By Pastor Israel

Text:Matthew 25:14-30

For the next few weeks our messages will focus on ‘Faithful Stewardship’ which is our theme for discussion this month. Today’s message which is the first in the series is titled, ‘Don’t be an Unprofitable Servant.’

Who is a steward? A steward is a person employed to manage or look after his master’s business or property. He could be an official of a big company or a servant employed to look after a royal household. A steward or servant is accountable to his employer or master who will reward him according to his performance.
Having been given his job-description and the tools to work with, his master would expect him to perform his duties faithfully, failing which he stands to be condemned or reprimanded. Before He ascended to heaven, Christ our Royal Master made us Christians, servants of the household of faith to work in His vineyard.

In the ‘Parable of the Talents’ referred to above, Jesus narrated the story of a master who gave his three servants some talents to trade with while travelling to a far country. He gave to each one according to his ability. To one, he gave five talents, to another two, and to the third he gave one talent. On his return he called the three servants to give account of their stewardship. The servant to whom he gave five talents had gained another five more. The one with two talents had also gained two more talents, while the third with one talent did nothing with it but buried it in the ground.

According to the parable, the first two were commended for their faithfulness and greatly rewarded while the third – the unprofitable servant, was severely punished. He was ‘cast into the outer darkness where ‘there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matt. 25:30 NKJV).

This parable is illustrative of what will happen to us Christians when Christ returns to reward us according to how we have fared in the great commission He gave us. The great commission as recorded in the gospel according to Matthew reads: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20 NKJV).

This command was given to all Christians and not just to a few. For this reason, before He departed this earth to be with His Father, Jesus Christ gave us the tools to work with and the necessary help we would need to carry out the assignment given to us. The bible records that, “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13 NKJV).

He also sent the Holy Spirit and His Gifts to the Church after His departure, to strengthen and help Christians to carryout the great commission. The nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the Church are recorded in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. In addition to these ministerial gifts, the bible records that, “There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (1 Cor. 12:5-6 NKJV).

If this is the case, none of us Christians can say he has no tool or talent to work with. Apostle Paul wrote: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (v. 7). It is for each one of us to prayerfully find out which talent or talents God wants us to use for His work.

Of course, we have to be discerning because the enemy of our soul, the devil, may like to put stumbling blocks on our way to prevent us from doing God’s work. He may use the weapons of fear, lack of confidence, and sickness to dissuade us from embarking on the great commission. We must always remember that all power and authority in heaven and on earth have been given to Christ our Master and has promised to be with us till the end of the age. This is enough to allay all fears and embolden us for the work we have been called to do.

There is enough work for us to do. There is no doubt that all of us cannot be pastors, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers. But we can use our money to promote the gospel of Christ. We can establish house-fellowships and invite our neighbours to attend. Through these some may be brought to the saving knowledge of Christ. What about distributing Christian tracts? Many souls could be brought to Christ through this. We can also be prayer-warriors, intercessors, encouragers and hospitality workers.

There is no room for neutrality in the work of the great commission. All of us have been given the mandate; but what are you doing for Him now? Are you just sitting on the fence or at the side-line as a spectator? What are you doing with the talent God has given you? Do you use it to glorify God or the devil?

The melodious voice God has given you; do you use it to praise Him? Do you use your beauty and the charisma God gave you to bring people to God? Think about every other endowment and talents that you have. Do you use them to glorify God? We still have little time left before the Second Coming of the Master when we shall stand before Him to give account of our stewardship. If you don’t want to be an unprofitable servant, start doing something for Him now.

Let’s consider the words of this lyric by Charles C Luther (1877).

Must I go, and empty handed,
Thus my dear Redeemer meet,
Not one day of service give Him,
Lay no trophy at His feet?
Must I go , and empty handed?
Must I meet my Saviour so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him;
Must I empty handed go?

By Pastor Israel

Text:Romans 6:1-14

Before He returned to the Father at His first coming, Jesus gave His followers a charge known as the great commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matt. 28:19-20).

