[Did you miss last Sunday’s services? They can still be found at Worship Archive – September 11th 2022.]
Sunday Service from Connexion for September 18th 2022:
Sunday Service from Hillside Circuit for September 18th 2022:
Lectionary Theme: No one can serve two Masters
[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.
We want to see Jesus lifted high.
O my soul, arise and bless your Maker.
My Jesus, my Saviour.
This is my desire.
Because He lives.
A charge to keep.
You can listen and join in with prayers from the English Methodist Service Book. They can be found at the Prayers for worship webpage.
1 Our God, foreign nations have taken your land,
disgraced your temple, and left Jerusalem in ruins.
2 They have fed the bodies of your servants
to flesh-eating birds;
your loyal people are food for savage animals.
3 All Jerusalem is covered with their blood,
and there is no one left to bury them.
4 Every nation around us sneers and makes fun.
5 Our LORD, will you keep on being angry?
Will your angry feelings keep flaming up like fire?
6 Get angry with those nations that don’t know you
and won’t worship you!
7 They have gobbled down Jacob’s descendants
and left the land in ruins.
8 Don’t make us pay for the sins of our ancestors.
Have pity and come quickly! We are completely helpless.
9 Our God, you keep us safe. Now help us! Rescue us.
Forgive our sins and bring honour to yourself.
Jeremiah 8, 9
8: 18 I’m burdened with sorrow and feel like giving up.
19 In a foreign land my people are crying.
Listen! You’ll hear them say,
“Has the LORD deserted Zion?
Is he no longer its king?”
I hear the LORD reply, “Why did you make me angry
by worshipping useless idols?”
20 The people complain,
“Spring and summer have come and gone,
but still the LORD hasn’t rescued us.”
21 My people are crushed, and so is my heart.
I am horrified and mourn.
22 If medicine and doctors may be found in Gilead,
why aren’t my people healed?
9: 1 I wish that my eyes were fountains of tears,
so I could cry day and night for my people
who were killed.
1 Timothy 2
1 First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. 2 Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honour God. 3 This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Saviour. 4 God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is,
5 There is only one God,
and Christ Jesus is the only one
who can bring us to God.
Jesus was truly human,
and he gave himself to rescue all of us.
6 God showed us this at the right time.
7 This is why God chose me to be a preacher and an apostle of the good news. I am telling the truth. I am not lying. God sent me to teach the Gentiles about faith and truth.
1 Jesus said to his disciples:
A rich man once had a manager to take care of his business. But he was told that his manager was wasting money. 2 So the rich man called him in and said, “What is this I hear about you? Tell me what you have done! You are no longer going to work for me.”
3 The manager said to himself, “What shall I do now that my master is going to fire me? I can’t dig ditches, and I’m ashamed to beg. 4 I know what I’ll do, so that people will welcome me into their homes after I’ve lost my job.”
5 Then one by one he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He asked the first one, “How much do you owe my master?”
6 “A hundred barrels of olive oil,” the man answered.
So the manager said, “Take your bill and sit down and quickly write ‘fifty’.”
7 The manager asked someone else who was in debt to his master, “How much do you owe?”
“A thousand bushels of wheat,” the man replied.
The manager said, “Take your bill and write ‘eight hundred’.”
8 The master praised his dishonest manager for looking out for himself so well. That’s how it is! The people of this world look out for themselves better than the people who belong to the light.
9 My disciples, I tell you to use wicked wealth to make friends for yourselves. Then when it is gone, you will be welcomed into an eternal home. 10 Anyone who can be trusted in little matters can also be trusted in important matters. But anyone who is dishonest in little matters will be dishonest in important matters. 11 If you cannot be trusted with this wicked wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? 12 And if you cannot be trusted with what belongs to someone else, who will give you something that will be your own? 13 You cannot be the slave of two masters. You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than to the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Text message for Hillside Circuit on September 18th 2022, with Mr Ivan Chigwada:
NO ONE CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS: Jeremiah 8: 18 – 9: 1; 1Timothy 2: 1-7; Luke 16: 1-13
Our theme for today is ‘No one can serve two Masters’. This theme comes from the passage from Luke where at verse 13 Jesus said ‘No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.’ Christ’s message is ‘do not even dare think of serving two Masters’. Don’t even think about it. In the event the idea pops up do not allow it to settle in your mind, banish it. For those intent on spending eternity in the presence of the Lord God, serving any other master than Him now, is a big no. Right now while we still can, we must serve, the LORD God alone and not the Accuser and his agents! But why did Jesus single out money in this case? He used the example of money to teach his audience about the wrong use of this world’s possessions, opportunities and time which can easily take God’s place in the lives of men, women and children. At 1 Timothy 6 verse 10 Paul warns us ‘For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wondered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.’ We will deal with Paul’s message some other day, for today we will just confine ourselves with the power of money, especially how money can become your master. This happens if you think and worry about it frequently, when it makes you give up everything to make more and more of it, when you spend a lot of time caring for your wealth and when it is very hard for you to give it away. We see that money can be a hard and deceptive master. Some of the powerful men and women of this world have a lot of money, do they look happy? Great fortunes can be made and lost overnight and no amount of money can provide health, happiness or eternal life. How much better it is to let God be your master, His servants have peace of mind and security both now and forever.
