Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Work of the Holy Spirit

… all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul,
(Acts 19:10-11)

Paul’s mission in Ephesus was transformational. It touched the city’s life religiously,
socially and economically. Ephesus was “the guardian of the temple of the great [goddess] Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven” – so they believed, and her worship was widespread; the business of idols was booming, with natives and visitors buying these idols and relics to worship this goddess. Even after Apollos’ mission and the formation of the 12-man Christian fellowship, there seems to have been no significant effect on the life of this city. They had believed, were baptized, they probably met regularly, but in terms of effects on city life, there was nothing to write home about.

That city’s foundations were spiritual, and only the Holy Spirit could move them. It is not uncommon that we try to do in our own human might and wisdom things that are beyond that realm; truly there is a breakthrough that requires the power of the Holy Spirit – in your career, or your relationships, or in your finances, or your business; but more significantly in the extension of the Kingdom of God among different peoples and places, the power of the Holy Spirit is indispensable. Don’t try to convert hard hearted people by your clever and articulate preaching or rivers of baptism; do not try drive out evil spirits using chloroquine injections or radiotherapy machines! Only the power of the Holy Spirit can shake such foundations, and we need Him even today.

In Ephesus, when the work of the Holy Spirit was manifested, when the believers were filled, the power released lifted a blockade and the Word of God was preached and
received by all. To teach and preach the powerful gospel, we need the Holy Spirit. People came to repent and confessed their sins and gave them up; they were unashamed and bold to accept the Lord Jesus as Saviour in public. For that boldness to give up sin and
receive salvation, we need the Holy Spirit. Healings and deliverances were witnessed as the Name of Jesus was invoked in prayers; there were extraordinary miracles as well; for
convincing signs and total healing of body and soul, we need the Holy Spirit. The city’s economy changed; the business of idols started a sharp decline as many people turned to and worshipped the Almighty God. For cleansing and positive transformation of our cities and villages, we need the Holy Spirit. He has work in your life as an individual, as a family, and as a community.

God bless you all.

Rooted 7

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Col 2:6-7)

It has been the theme for the University Mission week: Rooted 7 – calling upon believers to be rooted in Jesus Christ completely and every day. Over 50 missioners, majority of them students, devoted their time to reaching out especially in Lecture rooms and around the University campus; we appreciate the many Lecturers who were cooperative in giving
opportunity for Mission publicity and a message to be shared with the students. Some
Lecturers joined in the mobilization by arranging for more rooms to be reached – and this was encouraging. The mission was successful despite the many interrupting challenges: many key missioners lost relatives and had to go for burials, some staff members had ill relatives, and there was a little strike among students on Wednesday; nevertheless, the Lord’s move has been unstoppable.

The message is simple: if you are not rooted in Jesus Christ, you cannot stand the storms of life. Our Lord used both agricultural and engineering language to call people to himself: ‘I am the vine, you are the branches’ was his charge; branches that remain connected to the vine bear much fruit and enjoy good care. Those who do not remain in Jesus Christ are likened to branches that thrown away to wither and later be burned. He also likened those who listen and take His word to a person who built his house well on a rock, while the one who does not put His word into practice is like the person who built his house on sand and it was washed away by the storms when it rained.

Now Paul also uses agricultural and engineering terms to call believers to growth and
establishment: be rooted and built up in Jesus Christ. We have seen many huge trees fall down because something has gone wrong with the roots – either they were eaten by ants, or they were cut, or they dried up due to old age; without roots, a tree cannot stand. A house cannot stand without a foundation and a firm structure; the recent tragedy of a
collapsed building near Makerere University tells the story in painful style. To be rooted and built up in Christ means to receive His Word and continually put it into practice. It means resisting and refusing counterfeits and half-truths that are sold by so many enticing ‘christs’. It means to radically and publicly identify as a disciple of Jesus Christ, serving His purposes at all times. It means to hope in Jesus Christ alone as the true and only vine in whom you will derive all the nutrients for life here today and tomorrow in eternity; to hope in Him as the rock upon which your life will be safe and secure from all alarms. He readily receives all, even today, all who will choose to be rooted and built up in Him, and you are welcome.

God bless you all.

Return to God. No Hostilities.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

And can it be that with no chain, a wolf will live well with the lamb; leopard and
goat – causing no pain, the calf and lion play with a child? A conference on poverty
reduction and ecological justice has just happened last week, and some of the
propositions were quite controversial. One poem I listened to changed earth into a living being, and the poet discourages mining, especially of oil, because this is earth’s blood. The poem’s chorus, “the oil only flows when the earth bleeds” kept repeating and moving
listeners’ emotions. But thinking about the vast wealth that many Middle East countries have obtained from oil, what would happen to them if they stopped mining? And Uganda is excitedly looking forward to when the oil starts to flow!

The Bible talks about a future when there will be no hostility among animals and between animals and people; there will be no hostility in the entire ecological realm. Maybe there will be no mining of oil, and this will comfort Nnimmo Bassey, the writer of the poem. But Isaiah 11:6-9 clearly talks about a sweet fellowship of wolf and lamb, leopard and goat, calf and lion, child and cobra and viper! One professor wondered if this is ever possible – if the carnivorous animals will not starve to death! Before concluding quickly, let’s join the
inquiry and ask the question, how can this happen? How will all hostility die down? Will the hatred between rival people ever go away? What about the hostility between sinners and their Maker – how can it end?

In a short line Isaiah (11:9) offers the answer. “for the earth will be filled with the
knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea”. The bringer of this knowledge in its fullness is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He is prophesied in the same chapter as the Shoot from the stump of Jesse, a Branch that will bear fruit. The purpose of His coming was to
reveal the Father, and all who receive him enter a sweet fellowship with the Father. The
hostility Isaiah began with in chapter 1 will be no more when the Jesus Christ restores peace. His blood alone can wash sins and bridge the gap between the sinner and his Maker.

In our community, there are many people who are battling biting financial blunders,
regrettable drug abuse, academic re-takes and failures, disappointments in relationships; some people are suffering prolonged trauma, low self-esteem because their tribe has been perennially despised, while others deeply regret having mistreated another group for such long! All these hostilities will be no more when we return to the Lord; when the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord – as revealed by Christ Jesus. Away from the Lord, there is no peace; and it only gets worse after this life on earth! Return to God for peace
today and in eternity.

God bless you all.

Faithful to the End

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Today we hold a special fundraising to build a museum in honour of those who were
faithful to the end – the Uganda Martyrs who are remembered year after year; All Saints Day is another annual feast celebrated in honour of all saints, known and unknown,
including apostles, evangelists and martyrs – whose life of faithful devotion and witness
remains a great encouragement for today’s believers. William’s old hymn captures well the important theme:

For all the saints, who from their labors rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. Alleluia, Alleluia!
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold, Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold. Alleluia, Alleluia!

These saints were faithful to the end and now form the Church triumphant where
‘There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain’, while believers on earth are the Church militant where as Paul the Apostle encourages Timothy, they ought to
‘Fight the good fight of the faith.’ Faithful means manifesting a true spirit to a person to whom one is bound by a promise, a pledge, honor, or love. Ruth was bound by mar- riage and love, and as she clung to Naomi on the way from the land of Moab to Bethle- hem, demonstrated deep faithfulness.

Naomi was led astray by her husband Elimelech who led his family from Bethlehem, the house of bread, to the land of Moab, a place of waste and nothingness. God had sent a famine in their homeland to incite the people to repentance. This man who ran away from death due to famine actually died in the ‘land of plenty’ – in Moab; and his two sons died there as well. A bitter Naomi on her way back prefers to cry alone, so she begs and presses her committed daughters-in-law to turn and go back to their people. As Orpah succumbed to the appeal, Naomi who now thought she had more negotiating power to turn away even the other soon realized that Ruth had vowed to cling.

God respects faithfulness in following Him, no matter where you are coming
from. The end of her faithfulness ended Ruth as restorer of an endangered famiy and
a grandmother of or Lord and Messiah. In our following the Lord, we have many
examples of faithful endurance – the martyrs of Uganda occupying a clear place in the list. Like the saints we commemorate, if you remain faithful to the end, God in His faith- fulness has accepted you. Let us support the museum project to tell generation to come of the
exemplary witness and faithfulness to spur them on to the same.

God bless you all.

Behold the Lamb! He Is Alive.

In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor
and glory and praise!” (Rev. 5:12)

Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah! Before the great Revelation to
John the Apostle at the Island of Patmos – he beheld the exalted Lamb, before him
some leading people of God interacted with a lamb that changed their lives and
generations. It is a good thing for us to go back and trace the journey of the Lamb,
and finally, our celebration today will be deeply rooted and with rise to greater
heights.

The lamb of Abraham saved Isaac from the sword. When he said to inquisitive Isaac,
‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’ (Gen 22:8), did
Abraham really understand what he was saying? Had not God asked for his only son
as the sacrifice? And this father was determined to obey God at all costs; yet the
whole future generation would now be cut off! After God’s intervention, Abraham saw a lamb – the lamb slain to take the dangerous place of his only son.

The lamb of Moses saved the firstborn of the Hebrews when the angel of death visited all the families in Egypt. God called Israel his firstborn nation and the Egyptians who
oppressed them would lose their first born that night as a final blow to secure release from bondage that had lasted more than four hundred years. After clear instructions from God, Moses saw a lamb – the lamb slain to provide blood for the much needed protection
(Ex 12).

This lamb suffered and died every year at the commemoration of this great deliverance, at the Feast of Passover. This feast was instituted to remind the Jews of the mighty hand and outstretched arm that brought them out of that bondage.The lamb of Isaiah was innocent, but was silent and submissive to suffering and death; he was oppressed and afflicted, pierced and crushed, punished and wounded(Is 53). Even Isaiah saw a lamb – the lamb slain ‘for our transgressions’ and ‘for our iniquities’. Could this be the lamb that takes away the sins of the world as John the Baptist declared? He may not have known what would become of this lamb; indeed he was beheaded long before Jesus Christ went to the cross; but when he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’, John the Baptist must have reminded many of the lambs that suffered and died to bring freedom to the people of God.

Finally, the Lamb of John the apostle – this one only looks ‘as if it was slain’ but He is alive! And He receives ‘praise and honour and glory and power, forever and ever!’ (Rev 5).
Celebrate the victory as you determine to remain faithful in the worship of this victorious Lamb – He is our salvation and our life, today and in eternity.
God bless you all, and enjoy a Happy Easter!