Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Holy Spirit: The Comforter, the Teacher

“But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you. ”(John 14:26)

You need the Holy Spirit. As you settle into another semester or as you prepare to go for a new term – a new season – at school, even when you are in public service or in private business, or you are looking for a job, or you are about to retire, you need the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus knew that along the path of life you would sometimes suffer from loneliness, discouragement, helplessness, weakness or fear, guilt or accusations, pain, and even loss! He – the Holy Spirit – is the Standby, the Strengthener, the Helper, the Advocate, the Intercessor, the Counsellor, the Comforter. These seven words unveil the meaning of the Greek word ‘paraklétos’ used the verse John 14:26 to describe who the Holy Spirit is to those who call upon him.

In that desperate moment, smoking will not help, no beer will raise you high enough, not even your boyfriend. Wine represents those temporal things from which we seek gladness; but the Apostle Paul has rightly advised well aware of its limitations: ‘do not get drunk with wine… but be filled with the Spirit’ (Eph 5:18). Talk of the limitations of earthly sources and a good example is the lion: its strength is acclaimed in the jungle and in the Bible; it is bold, the mightiest among beasts. The dangerous wrath of a king is compared to a growling lion; ‘the lion has roared, who will not fear?’ But you need strength more reliable than that of a lion, for it has its weak points in plenty. In fact, one filled with the Holy Spirit is so much stronger than the lion: Samson killed it; David also killed it; Daniel did not fear it.

One more function of the Holy Spirit: He is the Teacher. All believers need to grow in the knowledge, understanding and wisdom of God and His operations. Over and above the numerous opportunities of the Sunday morning Sermon, Bible Studies and fellowships, the Holy Spirit is active when you are in your private meditation and He is the ever present Teacher. Ignorance, knowingly or unknowingly, can be the cause of many shades of suffering.

None should perish for lack of vision or knowledge; call on the Holy Spirit. Don’t freeze in loneliness, He is the warm Standby to cheer you up; don’t sink too deep in discouragements. He is the reliable Strengthener and Helper; even when you are lost for words before surrounding enemies or accusing fingers, call upon Him – He is the capable Advocate and Intercessor; He will plead your case to success before the ultimate Judge.Do you need the Holy Spirit? Jesus not only promised a benevolent supply from ‘your heavenly Father’ to those who ask, but also prayed for his disciples to receive the Holy Spirit.

God bless you as you remain in His presence!

 

Arise and Build

“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

“I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”(Zech 4:6, Matt 16:18)

I have sometimes thought of the 10-million-dollar Cathedral Sanctuary Complex we are building at Nakasero as a Mega-structure project; think of the tallest buildings in the world or even in Kampala. Indeed in terms of complexity, cost, materials, engineering and technologies, we can dare to compare projects. However there is a fundamental difference: God has given people might and power to build our houses and palaces, hotels and restaurants, intricate stadiums, trade centers and all sorts of structures; but as for the House of the Lord, he says “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit”. This was the word of encouragement to Zerubbabel who was leading the effort to rebuild the Temple after the Jews were accepted by Emperor Cyrus to return from exile; it took them over 21 years, but was finally completed in 516 BC.

I have recently been disturbed and troubled about how God builds; very few of us can claim to know how he does it. How do our committee meetings fit into His building activities? What about our knowledge in technical fields: procurement, engineering, fundraising techniques – how do these come in? Moreover it is God who gives these gifts! There is a likely dangerous possibility that these very gifts can stand in the way of God. Because we use them to implement our personal, business and government projects, there is a temptation to work on the House of the Lord in a similar way, and yet He says ‘not by might, not by power’.

Jesus said, “I will build my church”, referring the assembly of believers. There is overwhelming Biblical evidence that He is also concerned about the physical house. God has given us opportunity to participate in His work, through giving; each one of us has a part to play. “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this House lies in ruins?” (Haggai 1:4). This provocation will remain with us until the House of the Lord is built. ‘But some of us live in small old huts about to collapse in slums,’ some people may so excuse themselves: I remind you of the widow of Zarephath from whose only remaining meal, Elijah insisted on having a share first. She had to serve God first, and indeed God sustained and took good care of her (1Kings 17).

Now it is time for us to build the Cathedral. Each one of us, arise and build! Pray for the project, bring money and materials, bring advice and ideas, ask to know more details, bear it as a burden, do not give up or even relax; it is time to build! And more importantly, let us continually seek His will in devotion and prayer and humbly avail all these gifts for His use as He builds.

GOD BLESS YOU! 

