and freely labour in your vineyard?
Or are we like the prophet Isaiah who positively and confidently declares:
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6)
Today’s message is a challenge to each and everyone of us, you included my sister and you my brother in Christ.
“What if I employed my spiritual gifts in the service of my Lord Jesus Christ” is the question you must pose to your spiritual conscience.
Yes sister, yes brother; you are endowed with your portion of spiritual gifts. God is calling on you to serve Him. The Lord Jesus Christ is calling upon you to serve His church, to serve His flock and to serve this nation. Christ is calling on you to labour in His vineyard. Christ expects a delivery of the fruit of your labours as you apply your spiritual gifts. As He illustrates in the parable of the servants left in charge of their employer’s estate God expects you to utilize your spiritual gifts productively in His service. (Mark 13: 34-37)
Our final exhortation sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus: Stand up and be counted in the service of the Lord Your God. Do not be found wanting.