Matthew 2:13-20, Luke 1:26-35, + Luke 2
What could have been an exciting Sunday Review has become an exciting two-week late review, and you know what, I’m okay with that.
I wanted to share with you eight principles from FLC’s December 27 service that you can use as foundational stones in your faith to further advance your relationship with God, remind you of His love for you, His purpose and plan for your life because so many of us have lost sight of that this tumultuous year.
Pastor Rohan Samuels of Freedom Life Church dove deep off the cliff of monotony and stagnancy, which many Sunday preachers rely on and he preached as if it were his last sermon ever. There were thunder and lightning, per se, smoke, and fire rising from the pulpit this particular Sunday afternoon.
I likened the service to a person who, when walking down his community takes a whiff of barbecued meat. His curiosity leads him down one street, up a side street, past several homes and cars, where he is able to visualize smoke rising from someone’s back yard and in his hungry stupor he follows the trail of smoke in the air and the scent of mouthwatering meat that ultimately leads him to a neighbor’s back yard party. Upon reaching the location and not wanting to be seen he fails and his friendly neighbor invites him in for a bite. After a moment of false humility he accepts the offer and gracefully levitates to the grill where his appetite has driven him to on this day. To his dismay, what is found sizzling on the grill is not a brisket or chicken drumsticks or lamb chops but red peppers and kale.
In his want for food, he didn’t stop long enough to remember that he lived in a vegetarian community. He sat and ate his grilled kale with a false smile on his face dreaming of the ever succulent taste of smoked brisket meat.
This Sunday’s sermon was not like that. There was smoke, there was fire, there was spiritual meat, of the best cuts, and yes, there was salt as well.
God has blessed us with people who will, time and again, remind us of how great His love is for us in allowing us to be recipients of His wonderful grace which was imparted to us through the perfect life, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
Please allow yourself to be strengthened by these short but efficacious principles that can lead us into greater depths in the knowledge, love, trust, and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we navigate through a purposeless generation.
“Your purpose, anointing, and gifting needs a covering.”
Pastor Rohan informs the church that when Christ was to be born into the world he was subjugated to two systems, one, the right people to nurture his growth, and two, the right people to protect him.
In this, it is the idea that Mary and Joseph were the appropriate couple chosen by God to stewart and usher this child into the world by teaching, admonishing, praying for, and directing Him in the path of righteousness. Not that Christ needed this but He subjected Himself to it.
Christ was prayed for and protected. Our lives ought to be the same. Our groups and circles ought to be made up of people who pray for us and who will lead us not in the path of unrighteousness but individuals we can trust to teach us and yes, even discipline us when the need arises. Without prayer and direction, we are orphaned individuals who know not what we seek nor where to seek it.
“Your gift doesn’t make you superior to those that are assigned to lead you.”
This one, as mentioned above, Jesus subjugated Himself to his earthly parents even though He created them and the world they lived in. Only later would they realize the magnitude of the person they had raised, played with, fed, and taught. Only later would they realize how grand and powerful this child really was and still did not abuse nor did He misuse His position, His status, His history as a means to control those who were placed above Him or those around Him.
It is said that if you give someone enough money or enough power, probably both, their true nature will be exposed.
How many ministers, pastors, teachers, and preachers once given control and authority over a pasture of sheep then become a wolves who devour God’s sheep.
In following Christ’s example we too, as Pastor Rohan explained, must adhere to our earthly authorities even if our intellect, our experience, our tenure, and our education exceeds that of our leaders.
This does not mean we bow down to anyone simply because they’re in a particular position. One must ask God for discernment on who is a Godly leader bent on bending to God’s will and serving God’s people and who is a leader willing to bend God’s will and subjugate His people to disastrous pursuits in the name of pleasure, money, and fame.
Listen to your leaders, your Godly leaders, people.
“God does not wait for you to be qualified to fulfill the call [for your life], His grace qualifies you for the call.”
This is another qualifier of one’s ministry. Most biblical characters were not called from positions of preparedness but more so embarrassing aloofness to God’s calling. We remember Abraham who was but a wealthy nomad when he was called to be the father of God’s people on earth. Gideon was in the wilderness and feared for his life when called to serve. Moses was tending sheep after having fled Egypt for murdering a man. Jeremiah thought himself incapable of speaking for God and Isaiah saw himself too impure and sullied to be a spokesperson for the Divine.
But God time and again reminds us that whenever it comes to accomplishing the divine it will take the Divine Himself to initiate, progress, and finish any project or purpose.
We are reminded that God is the one who calls us, qualifies us over time, and accomplishes His will for our lives without, say, our being qualified to do so.
So if you’re dreaming of building that orphanage but have zero knowledge of how construction works, if you’re dreaming of feeding the poor but find yourself unable to pay for your own food at times, dreaming of taking the message of salvation to a hyper-secular and postmodern society but can’t even verbalize the gospel properly without your knees giving out, rest assured, you’re the perfect candidate for all these things and more through God’s glorious grace that catapults you to places and positions and purposes that you could not even have dreamed of.
Rest in God and His grace to accomplish the impossible.
“Grace oftentimes has your purpose birthed into unexpected locations and situations.”
By this, Pastor Rohan signifies that Christ was born in one of the poorer communities of His day and into one of the poorer situations imaginable, without a place for him to be born, say, an inn or a palace, and still, and still, listen, and still, leaders from around the world sought Him out to welcome His advent into the world.
God’s grace will at times place us or our ministry into certain straits that have no hope or no pleasure in the current situation. Perhaps we start a church in a pandemic, perhaps we open a building while the market is dead, perhaps we are called to lead in an environment where distrust and abuse were rife and rampant and God calls us to help people heal and flourish throught that situation.
