Sermons

February 3rd 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: When the Roots are Deep

Topic: Beautifully and Wonderfully Made

Text: Genesis 1:26-31

– I am fully convinced that a lot of the chaos related to life today and the desperation of mankind is because we have refused to go back to the designer of life and what he intended for us to be. The simple knowledge of who we are and how we are created to function will change everything we perceive about ourselves.

1. Human Beings were created by God
– The Bible clearly explains that Human beings are not a product of chance or evolutionary process, they were created by God.
@. God Consulted about the creation – God discussed among the Trinity on the creation of man which makes man a very special.
@ God designed man from the ground- the word made means that he was the masterpiece of the greatest designer of all.
@ He breathed into his nostrils and he became alive – shows the source of life. (Breathing into him is an anthropomorphism to depict the action of giving life). Acts 17:28, Luke 3:38).

2. Human Beings were created in God’s Image
@ While the image is representative it is not the actual. This does not mean that the human beings look like God. It means they have traits that show they are from God. E.g our shadow is from us but looks nothing like us!
@ The image of God in human beings places them in very privileged position. They are unlike animals because they have the image of God. Both male and female are made in the image of God. Human beings are made with a special component called the Spirit which is what makes us have the capacity to relate with God and the propensity to worship. It is this aspect that also gives eternal life to all human beings because God intended for human beings to live forever.
@ The Image of God in man is seriously affected by sin such that we no longer gravitate towards God (Ephesians 4:18-19). However through faith in Christ our nature is renewed (2 Peter 1:4)

3. Human Beings were Created to have Dominion
@ God gives the power to the human being to dominate and take charge of all creation. This means he is to conquer and subdue creation to obey his will. (Psalms 8:6-8). This also means that human beings are created to be good stewards of creation. God does not take kindly the abuse of creation by human beings
@ When human beings participated in the fall they lost their privileged position only to regain it through a lot of struggle. We have to toil and break a sweat before the creation obeys us.
@ In Christ we see the renewal of this primal authority as Christ seems to know exactly how animals will behave and where they will be. Through Christ we are also par takers of this primal authority because we are walking in renewed humanity. We should therefore be masters and not servants to creation. This means we should not be addicted to anything because then we are not dominating but being dominated. The completed reign over creation will be restored fully when we reign with Christ. (Hebrews 2:7-8).

4. Human Beings were Created to Fellowship with God.
@ Creation was set forth by God as a platform through which we can seek him and relate with him.
@ Creation should rouse in us the aspect of Worship, meaning that we should be in awe at the God who created all for our enjoyment.
@ We should receive all with thanks giving and acknowledge the creator at all times. Prayer for meals should be a serious matter reminding us of the God who provides.
@ We should remember to bring glory to God in all we do as we are His masterpiece and when He looks at us He should be able to say that all is good.

April 10th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Text: Isaiah 53: 1-12

Topic: What’s so Good about Good Friday?

Introduction

Every crisis yields new vocabulary! Most of the words created out of crises reflect the confusion of that period. Consider the few that have come out of the current crisis. “Social distancing!” – meant to inform us to change the way we socialize by avoiding physical contact. You see, the seemingly exclusive terms convey a heavy message that ordinary words such as physical distance could not convey. I don’t have enough space to explain, “shelter in place” or “flattening the curve”, but you get my drift!
In Christianity we also have a strange phrase called, “Good Friday!” In essence it is the worst Friday ever in our calendar, humanly speaking. On this day out savior hung on the Roman Cross executed like a common criminal after an equally excruciating public embarrassment. So what is so good then about Good Friday?

Background
Isaiah 53 is referred to by Biblical scholars the song of the suffering servant. In it Isaiah foresaw the suffering of Christ and the anguish of the Messiah to procure salvation for humankind. It was one of the enigmatic passages of the Old Testament as many scholars did not understand what it meant or who it referred to. But in it is packed the power of the suffering Messiah to liberate a people from the shackles of Sin. Let’s look at this in a language we have become familiar with.

1. Jesus Endured the Real Social Distance
– Isaiah points out that Jesus endured public rejection for our sake.
– Rejection – the crowd at his crucifixion texted him. They did not stand with him in his our of trial. I do not need to explain how it feels when people reject you! The social pain reverberates in our mind as thousands of arrows shot to our souls!
– Ridiculed – People did esteemed Jesus, in fact they considered him stricken by God. In the real accounts of crucifixion in the gospels we see the mockery and ridicule that Jesus underwent on our behalf. My friends it is very painful to endure ridicule on top of rejection!
– Repudiated- Am using this word in the sense of being denounced or betrayal. Jesus experienced the worst form of betrayal. People who had dined with Him not only fled from Him but some actually endorsed and participated in His execution. It is Okay if friends are overwhelmed at our times of trouble and hide themselves, but imagine your very friends leading the band wagon of your executioners!
If you ask me this is the height of Social Distancing! Of course, the real social distancing- where people keep their distance from you. But why did Jesus have to endure it? So that you don’t have to be alone at the moment of reckoning. He will plead your case and stand with you. He will be the friend that sticks closer than a brother! That is why it is Good Friday!!!

2. Jesus Flattened the Curve for Us
Think about how much pain Jesus took on our behalf. Isaiah uses such words as “Stricken” “pierced,” “smitten,” “Crushed,” and “oppressed” to convey the magnitude of the suffering Jesus went through. Let me break this down for you by looking at a few things Jesus suffered.
– The lashes- it is explained in Scripture that they have Jesus the dreaded 39 lashes. They tore through his flesh with the whips.
– They made him carry the wooden beam of the cross all the way from the place of judgement to the place of execution – literally all the way across the city! It was not just a public spectacle but an opportunity for further whipping and objects thrown at him by the blood thirsty mob.
– The crucifixion- After all was done they drove nails right through his flesh and hung him on the cross till he died. That was said to be the worst form of execution during the Roman times.
Why did Jesus endure such physical pain? So that you and I do not have to spend an eternity in hell with physical pain that is comparable to none other. That is what is good about Good Friday!

3. Jesus Became our Shelter in Place
The term shelter in place was actually used as the ultimate hiding place in a ship, where if all went wrong people could go in and find safety awaiting rescue! A few statements from Isaiah fly at you as you read!!
– Surely He has borne our griefs and carried out sorrows- I do not know anyone else who can do that. No one can bear your grief because grief is so personal, yet Jesus can! He has also carried your sorrow! These He has done by taking away our inevitable condemnation.
– “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The Lord God laid on Jesus the iniquity of a wayward people who do not even seek the Lord!!!
– The final verse of this song reads, ” yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” – there is no greater assurance in this life than that a savior sits at the throne of God interceding for us rebellious sinners.

April 12th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

1 Corinthians 15:50-53

Good News from the Grave?

Introduction
This week Russian astronauts launched to the international space station after thorough quarantine and care. As they were going away they said that they were going to the safest place in the world! We can all agree that the news about the outcome of global pandemic we are currently facing is depressing. Deaths are being reported from all corners of the globe in huge numbers. We must inevitably turn from our fear of death and face the reality that death is real! However, as real as death is is the fact of another life beyond this life! That is where on Easter Sunday today we must talk about Death and Life

Background
1 Corinthians 15 is the theological chapter on resurrection. Paul in this chapter explains the reason for the resurrection, the value of the resurrection and also, the process of the Resurrection. In fact for us to understand our text today, I recommend that we read the entire chapter. Towards the end of the Chapter Paul calls his readers why death is necessary, how death will be conquered and finally why this is good news!

1. We must move from Confusion about Death
⁃ The scripture in this passage encourages us to move from confusion and fear about death. Paul reminds us that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. He means this quite literally! We will not go to heaven as we are! A certain process of conversion must take place. Some will go through death while those who remain till the end shall go through transformation of their bodies at the last trumpet.
⁃ This is a perfect reminder for us not to be paralyzed by fear of death rather to embrace it as the natural end of this life and the entrance to the next. I have heard people pray and prophecy that they will not die in this pandemic nor will their loved ones be touched by it. The reality is that many will die including some of us or our loved ones! The virus does not respect your faith or commitment. It does not mean that you are less spiritual if you get sick or that you are most evil if you die. Whether you die of Covid 19 or any other cause death is death and if the end has not come we will all die, because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God!

2. We must have Conviction that Death will be Conquered
⁃ The greatest news for mankind is that there is life after death! Paul continues to explain how the perishable body becomes swallowed by the imperishable one. How we move from being mere mortals to becoming immortal. In this case then death is swallowed by life and that is when we have victory over death.
⁃ It should be clear to us here that though death is a painful process and leaves us in pain; it is not the end. We must look forward to something that death brings to us. It was C.H. Spurgeon who said during the great cholera epidemic that if he were to die suddenly of cholera then “sudden death is sudden glory!”
⁃ Death ushers to us our blessed hope of living together with our Lord for eternity. I pray that when it comes to our turn we will look at death and declare
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:54-55‬ ‭

3. We should have Confidence to Face whatever comes today
⁃ Paul concludes with very strong words.
⁃ He calls is to be steadfast and immovable. This means we must anchor our faith not on transient things of this world but on the things of heaven. Knowing well that all these worldly goodies will lose value as we near our end in this world. He also wants is not to be shaken by death but to let out faith in God take over as our view of eternity becomes bigger and bigger. In other words let’s prepare to die so well that we are not afraid when it comes!
⁃ Paul also want his readers to abound in God’s work being sure that it is not in vain. Death brings about hopelessness and meaninglessness. But for the believer death should reminds us of the pay day! No one dreads the end of month pay day unless they have squandered all their earnings before the pay day. We look forward to the end to receive the promises that God has given to us! Because of this we must work very hard today in view of the end!
You see my dear brethren, there is good news from the grave! Just as it happened on Easter Sunday many years ago when Jesus resurrected there is good news today, even if we die we shall rise again in glory! Let us move from Confusion to Conviction and then to Confidence “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

April 19th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series:The Home a Hub of Ministry
Part 2

Text Acts 2:42-47

Topic: The Home: A Hub of Ministry

Introduction
Part of being a true follower of Christ is identifying with His mission on earth. Jesus said that He did not come to be served but to serve! ( Matt.20:28, Mark 10:45). In this times when we cannot gather together to serve each other in the context of a congregation we still have the opportunity to do active and intentional service to one another from our homes. We can transform our homes to hot spots of care and hope in these dark times.

2. By Transformative Service (44-46)
– What makes a Church a warm place, where people desire to belong? The answer is Service! This however, does not come naturally, it flows from the intentional actions of believers. I dare say that even the intentional actions are not enough, it flows from the basic orientation of Christian homes. In our passage we see how believers decided to come together in homes. The emphasis being not just the meeting together but much more the “having all things in common.” In other words they built a commonwealth of believers. Each identifying with the other as a brother or a sister. It is this communion that made them cultivate the desire to serve each other. There were no “holy groups,” or “class distinctions,” or “special people” groupings among them! They were one people. This communion mentality went a long way in building the fiber of their united fellowship. That’s why we are taught elsewhere, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians‬ ‭6:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬
– We also see that they actively gave their property to the cause of their communion. They actually sold their possessions and then distributed the proceeds with those who had need. I have observed in my years of ministry that one of the most difficult aspect of Christian growth is giving! Especially giving as a ministry to other people who have need. I strongly believe this is because we do not discuss giving from our homes. We do not intentionally distribute our wealth to those in need. We have a great opportunity in out stay home period to minister to one another. There are many vulnerable families and individuals among us and we can reach out to them. Service begins by identifying that other needy person and giving what you have to alleviate their need.
– The result of the genuine service that the believers were having with each other was two words in verse 46, they had glad and generous hearts. You see the believers were so glad to belong to a fellowship that cared about each other and they also longed to share the little they had. Gladness and generosity are two natural results of true service. As we meet each other’s needs, praying and giving to the vulnerable people in this tough times, our feeling of oneness will grow. It is also true that true giving is contagious! Others will also desire to give and thereby we will grow in generosity. The practice of serving other people makes them glad and increases in them the desire to do likewise to others.

April 26th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series:The Home a Hub of Ministry
Part 3

Text Acts 2:42-47; Acts 1:6-11

Topic: Transformative Witness

Introduction
It is my conviction that when Christianity is stripped bare off all the fancy activities we have, only three essential aspects would remain. These three are: Worship, Service and Witness. We have handled the first two in previous weeks as we talked about transforming our homes to dynamic hubs of ministry, today I will handle the last one.

3. Transformative Witness v47
– The early Church was actively involved in praising God right in their homes. Notice the phrase ‘praising God’ is in the past continuous tense. This means it was a habit for them to praise God. What exactly does this mean? We will be forgiven for having a very narrow definition of the word praise. For many of us this means singing some particular kind of songs. This is not what this section of scripture is telling us that the early Church did. They had an attitude of proclaiming what God has done for them. They were involved in making known to the whole world the gift that they had received from God. They were witnessing to the whole world the goodness of God. This praise was not for some material thing that they had received; no! It was for all the spiritual grace gifts that God had bestowed upon them. So they told whoever cared to listen about the goodness of God. Can our homes be said to be places where God is praised or blamed? Which one do you actively pursue: praise or blame? I think for many of us “praise the Lord” is just a greeting. It ought to be more than that! The best gift we can give to the world especially in such a time as this is to cultivate an attitude of praise to God. This is true transformative witness.
– We also realize that the Church was also kind and welcoming to those outside. They therefore enjoyed favor with all the people. What a testimony! This young group of believers was spoken well of by those outside their fellowship. It is clear from this passage that the early Church did all they could to make sure that their lives reflected the gospel. Paul wanted this of the Church in Phillipi (Philippians 1:27). We also see the same encouragement by Peter (1 Peter 2:12). True witness must come through the way we live our lives. While we must actively proclaim the good news we must habitually live lives that display our true character. This is the sure way of witnessing to the world. We can employ all means of evangelism but that simple act of Christ -likeness will transform more than a thousand words of persuasion.
– The last aspect of the kind of witness the early Church had is actually passive. This means they received the action rather than doing it. God added to their number daily those who were being saved. It is also worth noting that those being added were those who got saved. There is big difference between God’s addition and men’s additions. Men just add to fill the space and to count the numbers, but God adds transformed people who are willing to honor Him. So, God was pleased to bring new believers in their midst because of the kind of people they were. I take this as a measurement of the spiritual health of our faith and Church too. They question is, has God entrusted some people to you for nurture and care? The Christian home ought to be the cradle of spiritual nurture. People in our community who need the Lord should find it easy to inquire from us or those who get born again to come under our wings for discipleship. I am convinced that the work of bringing people to the body of Christ is purely the work of God. Our role is to proclaim His goodness to the world and in time He will be pleased to honor us with new believers. How I pray that our homes will be the cradles of new life as more are added to the number of those who believe.

Our calling is to be witnesses for Christ. How are we doing it? I propose active praise, good relationship with non believers, and active mentor-ship of new believers.
It is also my prayer that we do not feel condemned to stay in our homes as though they were prisons. I hope we find new meaning in true home Churches, as we Worship, Serve and Witness!

June 7th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: The Dark Night of the Soul

The phrase, “the dark night of the soul” is associated with a poem written in the eighth century by a priest named John of the Cross. In it he describes the agony of one going through the strangest spiritual experience as he reaches out to God for help. Today, Kenya ranks sixth in the depression index in Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) report of 2019 noted increased behavior related to depression such as suicide, homicides, addiction and violence.
In the next few weeks we will walk through many texts that address the subject of Depression. In our journey I hope to walk through reality of depression, causes of depression and a biblical strategy to overcome depression based on Psalms 42 and 43.

Text: Psalms 42 and 43

Sermon 1: A Down Cast Soul

Introduction
As a young man in my teens I tried my hand at boxing as a sport. I was feeling the pressure from my two brothers who were very successful in martial arts at that time, and so I decided I will do my own thing: boxing! My career as a boxer however was very, very short lived. It ended one day the same month it began! I found myself in the ring with this huge accomplished boxer who was in the same weight category with me. In that one short moment in the ring so many emotions overwhelmed me. Here I was representing my team, surely they expected a lot from me. Everyone else on the opposite team was laughing and taunting me. I did not want to fail at this because I so wanted to impress my brothers with my story of success. . . . I tried to confuse my opponent with impressive footwork, like Mohamed Ali would do. But he just stood there looking at me, his left hand to his head and the right slightly in front of his face. After a while he decided he had enough of my antics, he moved one step towards me and planted a heavy right blow to my face. I remember darkness covering my face but to this day I have no recollection of anything else! They told me later that he gave me one blow that sent me across the ring and I came down in a lump unconscious!
Sometimes, life knocks us down! But before this happens there are tell-tale signs that things are not alright but we ignore them.

About Psalm 42 and 43
Both psalms are credited to the sons of Korah, who were Levite’s in Jerusalem. The Psalms are treated as one song because of the similarities in structure and content. In the two Psalms the psalmist takes us through four cycles of lament to hope. These two Psalms raise key reasons for depression and also bring out an array of raw emotions associated with depression, as the hold up the power of God to sustain in such dire circumstances. Interestingly, these two Psalms are a song of worship, encouraging us to rise from self pity associated with depression to exulted praise associated with victory.

1. Unquenched Thirst verse 1-2
The Psalmist in these two Psalms acknowledges the fact that he is depressed. He begins Psalm 42 with his utmost desire to commune with God and which seems elusive. He longs to feel the warmth of God’s embrace but instead he feels cold and lonely. He states that as a deer pants for the waters so his soul thirsts for God. His thirst for God goes unquenched and this for a long time. He even comes to question when he will get an audience with God. When will he get a chance to present himself before God.

One of the most difficult things about depression is that it leaves us lonely and feeling rejected. We grope in the darkness of our souls yet we don’t feel anyone walking with us. God seems distant and very quiet. We long to reach out and feel Him but He is just not responding. The thirst, the longing for God can drive us to the edge, but we have to remind ourselves that we will “yet praise Him our salvation and our God.“

2. The Food of Tears verse 3
It is not just the loneliness and the feelings of rejection that complicate the situation for the Psalmist; it is the taunting from his adversaries. He cries day and night when he hears the voices of those who taunt him asking him in mocking tones, “where is your God?” Remember this is the same question he has asked himself in verse one and two. Now, it becomes more painful when his adversaries pick it up and throw it at his face.

The most difficult thing we undertake as believers is to defend the honor of our God. People look at us as foolish and clueless, just because of our faith. We hear them asking us why we believe in God as they point at our desperate situation. It hurts even more when you feel helpless and the deprivation they are pointing at is real. You are tempted to join them in asking, “where are you God?” You die a thousand times as you look for words to explain your faith in God even though it seems hopeless.

It is here that Hebrews 11:1 becomes very helpful. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” When we cannot point out any physical reasons why we should hold on to our hope let us remember our arsenal of faith!

3. The Out Pouring of Emotions verse 4
The Psalmist cannot help but pour his heart before the throne of the almighty as he remembers his past worship moments and contrasts them to his anguish. He recalls how he led multitudes in worship. He recalls the mountain top moments and now wonders how low he has sank.
Depression points us back to our successes but trashes the reward that those moments gave us! Do you remember the Prophet Elijah? After a successful campaign against false prophets at mount Carmel he flees in the dead of the night at the thoughts of terror promised by Jezebel, and sinks into a deep pit of depression.

1 Kings 19:1-4
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

Some people think that depression is for the weak and immature. They frown at those who go through depression as if to suggest there is something wrong with them spiritually. But I want us to understand that sometimes spiritual victories in themselves can be triggers of real depression. As one of my friends pointed out once, “ after winning over the devil during the day in public, don’t think he will allow you to sleep quietly in private.” The battle with depression comes even to the most successful, those praise and worship leaders, those preachers or those great intercessors. In fact the more successful we are spiritually the more prone we are to attacks of depression. My counsel to all of us is to keep calm when this wave of depression comes over us. We can only succeed if we pour out our emotions to God.

June 14th 2020

Rev.Moses Njenga

Series: The Dark Night of The Soul

Text: Psalms 42 and 43

Sermon 2: Lift Up your Eyes and See

Introduction
A lot can pass you by if your head is bent and you are preoccupied with something. I once missed a bus when I had my head bent reading a book! I did not notice the bus arriving or fellow passengers boarding. When I lifted my eyes the moment had passed me and the bus was gone.

Depression feels like that at times. We are preoccupied, in another world, as life passes us by. A down cast soul makes us miss our purpose and meaning in life. It leaves us feeling worthless and dejected. We must call ourselves out and lift our heads before we sink too dip and our whole lives pass us by.

Why are You Downcast oh My Soul
The Psalmist in psalm 42:5,12 and 43:5 asks the same question over and over again. If this is a song then this verse is the chorus/ refrain. It will not escape notice that the Psalmist is talking to himself as if he were two people. It would appear that the goings on in his heart are against his what is in his mind. You see, when we are depressed, what we feel is very different from what we know. We know that God is present with us but yet we don’t FEEL His presence. We know that there are people who love us and care for us, yet we FEEL that the whole world is against us. We know that there are good things happening, but we FEEL as though everything is falling apart. In reality we anguish over our feelings! We are lost in the valley of emotions. We are preoccupied with the feelings of despondency within us.

We ought to call ourselves out of it. The Psalmist asks his soul, “why are you downcast? Why are you in anguish?” He is reprimanding himself for allowing his inner person to go through a moment such as this. Depression eats us up when we accept it as normal and sink lower in self pity. We must rouse ourselves with such a call. Remember the same call in Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Lift up your eyes today, do not continue with a downcast soul!

Hope in God,
Believers are people of hope, though life knocks us down hard, we still see a bright light ahead! Though everything shutters right before our eyes we see restoration coming. Though numbed by death, we see resurrection in the horizon.

Depression dims the light of hope from our souls. It tells us that there is no hope for our situation. It corrupts the facts so that we only see the dark side. The truth is that there is always hope! They say that every dark cloud has a silver lining! Every problem has a solution! And every dark moment has a dawn!

It is this hope that the Psalmist calls to here as he encourages his soul. Where depression tells him there is no hope, he responds that there is hope in God! One of my favorite verse when it comes to these feelings is Isaiah 41:10 “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” It helps to put God before your fears and anxiety. It helps to confront hopelessness with God. It helps to fight worthlessness with God.

For I will Yet Praise Him
‭‭Whereas the words “hope in God” inspire courage, the next phrase is defiance. The Psalmist says he will yet praise the Lord, his salvation and his God. The hope that he has is not just that he will feel better, it also includes going back to his duty as Worship leader! He will not remain in discouragement, he will arise and praise the Lord once more.

Depression can incapacitate. It makes us have no joy in who we are and begin to wish we were someone else. Depression tells us that things will never be the same again.

We must rise against such despondent thoughts by predicting a great future for ourselves. We must see ourselves rise from the current situation and with God’s help to a much better situation. The whole of Psalm 34 speaks of such situations but I love verse 19 which reminds us “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Desperate situations are momentary but God’s love for us is eternal. Do not allow yourself to be downcast, hope in the Lord, for you will yet praise Him.

June 21st 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: The Dark Night of The Soul

Text: Psalms 42 and 43

Sermon 3: Breaking the Silence

Introduction
We greet each other with the words, “How are you?.” The question is are we sure we really want to know? Do we have the time to really listen to how the other person is doing? The answer to that question is equally as hypocritical! When we say, “I am fine/ Ok/ good/ alright, are we being sincere?
The real problem with depression is the fact that people hide their true feelings deep within. They fail to break the silence of what is really going on in their lives. The Psalmist in Psalm 42:6-7 pours out the real battle going on in his heart.

1. My Soul is Downcast within me
The first great victory won by the Psalmist is the admission that he is depressed. Psychologists tell us that the first reaction to any kind of loss is denial. We cover up our real feelings and pretend that all is Ok. This has the negative effect of driving the despair within us deeper into our souls as we meditate upon it. They say a problem shared is half solved! The more we conceal our troubles the more they eat us up. We must explode as the Psalmist does, before the Lord and say, “my soul is downcast within me!” Simple problems have the potential of developing into complex situations if we hide them within. It has been said that time heals all wounds, but I remind you that time also leaves the worst scars. It is better to uncover depressive tendencies early and nip them in the bud rather than wait. It always touches me when one commits suicide and we here later that they were keeping to themselves never sharing what they were going through. Let’s learn to say, “my soul is downcast within me!”

2. I will Remember You
As I already explained before depression leads us further away from God. It makes us focus on a small part of our lives that is dark. It blocks all light and makes us sit alone in a dark patch.

The Psalmist decides to remember who God really is in the midst of the turmoil. He offers us three dimensions of who God is by simply mentioning three biblical sites that seem to be part of his wandering. He will remember God from the land of the Jordan, from the Hermonittes, and from Mt.Mizar. It is quite certain where these locations are, but we know that the Psalmist is lamenting being far from God. What is key here is that he remembers God! From far off lands where misery has taken him, he remembers God. From the darkest part of his night, he remembers God. From the place where no one else will reach him, he remembers God!
We must push ourselves also to remember God in the midst of the turmoil and draw near to Him. I am reminded of the encouragement in Hebrews 10:19-23
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:19-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

3. Deep Calls unto Deep
The Psalmist will then go on to recount how he feels crushed by wave after wave of despair. He appears like one who is in a roller coaster of dark emotions. From one deep end he calls as each wave and storm hits his life. He has been driven to the waterfall of life and now he is on free fall.

Depression may be caused by a single event, but mostly it is the accumulation that breaks us. It is the rising and falling that takes away all energy, as we are pushed again and again deep under the waves. We must acknowledge that this feels like an endless struggle. Like fighting a loosing battle!

But even then the words of the Psalmist cheer us up as he states confidently, “By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me.” All is not lost! The presence of God goes with us even in the darkest storm. He is with us night and day. He walks with us through the darkest cloud. He sits with us in the dark night of our souls! He simply does not leave us to struggle alone. Let’s be comforted by the words of Psalm 23:4
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

June 28th 2020

Rev.Moses Njenga

Series: The Dark Night of The Soul

Text: Psalms 42 and 43

Sermon 4: Turn to God

Introduction
Are you the kind of person who buys something, then in excitement, puts it together without consulting the manufacturer’s manual? You realize that this speaks volumes about you, don’t you? The manufacturer’s manual is there to remind us that what we have purchased is not a mindless contraption! Someone sat, and thought, and took time to build! It reveals to us the mind, the processes and the labor that went into creating the item. But of course, in the excitement of purchasing a new thing we will be forgiven for forgetting the manufacturer.

How about when the item is old and we have been using it for years? Do we still remember the manufacturer when it’s broken? Frequently, our experience gets in the way! We think that simply because we have used this item for years we know all about it!

It is when the Psalmist Remember’s God in Psalm 42:8 that the note in his song begins to change. We will today begin to dissect his prayer and discourse with God. My hope is that we will see how genuine and heartfelt his prayer is before God.

1. A Prayer to the God of my Life
Let me begin by observing that our thought begins in the middle of a verse. This is because verses sometimes do not go together with the the biblical writers thoughts. Where this happens we must follow the thoughts and not the verses. In the middle of verse 8 the Psalmist begins to raise a prayer to God.

He simply shifts his address from his soul to his God. It is very important to do this in the mementos of depression. Depression forces us into a suffocating introspection! We breathe in so much that we forget to breathe out. In both Psalm 42 and 43 the Psalmist uses the personal pronouns, I, me and my fifty one times! That’s an average of three times in every verse! The problem of preoccupation with ourselves and our problems is the fuel of a depressed soul. Let’s turn to God in prayer!

I also want to point out that the Psalmist turns to God in a very personal way. He recognizes who God is to him in his depressed state. He calls him, “God of my life” and “ God, my rock.” It is in recognizing who God is that we are able to offload our burdens to Him in sincerity. When He is God of our life and God, our rock; we will hide nothing from Him. There is salvation only in the personal call to God! Generalities will not help you when you are depressed you must call on God from a personal point of view. From the depth of your heart! From the height of your agony! Yet you must remember only He will deliver you from your troubles.

2. Why have you Forgotten me?
Despite the personal nature of God, the Psalmist complains that God has forgotten him. I do not want you to forget that in verse 7, he complained about the intensity of his suffering as wave after wave crushed upon him. He seems to have been long in his miserable situation. He seems to have gone on forgotten in his misery! That is why his first concern to God is why He has forgotten him. If only God was near then the troubles will be bearable!

The Psalmist echoes the cry of the disciples of Jesus in Mark 4:31-35. They were in the midst of a storm yet here was Jesus fast asleep! This forced their outburst to him, “master don’t you care that we are perishing?” I am also reminded of Jesus at the cross in Matthew 27:46. His cry was, “my God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

There are moments in life where we seem forgotten as storm after storm breaks its waves upon us. As we gasp for breath let us bring the complaint to God. It is when we call upon Him to remember us that we turn our battles over to him.

3. Why must I Go Mourning?
This seems like a question that the Psalmist should ask himself rather than God. But the genuineness of his prayer can be seen by his openness to God. He asks God why He allows the constant state of mourning to be his portion. He laments that he has not known peace because of the oppression, hurt and taunts of his enemies. Sometimes we look on helplessly as people continue to persecute us relentlessly. We run out of breath trying to hide from them yet they oppress, hurt us and then turn around and taunt us, asking us,”where is your God?” I think it is wise that the Psalmist does not engage his taunters in a shouting match. He, rather, goes before God and tells Him about them! He asks God how long He will allow the situation to Go on.

People can be cruel! I always wonder how it felt for Jesus to see the very people he healed, preached to and care for at great personal cost, turn around to betray, disown, persecute and taunt Him. I wonder how it was at the cross as face after face came before him laughing and saying to Him, “where is your God?” I always wonder how it felt as the person crucified next to him, taunted him, asking Him if he was truly the son of God. But then, I don’t have to wonder! It is very clear in my eyes, as I face difficulty and people are present to make it even worse!

Allow me to remind you three important things that will brighten the day of your depressed sky. First, remember to call on God. Shift focus from self to Him, Second, you are not forgotten! But Incase you feel like you are please take up the matter with God. He will fix it. Third, you will not go on mourning forever! There is God in heaven who sees your every struggle!

July 5th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Genesis 22:1-12

Ebenezer, Jehovah Jireh

Introduction
Hudson Taylor was a faith missionary, he believed that all of God’s work should be done in complete faith in God. In the orphan ministry that he led, it is said that he had a plaque hanging from the wall of every house. The wall hangings read, “ Ebenezar, Jehovah Jireh.”
These two Hebrew words are loaded with meaning. Ebenezer means “this far the Lord has helped us!” It was a stone of remembrance set up by Samuel in 1 Samuel 7:12 commemorating victory against the Philistines. Jehovah Jireh on the other hand is an affirmation that, “God will Provide!”
Today as we look back to the five years of the existence of LifePoint Nakuru Chapel, I want to remind us of what it takes indeed to say “Ebenezer, Jehovah Jireh.” To do these I will remind us all of the commitment we made as we embarked on this journey.

1. Submission
The story of Abraham being called to sacrifice his son was definitely one of the greatest test any human being could undergo. Think about it Abraham was being called to give his only son, who was born to him in his old age. What God was asking him to do simply did not make sense.

But what did Abraham do? We do not see any where in scripture that he argued with God. He simply took his son, a fire, some firewood and set out for a three day journey to the mountain the Lord had showed him. This is what we can call serious obedience. It is total submission to the will and command of the Lord. Abraham had opportunity to argue and disobey, but he chose the path of obedience.

I have found out that the most difficult thing for adults is to obey. We have the inclination to break every rule that seeks to constrain us. We feel rebellion rising up inside us when we have authority over us. We simply do not want to obey. However, the scripture reminds us that we cannot achieve anything in this journey of faith unless we submit to the master’s will. Please read the following scriptures.

“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” Job 22:21

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” 1 Peter 5:6

I am convinced that we cannot have a testimony of “Ebenezer, Jehovah Jireh” unless we learn to submit to what God wants us to do. In fact we would not be where we are if we did not submit to God guidance, as hard as it was, to go against popular opinion. I urge us not to grow tired of submission to God and His authority.

2. Sacrifice
What made God’s request to Abraham that much more difficult was what God wanted Abraham to give up! It went against all of Abraham’s instinct as a father. God was asking Abraham to take his son, born in old age, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. The Sacrifice this called for was immense.

But once again Abraham does not question God. He binds up his son and lifts the knife in readiness to give him as a sacrifice. For his God, no sacrifice was too great. If God demanded it, then he was willing to offer it! You see Abraham was so gripped by his love for his God that nothing else mattered.

Someone has said that we are not thinking creatures but loving creatures. We are willing to pay even the ultimate price for what we love. If you want to know this is true you simply have to look at your expenditure. What do you spend most of your resources on? If you find that one thing then it is your love. I also have come to the conclusion that this obsessive love is what is called worship. We worship what we love! I pray that God is the one person who fills our hearts and therefore the object of all our expenditure. What does the scripture say about sacrificing our best for God’s goodness to us?

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

“What shall I return to the LORD
for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.” Psalm 116:12-14

“But since you excel in everything —in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7

3. Surrender
Faith is complete surrender to God. The belief that what He has said He will do. Abraham rightly qualifies as the father of faith because of his complete surrender to God. We learn that Abraham dedicated his life to following God’s will. When he names the place of Sacrifice “Jehovah Jireh” he shows his determination to continue trusting the God who provides. The statement is more of a declaration of continuous trust than an exclamation. Abraham is declaring faith in God for all his future journeys. In other words he is saying God will continue to provide for Him. Remember Abraham did not know what lay in the future but he simply went from day to day knowing that God will provide for him.

If we are going to walk the journey of faith we must remember to completely abandon ourselves to God in complete surrender. We must simply put our feeble hands in His almighty hand and let lead. Here are some scriptures to help us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” Luke 9:23-24

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

July 12th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: The Dark Night of The Soul

Text: Psalms 42 and 43

Sermon 5: Tell it to Jesus

INTRODUCTION
A father and son decided to go on a journey with their family donkey as the means of transportation. So, the father put his son on the donkey and they took off happily. Soon they came to some strangers who remarked, “Children of nowadays! He will let his old father walk while he rides the donkey! I don’t know what the world is coming to!”

At that father and son made an adjustment. The father took his turn on the donkey, while the son walked. The came to yet some other strangers. On seeing this the strangers remarked, “What a shameless man! How can he let his young son walk while he enjoys the donkey ride alone?”

The father immediately pulled his son up the donkey and the two of them were enjoying the ride together. They came to a third group of strangers. They stopped father and son and said, “Have mercy on the poor beast, the weight of the two of you will kill it!”

Father and son dismounted and were soon walking alongside their donkey. They came across yet another group of strangers. One of the strangers shook his head and said, “poor donkey she is very tired, if this were mine, I’d carry her. Look at her, poor thing!” The father and son stopped tied the donkey to their backs and carried her!

When they arrived at their destination people came out in their multitudes to laugh at the spectacle of a father and son carrying their donkey!

The moral of the story is that we cannot please everyone. It is an illusion and a source of great frustration to try and please people. People who try to please others will soon fall to a pit of depression. It is a sure ticket to depression to try and make it your life ambition to please people! As I said earlier, people can be cruel! They will attack you even without cause. You will spend night after night in sleeplessness asking yourself where you went wrong. You will run breathless following after each single person seeking their forgiveness and understanding. The Psalmist in Psalm 43:1-2, gives us a way out in such a situation and it does not involve they wearisome ways I’ve pointed out here.

1. A Prayer for Redress
Nothing wears out a soul more and sinks one deeper into depression that a false accusation. It tears at your soul and causes a constant grinding pain in your heart. The problem is that lies and half truths spread like a wild fire, before you know it the whole village and indeed the whole town is talking about you behind your back! One is easily tempted to confront those who speak or run around trying to clear their name. Both I think are really futile, you can only do that to people who come to you but not to the multitude which doesn’t. Their is only one sure way. Lay it before the feet of Jesus.

The Psalmist in Psalm 43:1a, invites God to vindicate him from unfaithful people. He asks God to plead his case. This invitation shows his confidence that God will, in His time, show the truth. The Psalmist does not run after his enemies. He simply lays it before God to plead his cause. He is sure that God has His own ways to declare the truth. He fully trusts that God will cancel every word, every whisper spoken in a dark hidden place, against the Psalmist. He is also sure that God’s testimony cannot be ignored. So he calls God to his defense. I don’t think that there is a better way to deal with false accusations than simply let God deal with it. I know it takes a lot of courage, humility and patience to do this, but trust me it is the best thing to do. Allow God to fight your battles.

When King Hezekiah was besieged and belittled by Sennacherib the Assyrian. He constantly ran to the temple for help. But what captures me is when he receives a threatening letter and he lays it before God.
“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.” 2 Kings 19:14

2. A Prayer for Rescue
Sometimes rumors overtake you and spread faster than you can arrest them. You find yourself cornered in a web of lies. Sometimes you even suffer because of false accusations! The Psalmist in his hour of distress turns to God for rescue. He cries to God to deliver him from false accusations. From people who are deceitful and wicked. Once again he does not try to defend himself or speak against his accusers, he simply asks a God to rescue him.

Sometimes when we are falsely accused we run the risk of retaliation and enter into the mud slinging arena with our opponents. Let’s not get tempted to do so. Instead let’s walk the high road of letting God rescue you from all the traps and tapestry of lies woven against you. It is interesting that when you let God vindicate you, your inner peace will come back. You will be free from the burden of self defense. You can rest knowing that however long it takes. He will rescue you!

I recommend Psalm 17 for quiet meditation and prayerful consideration.

3. A prayer of Resilience
Sometimes it is all we can do. Stand our ground and refuse to be moved. In fact that is what we should always do! The Psalmist in 43:2 expresses his confidence in God and refuses to go on feeling rejected and in mourning oppressed by his enemies. Standing your ground in faith is something we all must learn. Setting boundaries as to how low we can go in our depression. Coming to a point where we express confidence in God as the only stronghold in a transient world. The Psalmist comes to an abrupt halt and wonders why he should go on being depressed when he has God as his stronghold. When we declare God as our stronghold then there is no enemy greater than our defense! We must not go on being afraid. We can rest knowing that we have told it to the most powerful.
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

Today I will leave you with the beautiful words of the hymn that makes the title of our sermon. Don’t listen to people or try to argue with them simply tell it to Jesus.

TELL IT TO JESUS
1.Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
Are you grieving over joys departed?

Tell it to Jesus alone.
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus,
He is a Friend that’s well known.
You’ve no other such a friend or
brother,
Tell it to Jesus alone.

2.Do the tears flow down your cheeks unbidden?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
Have you sins that to men’s eyes are hidden?
Tell it to Jesus alone.

3.Do you fear the gathering clouds of sorrow?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
Are you anxious what shall be tomorrow?
Tell it to Jesus alone.

4.Are you troubled at the thought of dying?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
For Christ’s coming kingdom are you sighing?
Tell it to Jesus alone.

July 19th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: The Dark Night of The Soul

Text: Psalms 42 and 43

Sermon 6: Battle for Sanity

Introduction
In my earlier days before marriage I was an ardent fan of the WWE Wrestling! I was quite intrigued and fearful of the shadowy figure of “The Undertaker!” The man loved to walk in darkness and in loneliness. He associated himself with the occult. Just watching his conduct in the show was depressing.

Today we address the three evils that plague the soul during depression. The three are darkness, loneliness and emptiness. We will also try to find a solution to these problems from Psalm 43:3-4. In the end I hope we will learn to run to God rather than away from Him.

1. Battle with Darkness
The Psalmist opens verse three which is part of his prayer for rescue, with a request for two things. He asks God to send him light and His faithful care.

These two indicate the need that envelopes the person in a depressed state. One feels as though he has been sitting in darkness unattended. The darkness is sometimes the lack of clarity on life events. Issues such as death bring questions that one cannot get answers for. As we battle this darkness we have need to ask God to send us His light and His tender loving care. The statement of Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations 3:22-23 is very instructive.

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”

We should fight feelings of darkness and neglect with the word of God and prayer. Do not allow yourself to sit in darkness unattended. Ask God for His light! His clarity in your situation! Ask Him for His tender loving care. He will surely attend to you.

2. Battle with Loneliness
The Psalmist asks that the light of God and His faithful care will lead him to the place where God dwells. The Psalmist chooses to fight the loneliness that he feels with the presence of God. I have said earlier that depression deprives is of the presence of God. We feel rejected and driven away from His holy sight. We battle in our hearts with the feeling that even though we walk in a crowd we are really alone.

In reality we are never alone! One person once said that if we feel that God is too far from us we need to ask ourselves who moved! We will find that we are the ones who did! Or in other instances we will find that we are the ones who refused to move with God when He did!

“Lead me back to the presence of God,” is the heart cry of the Psalmist. I hope it will also be our cry this day. For whatever is going wrong in our lives will only be made right at His presence. Psalm27: 4-5 captures this very well for us.

One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.

3. Battle with Emptiness
The Psalmist finally prays to God that he may be led to the altar of the Almighty. He wants an opportunity to offer a sacrifice with joy and fulfillment. He wants to come to a point where his heart will snap out of depression to worshiping God with a lyre.

I cannot overstate the case here! The presence of God cures depression! Only God really understand how you feel or can really go through all your struggles with you. If you accept to desire Him as the ultimate, He will keep you close as the apple of His eye! The emptiness that you feel in your soul can be replaced with joyful fulfillment at the altar of our God. Then we can say as it is written in Psalm 30: 11
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy!”

July 26th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: The Dark Night of The Soul

Text: Psalms 42 and 43

Sermon 7: So What’s Bugging You? (Part 1).

Introduction
As I bring this series to a close let me ask the question, “What’s bugging you?” The reason being that depression can be that constant pain that gnaws at your heart and if not shared can destroy you! The constant nibbling can bring you to the point of a break down. So, can you identify what is it that bothers you? I will sum up the series by looking at the causes of depression identified in Psalm 42-43. These seemingly answer the rhetorical question the Psalmist asks over and over again. “Why are you downcast O my Soul?” This I will do in sermon I will divide in two parts.

1. Lack of Fulfillment
The Psalmist opens his discussion with the picture of a wandering deer that pants endlessly for streams of water. The picture points to lack of fulfillment of his utmost desire. Disillusionment with life goals is a common cause of depression among many people. We also sometimes refer to this as a fight with meaninglessness. If you have ever read the book of Ecclesiastes then you understand what am talking about. Life can appear to be meaningless and purposeless if one lacks fulfillment in his/her life goals. The higher the expectations the lower the depression! I must make it clear here that it is not the failure to reach the goals but rather the feeling of emptiness within us that causes this struggle. Even spiritual people, like the Psalmist here, struggle with this kind of depression. In fact let me say that majority of highly driven people struggle more with this kind of depression. It simply goes with territory! The more you aim at the lower you will sink! I invite you to study carefully the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes be careful to underline 2:24-26.

2. Difficult People
The second cause of depression the Psalmist outlines is people who constantly mock and deride him. The people with their words and actions (or inaction) can be a cause of the deepest hurt that one would experience in life. I choose to call them difficult people because people should bring joy and fulfillment in life. However, people, even well meaning people, can be a cause for the deepest disappointment in life. The more the commitment to a person the deeper you will hurt if they disappoint you. Depression can envelope you easily if your friends become your tormentors or your spouse turns into a foe! This kind of depression is a slow festering wound that might never heal if reconciliation is not sought. Sample the following situation from Psalm 41:5-9

My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?“ When one of them comes to see me,he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it around.All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying,
“A vile disease has afflicted him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”
Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.

3. Accumulation of Trouble
The third cause of depression as displayed by the Psalmist is endless bombardment by troubles. He barely seems to rise when trouble knocks him down. Each trouble seems to call out to the next so that the Psalmist is always under! We can hear him cry,
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”
Nothing can tug a person under depression so easily as an accumulation of trouble. Each blow can communicate hopelessness to our souls to the point where we loose it! It takes extra ordinary power to stay afloat in the midst of such assaults. Even the strongest of us can sink when knocked by one trouble after another. The story of Job in the Bible is a classic example! Even upright and strong Job seems to buckle especially when he receives news of the demise of all of his children. None of us is strong enough to weather a lifetime of bombardment with trouble!

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 43:5

August 2nd 2020

Rev Moses Njenga

Series: The Dark Night of The Soul

Text: Psalms 42 and 43

Sermon 7: So What’s Bugging You? (Part 2).

Introduction

As little boy living in the village I witnessed some of the horrible experiences of parasites! I mean real infestation of parasites! I saw kids struggle with jiggers, body and hair lice, stomach worms, bed bugs and other horrible creatures that took abode in their bodies and made life miserable. The most disturbing thing was that some of the kids were not even aware that they had the parasites! They would itch and scratch themselves but did not notice what was causing the itch. Their growth was hampered by the parasites and their health was at great risk but they simply did nothing! Their parents struggling to put food on the table and put them through school had no time for any other distraction.

Depression can create a similar situation. I have seen people slowly wither from inside as depression takes abode in them. In Kenya today the statistics of suicides and homicides committed by depressed people keeps piling up. It’s time to take this seriously! We must stop and ask, “ what’s bugging me?” Today I conclude with some more causes of depression as displayed in Psalm 42 and 43. As this is a continuation from last week we begin at number four.

4. Nostalgic Thoughts
The Psalmist confesses his longing for the golden old days. He meditates on how he used to lead the festive throng in worship as they entered the temple. As he remembers these days he “pours out his soul” before God.

The constant reminder of how low we have fallen is like a whirlwind that takes us high then very low. We think of the rosy old days and then compare with the desperate today and we sink deeper into depression. The loss of status can be a gnawing pain that grinds on without stopping. We imagine ourselves as shells of what we used to be. We cry over loss knowing so well that what we have lost will not come back to us. This too will cast down our hearts!

But I like it that the Psalmist in this Psalm is well aware of his situation and he calls his heart from depression. He asks himself why are you depressed oh my soul, why are you down cast? He also counsels himself that he should hope in God for he will yet praise Him. It this thread of hope that keeps him from plunging into the deep abyss of hopelessness. He keeps hope alive and this brightens his life with fresh meaning.

I want to emphasize that the antidote for depressive nostalgia is constant praise! If we concentrate on what we have lost we go deeper into depression, but if we concentrate on what we still have ( or have gained from our experience), we will lift our eyes. I love Psalm 34, so I recommend that you read the whole of it, but let me quote for you verse 1-3

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

5. Self Focus
A casual reading of Psalms 42 and
43 paints a picture of one preoccupied with his own troubles. There are a lot of personal pronouns me, myself and I in the two Psalms. Allow me to state that this preoccupation with self is not healthy. As we focus on our problems they seem to grow too big that they block our view from seeing the suffering of others around us. We let our problems choke life out of us while those around us need us for their very survival.

To illustrate this, as a mission facilitator I have seen people cry for bread that they miss or bacon that they cannot find in mission fields, while the very people they minister to are dying of hunger!

It helps to lift our eyes of our problems and say to ourselves that it is not as bad as it can be. Encourage ourselves that there is still hope and that we are better of than others. Our suffering can be a ministry to other people if we handle the situation well.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:5

Let me wrap up our long discussion of Psalms 42 and 43 with this quote from the New Testament.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‭

August 9th 2020

Rev.Moses Njenga

Series: Extravagant Grace

Introduction
We will now turn our attention to the book of Jonah! Yes, that little prophet who attempted to run away from God.

You may wonder why study Jonah? My answer is that the book of Jonah gives us the best insights into God’s amazing and extravagant grace. Not just to the city of Nineveh where Jonah was sent to preach, but also to the obstinate prophet himself. The book will also give insights into our attitudes towards ministry and other people in general. It’s my hope that in the end we will see ourselves in Jonah and repent. It is said that when the book of Jonah would be read in the synagogue people would respond in one voice, “ I am Jonah!”

Sermon 1: The Prodigal Prophet

Text: Jonah 1:1-4

1. Jonah Hears the Message

The book opens with very clear terms about Jonah’s call. The word of the Lord came to him. It was not just a general message to everyone. No Jonah heard God speak directly to him. Though we are not given the dramatic details, it is clear that Jonah’s call was from God.

I emphasize this because had there been some doubts as to the authenticity of the call, Jonah would be justified for his response. But it’s clear! Jonah heard from God. He was sure it was God speaking!

But Jonah still disobeyed!!!

The question I want you to answer today is, will a human being disobey God openly and still claim to represent him? Jonah, the Prophet disobeys the very voice of God.

2. Jonah Understood the Message

The content of the message was also not in doubt. Jonah was sent to the great city of Nineveh, capital city of Syria. A pagan city that was known for its brutality. The content of the message was very clear, “ go preach to them, for their sins have come up before me.”

Just how terrible were the people of Nineveh? The book of Habakkuk answers that question. They were so despicable that they very mention of them gave people chills. History has it that they would remove the skin from people and hang them on their walls as trophies. They also buried people alive up to the neck and watched them die after cutting off their legs and arms. They invaded cities and took hostage what did not belong to them. Such a horrible people!

Yet, here as in Habakkuk God has use for them, and in fact sends the prophet Jonah to them. This is a fact that is lost to modern missions. We think that God only sends us to the people we love! People who will receive us and work well with us. The truth is that we will struggle. God does not view people as we do! He does not love those we love or hate those we hate. He is a gracious God. In fact one person has said that if our God loves the people we love and hate those we hate then he is not the true God, He is an idol. You see, only the God we create in our mind behaves like that. The true living God is sovereign. He does not operate on our whims. You may wonder if you heard Him right, but the truth is that He will send you to those people you would rather not go to. He will tell you to do things you would rather not do!

3. Jonah Disobeys the Message
After Jonah heard and understood the message, he packed his bags. He decided to go on a journey in the opposite direction. He was sent Northeast but he decided to travel West! He traveled 35 miles on land to the port of Joppa and booked himself a ticket to Tarshish, 2,500 miles away. His intention was very clear, go as far away as he can from the face of God!

I wonder why that sounds familiar! It’s because that is how we behave. I do not like someone and God wants me to talk to them so I will go as far away from them as I can, even if it means changing churches or even moving house. I will alter my routine so that we don’t ever meet. We simply have ways to “ran away from God.”

What’s more there is always a ship ready to receive our fare and head out to Tarshish!!! The devil is master of counterfeits. He provides very quick and easy alternatives. When you are struggling with what God has given you he provides you with quick alternatives. If you are not discerning you might even thank God for providing that alternative. It comes easy and ready. There is only one little problem, you pay for it! Not just with money but with way much more. While Jonah’s mission would have been provided for by God, he had to provide for his journey to Tarshish. Disobedience will always cost you!

Jonah became the prodigal prophet who decided that the call by God and his clear message were not for him. Let me leave you with this scripture.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:7-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

August 16th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: Extravagant Grace

Sermon 2: Down and Away

Text: Jonah 1:4-16

Introduction
It amazes me how many times Jonah went down. All the time this is mentioned in this first chapter of Jonah I cannot help but see a metaphor for falling away from God. Today I will examine these metaphors!

1. Down to Joppa
In verse three we learn that after Jonah heard the voice of God and the task God wanted him to accomplish, he went DOWN to Joppa as a first step in running away from God. In Jonah’s mind, he could not disobey God and stay in his home! He had to take a step of running away. The only problem is that this step did not lead UP but DOWN!

Whenever we take step of disobedience we move down in our spiritual growth index. While obedience moves us up, disobedience takes us down. Jonah’s move down the terrain also indicated a move downwards in his spiritual life. The question for application here is; are you going down to a place that also moves you down in your spiritual life?

2. Down the Ship
In the same verse we learn that Jonah paid his fare and went DOWN into the ship. I mentioned in the earlier sermon that it is quite indicative that Jonah pays for his rebellious journey to Tarshish. We must also note that as he goes abode the ship again the movement is downward. I think it is right to say that Jonah is in a DOWNWARD spiral. He plummeting very fast from his exalted position as God’s prophet. While the city of Joppa is a metaphor of a place away from God’s favor, the ship becomes a metaphor for the means Jonah will use to flee from God.

Rebellion gives us not only the place of false escape, but also the false means of escape. The problem is that this means does not lead UP but DOWN! What Jonah did not know was that God was about to take the ship DOWN, with a very fierce storm!

3. Down to Sleep
In verse 4 and 5 God HURLS a fierce tempest to take DOWN Jonah’s ship. The seasoned sea men traveling with Jonah HURL all their belongings out to sea to try and save the ship from sinking. They do all they can to row the ship to safety. Then they realize that the freak storm is a divine act, each one begins to call on God for rescue. All these time Jonah has gone into the belly of the ship and has lain DOWN to sleep.

Jonah is suffering from a false sense of security and decides it is time to lie down. He is unaware of the commotion that is going on above deck! His false sense of security lulls him to sleep through a storm. One would expect one running away from God to be tense and alert for any sign of trouble, but that is not the case with Jonah. Neither is it the case with us, when we choose to disobey and go against God’s will. The false sense of security lull’s is to sleep believing that we are safe. We are even unaware of storm’s that will directly impact our lives until they hit us directly. Disobedience causes spiritual slumber! I also see that this spiritual slumber causes others around us to suffer heavy loses as well. The mariners traveling together with the runaway prophet suffered huge loses as a result of association with him.

4. Down into the Sea
One would predict that it will not end well for Jonah! The captain finds him fast asleep and then when men cast lots to see whose fault it is, the lots fall on Jonah. He must have felt cornered and at his wits end. He finally offers himself to be thrown overboard so that the sea would calm down. Let us not be very quick to congratulate Jonah for his heroic action of self sacrifice. Jonah is still finding a way to run away this time he wants to end it permanently! Instead of asking that he be taken back to land to rectify his mistake, he asks to be hurled into the sea!

Disobedience ends up in disillusionment and meaninglessness in life. If one decides to be as obstinate as Jonah and refuse to repent and turn to God, then only one fate awaits! Life cannot have meaning away from God. We cannot get satisfied when we disobey our maker. We can hide in all sorts of places and in all sorts of vehicles, but eventually our sins will find us out. Discovered and exposed we will wish to end it all.

The mariners tried in vain to take Jonah back to land so that he can fulfill his obligation but Jonah is still running away. He has not come to a point of repentance. To such a one the only way is DOWN not up! His place is not salvation but condemnation. There is no grace for the unrepentant, but wrath! So finally they have to HURL Jonah into the sea! It amazes me that after the whole saga, the mariners are awestruck and worship God right there in the sea. Even through Jonah’s disobedience, God is still glorified!!! So even the storm is a means of God’s grace.

August 23rd 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: Extravagant Grace

Sermon 3: Distress Clarifies

Text: Jonah 2:1-10

Introduction
One of the most fascinating stories of scripture is the story of a man swallowed by a fish! To many it is a stumbling block, making them discredit truthfulness of scripture. Even some well meaning Christians take the story with a pinch of salt. Let me affirm that I believe the story to be literal especially because of the prayer of Jonah in the second chapter. Today we look at salvation in the belly of a fish! I offer you the recipe of genuine repentance as we see it in Jonah’s prayer.

When we are comfortable and nothing is troubling us we hardly pay any regard to God! We rationalize our disobedience and even skip prayer at will. We do not see the need to turn to God! Just like Jonah we are tempted to run away from God, because, we really do not need Him! It is in situations such as the current global pandemic that the reality of God is clarified. We cannot go on living as though we created ourselves. Our boat is rocked and our disobedience displayed then we are literally thrown in to the deep! It is only by GRACE – that undeserved favor, that God sends us a vessel of salvation in the form of a fish! Inside the fish we now genuinely turn to God.

1. NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES CLARIFIES
Jonah mentions his distress in the three days and three nights he was in the belly of the fish. He sees himself driven away from the living in verse 2 and 6. In a moment like that his whole life would have rolled out before him like a horror movie! He must have seen his folly and thought that this would be his end. I am sure he would not have had these thoughts in Tarshish! It is when we are scared that we are at our most genuine point of faith. The thought of death clarifies that we are not in charge, God is! There is a grain of truth in satan’s accusations of Job, when he says:-
Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
Trials and temptations really do bring out who we really are.

2. REALITY CLARIFIES
We also see his fear of being surrounded by water and sea weed in verse 3 and 5. His reality was so clear to him as was his disobedience. Deep in the belly of the fish everywhere he turned was sea water and sea weed. Even his head was entangled in sea weed. Jonah was not in a make believe world, he was really having a hard time in the belly of the fish. He was going through trouble and his prayer was as real as his struggle. Genuineness of faith is clarified in the face of real trouble.

3. GOD’s ABSENCE/ SILENCE CLARIFIES
Remember that when all was well Jonah thought he could outrun God. But now hemmed in a tight spot in the belly of the fish, he suddenly sees the reality of God! He realizes that even in such human forsaken territory, God is still there! We see this in verses 2,4 and then in 7-9.
It would have been easy for Him to ask, “God where are you?” Or maybe he did! You see we only ask that question when we are facing distress and suddenly we realize we cannot help ourselves out of the situation. I am yet to meet someone who cries, “God where are you?”when life is good to him/her. It is when the reality of trouble hits us that the need for God is Clarified.

August 30th 2020

Rev .Moses Njenga

Series: Extravagant Grace

Sermon 4: Grace Restores

Text: Jonah 3: 1-10

Introduction
Do we really understand God’s grace? I think that sometimes we are more interested in law than in grace! We think we get accepted by God in the basis of our obedience or righteousness. We seem to preach the gospel of “dos and don’ts .” The basis of our judgement being our own perspective! The story of Jonah teaches us a very simple but emphatic truth of scripture: those who repent are forgiven! The restoration of Jonah shows to what extent God forgives us!

1. Repentant Prophet Restored

Jonah prays to God inside the belly of a fish and God hears him. He is deposited on the shores. It is interesting that we are not told which shore Jonah is deposited on by the fish. My guess is that it is back to his homeland.

The grace of God – His undeserved favor- is seen in the action of God sending Jonah afresh. It’s as if nothing had happened! The word of the Lord comes a second time to Jonah. Let me tell you what I would have done if I were God in that instance. First, I would have allowed Jonah to really feel His guilt and regret having attempted to run away. Then, I would give him a long lecture on what it means to run away. When he is convinced that he did the wrong thing, I would choose another more reliable prophet. Maybe I could send Jonah to less demanding tasks. In short he would have to earn my trust again!

But isn’t God amazing! He simply OVERLOOKS all of Jonah’s misdeeds and recommissions him to send the message! I want us to understand something here, God does not send us because we are perfect, He sends us because He has chosen us by His sovereign Grace. Paul confesses of this fact when he states that,
The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners —of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. ( 1 Timothy 1:14-16).
The point is the grace of God that restores the worst of sinners, is available for Jonah to recommission him even after the first failed attempt.
Let me ask by way of application, is there an area in your life where you have failed miserably? Simply turn to God in repentance and experience His grace in abundance for you! Grace restores!

2. Repentant Prophet Released

The next thing we read of Jonah is that he is in the streets of Nineveh. He preaches the length and width of Nineveh. He preaches with conviction and exactly as he is told. The message is 40 days and Nineveh will be destroyed! Jonah’s obedience is the key to God using him. He avails himself and God launches the ministry through him. The most important contribution we make to the ministry is not our gifts but our availability! I have seen very gifted people waste themselves by feeling too important to serve. Jonah teaches us that once we taste of God’s forgiveness then we will be begging for an opportunity to work for him.

I am reminded of the prophet Isaiah who after he was cleansed of his sin responded to God’s call by saying, “send me Lord I will go!” ( Isaiah 6:5-8).

What releases the prophet in Jonah is his obedience! After he obeyed, the people of Nineveh, and by extension all who read the Scripture now know there is a prophet called Jonah. What releases our spiritual gifts and elevates us to spiritual office is our obedience! if you want to be somebody in God’s kingdom, become a nobody before Him! Grace releases!

3. Repentant Prophet Respected

Look at the response Jonah gets in Nineveh! At first people listen, then they are gripped by the message, then they act on the message. The word travels so fast that it reaches the palace in no time. The king responds to the message and even orders that all people in his kingdom including animals be subjected to fasting and sack clothes. The response is overwhelming! Jonah as a man of God is honored by all who hear his message!

But let’s ask the question, “why is Jonah respected by the Ninevites?” The answer is simple. They are responding to the power of God in the message. I want us to get this clearly. People don’t have to respect us when we convey God’s word, they only have to hear it and their response to God dictates their attitude towards us. We should not be bothered too when people disregard us because of the message we bring. Ultimately that are disregarding God and they will answer for it. Our task is simply to stay faithful to the task!

In the Corinthian controversy Paul asks very pointed questions to the Church there.
For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. (1 Corinthians 3:3-4).
Let’s pose long enough to asks ourselves, this important question, “whom am I that God should use me?” By recognizing that we are nothing before God then we become something useful for Him. “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” ( Matthew 23:12).
Grace earns Respect!

September 6th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: Extravagant Grace

Sermon 5: Heart Attitude

Text: Jonah 4:1-2

Introduction
Serving God is actually seen in our attitude as we serve others! Usually while we serve God faithfully He blesses those we serve. Especially those who least deserve it (according to our perspective). How do we feel when those horrible people turn and repent and God accepts them and prospers them beyond our wildest imagination? If we are honest we will say that we cannot feel happy for them! We struggle with our attitude towards the ministry and how God works. We are Jonah!
In this last chapter of Jonah we will look at three sections that will help us understand the extent of God’s grace and the depravity of the people who serve. In this first sermon I look at the problem of our attitude towards others as revealed by Jonah’s confession.

1. I Said it
At the end of Chapter 3, God relents from punishing the evil people of Nineveh, because of their genuine repentance.
This provokes an outburst of anger in Jonah in 4:1. It displeased Jonah greatly that God will forgive the sinful people of Nineveh! Jonah thought he had struck a deal with God when He was coming out to this mission. He even reminds God what he had said to Him. Though this first conversation between Jonah and God is lost to us today, we can still see it in Jonah’s attitude. It must have had these two elements. First, that the people of Nineveh are evil and do not deserve a warning. Second that Jonah was not willing to go to warn them of the pending danger lest they repent and be forgiven!
What was Jonah trying to do in His conversation with God? He was trying to direct God. He was trying to teach God what He ought to do with such rebellious people. Jonah was playing God to God!
This kind of attitude does not come from God! We cannot guide God on what He should or should not do! Our knowledge of situations is so limited we have no way of knowing what God should or should not do. That was the fault that God found in Job when He confronted him.
“Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?”
‭‭Job‬ ‭38:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬
You see our words about what God should or should not do are without knowledge and cannot illuminate the path for God! God continues to ask Job a series of questions that reveal that Job has no right to try to guide Him.
It is the same situation that Peter finds himself in when he tries to scold Jesus about speaking of His impending death.
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:21-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬
We must learn that we cannot instruct God! Next time we are offended at what God does we must catch ourselves before we try to remind God what we said! God does not treat people the way we want Him to.

2. I Fled
Jonah seems to justify his flight from God in this verse. He has forgotten what his flight cost him. He reminds God that his objective was to forestall God’s grace upon the people of Nineveh. He wanted to prevent God from having mercy on the people of Nineveh. His hope was that by fleeing, God would be frustrated and change His mind.

I don’t know how many times I have had people comment the same way as Jonah about missions. “Why do you go to do ministry among those people?” or “Those people are horrible they don’t deserve people to go to them!” Or “ I would never go to serve among such people!”

What we forget is that it is not upon us to send ourselves! God sends us to whoever He chooses. Mission is the sovereign work of God and it cannot be thwarted or forestalled by our disobedience! Our running away from God does not change His plans about the people He has chosen!

Peter finds that out in Acts 10 when he fell into a trance and was told to kill and eat all the animals presented to him. The interpretation of the vision came when men sent by a Roman centurion requested him to accompany them to a mission to a gentile household. Peter learnt the lesson never to condemn that which God has chosen! We too ought to learn that God does not follow us we follow Him!
“Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:7-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

3. I Knew
Jonah reveals the depth of his knowledge about the way God works and His nature! What did Jonah know about God!

First, he knew that God was gracious and compassionate. Two attributes that propel God to accept even those we would find unacceptable. Second, Jonah knew that God was slow to anger and abounding in love. These attributes make God slow to act upon His judgement even when people keep on sinning. Third, Jonah knew that God was relenting to send evil to people who repent! He knew that there is something that can change even the worst of God’s judgement: repentance. Jonah knew enough about God to obey God! But Jonah disobeyed!

Remember these are the same attributes that Jonah reminded God about in the belly of the fish! They were the same attributes that gave him a second chance! Yet here he is telling God about His weaknesses. Jonah is angry with God because He forgave the people of Nineveh and did not destroy them as Jonah would have liked! Jonah wished that God made it a bit harder to get the forgiveness. He wished that they did some difficult ritual and suffer a bit for their sins. Jonah wanted God to give him some pleasure in seeing the people punished.

We too behave the same way! We cannot accept that the gospel is about a gracious God who will forgive anyone who repents. We seem to have categories and prescriptions of how to approach God. We even have written out manuals of how to approach God! The problem however is that the gospel is a stumbling block to many.
“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:20-25‬ ‭NIV‬‬
What we know about God will prove to be useless if we do not change our attitude and accept it by obedience of faith.

September 13th 2020

Rev Moses Njenga

Series: Extravagant Grace

Sermon 6: The Problem with Disobedience

Text: Jonah 4:3-5

Introduction

One of the most known prayer in the world is the Lord’s Prayer. I am always amazed at how many of the phrases we recite in the Lord’s prayer without having any intention of obeying! One of the most difficult one is when we ask God that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. That means total submission to God’s will and purpose. We however don’t really mean it that way; we want God’s will to be done only in heaven but for our will to be done here on earth. We therefore get very angry when God interferes with our plans! Today I want us to look at the consequences of this heart of disobedience in us.

1. Disobedience Causes Disaffection
The opening statement of verse three is that Jonah asks God for death. He in fact does not see the reason for living. He concludes that it is better to be dead than to live. What causes Jonah this amount of anguish? What would bring so much disaffection for life in the prophet of God? The answer is simply God’s will. Jonah does not understand why God insists on having His way. He would rather God changes His mind and obeys Jonah for once! Jonah’s disaffection comes from his fatigue in obeying God. Life turns sour for Jonah when he decides to attempt to dethrone God! He however learns so quickly that he can never be in charge of the universe. There is only one God and He does not share His glory with anyone! “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” Isaiah‬ ‭42:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We may think that we do not share this problem with Jonah. Let me turn our attention to how we pray and how we feel about God not answering our prayers.
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
‭‭James‬ ‭4:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

At the root of our anger and disaffection with God and life is our disobedience! When we want to become God we fail miserably and it causes us to lose the zest for life. We must admit that life only makes sense when God is on the throne.

2. Disobedience Causes Deafness
God responds to Jonah’s disaffection with a question. He asks Jonah if it is right for him to be angry. This question is intended to lead Jonah to repentance and to the feet of God for grace.

But Jonah does not answer that question. In fact he does not hear that question. He has turned deaf to the voice of God. It is interesting to observe how Jonah only talks to God when it favors him. When he is sent to Nineveh in chapter one, he does not respond to God in words. He simply rises and heads to Tarshish! Disobedience attempts to dethrone God. His voice does not matter any more! We only do what our hearts desire. We are deaf to God. It sounds as if we are talking about cold callous people; but alas! We are talking about believers. People who confess faith in God! There is an English saying that says “familiarity breeds contempt..” When we think we are so close to God we lose our desire to seek His will and instead we try to push God to do our will. We no longer listen to what He has to say, or if we do, we never obey!

Allow me here to bring the point home with two scriptures

““What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” Matthew‬ ‭21:28-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” James‬ ‭1:19-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

3. Disobedience Causes Defiance
Jonah then moves from the streets of Nineveh where the revival has broken out, where people are seeking God and goes off to the east of the city. He builds himself a shelter and defiantly waits to see what God will do! Jonah is acting like a spoiled child who will not take no for an answer and runs away sits in a corner and sulks till he is given his way!

That is exactly what sin does to us! It causes us to run away from where God is doing great things, to a corner where we are cold and desolate. We run away from the revival to sulk in a makeshift shelter! We disengage from God to our own devices and dare to give God ultimatums! This defiance does not help us! Instead it causes us to be miserable. As we wait to see, we will only get more pain when God continues with His plan without us! It will hurt when we discover that God does not obey us, He is sovereign! It will hurt more when we see God’s plan fulfilled exactly as He planned despite our defiance. In short defying God and running away does not help us in any way.

September 20th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: Extravagant Grace

Sermon 7: God’s Justice = God’s Grace

Text: Jonah 4:5-11

Introduction
Many have tried to explain that God deals with people differently in the Old Testament than He does in the New Testament. Many will allege that the Old Testament expresses justice while the New Testament expresses grace. The truth is that God’s grace and God’s justice have always been displayed all through in scripture. The book of Jonah is strictly about understanding God’s grace. Jonah struggles with the question why God shows grace to people deserving judgement. But God reveals to Jonah that God’s grace knows no bounds. It can rightly be termed as “Extravagant Grace.”

Today we look at the abrupt ending of the book of Jonah and specifically at God’s ministry to His angry prophet! All of which is aimed at teaching Jonah a thing or two about Grace!

1. Grace through the Weed
Jonah, angry with God takes his place under a makeshift shade to the East of the city of Nineveh. God should have no obligation to shelter Jonah’s head! But God goes out of His way to provide a weed that grows overnight to provide much needed shade for Jonah. Jonah is very happy as a recipient of God’s grace. Jonah likes it that something has been done about his situation.

There are several things to note here in this story about the plant that is given to shelter Jonah. First, is that Jonah does not deserve such care from God. He is pouting in the corner because he disagrees with God. God is not supposed to care for him! But God does anyway! That is Grace! The weed is the instrument of reminding Jonah that God is gracious to the undeserving. Second, Jonah feels good while receiving God’s grace. It always feels good when we are the objects of grace! It is possible that if there was another person receiving the same treatment Jonah receives here, Jonah would have objected! We love it when God causes a weed to grow over our rebellious heads and shelter us from the sun we have exposed ourselves to as we rebelled. Lastly it is worth noting that Jonah pays no regard nor does he feel grateful for the weed. He simply takes it for granted! In most cases where we have not labored to pray over something we really take it for granted! We neither pay regard to the gifts we receive nor are we thankful for them. We simply feel entitled to the grace given to us. This is the warning given in 2 Corinthians 6:1, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”
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2. Grace through the Worm and the Wind
While Jonah is enjoying himself with the weed God has provided for him. God provides another of His creatures to teach him a lesson. A worm comes a discretely chews on the weed. It very notable that just as the weed was provided by God so is the worm. While the weed brings Jonah comfort the worm provides Jonah discomfort. The worm chews at the weed causing it to wither. As if that is not enough God provides strong scorching wind to beat upon Jonah. If this reads like a scene from a cosmic drama, it is because it is! God is playing along with Jonah. He wants Jonah to come to the point where he sees his mistake and repents. Jonah, however, does not see it in God’s light. He wishes he was dead! His anger has made him struggle with feelings of helplessness and worthlessness. He wishes he simply would be gone!

God brings us to the point of repentance as His beloved children. When we go astray and sometimes disobey as Jonah did, God Causes circumstances that should bring us to repentance. The question is whether we respond as we should or we become bitter like Jonah. These moments of retribution are not the best or the easiest but they are necessary. When we run away from our responsibilities and we find ourselves under the comfortable weeds that God has provided, let’s not be surprised when a worm chews down our comforts and then the scorching wind blows down on our heads! God’s discipline is important for those loved by God.

“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:5-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

3. Grace through the Word
God finally speaks to Jonah. He starts where he left off before Jonah disappeared. He asks Jonah whether it is right to feel angry. Jonah does not consider the question seriously. He simply answers without thinking. He is simply reacting to God rather than thoughtfully responding to God. You see we should stop being emotional while dealing with God and instead be reflective.

To reveal Jonah’s folly God asks him if Jonah has a hand in growing the weed that grew overnight! Obviously Jonah did not even know where the weed came from. He had no business getting angry at the worm nor the weed nor the scorching sun. He had no control over those things. Just like he has no control over what God does with the people of Nineveh!

The word of God to the Prophet was that God is gracious and not regard anyone’s opinion in His actions of grace. God does not need to consult Jonah when he is planning his business. Jonah needs to respect God’s sovereignty and understand His unconditional grace and love to His people! His grace may seem extravagant but God knows what He is doing.

It is also worth noting that the people Jonah sees as rebellious and undeserving of God’s grace, are innocent in God’s eyes. They do not know their right from their left! God has pity on them and He rightly extends grace because when confronted with the truth they repent and turn to God. Compare this with the prophet who argues with God, runs away from God and rebelliously goes to a corner and would not help in the revival that breaks out in Nineveh! The odds are against Jonah! The people he angry about are seen as more righteous than he. Jonah needs to learn an important lesson and so do we. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.””
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭16:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

September 27th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: Welcome Home 2020

Introduction
Each year I do a sermon series on the welcome home theme. These sermons are meant to bring us back to our rallying call as LifePoint Nakuru. A reminder of who we are and what we ought to do. This year the words “Welcome Home” must have a special message to all of us! After we have spent months away from our beloved sanctuary; our physical home! It is my pleasure to once again say “Welcome Home!” I will do this through a series of sermons that will relate to us in this season. I will do this by taking us through Isaiah 55.

Sermon 1: The Great Invitation

1: Come and stop Craving
The prophet Isaiah in this passage issues an invitation to all who will listen. He welcomes them to the gracious life that God offers. He asks them to come to receive from God what the world can not provide.

The first invitation is to those without water. Those who are thirsty. Isaiah, being the voice of God calls them to come to the waters! Notice he does not call them to receive small amounts of water. He calls them to the gushing streams of water. Water so abundant that they will not thirst again. Their craving for water will be forgotten.

We are always reminded that in the presence of God we will have no cravings. God provides for His children better than the world can ever offer us.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God meets us at the point of our needs and quenches all our thirsts. It is this simple realization that must keep our eyes focused on Him at all times. Despite our tough times we must come home and have a drink from the gushing streams of life.

2. Come stop Compromise
Compromise comes when we think we cannot get what we need through the means God has set out for us. Others will complain that they do not have currency to exchange For the food that God gives. God invites them to come buy without money! God’s free grace extends to all areas of life. He invites us to stop striving and relax as He offers us what we need without expense! Grace extends to us so that we do not have to strive to receive favor from God. This is true both physically as it is spiritually! Success in our lives is not about how much we struggle but about how much we release ourselves to the immense grace of God.

Many of us complain a lot about the situations we find ourselves in. We even get to the point of compromising our faith in the Lord and even our joy in the Lord. We ought to learn the attitude of thanksgiving and the walk of faith. Knowing that when we are at home with the Lord we will be more than well provided for.

3. Come stop Complaining
Joy is the attitude of the heart that knows the Lord’s provision. The fruit of the spirit is said to contain Joy in it. Isaiah concludes the great invitation by promising us milk and wine which should cause gladness to us.

When we receive God’s grace it is an antidote to complain and inner strife. It keeps us calm and at peace despite all external challenges. The great invitation here is to relax in God’s grace and enjoy gladness in His presence. It reminds us that when we let God control our lives then we need not worry. When we are at home we can relax in His presence.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

WELCOME HOME!

October 4th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: Welcome Home 2020

Sermon two: Listen and Live

Text: Isaiah 55:2-3

Introduction:
The parable of the prodigal son reminds us of our inclination towards rebellion. It reminds us that left to our own devices we are, as Robert Robinson sang and showed in his life, we are prone to wander. We are not welcomed home because we have been good! Even those who are inside the Church, as the older son displayed, still need to be invited inside! Our hearts are sin-sick and always in desperate need of being welcomed by God’s grace close to him. But how can we take steps back home? Here is a suggestion based on verse 2-3 of Isaiah 55.

1. Repent
To repent is to feel or express heartfelt remorse over something wrong that we have done. It is the realization that we have transgressed God and have fallen short of His standard. We therefore experience contrition over our sins.

Our text begins with two questions meant to take us to repentance. The prophet asks us
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
The picture here is of rebellious people who insist on their foolish ways, not realizing that their ways cannot deliver their desired results. If you were hungry you would not spend money on what is not bread! Neither can you work so hard to earn nothing! But that is exactly what God finds His people doing.

The situation is the same as Jeremiah decries in Chapter 2
“Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭2:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

To be welcomed Home we must recognize our own sinful rebellion and repent our waywardness!

2. Return
The prophet then invites the people of God to listen. He reminds them twice that the key to obedience is listening to the instructions of the Lord. They must pay attention and hear God’s word. In fact spiritual life and spiritual prosperity comes through obedience of faith. It is clearly written that if we listen then we will live!

Many people want to do well spiritually but are not willing to pay the price of being obedient to the word. We pay lip service to God’s word and yet want to feel at home in His house! We must return to hearing God’s word right if we want to live well! This well captured in James 1:22
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James‬ ‭1:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

3. Relate
God then reminds His people that if they are faithful and obedient, He will reestablish the Davidic covenant with them. The Davidic covenant is the relational covenant that God established with king David. He promised David prosperity in the land and an heir to his throne for eternity. I am inclined to take the second part as the promise of salvation through the Messiah.

Thus if we return to God and obey Him we will enjoy our walk with Him. Our prayer should be as David prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭51:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

October 11th 2020

Rev. Moses Njenga

Series: Welcome Home 2020

Sermon Three: God is Good and I am a Witness

Text: Isaiah 55:4-7

Introduction:
It is a common teaching today that God promises physical and material prosperity in His word. Many will go ahead and say that we are called to be prosperous. In my view this kind of teaching is one sided and fails to see that Spiritual blessings far outweigh physical ones. God has not called us to physical prosperity but to spiritual provision as we seek to fulfill His purpose for us in life. In fact true prosperity is when we live out the purpose of God in our lives. This may happen in variety of categories of physical manifestations. We therefore become at home with any physical situation we find ourselves in knowing full well that it pleases God to honor Him in our situation in life. Today I call us to know God from a very personal level by acknowledging Him in our situations. I am calling us to be witnesses to God’s immense Grace.

1. SEE (vs 4-5)
If we use the word “see” as a command it can only mean that we are calling attention to something or someone. It is a call to witness something spectacular.

The word “see” introduces verse 4 of Isaiah 55. It tells us that God has established David as a witness of His grace. David will be a witness to all nations and a leader among nations by God’s grace. In verse 5 the blessing of David becomes extended to all Israel. Such that they will draw nations by the splendor which God has bestowed upon them. They will summon nations they do not know and those nations will come running to their aid because God has adorned them with splendor.

If we remember that at this juncture Isaiah has prophesied about the exile and the punishment God has kept for His rebellious people, then we can only conclude that it is by grace alone that such can be true. In other words the children of Israel will watch as they turn from being villains to being God’s favorite. All by God’s grace!

God’s grace transforms us from inside out. It makes even those far away amazed at what God can do. It turns us to leaders instructing nations about God’s ways. It show-cases us as God’s masterpiece for people to come and marvel at His goodness. It covers us with heavenly glory that makes people drawn to us, not because of our goodness, but in-spite of our badness! It is God’s grace: His unmerited favor that makes people exclaim; “SEE!”

2. SEEK (v6)
The prophet Isaiah next admonishes Israel to seek God. The word “seek” in this context does not mean that God is hiding from them. It implies that they have left God and gone to their different paths far away from Him. As has been said, when we find ourselves far away from God we must ask ourselves who moved. The answer is always that we moved away from God. They are to seek God and call upon Him while He was near. This signifies the fact that God is about to act on their behalf, He thus calls their attention towards Him. In short, God invites His people to prayer. He wants them to institute a calling on God that would result in His action on their behalf.

Again on the background of the exile this would appear laughable. After all they may have called on God, or expected Him to act on their behalf for 70 years! It would seem futile for them to call upon God in that situation as it may even feel hopeless. But it is God’s instructions for them to call upon Him.

What keeps us from experiencing God’s blessings upon our lives? Lack of prayer. James 4:2b states clearly that we lack because we do not pray. We are invited to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). We must realize that our prayer life is very key to our spiritual vitality. A prayer-less Christian is a dead Christian. It is prayer that unlocks for us unhindered fellowship with the master in all our circumstances in life, so that we are at home whatever our situation. May I encourage us that all we need in life is to SEEK!

3. SLEEK? (v7)
The word “sleek” is used loosely to mean attractive things. A sleek car may appear elegant. A sleek outfit is good looking. Sleek is catchy! The question is whether sleek is really durable or trustworthy.

In verse 7 the prophet asks those who are wicked to turn from their wickedness and turn to the Lord and He will have mercy upon them. This may mean generally and at all times the wicked should forsake their ways and turn to God. Or it might mean the wicked in the context of this passage. I think both meanings are implied though the latter is the focus of this verse. So who are the wicked? It appears that in this context it is those who doubt the promises of God. Who see the the prophecy as empty and impossible. Those who judge God and look down on His word on the basis of their current experience. Those who foment doubt in their hearts. Though they appear sleek they are actually fake! God calls such people to repent and turn from their wicked ways.

You may think this to be very harsh for those who because of fear doubt the promises of God. But it is clear from scripture that fear and doubt take us to the brink of unbelief and what is worse is that we take others with us. It appears very harmless when we assess situations and use them as basis of doubt. What we don’t realize is that we are judging God as inadequate and unfaithful. There is only one response that honors God. It may not appear sleek or polished but it is real. This is the response by faith. The beauty of faith is that it pleases God at all times.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

We must forsake this wickedness of belittling the promises of God. We must instead turn to God. God will have mercy and freely pardon us from our evil.
Let’s not try to be SLEEK let us have FAITH.

One Reply to “Sermons”

  1. This is very useful! I’m glad I found your post as it’s better than similar posts I’ve seen from most other bloggers on this subject. May I ask you to clarify some things? Maybe write an additional example? Thank you 🙂

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