Month: December, 2011

NEW YEAR’S EVE MESSAGE 31st DECEMBER, 2011.

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF GHANA,

EMMANUEL CONGREGATION AMSTERDAM

NEW YEAR’S EVE MESSAGE  31st DECEMBER, 2011.

THEME: YOU HAVE DWELT TOO LONG BY THIS MOUNTAIN

Text: Deuteronomy 1: 6-8; 2:2, 13, 24-25, 31-37
Deuteronomy is from two Greek words: deuteros  – meaning second ; and nomos – law. Deuteronomy is therefore the revision of the law – second law.
The book gives an account of how Moses reviewed the laws once more for Israel as the time for his death drew near.
Moses was about to  die and Israel was about to cross the Jordan to face all the challenging situations and to take possession of their possession.
Deuteronomy was therefore an opportunity for  Israel to review her covenant relationship with the Lord.
Tonight, we stand at the threshold of the New Year. The “old year” is almost past. It will soon be referred to as the “past year”.  Let us take a stock of how the year 2011 went with us and strategize for the coming year by making the needed adjustments and resolutions..
Let us consider the following things as we do this :
Chap. 1: 6 You have stayed long enough at this mountain, Break Camp and Advance.
There are three things to note here:
Staying too long by a mountain
Breaking Camp
Advancing

YOU HAVE STAYED LONG ENOUGH AT THIS MOUNTAIN.
Israel had come to Mt Horeb and for a long time, had failed to advance. God therefore charged them,  “you have dwelt long enough at this mountain….”
Mountains can stand for challenging situations in life as well as glorious ones.
In the case of Israel, however, the mountain had become a real challenge and a stumbling block.
A mountain of complacency
A mountain of disobedience
A mountain of self-rejection/defeat
A mountain hopelessness
Etc.
It was necessary for Moses to tell them “enough is enough”
You may have come to a mountain in your life as we bid good bye to 2011.
Mt of complacency
Mt of disobedience
Mt of challenging and difficult situation(s)
Maybe challenges in your marriage
Challenges in your health
Challenges in your job place
Challenges with finding a life –partner or getting a baby
Your mountain could be some success or an outstanding feat in the past year which is making you think that you have achieved something and need to be proud about it or boast with it.
Whatever your mountain may be, you need to be told tonight that “you have dwelt long enough at this mountain”
Break Camp
When Israel broke camp, there were tough decisions they had to take and important moves they had to make.
You need to break camp tonight:
Break from the camp of defeat, complacency, impossibilities, and other challenging situations.
Break the camp of diseases and poverty
Break the camp of numerous complaints
Break the camp of bad marriage
Break the camp of lack of parental control.
Break the camp of sexual immoralities
Break the camp of alcoholism
Advance
We are not just being challenged to break camp but also to advance.
When Israel advanced, they crossed the Jordan, fought the Amorites and took possession of their possession.
I challenge you tonight to get ready and ADVANCE
Advance and take possession………………1:8
You have been going in circles (going round the mountain) Turn now and advance!!! 2:3
Cross the Arnon Gorge …..2:24
I have begun to give it to you begin to take possess……2:31
Advance into good health
Advance into your well-being
Advance into your success
Advance into taking possession of your life partner, your pregnancy
Advance into a total committed  unto God.

SERMON NOTES FOR SUNDAY 25TH DECEMBER, 2011: CHRISTMAS DAY.

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF GHANA
EMMANUEL CONGREGATION AMSTERDAM
SERMON NOTES FOR SUNDAY 25TH DECEMBER, 2011: CHRISTMAS DAY.

Theme:  Peace
Bible Readings
Isaiah 9:2-7
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14
The two territories mentioned in our first reading, Zebulun and Naphtali, were two places of the region of Galilee in the northern kingdom – Israel. It was referred to as “the Galilee of the Gentiles” because of the large presence of gentiles living within and around this region at the time, maybe because of the fact that they lived by the Sea of Galilee as well as along the Mediterranean Sea and therefore the possibility of gentiles dominating the area to participate in the fishing industry and other commercial ventures noted for areas closer to seaports could be high. The geographical position they occupied rendered them liable to constant enemy skirmishes – surrounded by several gentiles nations. Therefore, they came to be seen as the region of darkness and its people seen as people walking in darkness. They were a people who lived in the land of the shadow of  death for constant warfare brought them to danger and death.

However, the Prophet Isaiah says they had seen a great light – a light had dawned for them. Isaiah foresaw that a king would be born to David’s line who would be a deliverer for this troubled region. In the midst of the hopelessness of the regions of Zebulon and Naphtali, there would be hope and peace. Matthew quoted this passage in reference to Jesus when after His temptation on the wilderness, He entered this region to begin His ministry (cf. Matt. 4:15).