Through the abundance of revelation given to Apostle Paul, he was able to understand the spiritual implication of Christian baptism. He wrote to the Christians in Rome: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For he who has died, has been freed from sin” (Rm. 6:3-7, NKJV).

This brings us to our message for today which is titled, ‘Died to sin and risen with Christ,’ Note that this quoted statement refers to what happens to a believer when he receives Jesus as his Lord and Saviour and is baptised.

Baptism is an important rite of the Christian church. Its significance lies in a believer identifying himself with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as prerequisite for living a new life in Him. It symbolises death to sin and a new life of righteousness. Just as Christ died, was buried, and rose again the third day from death to a new life, in the same way a believer through baptism is immersed in water and raised up again, signifying death to sin and being raised up again to a new life in Christ.

When we come to Jesus in simple attitude of faith to follow Him, we make Him our new Master instead of sin who has been our master. But its hold on us has been so strong that no matter how much we struggle to set ourselves free from it, we are always not fully successful. What happens is that sin hides itself in the recess of our mind, looking for every opportunity to resurface.

If we are not watchful in what we say or do, sin may use the opportunity to enslave us again. The life of a Christian is a life of struggle and fight against sin. Paul the foremost of the apostles of Christ wrote: “For the good I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not do, that I practice.

Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Rm. 7:18-20 NKJV). But Paul found answer to the question of sin when he wrote: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vs. 24-25). Living in and for Christ is the solution to the problem of sin.

The remedy for the sin-question and the salvation of our souls is active and working faith in the death and resurrection of Christ. We may ask how? It is when we allow ourselves to die to sin, by walking daily in the footsteps of the Saviour who died for us that sin will no longer have any foot-hold on us. God who knows the end from the beginning and to whom our lives lie open before Him had placed us in Christ ever before we were born.

This was because He knew that we would not reject His call and would receive Him as our Lord and Saviour. Read Paul’s revelation about this in Romans 8:29-30. Thus when He died and was buried, we died and were buried with Him; and when He rose from death, we were raised with Him.
For this reason Apostle Paul wrote: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.

Set your mind on things above, not on the things on earth, for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4 NKJV).

These are not just ordinary but spiritual matters which have been revealed to us in God’s word. If we believe them, then we must act on them. If we believe that we have died to sin, buried, and raised with Christ in baptism, then we should live a new life of holiness and righteousness as our Lord and Master Jesus.

Our consciousness of this spiritual truth will encourage us to live for Christ. We will become aware of what we are in Him and live it out accordingly. When we do this, we are not left on our own without help. The Spirit of Christ that lives in us will enable us to put to death those sins that try to rear up their head.

As we can see, we have works to do in regard to living for Christ. We have to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2 NKJV).

If I may ask, have you identify yourself with Christ in His death and resurrection through water baptism? If you have, then, you are obedient to the Master’s command. Remember that according to the bible, baptism should be by immersion. It is worth doing in obedience to Christ and you will be greatly rewarded for your obedience.

By Pastor Israel

Text:2 Peter 2:12-27

In this final message on our theme, ‘Leaving all to follow Jesus’ I want to sound a note of warning about false teachers that we should be careful not to fall into their traps. They are now found everywhere. No church is ‘no-go’ area for them. They have penetrated the Pentecostal movement which once was the bastion of the Church and a forbidden ground for false teachings of deceitful teachers.

This is not to say that all other gospel workers are fakes, but many false workers have found their way into the gospel field for their personal and nefarious agenda. Listen to what Apostle Paul said about them: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ, and no wonder! For Satan himself, transforms himself into an angel of light.

Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15 NKJV). God has not called them, but they call themselves and have become a liability to the Church. Apostle Peter also wrote about them: “For when they speak great and swelling words of emptiness they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption, for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage” (2 Pe. 2:18-19 NKJV).
This is exactly what they do. They cause those who have escaped from the camp of the devil through faith in Christ, to return to him by their false doctrines.

These false teachers who are ministers of Satan are difficult to recognise. They are smooth-mouthed, loud, arrogant and imposing; they make big claims of the power and authority that they have, which, in most cases are not of God. They always pretend to have revelations from God as they say every time, ‘God told me! God told me! But God has not told them anything. In fact, some of them have sold their souls to Satan for demonic power to do fake miracles and give false prophecies.

It is sometimes very difficult to detect them from their teachings because they often mix the truth of the word of God with the lies of the devil, and bend the word of God to suit what they want people to hear. This is the reason Christians should spend time to study the bible so that they may not be deceived. When we know the truth of God’s word, we would no longer fall victims of false teachers. Jesus said that we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free (Jn. 8:32).

These false teachers have introduced wrong doctrines and unbiblical practices in the Church. One of these doctrines is that material prosperity is an indication that one is right with God and automatically a member of Christ’s kingdom. If this were so, it means that all rich people, whether they are in Christ or not, will make the heaven of Christ. This is rubbish! It is a doctrine from the pit of hell! The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31), which came from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself, proved this teaching a lie. Jesus is the only way to God (Jn. 14:6).

It is the only name that can save us (Acts 4:12). Of course, this Prosperity teaching has given birth to another damnable doctrine: that God would return to the giver a hundredfold of any money given to Him, thus making God a money doubler. This is a great blasphemy! The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is never a money-doubler, but a gracious Giver. This doctrine has encouraged prosperity seekers to invest their money in the church.
Also in many churches today, anointing oil, blessed handkerchiefs, holy water, and others have replaced faith in Christ. Faith according to the Book of Hebrews is to believe what one has not seen because God has promised it. If God has promised to answer us concerning any matter that we pray about, He will do so without our helping Him through man-made methods (Mk. 11:24). We should walk by faith and not by sight.

All these unbiblical doctrines and practices are put in place for the material gains of these false teachers. The Prosperity teaching is meant to enrich their proponents and enslave their church-members. Most of the articles mentioned, whether anointing oil, or anointed handkerchiefs, or holy water, are meant for sale with the money going into the pockets of these charlatans. Where do we find it Jesus Christ or His apostles in the holy bible giving people holy water to drink? The water that Jesus mentioned in the bible represented the ‘Word of God’ or the ‘Holy Spirit’ depending on the context it is used (Jn. 4:10, 14; 7:37-38).

God spoke through the mouth of Prophet Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6 NKJV). Indeed, many are perishing for lack of knowledge. We should not follow false teachers who will put us into bondage.

These teachers are not true followers of Christ. If they were, they would imitate Him and walk in His footsteps. More often than not, they ignore the word of God and teach the doctrines of men. Not only this, they break the law of God with impunity. Jesus said that by their fruit we shall know them.
Today we have pastors and church-workers that have divorced their spouses, who live in adultery, who steal church-money, or who engage in fraudulent business activities; yet their church-members hail them as heroes and as men and women of God. What a disgrace to the Body of Christ! The church which should be holy and be the pillar of truth has become the den of thieves, adulterers, and liars.

What do we do in the light of these things? We must not believe in appearances because they can be deceitful. We should not just follow any church-leader that we are not sure of. In fact, we must not be followers of men but followers of Jesus. We must be careful not to follow the crowd blindly because we think that the majority are always right. Remember that broad is the way that leads to everlasting regret, while narrow is the way that leads to everlasting life.
It is only a few who walk in this narrow way. We should always heed the words of Jesus that what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God (Lk. 16:15).

We should all be our brothers’ keepers. For example, if your pastor is found to be a hypocrite who lives a double life, you should not hesitate to point out his fault to him in love and pray for him and with him. If he refuses to change from his or her evil way, ask God to direct you what to do next. However, do not be a partaker of the punishment of another man’s sin.

By Pastor Israel

Text:Deuteronomy 18:10, 21-22

True prophecy is from God and is meant to exhort, encourage and uplift children of God in their faith. The present rush for prophecy has given charlatans and fake prophets the opportunity to cash on the ignorance of prophecy-seeking Christians.

Besides, it has given the enemy of our soul – the devil, an easy way to lure gullible Christians into his camp through the activities of prophets who prophesy by divination.

