[Did you miss last week’s Sunday Services? They can now be found at Worship Archive – October 23rd 2022.]
Sunday Service from Connexion for October 30th 2022:
Sunday Service from Hillside Circuit for October 30th 2022:
Lectionary Theme: Counting the cost
Occasion: 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 119: 137-144
Habakkuk 1: 1-4
2 Thessalonians 1: 1-4,11-12
Luke 19: 1-10
[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.
Holy, holy, holy.
I will sing the wondrous story.
Seek ye first.
Nearer my God to thee.
And can it be.
You can listen and join in with prayers from the English Methodist Service Book. They can be found at the Prayers for worship webpage.
137 Our LORD, you always do right,
and your decisions are fair.
138 All of your teachings are true and trustworthy.
139 It upsets me greatly
when my enemies neglect your teachings.
140 Your word to me, your servant, is like pure gold;
I treasure what you say.
141 Everyone calls me a nobody, but I remember your laws.
142 You will always do right, and your teachings are true.
143 I am in deep distress, but I love your teachings.
144 Your rules are always fair.
Help me to understand them and live.
1 I am Habakkuk the prophet. And this is the message that the LORD gave me.
2 Our LORD, how long must I beg for your help
before you listen?
How long before you save us from all this violence?
3 Why do you make me watch such terrible injustice?
Why do you allow violence, lawlessness,
crime, and cruelty to spread everywhere?
4 Laws cannot be enforced; justice is always the loser;
criminals crowd out honest people
and twist the laws around.
2 Thessalonians 1
1 From Paul, Silas, and Timothy.
To the church in Thessalonica, the people of God our Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!
3 My dear friends, we always have good reason to thank God for you, because your faith in God and your love for each other keep growing all the time. 4 That’s why we brag about you to all of God’s churches. We tell them how patient you are and how you keep on having faith, even though you are going through a lot of trouble and suffering.
11 God chose you, and we keep praying that God will make you worthy of being his people. We pray for God’s power to help you do all the good things that you hope to do and that your faith makes you want to do. 12 Then, because God and our Lord Jesus Christ are so kind, you will bring honour to the name of our Lord Jesus, and he will bring honour to you.
1 Jesus was going through Jericho, 2 where a man named Zacchaeus lived. He was in charge of collecting taxes and was very rich. 3-4 Jesus was heading his way, and Zacchaeus wanted to see what he was like. But Zacchaeus was a short man and could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree.
5 When Jesus got there, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down! I want to stay with you today.” 6 Zacchaeus hurried down and gladly welcomed Jesus.
7 Everyone who saw this started grumbling, “This man Zacchaeus is a sinner! And Jesus is going home to eat with him.”
8 Later that day Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “I will give half of my property to the poor. And I will now pay back four times as much to everyone I have ever cheated.”
9 Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Today you and your family have been saved, because you are a true son of Abraham. 10 The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.”
Text version of the Children’s Address for Hillside Circuit on October 30th 2022, with Mr Ivan Chigwada:
COUNTING THE COST: Psalm 119:137-144; Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4:11-12; Luke 19:1-10.
The four Scriptures set for us are on the theme ‘Counting the Cost.’ What does this mean and when and how does counting the cost start? Most of you are familiar with the type of counting the cost which sets in when you start having problems as a result of your earlier decisions or mistakes. Most mistakes are made when you rush or jump into action without giving it much thought and when you fail to adequately prepare for what you intend to do. In order for you to avoid engaging in this type of counting the cost you should deliberately and simply plan ahead carefully. But is this always possible in our life with God? Do we know each step we are going to take today, tomorrow or next year? No we do not! Should this then stop us from just going out and start doing things for God? No not at all! We should not let fear of making mistakes take over our lives. We always find ourselves making choices between what and how we have to do something. When we analyse the day to day decisions and actions of our lives in the Kingdom of God we are counting the cost of our present moves! Are our actions now, in line with the laws of God? Do we love our friends and those who are not our friends? God wants us to do so! Some of our actions will not leave us regretting. If anything at all when we do the right thing we will feel relieved and very happy. Finally does counting the cost and the future have any connections? Yes! Put simply when you count the cost you also plan ahead carefully. In our life with God we sometimes tell ourselves of what we plan and hope to achieve say by next year. You might say I want to be a full member of the church. To get there I will have to tell my parents about it, then tell the senior steward at Church and then I will have to study the book on how to become a full member. Through planning ahead and planning with a lot of care we count the cost of our future moves! Do we want to be called the children of God before the end of this year? Let us plan and go on to work on that which needs doing as this type of counting the cost can make us learn how to live lives acceptable to God!
