2019: Exponential Reloaded;
Much Deeper, Much Further, Much Wider….Because We are Made for More.
A woman bought a parrot in a pet store. She wanted companionship, someone to talk with. The next day she brought the parrot back and said, “He won’t talk.” The store manager asked, “Does he have a mirror in his cage? Parrots love mirrors.” She bought a mirror and left. The next day she came back and said, “The bird is still not talking.”
“How about a ladder? Parrots love ladders. When he is happy he will talk.” She bought a ladder and left. The next day she was back complaining that even with the mirror and ladder the bird was not talking. The manager said, “I know what you need, the bird wants a swing. He’ll be happy when he has a swing and he’ll talk. She reluctantly bought a swing and left.
Sure enough, the next day she was back. She had a sad face. “The parrot died,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” the manager said, “please tell me did he ever say anything before he died?”
The woman replied, “Yes, in a weak voice he asked me, ‘Don’t they sell any food at that pet store?”
A New Year is here again, for many it offers an opportunity for a new start, new hopes and dreams. At least for many of our kids, it’s probably a new school, a new curriculum, a new class room and teacher. For most of us this New Year offers us more an opportunity for better than New. A determination for better. Resolutions are being written, revised or trashed. We are open and expectant of change for better things. (What are you excited about this year?)
For our country, I have heard from a business man that this year is promising with great business and developments especially following the much talked about ‘Hand shake’. At personal level, – Expectations are high, you have made plans, declarations and you are hopeful. As a church we are also trusting God for Exponential growth.
But like the woman, it is easy to forget the main thing. Among these many expectations and desires calling to our attention, we can easily be lost in our priorities. It is time to re calibrate, to press refresh or altogether restart.
The rat race has begun. Nairobi will shortly be full of traffic and congestion. The hustle and bustle for conveniences, money, power, business, fame among others will set in. There will be the unexpected- unplanned, deaths, pregnancies, calamities, diseases among others.
But as Christians, We must not get lost in our compass for living. What should be our urgent and pressing priority? What kind of foundation should we lay for our lives this year? I state it here that – the greatest and most urgent priority is to Know God and to make Him Known.
My Thesis simply is taken from Mathew 6:33- Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you as well.
So before we open our books, To do lists, budgets, calendars and notebooks; for us it is time to get back to the compass of our lives. It is a season to wait on God and get our foundations strong.
Before we embrace what life will bring our way, we need the assurance, strength and peace of God in the knowing that God is the ultimate owner and source all wisdom, resources, opportunities, potential, ability, time, power and essentially LIFE and that He has a plan bigger than you have for yourself.
In seeking God first, We shift focus off ourselves and what we want this year and shift our focus on God, by asking what is God’s concern for me this year.
In a sense every opportunity, decision, or challenge or victory that you will face this year, will beg the answer to this question, what do you believe? What is your LIFE Conviction? By the end of this year, I can assure you that you would have thought or answered this question with words or thoughts like these:
- Oh my God, Thank you God, Does God exist, Please, please God
- Ok God, now what!, Oh God am so sorry!, Anytime soon God!, Oh God, that’s not fare
LIFE Convictions – speaks of those things of that don’t move in our lives – those things that don’t break on us – rather. We break on them. These are the foundations under our feet, our roots, our stabilizing patterns, and organic places in which life can grow.
While there are many prayers to make, for prosperity and growth- Paul Makes a unique prayer for the churches emphasized differently in the epistles. See Eph 1: 15-19, Philippian 1:9-11, And our focus today in Colossians 1: 3-18
Let’s seek to understand the emphasis of these prayers here. Vs 3-6
He begins by Thanking God for the saints for two reasons- their faith in God and Love for one another. This faith and Love spring or are birthed from the Gospel- The word of truth. This is commendable before God, A churches true character is seen in these two qualities- Faith in God and Love for one another.
The source of Faith and Love is from the gospel of Jesus. The Gospel is the source of the life of the church. The gospel yields these two fruits in the church. If the gospel is not central to the life of the church we cannot expect Faith in God and Love for one another.
As a church this year, we must remain true and steadfast to the gospel. It is easy to begin to drift from the gospel especially if you have been born again for many years. It is easy to slide back to salvation by works and not by grace. Our salvation can be a box we ticked many years ago, that now seems to have lost it’s relevance, we are back to operating like people of the world, who seem to have an expired ‘Gospel’.
The gospel is not about success, feel better remedies, or having a positive attitude. We must be careful to bring the gospel as it is. We must be true not just to preach what itching ears want to hear, no matter how we may feel for the need of prosperity or to be seen successful, but the true gospel, that apart from Jesus there is no LIFE. He is the only way to the father. The power of God for the Salvation of mankind. This is our all year round, message.