God’s grace provides us the position, it grants us the strength, it enlightens our darkened intellect, it pushes us to a place of discomfort, to situations of loss and pain where we can serve people we would have never been near to if our life had remained the same.
Christ was catapulted, one can say, from his Divine splendor and royal seat in heaven to the most ruthless kingdom and sub-kingdoms of the day.
Jesus was born into the middle-east that was under the power and control of the Roman empire, which was bent on destroying anyone who dared challenge its right to global primacy. Israel was surrounded by Romans, infiltrated by roman centurions and tetrarchs, leaders who cared very little for these Jewish people and their faith. Dangerous insurrectionists, which we would call modern-day terrorists and assassins ran through the nation stirring riots and instigating violence.
These were such perilous times that just short of forty years after Christ’s crucifixion Jerusalem, along with its temple and its walls, were all razed to the ground by the Roman empire and the Jews dispersed through the middle east, Africa, and Europe.
Jesus was born into this environment but it is in this environment that He saved the world.
Be not wary or fearful of the chaos you are birthed into because God can accomplish much when we rely on Him completely.
“When you are purposed, the enemy wants to kill what you can produce and your ability to produce [it].”
Pastor Rohan explains that it is only expected of the supernatural to instigate further chaos as an attempt to frustrate God’s plans for our life.
He explains that prior to Christ being born a local king became aware that a Messiah, an Anointed One, a Liberator was soon to be born to be king, superseding this man’s authority over Judah. This troubled him so greatly that he sought to kill every child born within a particular date to prevent his loss of power. Mary and Joseph were instructed to flee south to Egypt for refuge from this murderous king and after his death, they were instructed to return to Judah.
Pastor Rohan states that there are men and women within our churches today, persons in power, modern-day Herods and kings, who want nothing more than to kill the purpose of God in our life when they feel their positions are threatened.
In his words:
We must be aware of the agents and agencies that have lodged themselves within our faith communities with the goal of retaining power and nothing else. Once the mention of succession is made they fly at the handle of threats and brandish their teeth in rage.
Beware of these for their only intent is to destroy that which God has set out for you to accomplish through His grace.
“The enemy seeks to identify young, gifted, purposed people who are gifted but not fully developed [yet].”
It is said that applause ruins young leaders.
Many of us believe that an early streak of success at such an early stage of our ministry is a sign of ministerial health and stability but we must be sober-minded enough to acknowledge that no matter how many ministries we plant or how often we water them with our knowledge and prowess it is only God who gives the growth and success that ultimately directs our attention to Him.
In the same way, we would not trust an amateur pilot to land a plane or an amateur ship pilot to steer a cruiseliner through perilous seas we must not and cannot trust ourselves to leaders who have not experienced the waves of life and ministry and come out more spiritually mature.
Pride is a damnable sin and no one is above it therefore the enemy of our soul tends to use it to destroy leaders and ministries along with them with applause and unchecked ministries.
And the subtly of it all is what is even more worrisome. In this case, demise does not come with the trumpets of war nor does it come with the backbiting of jealous church members. Here, unfortunately, it comes with ingratiation, adulation, unquestioned servitude, and worship of an earthly leader, especially a young one who is blind to these attacks.
Without discernment and direction from a more mature leadership structure and community that holds its own accountable will have leaders who are susceptible to all forms of erroneous efforts that lead to their ultimate and usually public demise.
“Effective transition becomes relevant and effective only if it is influenced or instructed by the word.”
Pastor Rohan explains that the transition of power in the body of Christ is only effective when directed by the word of God.
We can compare the historical figure John the Baptist with King Herod when it came to passing the baton of power. John wanted nothing more than to shrink into anonymity so that Jesus could flourish whereas Herod wanted more glory and more fame. John fulfilled his ministerial duties by being the voice of one calling in the desert, calling the world to repentance, to change, pointing to the Messiah, whereas Herod wanted nothing more than to continue in his sins, ensuring infanticide was part of his legacy on earth. John the Baptist died as a hero whereas Herod died as a child-murdering coward.
When we follow the rules of engagement, per se, of God’s word we follow a rule that is passed on to us as divine and pure thus giving us stable ground to stand upon when selecting the next leader and group for a ministry.
Dismissing God’s word places people of ill repute and wanton desires over God’s people and we cannot allow this to happen.
“Your purpose must begin in the Scriptures and not on an opinion or thought. Your opinion will change based upon your circumstance and environment, but when your purpose is built on the Word it cannot be shaken.”
This last principle is self-explanatory.
Our purpose must be biblically sound otherwise it will be subject to change at the slightest change of wind. If our life is not structurally grounded on the biblical person of Jesus Christ then our faith and life will unravel at the first sight of danger, of loss, of pain, of questioning and inquisition because nothing else in this universe is capable of withstanding such a barrage from life other than Jesus and His promises to the faithful through Scripture.
Brothers and sisters,
We must be reminded, constantly so, that purpose outside of Christ is not purpose but folly. If our purpose is found in our career and we lose the ability to fulfill ourselves there we will go without purpose. If our purpose is found in our intellect and we find ourselves constantly wanting in that area we will become cynics and a purposeless people. If our purpose is found in a spouse and we go without one then our life will have little to no meaning at all.
But once we find or perhaps, once we are found by the grace of God in Christ Jesus there can be no agent or entity strong enough to remove our purpose in life.
I pray you receive this grace, this salvation, this innovation, this reinvigorating, life transforming, soul saving, purpose inducing grace of God without tarrying.
Because if you do you will never lack purpose in life again.