With regard to the past we involve ourselves in counting the cost when we start to feel the bad effects of some wrong decision that we will have already taken, and it usually begins as we start to understand how badly something has affected us and we ask ourselves if we should do something about it. It actually affects us even more and hurts when someone else says leave him like that he has to count the cost by paying for the careless decision or action that he made last year! You have seen this happen I am sure. In business I have heard many people say ‘I didn’t read the contract fully before signing but I am counting the cost now.’ They are saying they made a mistake and their mistake has caught up with them. Until we learn to be careful and patient, until we know how to avoid jumping into action without giving it much thought, we shall always live to regret most of our decisions! Some people have joined churches that make great promises at the beginning. With time they find that most of the promises were just promises and they have to make a u turn. Avoid such type of action in matters to do with God!
With regard to the present it is even more important to count the cost as we live, as we decide and as we act. This type of counting the cost enables us to make the correct choices. As the children of God we must never be afraid to apologize, we must never shy away from making u turns where necessary and we must not be afraid to admit that we are wrong and that we can make mistakes. And we must not be afraid of making mistakes. We all can make mistakes. We all make mistakes. When we make them let us accept that we have done wrong! Being honest with ourselves is a habit that God approves! We must not be afraid to make decisions about what we have to do. We must not be afraid of making mistakes but we must not be proud of our mistakes. We must strive to do the right thing before God. In this way we will not find ourselves regretting any action that we will have taken.
With regard to the future especially on our lives with God we should always look at what we are planning to do or planning to start on. If you want to build a toy house you must have all the timber, all the nails, all the tools and all the time to do the job, if not then you will not complete the work. We find ourselves having to consider how the consequences of not having all the materials we need, might affect us. As we look around to see what we are facing or what is being thrown at us, we will be counting the cost. The word cost informs and warns us that with whatever we decide on, we may have to give up something that we currently value a lot, like our pride, time, energy, resources and commitment. These will have to be given up! Counting the cost involves recognizing and agreeing to some terms before one sets off to move forward with their new found life. It is a matter of realizing that what is expected from that point on is not just fun and games but is very serious business in which our time, our energy, our resources and our commitment will be sacrificed, given up and required of us so that we can achieve the project we will have chosen to accomplish. Put simply when you count the cost you plan ahead carefully. You take inventory of everything that needs to happen before you pursue the goal. In following Christ we cannot simply follow our own inclinations we have to know what Christ Himself requires of us. We cannot follow Him and the world at the same time. This implies that we have to make a choice between the two. When you choose you actually take up what you decide to go for and lose what you decide to leave. Following Him may mean losing relationships, dreams, material things or even our lives. When we know the likely consequences of our plans, we will be more prepared for the journey ahead. So counting the cost is what prepares us to take the action that we want to take, aware that counting the cost is about the past, it is about the present and it is about the future!
Suppose you live in Old Magwegwe and learn that you have been given a full house in Burnside to live in, complete with a car, food and a maid. You could brag about your new lifestyle, plan for it and dream about it. But until you pack up and leave your current home, the new life is never really yours. You cannot live in Burnside and your current home at the same time. Many people approach Christianity the same way. They love the idea of eternal life, escaping hell and having Jesus as their friend. But they are not willing to leave the life they now live. Their desires, lifestyle and sinful habits are too precious to them. Their lives may exhibit a token change-starting to attend church or giving up on a major sin- but they want to retain ownership of everything else. It does not work!