We must refresh our knowledge and experience of the Gospel. Be bold as Christian witnesses, times are changing but the gospel is not. Whichever way you present it
Pauls Earnest Prayer: Vs 9-14 and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
- Knowing God’s will is every Christian’s pursuit, in knowing God, we know His will, His intentions for our lives. Knowing God is the greatest Pursuit in Life. I Propose to you that Knowing God is His First Concern for you this Year.
More than anything, or plan or school, or book , or course or anything to know- Give your mind first to Knowing God. Invest your Life to knowing Him. Not just from other’s experience but at a very personal level.
We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing the God whose this world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place and life- disappointing for those who do not know God.
This knowledge of God is not just theoretical, but a practical concern, Like the psalmist in 119- Our supreme desire should be to know God himself understand him so that our lives may respond to Him and be conformed to His Likeness.
- We know God through “spiritual wisdom and understanding” . For many life can happen to us, but for a Christian- we live intentionally discerning everything happening around us through spiritual wisdom and understanding. This is how we must interpret times, events and seasons. What is happening here is physical, but we must always stay tuned to see what is happening spiritually.
- We do this by applying ourselves in God’s Word- Which is the Truth. While many things will happen and will be said, our anchoring interpretation is drawn from the Truth of God in His Word. God’s word both in his actions in history (rhema) and written word cannot be ignored if we are to know God. We may read about God in other stories or from others but our own knowledge of God’s word cannot be excused. It is of utmost importance to study God’s word as a Christian in Knowing His will is the greatest pursuit.
This year, May the Lord awaken your hunger for His true word. May he awaken your passion to seek him in prayer and study of His word.
The Result: (of knowing God and His will) Vs 10-12
A life worthy Unto the Lord… (what does this mean)Bearing fruit in every good work– In bearing fruit we please God. God values success and productivity.
John 15:5. Again the emphasis is our connection with God. Our success this year does not lie in the kind of business we choose, or degree or level of success, but in remaining in Him. Fruit that is outside of Him, does not last. This year may the Lord give you fruit as you remain in Him- What kind of fruit- Gal 5:22- May all that you do this year yield..Love, joy, peace, kindness, patience,
Increasing in the Knowledge of God– God is pleased in our growing knowledge of Him. We should thus give effort to the things that grow our knowledge of Him. Invest and spend time in bible study, prayer, books that increase our knowledge of Him
Being strengthened according to his power, through patience and long-suffering. God is pleased when we remain firm in our faith through temptations.
Though Had times will come this year, this is a life worthy of the Lord- When we remain firm in our faith in Him. May God strengthen you according to His power to withstand trials and temptations that may come your way this year, corruption, sexual immorality, giving up.
Joyfully giving thanks to God for what He is doing: God is pleased when our lives are constantly being poured to Him in thanksgiving. God is displeased by complaints and disgruntlement or discontentment but is pleased with a heart overflowing with thanksgiving. May your year be filled with thanksgiving and praise as you face everyday of your life. Remember it takes the hand of God. May His praise be continuously on your lips as you face this year.
In summary What does it mean to seek the Lord FIRST- Let me give you a simple understanding through the Acronym FIRST.
F- Let the Lord be your Focus. Whatever you do FIX your eyes on Jesus. Guard against being enticed away from your focus. A good practice every day is to look up. Look to the Lord. Those clouds will tell you, that the earth has a master and He is coming back very soon.
I- nvestment. Before you go about seeking money ask yourself where your treasure is first. Invest your money and resources first in the Kingdom. Like a wise farmer, before you plant- look up to the God who brings the rain. Before you transact Look up- remember that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it- for his glory.
R-elationships. There are 2 kinds of relationships that should be a priority to you. Those who are close to me because they bring me closer to God and those I am close to because I am bringing them closer to God. This should be your criteria for relationships this year.
S-Security: Look to God first to preserve you. God is not your last minute option during emergencies. Invest in your eternal security not just your earthly security. As you go in LIFE, Always live open to this question – Am I ready to meet Jesus? (Whether if I die or if he returns), This should be your assurance.
T- Look to God, Seek God with your Time. Seek to Spend time with God. Remember you are running on God’s time and not vice versa. Every strong relationship takes intentional time to build. Don’t expect to be strong in your faith if you are not spending time with the Lord.
I conclude with the example of God’s Priority in Christ. Vs 15-20
Here God gives us an example of how he has centered everything in creation on Christ being the first in everything. We too should desire that in everything Christ is first and has the supremacy.
It is for this Reason, that we traditionally begin our year with a season of prayer and fasting. We are inviting you to a season of seeking God in prayer and in the word very intentionally this year. Biblical fasting has nothing to do with losing weight or resetting the chemistry of our bodies, while those things may happen, Biblical fasting is all about God. We turn away from the good and legitimate things for a season in order to hunger and thirst for God. We long for God to satisfy us their place.