Like the people of Zebulun and Naphtali, the world we live in today is full of darkness as well. One hopeless situation after another springs up each passing day and our televisions and newspapers bear witness to this fact. There is so much darkness and serious life-threatening situations are all around us in our world today that the need for PEACE is a crucial point. It is therefore, very appropriate that the theme we are reflecting on this Christmas day is PEACE. We shall reflect on 5 reasons why we need peace today.

There is no peace in the world today because there are several hustles and bustles in life:
At the time of the birth of Christ, a decree had gone that all should go to their hometowns for them to be counted.  Everyone was on the move and Joseph and Mary had to be on the move as well. The decree did affect them also. Of course, when the size of the population was known, the government would know how much revenue would be generated.

It is worthy of note that, while some translations use “census” and “enroll” for the order of Augustus, the KJV uses “taxed”.
Christ was born when the government of the day had laid a heavy “tax” on the people to be enrolled in order to tax them further.

The Christian suffers today from so many “taxes” that governments, families, the kingdom of darkness as well as other circumstances lay on us.
You may be suffering from one form of situation or the other that is seriously taking a “toll” on you or “taxing” you and sapping your energy.

There is however, good news for you: Today, in the town of David, the Saviour has been born.
We need peace because we live in world that has no place for Jesus Christ – no place in the inn.
It was a miserable thing that the Creator Himself had no better place to be born. Indeed, our world wants to kick against God so that they would have the chance to rule their own lives. However, we end up hurting ourselves and ruining our own lives when we kick God out of our schedule or our programme.

Where have you placed God in your life?
Is Christ comfortable enough at the corner where you have pushed Him into?
Isn’t there the need to do some adjustments in your relationships especially as regards the place occupied by Christ in your life?

We need peace because we live in a world that marginalizes against us and treat as poor and needy shepherds:
When Christ was born, there were shepherds keeping their flock by night in the lonely wilderness to whom the angelic announcement went that the Saviour had been born. The shepherds had no happiness. They had no opportunity to be part of the social things that went on. They had no friends. They would spend several cold sleepless nights thinking about and taking care of their sheep. To such people, marginalized by societal system and/or laws, the Good News was first announced: Christ is Born!!!

Several people have been marginalized in today’s world.
We may find our lives in the margins
We may have been cast aside by society
We may be feeling lonely and miserable on your cold bed
You may have the need of reliable people you can call friends here in Amsterdam.

Your job or life in general may be taking too much toll on you such that you often find yourself at the fringes or the margins of life
There is good news for you however: A Saviour has been born
We need peace because the world is full of terrifying things:

The angels told the shepherds not be to be afraid because they had become terrified. However, the very presence that was to be their source of blessing and rejoicing was the very thing they were terrified about.
We need to note that the shepherds were busily fulfilling the responsibilities of their profession – keeping watch over their flock by night – when the angelic host surrounded them with the Good Tidings.

Sometimes, we are surrounded by angelic host, yet we are terrified about what is going to happen to us.
The message of Christmas encourages us to be occupied with the responsibilities that we have as workers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, friends, etc. for as we do so, we would be surrounded by the presence of the glory of God which will shine around us, and God’s voice will come to us cheering us saying ”Do not be afraid”

Therefore, let us not be afraid if we are doing our jobs as parents, workers, spouses, etc.  The presence of God is with us and we will soon see His glory shining all around us.
But we will have this peace in our world today if only we would seek the glory of God in all we do.

Let us note that there was to be peace on Earth for humankind only if there is glory to God in the highest.
Indeed, there will be peace on earth and in our lives if and only if we will let God be glorified in our daily lives.

Let us bear in mind that the peace that God gives is available only to those who please God in their lives. “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:14
Beloved, there would be peace in your life if you would take the admonition that Paul gives to Titus which we read in the second reading in Titus 2:12-13 very seriously.: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,  instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,  13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”

May you experience the Peace of God in your life this Christmas!
Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year to you all!!!

SERMON NOTES FOR SUNDAY 18 DECEMBER, 2011

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF GHANA
EMMANUEL CONGREGATION AMSTERDAM
SERMON NOTES FOR SUNDAY 18 DECEMBER, 2011

Theme:  Joseph: Human and God in Action
Readings:
Isaiah 7:10-16
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-25

The birth of a saviour for Israel had been foretold and was something expected by all Jews.  Several prophecies had been given regarding this great event.  Example is what we read from Isaiah about the Son who would be born and whose name would be Emmanuel – God is with us. Indeed, the coming of Jesus Christ into human form to live among human beings is one big indication of the fact that God is with us.