We cannot earn salvation by lifestyle change or any other good deed. But when we follow Christ we are releasing control of our lives into His hands. We must let go emotionally so that what we possess no longer possesses us. When Jesus is in control after taking control of our life, pure living results! Before we finish our sermon we are going to look at the life of Zacchaeus, a man who was able to let go emotionally and was rewarded with being welcomed by Jesus into the Kingdom of God!
Psalm 119 v 137-144 talk of how righteous the Lord God is and makes us think that God wants us to be righteous like Him so righteous such that evil should not be seen in our lives. Look around you and see if you, your family and your friends are living a life that is pleasing to God. If not make the decision to change so that you follow the life that will be acceptable to God! This is the perfect setup which applies when people live in the Kingdom of God, with God allowed to fully guide and control their lives.
The Book of Habakkuk looks at how God appears to disappoint us as He appears to let evil go on unchecked. At school we see those who bully us! Sometimes we see those who steal our pens, pencils and even books. Righteous God does not allow evil to go on unchecked, but when we look around us and see evil in action it looks as if God has lost control to evil when in effect God will be in full control but not punishing there and then because in His mercy He does not want anyone to perish. God wants those who do wrong to realize the bad effects of their current way of life so that they can change for the better. When the change happens in all of us, the bad things that we see going on will reduce in number and size. God wants people to change their hearts so they can become better people.
The story of Zacchaeus, is an incident which happened as Jesus was passing through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. Just before this at Luke 18:18-30, Jesus had said, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God! …but….what is impossible with men is possible with God’(18:24,27). Zacchaeus was just such a rich man, for whom God had done the impossible, and brought him into the kingdom. In this case Luke was counting the cost of what he had written earlier given what Jesus was doing now! But now let us turn our attention back to Zacchaeus! Are you like Zacchaeus even prepared to do the most embarrassing thing so that you can get the approval of God! A short old man climbed a tree which could break and injure him just to attract the attention of Jesus! Can you do that for God? If you will He will call you His child and you will never live to regret it!
While there are other lessons to be learnt from the events of the story, the saying of Jesus with which it ends is very informing. We have heard about the very rich and God and how these do not appear to be good friends! But this is not always true! For the great words of 19: 9-10 are clear on how wrong our ideas about the kingdom of God can be. The passage in chapter 18 tells us that God can bring even the wealthy into his kingdom: and here, that same miracle of saving a rich man is described as salvation coming to the house of Zacchaeus, and we learn that ‘coming into the kingdom’ is the same as ‘salvation’.
The ultimate achievement of the message of Jesus will indeed be seen in the changing behaviour of the people called Christians. Do they show that they are a changed people? Let us look at Zacchaeus once more. What was he like before meeting Jesus? He was a big crook! What did he do to meet Jesus? He embarrassed himself! What happened after he met Jesus? He was saved and became a different person! He offered to refund those he had cheated! Zacchaeus’ salvation was primarily a spiritual matter yet when we witness the conversion of a person like that, there are two things we can hardly deny; its cause must be a power which can work miracles, and its effect will be repercussions all around in the society in which he lives. In other words, his world will begin to change. But it will be only because his heart has been changed first. Are you prepared to have your heart changed by God? When God changes you, you can change the world around you! In fact it does not end here! God wants us to be like Christ in all the things we do!
From today what are you going to do? Are you going to worry about the bad mistakes you made in the past? You can worry about them but that will not make you a better person! Are you going to be very careful so that you can be able to avoid making mistakes? Mistakes happen all the time because anyone can make a mistake. However if we plan ahead and plan to live a life that is acceptable to God, we will be accepted by Him. Zacchaeus planned how he could see Jesus. He carried out his plan and was accepted by God who made him a member of the Kingdom of God! Like Zacchaeus we must not be afraid of the consequences of our action which leads us to get close to God!
In the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit- Amen!
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