This weekend our sermon comes from Rev. Kelcy Steele, member of World Methodist Evangelism‘s Order of the Flame. This sermon remains relevant since it was originally proclaimed in 2014.
Note from the Editor: Enjoy this biblically informed perspective on Christian participation and civic responsibility from Rev. Kelcy Steele, Senior Pastor of historic Varick Memorial AME Zion church.
After this, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.” When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him. Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?” They answered, “No.” He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.” They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!” – John 21:1-7
Prior to Jesus’ resurrection, he had told his disciples that he would meet them at an appointed place in Galilee after he got up! But due to the disciples’ unbelief and their fears, they had remained in Jerusalem.
Because my Christian Brothers and Sisters, fear will always minimize faith. You can’t conquer something that you are scared to face.
And some of you think you have had a bad week, but these disciples had a week of hell! From Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, from them jockeying for positions with high hopes for high places in Christ’s kingdom; from them fighting over who would sit on the right hand and who would sit on the left hand – why must we have politics in the Kingdom? These disciples went through hell week! It shouldn’t matter where you are seated just as long as the Savior is present!
This was hell week. From a supper with Jesus that proved to be his last supper, to his friend Judas who flipped on him, surprised in Gethsemane by men with torches and weapons who had come to arrest them, this was hell week! The disciples had tucked tail and run; Jesus surrendered without a fight; Peter denied him three times; they crucified Jesus on a cross like a common criminal, then buried him in a borrowed tomb.
But three days later the undertaker had to issue a refund because Jesus got up with all power in his hand!
What was the crew supposed to do now? After a week of hell they did as they were told and returned to Galilee. But as they waited there, they remained unsure, confused. So they did what they knew how to do best—they went back fishing.
To catch good fish isn’t easy. Anybody can grab a pole and some bait and try. But do you have the character of a good fisherman? The Bible says that the disciples’ nets were empty. When daybreak arrived, they were tired, they were hungry, and they were frustrated.
It did not help that a voice called to them from the lake.
And I don’t know about you, but I thank God for Jesus’ voice!
In verse four we read, “just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”
Has anybody ever felt unproductive, frustrated, and on the brink of failure and all of a sudden you were surprised by Jesus? Jesus called out to the disciples, asking about their catch (they were only about a hundred yards out), only to receive the answer that they had caught nothing.
What do you do when you catch nothing? You keep on fishing until Jesus shows up!
He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. Y’all missed your shout! Peter and the other disciples were fishing on the sea, catching nothing.
Jesus showed up and Jesus gave a command to go out into the deep water.
Peter followed Jesus’ orders. When they obeyed, a miracle occurred! When Peter saw the miracle, “he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’”
And I’m like Peter this morning! Let’s go fishing!
Because Peter and his crew were experienced fisherman. In the Word, Jesus chooses fishing as his metaphor to capture the essence of the discipleship process.
It’s alright to be a Christian, but have you been discipled? It’s alright to come to church, but are you in the process? Because my brothers and sisters there is a difference between membership and discipleship. The membership is made up of church goers – those in the church – but discipleship is about those who are in the Word!
Discipleship is about a way of life; membership is more event-based religion. My relationship with God isn’t an event, it’s my lifestyle! The membership is more influenced by culture; but disciples are more influenced by the Kingdom of God. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added”!
The membership is more connected to God by ritual and the institution; disciples are more connected to God by a relationship. And you should never put your rituals above your relationship with God! Our main objective for coming to church should be to get closer to him!
The membership is content with maintenance, but disciples are driven by mission and the great commission. Go ye therefore and invite people to church and to Jesus! You should never come to church by yourself.
The membership looks to develop programs; disciples look to develop ministries. The membership considers themselves owners of material possessions; disciples consider themselves stewards of material possessions and don’t mind giving their offering, tithes, talent, and time for the advancement of the Kingdom.
The membership is content to give according to their own standard; disciples are committed to the tithe and give at all times and refuse to allow there to be a deficit in God’s house.
The membership stops with Jesus as Savior; disciples follow Jesus as Lord. The membership is Sunday-only Christians; disciples are lifestyle Christians.
Are you a member or are you a disciple?!
Because when calling Peter, James, John, and Andrew, Jesus says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus challenged these men, especially that thug Peter, because it doesn’t matter where you came from, it’s about where you’re going and who you’re following. Jesus called them from fishing for fish to fishing for men. Because if you are going to produce anything in this season you have to know the difference between your calling and your assignment!
We all have been called to follow Jesus. God has given all of us a mission and an assignment in this world. You’re not here to just take up space; you’re not here to just strive after your own personal goals. You are not here because your momma met your daddy. You have been called!
But there is a difference between your calling and your assignment!
Your assignment is a task or a duty to which you are appointed. Trustee, steward, choir member, musician, minister, usher, missionary, class leader, helper, volunteer are all assignments.
Your calling doesn’t change but your assignment will change; some of the things you are doing right now will probably look different in ten years. You are called to more than being a pew warmer! And you want to be satisfied in Jesus until you find your assignment!
How do you know what God has assigned for you to do?
God will give you a passion for it and God will give you the tools you need to accomplish it. God wants you to win; is there anybody up in here who wants to win? Because when you win, we win!
Verse three declares that Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” Then they said to him, “We will go with you.” Having returned to Galilee, the disciples did not know what to do next, so it was natural for some of them to return to their occupation. They went back fishing!