God’s time came for Him to fulfill the promise He had made to send a Saviour to His people Israel. However, when time came for God to move to fulfill His eternal plan for all humanity, He needed some human instruments to use. We find two people in our gospel reading who were ready to co-operate with God fully to bring about what He had planned for the entire human race. These two people are Mary and Joseph. Even though there are several nice things we could say about the sacrifices Mary made in her life as well as the inconveniences she had to go through to enable God bring about His purpose for humanity, we want to turn our lens on Joseph and see how he co-operated with God in order to bring God’s purpose into fruition. I therefore want to share four truths with you in this sermon in connection with our theme “Joseph: Human and God in Action”. The question is how did Joseph co-operate to make God’s action succeed?

Joseph was a Righteous Man vv. 19-20
He was considerate.
He was not ready to disgrace Mary or endanger her life (she could be stoned to death if it was made public that she had committed adultery : See Deut. 22;23-24)

He weighed his actions [PHB 603 Asem bi ara a meka no, ade biara a meye……]
Joseph Related cordially with God v. 20-21
An angel of God could go to him
He could discern an angel’s voice from that of the devil or his own voice

God could reveal His plan and programme to him v. 21
Joseph was Responsive to God
He obeyed God fully v. 24
He acted with dispatch/promptly v. 24
Joseph Restrained himself when necessary
He  was ready to wait for the marriage rites to be fully done before having any sexual affair with Mary v. 18

He was willing to wait till Mary had given birth before having any sexual affairs with her v. 25.
As we ponder over these qualities about Joseph which helped bring God’s purpose for the whole human race into fruition, we need to ask ourselves where we have to co-operate with God to bring glory to His name.

Where does God need our co-operation to build relationships that will lead to a greater glory to His name?
Where have we selfishly broken relationships thereby terminating a possible miracle God was about to work in your life or the other person’s life?

Where do you have to look beyond your parochial interests and concentrate on the wider picture to enable God fulfill His purpose in the life of this congregation?
Where do you have to co-operate with God this Christmas for God work out His purpose in you?

Are you ready to co-operate with God?
Paul stresses that the purpose of the gospel that we preach is to make us Obedient to Christ
Romans 1: 6-7

SERMON NOTES FOR SUNDAY 4TH DECEMBER, 2011

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF GHANA
EMMANUEL CONGREGATION AMSTERDAM
SERMON NOTES FOR SUNDAY 4TH DECEMBER, 2011
Theme: Prepare for the Lord.
Bible Readings:
Isaiah 11:1-10
Romans 15:4-13
Matthew 3:1-12
Beloved, we all know that when we are expecting an important visitor, there is one thing we would always want to ensure – proper and adequate preparations. Unfortunately, sometimes when we have gone to every length to make all the preparations in anticipation of the visitor, we are disappointed that he/she does not turn up at all.

Once again, Advent is here and today is the 2nd Sunday in Advent. Advent simply means “arrival” or “ coming”. Advent on the Christian calendar is a period of time when the church is expecting or waiting for the birth/incarnation of Christ. Advent is the time of expectation of the Church’s Messiah. The time when God enters into human situation and condition to restore fallen humanity back unto Himself. There are three Sundays more to this Event – the Advent of the Saviour of the world to redeem humankind. The time is therefore, near. Christ’s coming into human history to bring redemption and restoration is here. It is appropriate that our theme calls on us today to get ready or PREPARE for this Event. The theme therefore is “Prepare for the Lord”.

The passage read from Isaiah in the first reading talked about a shoot that was to come up from the stump of Jesse, and from the roots of which there was going to be a Branch that was to bear fruit.
According to Isaiah, although Judah would be cut down like a tree, a stump would be left standing and out of this stamp would spring a NEW SHOOT.  A shoot would spring up from this stump whose toots will grow into a BRANCH which would be able to bear fruit.  Indeed, the line of David – Jesse’s son – would suffer serious challenges of wars, defeat, destruction and deportations. The people of Judah would be ravaged and go into exile, but that would not be the end of the story. A Messiah will come to deliver them. Yes, Judah’s fortunes would go through a period of gloom and hopelessness like a tree that has been cut.  However, out of this hopeless gloomy situation – stump – would spring up a shoot, a branch that would bear fruit.  Even if the tree is cut with only a stump left standing, its fortunes would be restored again. Even if there only the roots that are left of the tree, a branch can spring forth out of it that will eventually bear fruit.

The message Isaiah was preaching therefore, was a message of hope. There was hope for the future for the people of God.  However, that was possible only after a period of trial – judgment. The nation would be judged with all her fortunes cut off like a tree, but hope will come alive when God enters into their history to restore them and their nation back unto Himself.

This was speaking about the coming of the Messiah from the line of David to restore hope and vitality to the people of Judah once again. This prophecy therefore, finds ultimate fulfilment in the coming of the Messiah – the Christ at Christmas.

Beloved, it didn’t matter that the tree had been cut and possibly destroyed. It didn’t matter that maybe the tree had been left to rot. There was still its stump left standing which had the capacity to bring forth a shoot which would have the capacity to bear fruit.