God’s yardstick to know a true prophet is written in the bible: “You may say to yourselves, ‘how can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken.

That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:21-22). In fact, if part of the message and not the whole takes place, it is not a message God has spoken.

Today many ‘so-called’ prophets use the power of Satan (divination) to prophesy and their prophecies do not edify the church but cause fear and panic in the hearts of the people.

Fear is not of God, but of the devil. He uses it to afflict his victims and bring them into his captivity.

But God has not given us the spirit of fear but the spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7).

Instead of running after prophecies, let us trust our lives into the hands of the Almighty God who has good plans for our lives.

Read Jeremiah 29:11-13.

By Pastor Israel

Text:1 Corinthians 14:1, 3, 31

Apostle Paul exhorts us to desire spiritual gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:1). After the Old Testament era, prophecy has assumed entirely a new posture. People who sat in the office of the prophet like Samuel were called Seers (1 Sam. 9:9).

This was because they had the ability to peep into the future and foretell what would happen. Many of these seers or prophets were not necessarily men of God because some of them use divination. Balaam was an example. He was hired to curse the children of Israel (Numbers 22-24).

After the canon of God’s word was completed, and all prophecies settled and sealed in heaven, there could be no more new revelation (Ps. 119:89 KJV). This is the reason the like of the great prophets of the Old Testament are no more. If there is any prophecy at all, it is only in part (1 Cor. 13:9).

But prophecy in the New Testament church has to do with exhortation from the bible meant to edify and strengthen the church (1 Cor. 14:3, 31).

Where a prophecy causes fear, disharmony, hatred and mutual suspicion, it cannot be from God. If God reveals something unpleasant about a person to a prophet, it is for that prophet to stand in the gap and intercede in prayer on behalf of the person concerned instead of rushing to deliver such a message.

It is only in a situation where God Himself sends the prophet to inform the person concerned that the prophet needs to deliver any such message. God respects and protects the privacy of His people.

There are many ‘prophets of doom’ today who specialise in predicting illnesses, calamities and deaths. Christians should not run after prophecies. They should know that they are prophets and priests of God Gen. 20:7; Rev. 1:6).

As we walk closely with Him, He reveals His mind to us through His Spirit that dwells in us (Jn. 16:13).

Let us learn to be sensitive to God’s Spirit.

By Pastor Israel

Text:Jeremiah 14:14

I have been asked on many occasions by the people I ministered the word of God to, ‘what message do you have from God for me?’ Since I am not a prophet by calling, I often tell them that I am not a prophet but the gospel I share with them is the message from God for them.

Many Christians run after prophecies instead of trusting in the promise of God that He will not leave or forsake us but will be with us to the end. When He is with us He takes care of our present and the future. All that we need to do is to trust Him and do His will.

His many promises for us are enough to keep us going if we believe them. Our God cannot lie; His promises are sure and cannot fail. He is able to keep us from all harms. The bible teaches that the God who keeps us shall neither slumber nor sleep and that His angel encamps around those who fear Him to deliver them (Ps. 121:4-5; 34:7).

With these promises we know that our future is secure in His hands. If we know that He cares for us, why should we worry about the future when we know our future are in His hands? Those who run after prophecies stand the chance of falling into the hands of charlatans and false prophets.

God said this about some prophets: “The prophets are prophesying lies in My name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divination, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds” (Jer. 14:14).

Many homes have been scattered and many families ruined by the activities of these false prophets. They are emissaries of the devil. Be warned! You do not need to seek or follow after prophecies. Let us trust God for our present and the future.

By Pastor Israel

Text:Acts 19:13-17

No matter how much we pretend to be good Christians God knows our true colour. Of course, the Devil also knows the quality of our Christianity.

The day of testing will show the level of our relationship with Christ. We read in the Acts how some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to cast out demons from people in the name of Jesus who they did not know because they saw Paul doing so. They said: “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches” (v.13).

And the evil spirit answered and said: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” (v.15).

The bible records that “the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped on them, overpowered them and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (v.16).

This showed the people around that these exorcists were fakes. Apostle Paul wrote that our Christian works will be tested by fire. If anyone’s work endures he will receive a reward, and if anyone’s work is burnt, he will suffer loss (1 Cor. 3:14).

In view of these things, we should give earnest heed to what Christ taught us in the gospels so that we may not drift away from the path established for us.

Lukewarm Christianity does not come suddenly. It creeps in gradually when we are not watchful. Skipping Sunday services or coming late to church, skipping prayer and bible reading at home, and skipping tithes and church offering may be the early signs of lukewarm Christianity.

What to do? Go back to Christ and ask for the grace to be steadfast and immovable in your faith in Him as you do what is expected of you as a Christian.

By Pastor Israel

Text:Revelation 3:14-19

The Risen Christ had this to say about the Laodicean Church: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot” (v.15).

Many of us Christians fall into this category. Just like those in Laodicea, lukewarm Christians are mostly unaware of their precarious condition. Many of us who are lukewarm often think we are the best of Christians.

This is because we attend churches where we have popular and eloquent pastors, well-trained and organized choirs with the best musical instruments, and churches that are often frequented by celebrity preachers.

In spite of these brilliant credentials, God who knows the hearts of all men knows that we are neither hot nor cold in our profession of faith and relationship with Christ.

He wished that we are hot or cold, but because we are lukewarm He said: “I will spew you from My mouth” (v. 16). People spew out unwanted and bitter or useless things from their mouths.

If God should spew us out of His mouth, it means we are none of His. What a great tragedy that would be for us! It is time we forsake appearances and face the reality of being truly in Christ by serving Him in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:24).

By Pastor Israel

Text:Matthew 24:43-44

We Christians have no excuse to blame God if the Day of the Lord meets us unexpectedly and unprepared because we have been given enough warning. But if we refuse to heed God’s warning and perish, we have ourselves to blame.

Jesus told His disciples: “If the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into” (Matt. 24:43).

If he failed to be watchful and prepared and his house is broken into, he has himself to blame.

The fulfilments of most of the end-time predictions are now with us. We may ignore but cannot claim ignorance of them. For example the ‘falling away’ as predicted by Apostle Paul (2 Th. 2:23) is now staring us in the face.

Many Christians now give heed to deceiving spirits and the doctrines of the devil (1 Tim. 4:1).

Salvation is no more preached in many churches and people can no longer endure sound doctrines. They prefer priests and pastors who will tell them what they want to hear and not the truth of God’s word.

Sin is no more condemned nor repentance from sin ever mentioned. Many so-called men and women of God have mortgaged their souls to Satan who gives them power to deceive people with their counterfeit miracles.

The ground is being prepared very fast for the revelation of the ‘man of sin’ and the ‘son of perdition’ the Antichrist (2 Th. 2:3-4). What shall we do in the light of these things?

As Christians we need to return to our former love and zeal for Christ, repent and be watchful.

By Pastor Israel

Text:Matthew 24:36-38

If Christ has told us the exact time of His return, people would have waited for the last minute before doing the will of God. Such people would have cheated those who for long have been faithfully watching and preparing for His Second Coming.

But because God is a righteous Judge, He will set aside all pretences and hypocrisies and render to every one according to their works. However, Christ has not kept us in complete darkness about incidents that will precede His return (see Matthew 24:3-31).

In his letter to the Thessalonians Apostle Paul also gave some intimation about His return as we read 2 Thessalonians (2:1-12). He did not stop there but exhorted all Christians: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught whether by word or our epistle” (2 Th. 2:15).

Today the world including Christians are occupied with the pursuit of material things – what they will eat and wear, rather than the kingdom of God and His righteousness according to God’s word (Matt. 6:33-34).

Today, people don’t want to listen to God’s word and this is the reason many churches are empty on Sundays while entertainment houses, stadiums and supermarkets are full to capacity.

As in the days of Noah when people turned deaf ears to his warning that they should repent of their sins and turn to God but were busy doing their own things, until the flood came and swept them to their death, so will destruction come upon those who reject the gospel of Christ at His return.

The wise will ponder on these things.