 

 

 

 

 

Identifying the Messiah

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 1:29, 4:29)

The debate of who would be the prophesied Messiah rages on to date from as far back as before the time of Jesus Christ. The woman at the well in John asked about Jesus, ‘Could this be the Messiah?’ Later she believed. Different people appear and claim ‘I am he’ – such as Mohammad, Moon, Bisaka, and others – but testing and time prove them wrong. John the Baptist was a great revival preacher, but he did not claim the lofty title, but rather pointed to one of his disciples and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’! Remember that the skies were open to all who cared to observe and study, but only the three wise men were able to behold a new star that was uniquely identified as pointing to some great King born in Israel. Identifying such a star was excellence in physical study but also excellence at receiving spiritual insights from God.

In the same way, while many people did not bother about the young man from Nazareth who was attending a prophet’s teaching, John the Baptist saw and pointed him out as the Lamb of God! John saw what others were not able to see; to John was revealed the unique identity of this one member of his congregation, who had been baptized a few days earlier. Two disciples were only seeing a mere man, but when they heard he was the Lamb of God, they transferred their allegiance from the forerunner; they took keener interest in following and learning more about Jesus. Andrew then realized that you can’t find such treasure and keep it to yourself; he called his brother to the new found Messiah.

With all the proofs about Jesus, are you still in doubt regarding whether or not He is the Messiah? When you look into the skies, when you look at different people around you, when you read the word of God, when you listen to a sermon, what do you see? Unfortunately, it is possible for treasure to be exposed, yet some people do not see it! Have not many people listened to the same sermon and some are saved thereby while others dismiss it? God gave us physical eyes, but we also possess capacity to use deeper senses to see beyond the physical. Each one of us needs the special revelation of the Lamb of God; only that will transform us fundamentally and give us the impetus to follow and call others to Him. Through the ministry in this Church, my prayer is that Jesus Christ will be manifested to all to seek and listen. Behold the Lamb of God!

Have a Blessed New Year!

 

Jesus’ Relatives

“And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus…” “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Luke 2:21, Mark 3:35) 

Happy New Year! In this homily, I take opportunity to give thanks, and to share three guiding points for this year: Family, Vision and Intercession. Today is a great opportunity indeed to give thanks: God has enabled us to achieve much in our families and in our congregation. I see a more beautiful altar and furnishings, a Chapel Van, development plans, and we have had far reaching missions and ministry and enriching fellowship; the growth in this Church has been a blessing to the University, community, the Diocese, and people of God all over the country wherever our missioners were sent; we give thanks to God. He has given us peace and prepared us for a brighter and more progressive year 2017, and we should be very grateful.

This 2017 was declared ‘a Year for the Family’ by the Church and the State. Our guiding theme will be ‘Family: Out of Reverence for Christ’. To start off this theme, think about Jesus’ family: He was circumcised on the eighth day and all cultural requirements were fulfilled; he was a member proper of the home of Joseph and Mary his parents, as well as a member of the bigger family of the Jews; he had brothers and sisters, and cousins and nephews; but he stunned his listeners one day, when he redefined his relatives. In fact some thought he run crazy and insane due to his commitment to and method of work, especially when he ignored his relatives that came to bring him food and take him for some rest. He figuratively revealed his new family: ‘whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.’ Are you part of Jesus’ family? This is a good question to ponder throughout this year even as we seek to better our own families.

It is my prayer that each of us will have a clear vision from God in this year. We celebrated Christmas with a deep reflection on the mystery of the star, and I remained asking, ‘what do you see’? Balaam saw the star and scepter rising from Jacob and Israel, though vaguely; and this was fulfilled in Jesus Christ the Messiah. The wise men saw the star of wonder and light that led them to Bethlehem, a life-changing and lifesaving experience; Stephen the first martyr beheld Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and this gave him strength to face his most trying moment with hope and vigour. There are many signs in the sky and sorcerers and evil people deceive many with astrological visions and insights; I pray for you to be shown some meaningful life-changing and lifesaving vision that will guide you into a productive future.

Finally, the promise of the Messiah’s intercession is my encouragement to us all: that He as our brother is praying for you, and that He is calling upon you to pray for one another, ‘until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth’ (Isaiah 62:6-7).

God bless you all and Happy New Year!

Salvation is here!

‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
who is Christ the Lord.’
‘… so shall your God rejoice over you.’ (Luke 2:11, Isa 62:5)

Today we celebrate the great joyous news of the birth of a Saviour in the city of Bethlehem; this happened some two millennia ago, but the work of the Saviour is ongoing to date; indeed we need the Saviour in all spheres of our lives and nations. His name Jesus is actually an ordinary name, similar to Joshua, Jeshua, Elisha, and Isaiah: they all mean ‘The Lord is Salvation’. Since there could have been many other people bearing the same name, the Messiah is always referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus son of Joseph, and later Jesus Christ. The prominent bearers of the names above lived to exemplify the very message ‘The Lord is Salvation’, by virtue of their ministry actions. Let us concentrate on just two, Isaiah and Jesus.

 

Isaiah is quoted directly in the NT over 65 times, far more than any other prophet, and mentioned by name over 20 times. As partial proof that Isaiah was a true prophet, the efforts of Sennacherib the Assyrian Emperor to overthrow and take Jerusalem failed, just as Isaiah had said it would (37:6-7), the Lord healed King Hezekiah’s critical illness, as Isaiah had predicted (38:9, 2Ki 20:7), and Isaiah named Cyrus as Judah’s deliverer from the Babylonian captivity, long before he appeared as king of Persia (44:28, 45:1); these and many more signs exalt the God Isaiah spoke for – indeed ‘The Lord is Salvation’!

His loudest prophecy was about the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah speaks more about the Messiah than does any other Old Testament prophet. He foretold the virgin birth of Emmanuel (7:14) and his universal and eternal government of peace (9:1-7). He describes the Messiah as a Suffering Servant and a Sovereign Lord.

This Christmas comes at a time when our education and health services are crying out for help: the great Ivory Tower Makerere is on her knees, and so are many voiceless schools all over the country with dire needs. Our hospitals and health centers are sick and suffering from inadequate supplies and personnel; all these would be helped by a more caring governance, and if selfishness and stealing of public resources were stopped. These evils not only deprive of physical wellness but also threaten masses with eternal damnation. We need deliverance and salvation! This Christmas is an opportunity for us to warmly receive our Saviour and His message of consolation in the face of our needs.

In the dispensation of the Messiah as Sovereign Lord, Isaiah encourages that all nations would partake of the blessings of wellness, splendor and glory conferred on Zion; Zion would be as beautiful and glorious as a royal crown, and Yahweh would delight in peaceful Zion as a young married man delights in his bride (Isa 62:1-5). Our salvation is in Jesus Christ, and His incarnation means Salvation is here!

Merry Christmas and God bless you all.

Heralding the Messiah

They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” (Matt 2:5-6)

Evangelist Matthew is good at taking us back in time to show us that even before John the Baptist, there were many prophets heralding the Messiah – God’s long term Salvation Plan. Recall: today’s challenge is about long-term plans. I am fascinated by large and old things – talk of companies – someone must have had a real big long-term plan: Toyota Motor Corporation is a Japanese automotive manufacturer; in March 2014 the multinational corporation consisted of over 330,000 employees worldwide; in July 2012, the company reported the production of its 200-millionth vehicle. Toyota is the world’s first automobile manufacturer to produce more than 10 million vehicles per year. How can one company hold together in stability all over the world while a small country like Somalia or Southern Sudan wallows in social and political turbulence for decades?

 

But think also about long-lasting (almost everlasting) companies: The oldest running hotel in operation is not in Paris or London or Rome. It is in Yamanashi, Japan: a hot-spring hotel called Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan, which has existed for over 1300 years – since the year 705. Japan is home to the world’s oldest lots of things, with more than 3000 companies over 200 years old. Ostensibly, it’s not surprising that an old country with an old economy would be home to so many old businesses. Many of the oldest companies are local and family-owned. This longevity must be engrained in a big long-term plan.

Is there any institution more enduring or universal than a family business? Professor William O’Hara posed that rhetorical question in his recent book, Centuries of Success. He also provided his answer: “Before the multinational corporation, there was family business. Before the Industrial Revolution, there was family business. Before the enlightenment of Greece and the empire of Rome, there was family business.” In a world where family values are fast being compromised at the altar of personal gratification, we are in danger of losing the benefits of long-term plans that ride on the back of an enduring family line.

There are deep spiritual inspirations from all these large and old business fascinations. Matthew in his first chapter brings us generations of God’s long-term plan that is evident in Abraham, David and fulfilled in Jesus many centuries later. The Salvation Plan of God was prophesied by prophets across a wide time-line including Isaiah and Micah over 600 years before they are quoted by Matthew. God’s Salvation Plan endures to date, and as we celebrate the coming of our Redeemer, King, Jesus Christ, we also look forward to His return, and that plan will fully materialize. Watch and pray, and always stand ready.

God bless you all.