Simon, Andrew, and James and John (the sons of Zebedee) are now on their men’s ministry fishing trip. Please understand that fishing is serious business! By the way, it is interesting that at least seven of the 12 disciples were probably fishermen.
And I have a question for the text and I know you’ve been wondering the same thing.
Why did Jesus call so many fishermen to follow him? For one thing, fishermen are courageous, and Jesus needs brave people to follow him. Fishermen are dedicated to one thing and cannot easily be distracted. Fishermen do not quit! They know how to take orders, and they know how to work together.
No wonder Jesus called fishermen, because if you are not busy in your secular job chances are you will be lazy working in the Kingdom. And in order to catch some fish you have to understand the characteristics of a good fisherman. They all had experience fishing!
But I’ve discovered that just because you have experience doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the right characteristics. Because a lot of us have been around the church a long time and we still have empty nets!
Jesus is looking for some courageous, brave, dedicated, determined, and teachable people who don’t mind putting in a good days’ work. Ask your neighbor: have you caught anything yet?
We have titles but empty nets.
We have position but empty nets.
You are talented but you haven’t been tamed: empty nets.
You are gifted – with ugly wrapping: empty nets.
It’s not how much you know, it’s not about how smart you are, it’s not about how many degrees you have, it’s not about how long you’ve been here, it’s not about how old you are.
Are you catching anything? That’s experience. But God is looking for some people who have character. And if you are planning to catch something in this season you have to ask the Lord to work on your patience, persistence, and determination.
And a lot of us come to the lake every Sunday to fish! Tired, and stressed out, quick to throw in the towel, always going off on people, wearing your emotions on your sleeve and flying off the deep end when somebody looks at you wrong,
Why are you always in a hurry? You are too blessed to be a busy body. Sometimes you have to slow down, calm down, and tone down and ask the Lord to work on your patience.
You have to praise while you’re in process. You have to worship while you wait!
Because we live in a world where things are changing rapidly. And we want instant gratification. For many of us, we want what we want when we want it. But I don’t want a shake and bake blessing! I want a crockpot blessing – I want something that God has given time to marinate. Because if you get it quick, you can lose it quick. You have to have some patience!
That’s why I have to remind myself of Isaiah 40:31:
But they that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Patient people enjoy better mental health! And if I were you, before I go fishing, make sure you are right before you mess up somebody else. And I would refuse to allow people to drive me crazy! And instead of cussing people out and running them down, just take a few minutes and slow down, calm down, and tone down.
And say your little prayer and turn them over to the Lord, because God can handle them better than you can!
You don’t have to blast them on social media—pray about it!
You don’t have to talk about them behind their backs—pray about it!
You don’t have to lose your temper when they are not even worth it—pray about it!
You can’t catch anything if you don’t have patience!
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” And they said to him, “We will go with you.” Fishing is serious business. Anybody can go fishing, but you have to have some character to catch some fish!
You have to know what you are working with. And if you are planning to catch something in this season you have to have the right equipment – the Word of God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.”
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
“Yes, the grass withers and flowers fade, but the word of our God endures forever.”
“The word of God is alive and active, the word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword.”
“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but your words will by no means pass away.”
And if you are planning to catch something in this season you have to have the right bait – Jesus! “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
JESUS: his love,
JESUS: his mercy,
JESUS: his peace and
JESUS: his joy!
The Hymn writer asks the question:
How to reach the masses, men of every birth,
For an answer, Jesus gave the key:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
Will draw all men unto Me.”
Lift Him up, lift Him up;
Still He speaks from eternity:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
Will draw all men unto Me.”
And if you are planning to catch something in this season you have to have the right attitude – the fruit of the Spirit!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
You can’t be nasty and negative.
You can’t be jealous and juvenile.
You can’t be critical and cynical.
You can’t be stingy and stuck up.
You can’t be sneaky and stubborn.
You have to have the right bait and the right attitude.
A good fisherman expects to catch fish!
Not running them away
Not looking down on them
Not talking about how short their shirt is
Not talking about how many tattoos they have
Not talking about how loud their praise is –
because you have to catch the fish before you can clean the fish.
A good fisherman has the right presentation – a spirit of grace. You are not arrogant but you understand that the only reason hell hasn’t sent for you is because of the grace of God!
It is God’s grace, his kindness, his undeserved favor that reached to us when everybody else gave up on us and counted us out, even when we were his enemies – he saved us.
It is his grace that covered our guilt with righteousness. It is his grace that keeps us. The Bible says, “for we were saved by grace,” through faith and kept by grace through faith.
It is his grace which brings us to the foot of the cross. We can’t brag, because all of us were like filthy rags in his sight. It is his grace that not only covers our failures, it transforms them into distinctive points of power and ministry.
My troubles are now my testimonies!
My messes are now my miracles!
My pain is now the fuel of my praise!
It is because of his grace that he gifts us, it is because of his grace that he has enabled us to experience the joy of service, the delight of laboring with Jesus as he builds his Church.
It is because of his grace that he puts resurrection power at our disposal, allowing us to persevere and prevail. It is because of his grace that he rewards us, even in our unworthiness.
It is because of his grace that he indwells in us, allowing us to experience the richness of moment-by-moment fellowship with the Spirit of the Lord.
It is because of his grace that he is returning for us, to transform us and allow us to experience the wonder of all he has prepared for us.