This is precisely the message of Christmas. Out of our numerous hopeless situations in which we find ourselves as a people, the Messiah comes to us at Christmas. When human beings sinned in the Garden of Eden, they were driven out into the outer gloom, dejection and hopelessness found outside the garden. Even inside the garden when they sinned, they immediately became needy people – they needed clothes but since they couldn’t find any, they covered their nakedness with leaves. However, even though God had cast them out of His Garden, He had not crossed them out of His agenda and out of His gracious provision. He provided for their need and what He gave was far better and more lasting than what they could provide for themselves. This is the message we preach to you at Christmas. At Christmas, God comes to us His erring children and provides for our need. Yes, it is true we have sinned and been disobedient to God, but Christ comes to us at Christmas to restore us back to God and restore our fortunes. Maybe like a flourishing tree, you have been cut due to disobedience and living unto yourself, but Christ comes to restore your vitality so even out of your stump and out of your roots, a vibrant fruit-bearing tree will spring up.

Yes, God is coming into our human situations and challenges at this Christmas in His Son Jesus Christ and we need to make adequate preparations for this important event. Therefore, as we reflect on the theme for the day based on the readings read for us, let us note  these four things:

We need to Prepare A PLACE in our lives for the Lord
Prepare the way to your house well for the Lord – fill the potholes (cp. Isaiah 40:3-5)
Make straight paths for the Lord: Give the correct address and contact information that will the Lord come to you.

People travel to their people at Christmas. Can Christ spend the Christmas with you? Would you have a place and the time in your life for Him?
We need to Prepare A VOICE to speak with and for the Lord
Prepare to be a lonely voice for the Lord:

calling sin by its proper name
condemning sin when you need to
Calling people to repent from their sins without fear of favour:
Remember nobody wants to be confronted with his or her sin/evil deeds
John the Baptist, just like Isaiah, preached against sin and told people in their face to repent.

This is an unjust world that we live in
Righteousness is pushed to the background today
Self-centeredness rules our world today
Voices like Isaiah and John the Baptist are needed today.
Note: Justice Is One Thing Everybody Wants It But Nobody Wants To Give It!!!

That is the more reason why we all need Jesus. He alone is the one who judges not according to what He sees, or by what He hears BUT with righteousness He will judge     the needy with Justice. Na ode asemtrenee adi ama asase so amanehunufo  ( Isaiah 11:4) The entire human race needs Christ to intervene in the affairs of our unjust world to administer justice.

Prepare to be a queer voice for the Lord
An  unpleasant lifestyle – desert lifestyle
A life of self-denial – leaving behind the rich foods of the city; scanty clothing which may not always be suitable for the desert weather.

A life of self-sacrifice – lonely nights on the desert; life away from the people – friends and loved ones; the pleasures and pleasantries of life etc. John the Baptist left all these behind if by so doing he could fulfil his calling

Living for God can be queer sometimes.
We need to Prepare for THE JUDGMENT that the Lord brings
Judgment for being a BAD TREE producing bad fruit v.10
You should be ready for
The axe that is already under your roots

The fire that you would be thrown into
Judgment for being A CHAFF which is good for nothing
Chaff messes the whole place
Chaff hides/covers the beauty of the good grain
Chaff cannot stand the WIND that blows around it

Chaff will therefore be winnowed out
Chaff would be burnt in the unquenchable fire: chaff can take a long time in burning.
Judgment for not being true people of God but NHURUTUA MMA – Brood of vipers. The people of Israel together with their religious leaders had become snakes biting one another.

As I reflect on why John the Baptist would use the viper (a most dangerous and poisonous snake to describe the Jewish people who were running to him for baptism, I thought of these characteristics of the viper:
Akekakeka, ahunahuna, adesee, nyaatwom, ahantan (can’t step on it)

The snake bites and doesn’t say I am sorry
The snake does not allow you to explain why you stepped on it – it doesn’t allow you to defend yourself but goes ahead and bites you to death.
The is not always visible

The snake can destroy you completely.
What way are we living our lives in this church as Nhurutua Mma?
Whom have you bitten already?
Whom are you going to kill next?
We need to Prepare  A HARVEST that we would give to the Lord’s for His Barn when He comes

Good fruit  is the wheat which is fit for the Lord’s Barn
The Assyrians may have reduced you into a Stump but God says from this stump a shoot will spring up and Branch will grow from the roots to bear fruit.
You can experience the abundance of God again

Life can spring back for you again
It is not over yet because all is not over
Indeed, the stump shall produce a shoot. Even the roots shall produce a fruitful Branch!
Conclusion:
Beloved, Will you let God work this miracle in you and let a shoot spring forth from you this Christmas Or You will let the axe fall And be burnt as CHAFF at the coming of the Son of God this Christmas?

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