Our scriptures for the day introduce us to the other masters that draw men away from God! We need to be on the lookout for them!
Psalm 79 was probably written after the Babylonians had levelled Jerusalem as described in the history books of 2 Kings 25 and 2 Chronicles 36. There the gory details as given in this Psalm are spelt out for the benefit of the reader. My concern is not with those details but with what is prompting the outburst of the writer of this Psalm especially at verse 6 where he says ‘Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you-on kingdoms that do not call upon your name!’ It is God’s prerogative to punish and praise, not a man’s! When we think we should direct the Lord God we get it wrong! Asaph seems to be purposely ignoring this simple fact! According to the Old Testament, God’s wrath and judgment often fell on entire nations because of the sins of the people within those nations. Here, Asaph pleaded for judgment on kingdoms that refused to acknowledge God’s authority. Ironically Asaph’s own nation of Judah was being judged by God for refusing to do this very thing. These were people who had sworn allegiance to God but were now rejecting Him. This made their judgment worse. Having double standards is in fact serving two Masters. Avoid it. As members of the Church of God have you heard those who like Asaph appeal to God to deal with those who worship on the wrong day of the week, who baptise in the wrong way, who make short prayers instead of day long ones, who pray in the wrong way, who preach in the wrong way and sing with insufficient decorum! I know you have heard of such. When such happens in the Church of God, His people are obviously downgrading Him to the position that is not His. When we tell Him as Master what He must do, we are in fact not making Him our Master! You and I must walk and act in the authority of the Living Word of The Living God only and not be motivated by the little god of self-centredness and insecurity. Those of us, who accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour live by the standards of the Christ and not those of the Accuser, who at John 8:44 is described as a liar and the father of lies. When we follow the Accuser we should not expect the mercy and grace of God to follow us. We become liars like him. When we offend God, remember we are pleasing the Accuser. Refusing to acknowledge God’s authority is wilful disobedience. To point to the error of others while doing exactly the same is not only shameful but is duplicity! Like Eve claiming that we were deceived will not be excused and will be punished fully. Read Genesis 3 verse 16 and you will be reminded of the punishment meted out to Eve for following the Accuser. Be consistent, retain your current position in God, vacillating between God and the Accuser is tragic, if called during the transitory phase where will your home be? Be upright, do not move from idea to idea, doctrine to doctrine, feeling to feeling and never double deep. Always remember the warning of Revelation 3 verses 15 and 16 ‘I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot, nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other. But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!’ Fence sitters do not go to heaven they go to hell!
At Matthew 6:25 Jesus said ‘That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food and drink or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing?’ Life is hard and will always be, remembering there is the provider keeps us by His side, reduces worry and cuts chances of our entrapment into following this world’s gods. If allowed worrying can take over and become a god. Worrying can be controlling. Do not indulge in worry! In anxiety and worry we ignore the Lord God’s providence and love and then go on to forget about God! From today whenever a worry enters your mind, find a promise of God that responds to it and turn it into a prayer point. Know that worry cannot accomplish anything good, but faith in the Lord has great power, since nothing is impossible with God.
Invaluable related advice is in the Ten Commandments at Exodus 20 v 1 to 17. Verse 17 reads ‘You must not covet your neighbour’s house. You must not covet your neighbour’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey or anything else that belongs to your neighbour.’ Viewed through the lens of the message of verse 17 the actual message of verse 3 becomes ‘don’t even dare think of having another god besides the Living God,’ that of v 13 becomes ‘do not even dare think of murder’, and that for verse 15 becomes “do not even dare think of stealing,’ for you are not allowed to want what is someone else’s. The centre of gravity moves to within! The purpose of v 17 the 10th commandment is to nip sin in the bud! This explains Jesus’ rationale for the way He interpreted the law. Jesus said that murder happens in your heart even if you do not kill a person. Adultery happens in the heart even if you do not physically sleep with another woman. Child of God, do not even dare go there, do not let your thoughts control you, do not let them wander in that direction, subject them to the authority of God, all the time, and you will be very secure and safe!
Let us get back to the Scriptures for the day. As a prophet of God Jeremiah’s message to Judah was ‘hey don’t even think of trespassing against God’ but we know they did not listen. At the end Jeremiah felt conflicting emotions concerning his people. Lying, deceit, treachery, adultery, and idolatry had become common sins among the people of Judah. Jeremiah was angered by their sin, but he had compassion too. He was set apart from them by his mission for God, but he was also one of them. Jesus had similar feelings when He stood before Jerusalem, the city that would reject Him (Matthew 23:37). We thus find Jeremiah pleading with God to save his people. His words here vividly portray his emotion as he watched his people reject God. He responded with anguish to a world dying in sin. We watch that same world still dying in sin today, still rejecting God. While God could heal Israel’s self-inflicted wounds, He would not force His healing on them. When you purposely move away from God, He grieves and leaves you to your own designs and does not send an army to drag you back. Away from Him sunk and stuck in the kingdom of the Devil you are cooked. Choose today the master you shall serve!
Although God is all powerful and all knowing, He has chosen to let us help Him change the world through our prayers. How this works is a mystery to us because of our limited understanding, but it is a reality. In 1 Timothy 2:1-7 Paul based his instructions about prayer for everyone on his conviction that God’s invitation for salvation extends equally to all people. The word everyone captures the nature of the Gospel. The world that God loves includes every person (John 3:16). He loves us as individuals whom He knows intimately (Psalm 139:13-16). If our God is like this where do we get the courage to reject His authority? Paul urges us to pray for ‘all people’. Our earnest prayers will have powerful results (James 5:16).
Regarding moving from idea to idea and doctrine to doctrine we have people who think there are many ways to God, when in practice each person must choose a single way. We can stand on one side of a gorge and discuss the possibility of many bridges across the abyss, but if we are determined to cross, we will have to commit to a single bridge.
The facts remain. We human beings are separated from God by sin and we need a Saviour-a way across the abyss of sin and back to God. Only one person in the universe is our Mediator and can stand between us and God and bring us together again-Jesus who is both God and man. Jesus’ sacrifice brought new life to all people. Have you let Him bridge the gap between you and God? Believing that there is only one bridge and not many bridges to God will save us from being routed onto the wrong highway! Do not dare think there are many ways to God!
In the passage from the Gospel of Luke we come across an estate manager who no doubt had been ‘cooking the books’ for years and was horrified at the thought of losing his job when he was found out. He embarked on a strategy to save himself from not so much being fired but from losing those to turn to in case of need, given the doomed future he was headed towards. To understand Jesus’ commendation of this wily character, we need to see that Jesus was praising his wisdom, not his dishonesty. The manager’s own money could have been used to make friends, but he chose to use his master’s. While he had the opportunity since the estate owner’s books were still under his control, he used his boss’ money to earn the gratitude of the various debtors, who in their turn could be relied on to help him when he had to leave his present sphere of work.
In the same way, one thing is certain in every man’s future: death which dismisses us from our present sphere into the unknown regions of eternity. The right use of the opportunities of daily life is the one means available to us NOW for ensuring that we can have an eternal home to go to THEN. Everything we have here we shall not be able to take with us into the next life. Although these things-our property, ability and time-belong to this life only, says Jesus, yet what will happen to us then, when we pass into that life, will depend on what we are doing with them here and now. We must make sure that our use of them brings us into a fellowship of friends which will survive beyond death.
We are managers for Jesus. Everything that a Christian has-money, home, possessions, even family-is held in trust for Him and will one day have to be accounted for. To use them wisely is honesty to use them for selfish luxuries is dishonest. Money is a good servant but can be a poor master. Possessions must not be allowed to control their owner and should be used wisely!
Jesus commends the right use of worldly wealth (v 8). It is not wrong to be rich or to be successful in business as some Christians think, provided that the money is used for God’s kingdom. Money given to Christian missions, famine relief and for the distribution of Bibles and Christian literature will gain us friends for eternity. Your past does not determine your tomorrow. But your tomorrow can be determined by what you decide to do today. Leave yesterday’s master who was leading you into wrong and today turn to the master who will lead you into righteousness! His word is ‘Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on His throne!’ (Revelation 3:20 & 21).
In conclusion here is the story. No one can serve two masters! Do not even dare to think you can! We all have one Master, acknowledge His authority all the days of your life, so that it may be well with you! Do not even dare think you can have another Master! There is only one bridge for the gap between us and God, not many and Jesus Christ is that bridge! We are managers for Jesus and not owners! Do not even dare think you are the owner! Money is a good servant but a poor master so do not run away from money or urge others to. Put to wise use, it is a good servant in the kingdom of God!
In the name of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit choose to serve the Living God only!