Thank God for his grace! And I stop by to tell you, keep on fishing! It’s that grace that we have to extend to other people.
You might be messed up—but grace.
You might be strung out—but grace.
You might have made mistakes—but grace.
You might have had some addictions – but grace.
“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” And I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t leave this place with empty nets! I’m going fishing!
And the Lord will provide!
Note from the Editor: The featured image for this sermon is “Plane-filling Motif with Fish and Bird” by M.C. Escher.
Enjoy our sermon this weekend from Order of the Flame member Rev. Kelcy Steele. The sermon starts at minute marker 54.
Moving from a smaller parish in Los Angeles to Varick Memorial AME Zion Church in New Haven, Connecticut, which has 2,000 active members, was a spiritual awakening for me, because Varick is a relevant ministry that believes in the anointed proclamation of the Word and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some people would call us Method-costal because we follow the Methodist polity, but if you take down the church sign and walk in on a typical Sunday you will be greeted by our praise and worship team. We have a high-spirited and high-energy worship experience.
We are still Methodist because John Wesley clearly believed that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were relevant for the church in any age. He defined them. He described them. He experienced them. He defended them.
Although Wesley never emphasized certain gifts such as predictive prophecy or tongues and their interpretation, he did regret their loss to Christians in general. In his sermon, The More Excellent Way, he writes, “The cause of this [decline of spiritual gifts following Constantine] was not, (as has been vulgarly supposed,) because there was no more occasion for them, because all the world was becoming Christians.”
I am a proud Methodist and I believe in all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and I believe that we must go back to our roots of Methodism and reunite the revival movement and recapture our passion of proclaiming the gospel with an anointed zeal.
Johnson Oatman, Jr. wrote the hymn Lift Him Up:
How to reach the masses, men of every birth,
For an answer, Jesus gave the key:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
Will draw all men unto Me.”
Lift Him up, lift Him up;
Still He speaks from eternity:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
Will draw all men unto Me.”
Because the world is hungry for the Living Bread,
Lift the Savior up for them to see;
Trust Him, and do not doubt the words that He said,
“I’ll draw all men unto Me.”
We need anointing. But many of us don’t really know what it is.
The origin of anointing was from a practice of shepherds. Lice and other insects would often get into the wool of sheep, and when they got near the sheep’s head, they could burrow into the sheep’s ears and kill the sheep. So, ancient shepherds poured oil on the sheep’s head. This made the wool slippery, making it impossible for insects to get near the sheep’s ears because the insects would slide off. From this, anointing became symbolic of blessing, protection, and empowerment.
The New Testament Greek words for “anoint” are chrio, which means “to smear or rub with oil” and, by implication, “to consecrate for office or religious service”; and aleipho, which means “to anoint.” In Bible times, people were anointed with oil to signify God’s blessing or call on that person’s life (Exodus 29:7; Exodus 40:9; 2 Kings 9:6; Ecclesiastes 9:8; James 5:14).
A person was anointed for a special purpose—to be a king, to be a prophet, to be a builder, etc. (There is nothing wrong with anointing a person with oil today. We just have to make sure that the purpose of anointing is in agreement with Scripture. Anointing should not be viewed as a “magic potion.” The oil itself does not have any power. It is only God who can anoint a person for a specific purpose. If we use oil, it is a symbol of what God is doing.)
Another meaning for the word anointed is “chosen one.” The Bible says that Jesus Christ was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit to spread the good news and free those who have been held captive by sin (Luke 4:18-19; Acts 10:38). After Christ left earth, he gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). Now all Christians are anointed, chosen for a specific purpose in furthering God’s Kingdom (1 John 2:20). “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
We increase the anointing by spending time in God’s presence. And you will certainly know when the presence of the Holy Spirit has come upon your life.
Here are seven things that the anointing will bring to you when it begins to increase and flow:
- Healing. Just like when the good Samaritan ministered to the man who had been robbed, stripped, and left for dead (Luke 10:33-34), the minute God’s anointing starts to flow on you, it will heal you. Your heart will be healed. He will restore your health. And you will become a minister of his healing power. That is promised in God’s Word.
- Revelation. The anointing will change your life. In Exodus 25:6 you can read about the oil that brings light. It pierces the darkness and illuminates everything around it. Nothing can stop it because the anointing is the overflow of Christ’s life. And once the anointing starts to flow over you, it brings revelation knowledge, allowing you to move into a supernatural walk with God.
- Provision. In 1 Kings 17:14, we read about Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. She desperately needed a miracle. All she had left for herself and her son was a handful of meal and a small amount of oil. God performed a life-changing miracle for her, multiplying her offering far beyond anything she could have dreamed. The oil did not fail. And today, when God moves in your life, the oil begins to flow, meeting every need in your life. There will be no lack. That’s what God wants for you today. He is moving mightily upon the earth—as you seek him with your whole heart, the oil will flow on you, and every need in your life will be met!
- Debt-free living. A widow came to Elisha and cried out about the debts that had overtaken her and her sons after her husband’s death (2 Kings 4:1-7). God used all she had, a pot of oil—it multiplied supernaturally, and she was able to pay off all her debts.
- Deliverance. David spoke of the oil of anointing (Psalm 23:1-5) and how it delivered him from all his enemies. Not only that, but he also spoke of God’s faithfulness in protecting him when he wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
- Faith. We are told that the watchman of Isaiah 21:5 was directed to anoint the shield. Just as oil was used then, the oil of God’s anointing must be used today. Faith must be activated and released, then God will protect you with the shield of faith because of that anointing. Today, regardless of your circumstances, God wants to release a mighty anointing on your life to protect you, completely and totally, but you must first activate it!
- Blessings. In Psalm 133 we read about the precious oil of anointing that flowed over Aaron, and then God directed the high priest to command his blessings: “The Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (verse 3) upon the children of Israel. Today, God commands the blessings on you through his Word. He even says, “All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Note from the Editor: This sermon was originally preached at the 2017 New England Annual Conference of the AME Zion Church, Bishop Dennis V. Proctor, Presiding Bishop.
I don’t have time to dabble into the complexity of eschatology. But I will say that many people have thought that this war has already been fought. Others suggest that it hasn’t taken place yet. Nevertheless, whether it’s already fought or will happen in the near future, all of us can testify that the devil is real, the fight is ongoing, but the victory is already won.
This text reminds me of my middle school days. I was picked on because I was a big kid with a gentle spirit. And I always wondered why my adversaries always traveled in cliques, and packs, and gangs. Now that I’m older and have been a pastor for 15 years I’ve discovered that hell raisers never travel by themselves!
The Bible says that Satan had one-third of the angels of heaven in his clique. He sowed discord among the angels and one out of three were deceived by Satan. Satan here is a prime example of what Roger Patterson declared in his book Leading from the Second Chair: that if those who follow you cannot see ample evidence of spiritual depth, and if you are not putting the kingdom first in your life, then those who follow you will never achieve their full potential.
My problem with this text is that this is a prime example of what happens when the church loses its focus! The 21st century church has become more personality-driven than Pentecost-fueled! The Bible says in Acts 2, “When the day of Pentecost came, the believers were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting…”
When personality overshadows Pentecost you are cultivating a divided church with demonic leakages that leads to the jockeying of position, prestige, and politics that diminishes your power to do ministry.
Whatever happened to: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor”?
Whatever happened to: “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind”?
Whatever happened to: “to let the oppressed go free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come”?
If the devil could raise hell in heaven what makes you think he won’t raise some hell in your life? If the devil could raise hell in heaven what makes you think he won’t raise some hell on your job, at your school, and even at your church?
And don’t you get mad at the devil because he’s doing his job because it’s the devils job to raise hell. But it’s the saints’ job:
*to pray and keep on moving because you can slay more devils on your knees then you can with your mouth.
*To praise and keep on progressing and lifting up holy hands even when hell is all around you.
*To prosper and keep on giving God the glory.
I shouldn’t be here and you shouldn’t be here, but by the grace of God, here we are.
And I believe I have a few people tonight who are sick and tired of the schemes, plots, and tricks of the devil? Because it’s only after you have become sick and tired that you will grow a backbone and stop being jelly-back! And stop allowing the devil to occupy what you know God has blessed you with!
Can I help somebody?
The devil has no place in your house: it’s your place of security. The devil has no place in your church: it’s your sacred space. And the devil has no place in your life: it’s sanctified and set apart for God’s use.
Somebody tonight needs to serve the devil his papers and let him know that as of tonight he has officially been evicted out of your life!
And can I speak to a few of you who came with faith tonight?
As of today, your finances have to get better. Your haters will become motivators. And your drama-makers will become drama-eliminators. As of today, the devil owes you back pay for trespassing on your property without a lease, contract, or your consent!
Because the Bible does declare, Proverbs 13:22, that the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just.
Because it’s time to kick the devil out!
I tell you it’s not until you try to get yourself together that something comes along and makes you fall back apart. When it looks like the storm is over and you decide to step out on the porch, the lightning starts back flashing, the thunder starts back rolling. The devil knows how to jump back on you because somebody can testify that 1 Peter 5:8 never lied: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
We use to sing stuff like, “the devil is under my feet,” but after you have stepped on his head, it’s time to put him in his place and send him back to hell from whence he came. Somebody got bold and started singing, “don’t let him ride, he might want to drive,” but some of us need to run him over and let him know that I’m not going to let anything get in my way!
I have dreams to fulfill, I have goals to accomplish, I have doors to walk through, I have a right to move forward, and whatever is in my way, I have a right to run it over.
I know somebody is sitting in the pews tonight wanting to know what in the world is “a divine eviction notice.”
A divine eviction notice is when you let the devil know that it’s time for him to go and he has to go right now!
A divine eviction notice is when you let the devil know, “your tricks won’t work here”!
“You might have tricked me once, but you ain’t going to trick me twice. I refuse to go down this same road, I refuse to relive my past.”
You refuse to trip again because the last time you almost died, but God saved you.
A divine eviction notice is when you let the devil know that you have taken out a “hands-off policy” and he “can’t touch this”!
The only thing the devil is able to do in your life is hold up progress. The last time I checked, the devil is already defeated. That’s why I don’t know why you are worrying about a war that’s already fixed.
I don’t know why you are losing sleep over a loser that won’t accept his defeat. I don’t know why you’re suffering from a migraine dealing with mess from the demonic, when you know that destiny is on your side and when you know that all the devil is doing is making a whole lot of noise and just roaring because Jesus snatched his teeth out on Calvary.
The devil can’t bite you, all he can do is roar, and the louder he roars the louder I’m going to give God the glory! The more he tries to bind my hands, I’m going to lift them in worship. The more he tries to put shackles on my feet, the more I’m going to dance. The more he tries to strain my voice, the more I’m going to preach, sing, and pray.
I believe I have some saints tonight who are even getting irritated with his roaring and like Michael in our text there will come a time where you have to take some action.
The angel Michael, according to the Word, was the Commander of the Army of the Lord. He was a warring angel and his job was to protect the perimeter of heaven so that God got all the worship.
Because you do know that all glory belongs to God!
I believe I have some saints tonight with the “The Spirit of Michael” in our text: saints who refuse to allow the devil to disturb their peace, saints who are ready to fight for their future, saints who are on fire and refuse to allow imps, demons, and crazy people to manipulate, dominate, and discriminate on the favor of God that’s on your life, saints who don’t come to church to be cute and to be seen, but saints who are serious about giving God some glory.
Because prophetically speaking, in this season, God is getting ready to release his glory upon your house: things are not going to be the same. God is getting ready to release his glory upon his church: lives won’t be the same. And God is getting ready to release his glory upon your children: restoring them into right relationship with him and stirring up a zeal to return back to the church and stand up and take their rightful place.
Hell has dispatched some deceivers who are on the loose in your life! And their primary objective is to sow discord in your life in order to prevent you from discovering your purpose, to slow down your progress and to sabotage the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has placed in you.
That’s why just this week, some of you had to disconnect from some folk; you had to turn off your phone, because they was trying to deposit garbage into your spirit, only to find out that they were on assignment from the pits of hell to stir up drama in your life in order to keep you from developing.
That’s why just this week, somebody on your job tried to steal your joy, hijack your happiness, and terrorize your sanity, trying their best to make you act outside of your character. But they don’t know you have grown from that and you have found out that giving it to God is much better then cussing and fussing!
Even as I speak the same ditch that they are digging for you will end up being for them. Because sometimes you have to remind the devil of 1 Chronicles 16:22, saying touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm.”And somebody needs to catch that tonight, you are not average, but you are anointed!
God will protect, provide for and prosper the anointing on your life. Everyday there is a war going on and we are caught right in the middle. And this war has nothing to do with you and it has nothing to do with me, but this war is between God and the devil.
Can I preach just a little while?
The devil is mad because God fired him and then God kicked him out of heaven because it’s God’s way or no way. Because God hired him to do one thing and that was to lead worship and direct the angelical choir but he ended up doing something else. God hired him to play one note and that was accord! But he decided to change up and to play another note and that was called discord. Accord is when everybody sings together to bring glory to God, but discord is when everybody is off pitch and out of harmony.
And that’s what the devil does in our lives. He tries to change the key, and instead of us being happy and in one accord, he tries to cause discord. That’s why you ought not lose sleep over folk who don’t understand you and always want to judge you : they are just in another key and they want to make your life a living hell. Some people are stuck in the past and we have to be careful to bring from the past the flame and not the ashes.
In our attempts to offer meaningful worship for these days and times, we have to re-focus how to defer to the movement of the Spirit in matters of style across generational lines. That’s why I’m so glad that God is my musician and the Holy Spirit is my drummer and I’m marching to a new beat!
The Bible says that the devil got the big head and instead of directing the angels to worship God he hoodwinked them into worshiping him. And that old Lucifer instructed the choir not to move until he said move and he dictated to them what to sing and when to sing. But the devil is a liar.
And God noticed that the music wasn’t changing because whenever God does something new in your life, you ought to sing a new song because music, singing, and songs are reflections of what God is doing in your life. The danger of singing the same song over and over again is like saying, “God hasn’t done anything new in my life.”
God saw that the glory wasn’t coming in like it used to and what was holy was now contaminated. What was sacred was now scandalous. God called for Michael and said, “Michael, I want you to go down to choir rehearsal and check out what’s going on.”
The Glory isn’t coming in like it used to. Some of the angels have lost their zeal They are not clapping like they used to. They are not rocking like they used to. Michael went to choir rehearsal and got upset with the devil and Revelations 12:7 is the minutes of the meeting: “And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated.”
Tell your neighbor “The devil is already defeated!” And there was no longer any place for them in heaven.Tell your neighbor, “You have to kick the devil out of your space and put the devil in his place!”
The great dragon was thrown down, the ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world- he was thrown down to the earth and his angels were thrown down with him.
I’m so glad that I don’t worship “a man.” When the man gets mad you get mad and the next thing you know you have removed yourself from God and another storefront pops up.
I’m so glad that my worship is not predicated on a man. If the preacher isn’t bringing glory to God, he needs to shut up. If the choir isn’t bring glory to God, they need to shape up. If the musicians aren’t bringing glory to God, they need to change up. Because my worship is for real. If the preacher can’t preach, I still can worship. If the choir can’t sing, I still can worship. If the musician can’t play, I’m still going to worship. Because when I was in my mess, it wasn’t a preacher that saved me, it wasn’t a choir that delivered me, it wasn’t a musician that converted me.
When I look back over my life and I think things over I can truly say that I’ve been blessed. I’ve got a testimony, it was nobody but Jesus.
My worship is for real. It’s dangerous when you follow a leader who is stagnated. You will die. It’s dangerous when you follow a leader who is paralyzed: you won’t move. It’s dangerous when you follow a leader who set in his way. God can’t do anything new. It’s dangerous when you follow a leader who is insecure: nobody will grow. It’s dangerous when you follow a leader who dictates instead of directs, complains instead of compromise, sits down when it’s time to stand up.
God is looking for somebody who made up in their minds, “All I want to do is give him some glory.” Give glory to God saints, he’s worthy of the praise, saints! Give glory to God, lift those hands, saints, give glory to God. Shout “Hallelujah” saints, give glory to God.
You don’t know my story, all the things that I’ve been through. You can’t feel my pain, what I had to go through to get here. You’ll never understand my praise, don’t try to figure it out. Because my worship – my worship is for real.
Beams of heaven as I go,
through the wilderness below,
guide my feet in peaceful ways,
turn my midnights into days.
When in the darkness I would grope,
faith always sees a star of hope,
and soon from all life’s grief and danger
I shall be free someday.
I do not know how long ’twill be,
nor what the future holds for me,
but this I know: if Jesus leads me,
I shall get home someday.
Harder yet may be the fight;
right may often yield to might;
wickedness a while may reign;
Satan’s cause may seem to gain.
There is a God that rules above,
with hand of power and heart of love;
if I am right, he’ll fight my battle,
I shall have peace someday.
Burdens now may crush me down,
disappointments all around;
troubles speak in mournful sigh,
sorrow through a tear-stained eye.
There is a world where pleasure reigns,
no mourning soul shall roam its plains,
and to that land of peace and glory
I shall want to go someday.
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, “My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses.” – Joshua 1:3 (NRSV)
Our future is in our feet. As we gather on these sacred grounds from all over the country may I remind you that you are a part of something bigger then yourselves, bigger than your denomination, and bigger than your local church.
We are family: we are connected to over 80 million in the Methodist Wesleyan family who worship Christ in over 80 different denominations.
We are family! Together we balance justice and mercy, humility and boldness, listening and leadership. God is still calling us this week to examine ourselves, evaluate our methods, and evangelize our world.
Don’t ask God to guide your footsteps if you’re not willing to move your feet.
Your future is in your feet!
Because all through this Bible, etched in the pages of this Holy Writ, you will find references to feet.
In Matthew 18:8, you see the fascination of feet: “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut them off and throw it from you,” because we have to walk straight.
In Psalm I, you see the fortune of feet: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,” because we have to walk strategically.
In Isaiah 52: 7, you see the function of feet. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,” because we have to walk sincerely.
And right here in this text, Joshua 1:3, you see the formation of feet, because your future is in your feet. “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses.” I believe that we are in a season now of “possessing the promise.” But there can be no possessing until our feet are connected to our faith.
It’s now time to cross over from one season into another; it’s now time to transition from the wilderness into the Promised Land. But you have to understand that God is trying to get your feet in alignment.
You have to walk straight,
you have to walk strategically,
and you have to walk sincerely.
Is there anybody here with the testimony?
I’m walking in authority: that means that God is in your strut.
Living life without apology: that means that God is in your strive.
It’s not wrong, dear, I belong here, so you might as well get used to me: that means that God is in your sustainability.
Because if you would tell the truth and shame the devil, it’s hard to be a Joshua walking in a Moses culture!
It’s like playing an MP3 on an 8-Track stereo.
It’s like sending an email by Morse code.
It’s like Fresh Prince, Wu-Tang, The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Rock Steady Crew vs. Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Joel BAD.
It’s like Madonna vs. Lady Gaga!
It’s hard to be a Joshua walking in a Moses culture.
It was John Wesley who said it like this: “I look on all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.”
But I have a few questions for the 21st century church:
What does our future look like?
Where are we going?
And have we started walking yet?
The hymn writer poetically declared:
Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war.
But I have a few questions for the 21st Century church:
What does our future look like?
Where are we going?
And have we started walking yet?
In this text we see God making funeral announcements, by saying, “Moses my servant is dead.”
And for those of you biblical scholars you understand that God had to kill Moses or let Moses die because he couldn’t allow him to enter into the promised land because of his sin, unbelief, and rebellion.
You all know Moses: In Egyptian his name means son, in the Hebrew his name means deliver.
Moses: Avoided abortion by Pharaoh, child of the Nile at three months old.
Moses: Beneficiary of foster care by Pharaoh’s daughter, house-raised, but field-bred.
Moses: A thug or bad boy in antiquity, killed a man, blood on his hands.
Moses: Blessed by a bush on fire at 80, commissioned by God to lead, appointed to pastor a stubborn people with just a stick and a stutter.
You all know Moses: We all have had a Moses moment: flawed but still faithful, given up on, but didn’t give out, called but still confused. Somebody holler “Moses”!
But in his shadows was a young aspiring preacher who was still wet behind the ears, and the smell of Similac was still on his breath. You know Joshua? His name means Jehovah is Salvation. Joshua, that type of Christ whose name in the Greek tongue is Jesus!
That’s a word for somebody: because before God allows something or somebody to mess up your future, he has a way of removing them in order to exalt you. He always has a way of escape.
Stop crying over Moses: he’s dead.
It’s now time to start walking with Joshua.
You can sit here and cry, complain, and allow your circumstances to cripple you like Moses. Or you can obey God, like Joshua, and arise and walk it out.
My problem with the text is, why did Moses have to die before Joshua could arise? I looked at it and my exegetical eyes came open and showed me that Moses had to die because the residue of his past outweighed the revelation of his future.
Everything can’t go with you into the Promised Land, because it will become an eye sore and constantly remind you of how things used to be.
Some bags you have to check in the wilderness because they don’t meet the requirements of the Promised Land.
Wesley said: “I am…afraid that the people called Methodists should…exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.”
And the church is guilty of trying to resuscitate Moses while rejecting Joshua.
It’s time to either retire, retool, or be removed. And then we act like we are concerned about missing Millennials. And while we fighting over stuff they sipping lattes at Starbucks. And maybe the reason why many of our churches are grey and dead is because the majority of our leadership is greying and dying.
God always uses diversity to deliver a people. John Maxwell said, “everything rises and falls on leadership!” People are always an indirect reflection of their leader.
You put a clergy collar on a corpse and put them in the pulpit, watch them drain the life out of the pews. Israel was beginning to look too much like Moses’ flaws, so God had to change the reflection.
“Joshua, Moses my Servant is dead. ARISE!”
Tag – you it. It’s your turn. Let me see what you’re working with.
Joshua, I know you’re young, but you’re wise, you walked with Moses, you were a successful mentee. ARISE!
No need to be scared of failure when God’s favor is on your life. Because if he called you to it he’s obligated to carry you through it. It was that theologian Paul Tillich who said: “He who risks and fails can be forgiven. He who never risks and never fails is a failure in his whole being.”
You have to give the next generation a chance.
God is shifting,
God is shaking,
God is sifting.
We are in a time of transition. I know that transition is unsettling. But the spiritual landscape is changing and we must move into unfamiliar territory. And we must do it now.
The text says in Joshua 1:1-2, “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant.” The Bible says after the death of Moses God spoke: sometimes God has to kill off something in our lives so that other things might live. After the death of Moses God spoke: something God has to retire in our lives so that other things might be promoted.
And I want to suggest to you that the Church (like Israel) has been in the wilderness too long. But now is the time to come out of the wilderness and cross over into the promises of God. That’s a word for somebody:
Because verse 3 says, “every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.”
The first thing the text lets us know is that God says it’s time to advance. Joshua started off as Moses’ assistant and ended up getting the job.
God is calling us to bigger, better, and brighter. In case no one told you today:
You are up for promotion.
You are beautifully blessed.
You are limitlessly loved.
You are necessarily needed.
You are alive for a reason.
You are stronger than you think.
You going to get over your Jordan.
Don’t give up – get to stepping! What God is walking you into is far greater than what you walked out of. You are up for promotion. You have assisted long enough.You have lurked in the shadows long enough. Now God is about to put the spotlight on you and see what you’re working with. You have the wisdom of Moses and the stamina of Joshua.
Now all you need is some faith and some feet.
You need faith to see past your pain.
You need feet to stay on the path.
You need faith to declare what’s coming is greater than what’s been.
You need feet to walk out of your past and progressively move into your future.
You need faith to see the unseen.
You need feet to avoid the unnecessary.
It takes faith spiritually and feet physically to walk out your dreams, stomp out your fears, and shout out your victories.
The second thing the text lets us know is that God says it’s time to cross over. “Arise, go over this Jordan.”
The Israelites’ crossing over the Jordan River on dry land was God giving them a sign, that if he could bring you across this, then there’s nothing that he couldn’t do.
The Israelites’ crossing over the Jordan River on dry land: territory is rarely given to those who deserve it. It is always given to those who are bold and take it.
Them crossing over was God flexing his muscles: “So that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful.” No other god could compare in power.
The gods of Israel’s enemies were created things that had no ability to move water and provide dry passage across a river.
They couldn’t give credit to:
Horus, the god of the sky
Isis, the god of magic
Osiris, the god of the afterlife
Ra, the god of the sun
Seth, the god of change
Shu, the god of wind
or even Geb, the god of the earth.
But I can hear them sing:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
You have to see every obstacle as an opportunity, every set-back as a set-up, every block as a blessing and let every detour lead to your destiny.
The final thing the text lets us know is that God says it’s time to start walking. “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you.”
You may be happy where you are, but the lost and perishing, the bound-up, the suffering, the demonized and the afflicted need you. You can’t love God and hate his agenda.
It’s time to walk it out. His agenda includes the salvation of the lost, the healing of the sick, the freeing of those bound up. It’s time to start walking.
Is there anybody here who don’t mind jumping up on your feet, and start walking a little?
You have been sitting too long.
It’s time to walk.
You have been stagnated too long.
It’s time to walk.
You have been quiet too long.
It’s time to walk.
You have been sick too long.
It’s time to walk.
You have been fearful too long.
It’s time to walk.
You have been stressed out too long.
It’s time to walk.
You have been depressed too long.
It’s time to walk.
Walk in the light, beautiful light,
Come where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright.
Oh shine all around us by day and by night,
Jesus is, Jesus is the light of the world;
Oh we shall walk in the light, beautiful light,
Come where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright.
Oh shine all around us by day and by night,
Jesus is, Jesus is the light of the world
No need to worry, no need to fret,
All of my needs, the man named Jesus has met.
His love protects me from hurt and from harm,
Jesus is, Jesus is the light of the world.
If the gospel be hid, it’s hid from the lost,
My Jesus is waiting to look past your faults.
Arise and shine, your light has come,
Jesus is, I know that He is the only light of this world.
But the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, and instead, the Lord had sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear. Some of Saul’s aides suggested a cure. “We’ll find a good harpist to play for you whenever the tormenting spirit is bothering you,” they said. “The harp music will quiet you and you’ll soon be well again.”
“All right,” Saul said. “Find me a harpist.” One of them said he knew a young fellow in Bethlehem, the son of a man named Jesse, who was not only a talented harp player, but was handsome, brave, and strong, and had good, solid judgment. “What’s more,” he added, “the Lord is with him.” Then Saul wrote to Jesse, “Please let David join my staff, for I am very fond of him.” And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp and Saul would feel better, and the evil spirit would go away.
1 Samuel 16:14-23 (TLB)
Do I have any praisers in the house who don’t mind testifying and agreeing with the ancients that music warded off evil spirits?
You need God’s Spirit just to survive,
You need God’s Spirit to give you strength and comfort,
You need God’s Spirit because without it where would you be?
Because you need it just to make it through.
I have a problem with 1 Samuel 16:14, because it says, “But the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, and instead, the Lord had sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.”
The text lets us know that a distressing spirit came to Saul, and troubled him. My problem is, if God is all-good, why did he send a distressing spirit upon Saul? If God is all-good, why does he send distress, disappointment, and even depression into our lives? I mean we declare that, “God is good – all the time – and all the time – God is good”!
But if God is so good, why did he allow a distressing spirit to come upon Saul? If God is so good, why does he allow us to go through all the hell we go through? If God is so good, why have many of us been on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Left wanting to give up and throw in the towel? If God is so good, why are our lives so jacked up?
But let me get you straight real quick: God never initiates or performs evil; that’s what makes God so good. God may withdraw his hand of his protection, and allow evil to come, without God being the source of the evil itself.
God is good all the time.
All I said was: it’s when God lets up that the devil starts messing up. Because the text says that the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul. This meant Saul lost his spiritual “protection” and covering. And my brothers and sisters there is too much going on not to be protected and covered by God. Just last week on Dewitt, between Spring and Putnam Streets, two black men were shot and left for dead. I don’t know about you, but we need God’s protection and God’s covering.
We are sick and tired of the toxic music being thrust onto our children by radio stations, making them think that they are meant to be nothing but hoochies, ballers, rappers, thugs, killers and players.
I don’t know about you, but we need God’s protection and God’s covering.
We use to sing back in the day one of Fred Hammond jam:
Jesus be a fence all around me everyday
Jesus I want you to protect me as I travel along the way
I know you can (yes Lord)
I know you will (yes Lord)
Fight my battle (yes Lord)
If I just keep still (yes lord)
Lord be a fence all around me everyday
Somebody holler, “protection!”
So, Satan dispatched a distressing spirit from the command center of hell to fill the void in Saul. But while Saul was being tormented, David was being faithful in his hustle. David was a shepherd leading his father’s flock of sheep through the pastures to water, but while he was hustling he still was giving God praise by playing his harp. And David, while minding his own business praising the Lord with a harp, under a tree and hustling watching over the flock, was summoned by Saul.
Saul had been afflicted by a distressing spirit and the text says from God. God didn’t send the spirit, but God allow the spirit to afflict Saul. And can I park on this curve some of the hell in your life that’s tormenting you might have come from the pit of hell, but God allowed it. And as a result of the spirit afflicting Saul, David was minding his own business, hustling watching sheep, and praising God by playing his harp, and was hired as a musician so that the distressing spirit might depart from Saul.
And can I help somebody right along here:
It’s a good thing when you mind your business.
It’s a good thing when you hussle while you wait.
It’s a good thing when your harp helps your haters.
You don’t have to cuss nobody out—just play your harp.
You don’t have to jack nobody up—just play your harp.
You don’t have to run down lies and rumors—just play your harp.
It’s a good thing when your harp helps your haters.
I come by this morning in search of some contemporary Davids who have learned how to
play your harp,
mind your own business,
hustle while you are waiting,
and harp until your haters are helped!
And I know that some of you are super-saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost, so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good. And you don’t know what it means to hustle, mind your own business and harp until your haters are helped.
Because everybody ain’t from the hood, I’m from the country. Webster defines hustle as, “to move or work rapidly to get the job done.” Do I have any hustlers in the house who don’t mind testifying that while I was minding my own business, working the fields, playing my harp that the Lord hired me without an application?
Some of Saul’s aides suggested a cure.“We’ll find a good harpist to play for you whenever the tormenting spirit is bothering you,” they said. “The harp music will quiet you and you’ll soon be well again.”
“All right,” Saul said. “Find me a harpist.”
My brothers and sisters,
- We can’t afford to lose God’s Spirit.
Whenever the Lord lifts his Spirit you might as well prepare for mental, emotional, and psychological repercussions. We are trying to operate with the wrong spirit. You say you saved, but you are mean as hell, your attitude is bad, you’re moody and negative about everything. You say you’re a Christian, but we can see no Christ in you because some of us are trying to operate with the wrong spirit.
David has just been anointed Israel’s king because Saul had shown himself unworthy of the crown. Samuel proclaims David as God’s chosen and anoints him, but in the real world at that time Saul is still functioned as king. