The value of God’s calling and service in His Church: Anglican Church of Kenya BishopThika Diocese Bishop Julius Wanyoike at All Saint’s Community Church Quincy,Massachusetts
The value of God’s calling and service in His Church.
We meet to celebrate the value of being found worthy to be enlisted in the service of our Master. This is not a mean accomplishment in the life of Charles & Martha; confirmation candidates and ourselves at All Saints Community Church.
Being called into the service of the King, even at the lowest level of ministry, is a major accomplishment.
St. Paul’s understanding of the call and service is that it took Christ to die for him; cleanse his sinful past and make him worthy that he became acceptable to be entrusted with the role of shepherding the flock.
Indeed, it was not out of his own efforts or righteousness, rest the work of Christ on the cross be rendered useless, that being found worthy to serve emerged from Christ’s work on the cross.
Moreover, the flock that he was called to serve was purchased by his own blood and therefore a need to tremble while carrying out this task.
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.” 1 Timothy 1:12 NIV
We meet to be reminded of the need to watch over ourselves as we serve the people of God in our time!
“Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.” Acts 20:28 NRSV
We cannot be careless as we shepherd the flock of Christ; we must care for ourselves as ministers of the Gospel, even as we seek to look after the people of God in our time.
We have to take personal responsibility over who we are and what those we serve become wherever we are! Watch what you believe and teach at the same time!
“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16 NRSV
We must live in such a way that those with us must not stumble
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.”Mark 9:42 NRSV
We meet to be reminded that appointments to serve God do not come cheaply! It took his son to die so as to be called and work with him!
Some have gone to some great extent so that they can qualify to be appointed in the workplace. Figure out what you had to do in order to receive that call!
It is always important to seek the reasons behind being enlisted in the service of the King! What is your unique gift identifier in the body of Christ? What does your barcode look like?
Let’s sample Zacharias’ temple service as described by David Guzik:- So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of people was praying outside at the hour of incense.
According to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense: Only priests from a particular lineage could serve in the temple. Over the years the number of priests multiplied, (there were said to be as many as 20,000 priests in the time of Jesus) so they used the lot to determine which priests would serve when. The lot to serve might fall to a priest only once in his life.
To a godly man like Zacharias, this was probably the biggest event of his life, a tremendous privilege, a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Surely he wondered what it would be like to enter the holy place, and if God had something special to speak to him in this special event of his life.
What do you envision your call to serve God at All Saints Quincy and in the US at large to look like?
Zecharia was chosen to perform a special rite at the Holy Altar. A unique call amidst many priests.
Do we really treasure those moments when our service and life is given a heavenly call so as to influence the character and lifestyles of God’s children?
St. Paul was clear as to the reason that led him to require Timothy remain in Ephesus. “I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith.” 1 Timothy 1:3-4 NRSV
Daniel was very clear as to why he had been appointed as a Satrap by the King! We face a calling crisis when weren’t sure why we were called in the first place! “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred twenty satraps, stationed throughout the whole kingdom, and over them three presidents, including Daniel; to these the satraps gave account, so that the king might suffer no loss.”
Daniel 6:1-2 NRSV
How should your skills impact the membership of this church or wherever you attend regularly?
How is your appointment from on High impacting those around you? Does the community around you
We meet to celebrate the value of St. Paul’s acceptance that he was a sinner and in need of forgiveness.
St. Paul took personal responsibility for a sinful life. This resulted in forgiveness and ultimately being called to serve God.
St. Paul’s confession led to transformation and being enlisted into the service of his master. This we celebrate today as these brethren confess what the Lord has done in their lives.
Might it be that the majority of us are still keeping away from being called into the service of the King because sin is still fingering in our lives?
“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.”
1 Timothy 1:13 NIV
We meet to acknowledge that without Christ, many will act, live in ignorance and unbelief despite having heard the word of God in their lives.
This is dangerous and not helpful in the body of Christ.
Many struggle to fight quilt consciences whenever the scriptures are read. Some attempt to act in ignorance or seek to wade off God’s holy calling!
Some feign unbelief despite the fact that they know what they ought to do while others are rebellious to the voice of God! This is not helpful in the body of Christ!
St. Paul received God’s mercies so that he can be aligned with what was required in the Kingdom of God.
It’s only when we receive the mercies of God in our lives that we become aware of why it’s important to hear God calling us into the vineyard!
“But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:16 NRSV
How do you embrace the mercies of God? St. Paul saw God’s ultimate patience so that he would understand his love for him. He became an example of those who receive mercy.
“Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
Romans 2:3-5 NRSV
We meet to be reminded over what it means to stand before a holy God. There is value in seeking the cleansing of sin by the blood of Christ in order to face a holy and righteous judge!
Zecharia faced the angel who declared good news to him; St. Paul faced the all powerful presence of God that transformed him!
“Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.” Luke 1:18-19 NRSV
The implications of a doubting heart have enormous consequences like it happened to Zecharia. We find ourselves wavering between belief & disbelief. Zecharia became dumb!
“But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”” Luke 1:20 NRSV
Might there be a case of becoming dumb and we are not aware? Could there be people who watch us fumbling incoherent words as a result of our unbelief?
Or it might be that we are running away from God’s calling and a desire to lead a healthy Christian life yet we are consistently called to serve God?
We meet to celebrate the value of praying together as it happened in the time of Zecharia
“Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside.” Luke 1:8-10
What did Zacharias pray for? He must have thought about it carefully beforehand. He may have even taken out a prayer list, perhaps he has memorized it as he longed to appear before God. He also knew how long to pray, because he had known how long the incense priest stayed in the temple.
He must have prayed for both needs of the nation of Israel, which was occupied and oppressed by the hated Romans. He must have prayed for God to send the Messiah. He probably would have thought it wrong to throw in his personal needs at such a holy moment
How is our prayer life? How is our ministry to the people of God like in respect to prayer?
We meet to declare that our prayers are never in vain!
We are a product of the prayers of our parents; our calling is also anchored in their service and commitment in the body of Christ.
St. Paul had the courage to instruct Timothy in line with his faith and holy calling. St. Paul knew about the prophetic ministry that accompanied Timothy’s upbringing. His mother and grandmother’s take on the service continually beckoned him to do likewise. Their faith had played a significant contribution in his life. .
“I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith;” 1 Timothy 1:18-19 NRSV
From his mother and grandmother’ life of faith, Timothy had embodied their conviction and resolve as a young man. His life and upbringing was birthed in prayers and best wishes from the immediate family. The gift of service was initiated through a life of his parents’ service!
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:5-7 NRSV
We meet to celebrate God’s calling and the value of pursuing the good fight of faith.
Our faith is anchored in what we have learnt and the decisions we’ve made in right of our belief.
Whenever we live within the prophecies of God in our lives, we align our purposes with those of our God. This enables us to continue to fight a winning battle!
In Timothy lay the gifts of God which would enable him to fight the good fight. It is important to keep our faith alive.
Realizing God’s calling is a benefit of keeping and following Jesus in our lives.
“You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you. See, just as the Lord my God has charged me, I now teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!” For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him?”Deuteronomy 4:2, 5-7 NRSV
We meet to be reminded of the dangers of falling off in our life of faith.
St Paul noted that some had encountered a shipwreck in their faith due to unbelief!
By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith;” 1 Timothy 1:19 NRSV
This is also a call to take care as we witness the mercies of God. We must suffer the fate of failing to please him because we have suffered shipwreck in our faith.
“So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.”
1 Corinthians 10:12 NRSV
Equally still, we are here to say that God has called Charles & Martha in order to rescue those who are falling off.
We have a ministry to reconcile God and His people. We cannot abandon them in life
“We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor.”
Romans 15:1-2 NRSV
Our calling in the service of the King is similar to that of Jesus in his earthly life.
““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.” Luke 4:18-20 NRSV
We meet to celebrate God’s calling and be reminded as well about the value of leading a holy and righteous life!
Zecharia & Elizabeth waited upon God in a very humbling way. Despite the fact that they didn’t have a child, the Bible describes them as righteous and living a blameless life before God.
How can our lives be described by our Holy God? Might they be tainted by sin and desires of this world irrespective of having taken a commitment to fight against them in our baptism?
It is expected of us to lead lives that reflect godliness in whatever we do & wherever we are.
“In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord.” Luke 1:5-6 NRSV
We meet to celebrate the joy of an answered prayer in our life of faith.
Zecharia received a direct answer as he burnt incense at the Altar and so our prayer life is never in vain!
“But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,”Luke 1:13-14
Many times we would say a prayer while in distress like exemplified in the Psalms. On other occasions we even don’t say it but are covered by a heavy heart.
Zecharia has a ministry to burn incense and utter a prayer for God’s children and himself at the same time. God saw what he needed and how his righteous living could be crowned in his salvation history.
How is your life or ministry within God’s economy of salvation among his people?
We meet to celebrate prophetic utterances over the situations of our lives and those of our children.
“for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.””Luke 1:15-17 NRSV
At times Satan would like us to be deceived that our children cannot be distinct or make it to our standards in a very multicultural society! We feel defeated and helpless yet they are a product of fasting and prayer in some instances.
“Then Manoah entreated the Lord, and said, “O, Lord, I pray, let the man of God whom you sent come to us again and teach us what we are to do concerning the boy who will be born.” God listened to Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. Then Manoah said, “Now when your words come true, what is to be the boy’s rule of life; what is he to do?” The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Let the woman give heed to all that I said to her.” Judges 13:8-9, 12-13 NRSV
We must confess that we don’t know how to raise our children so that the angel who spoke to us while in prayer will come again and restate what we must do.
The setting for raising our children and grandchildren may be hostile but God has the last word over the life of our sons and daughters.
The prophetic utterances in regard to their lives shall come to pass as stated by our God. God heard Zacharia & Elizabeth and shall also come to our aid. He did it to Manoa & his wife too.
We meet to be reassured that nothing escapes the eyes of our Father in heaven.
Zecharia and Elizabeth served God amidst the pain and desire to have a child of their own.
Getting a child was beyond their control but we must acknowledge that this was aimed at glorifying God.
“But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.”Luke 1:7 NRSV
Although at times we may face insurmountable headwinds in our life, God’s holy will is always supreme.
We may appear to fight the odds. Our Father in heaven has solutions to all that besets us.
It may appear too late and nothing seems to change; we may be almost giving up in certain areas of life but will surely show up and transform our mourning into dancing!
“The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.””Luke 1:35-37 NRSV
Ron Kenolly sang: he changed my mourning into dancing in line with the Psalmist: “To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication: You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” Psalms 30:8, 11-12 NRSV
The Holy Spirit will come over in our lives as He did for Elizabeth and Mary in order to transform the situations that embitter us.
Our mourning will turn into dancing!
We meet as God’s children so that we can get reassurance of His intention for us.
We may be afraid and insecure in life. Where we are may not be the ultimate destination that we have dreamt of, either for ourselves or that of our families. Like Elizabeth, Mary was equally afraid in her situation. She didn’t know that God had already addressed a similar situation in her aunt’s life.
“The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30 NRSV
Many are the times we are worried over the situations that appear to compound our lives! God’s favor will also fall upon our situations as it did for them. Let us celebrate as we await God’s last word in each situation as we serve him with diligence.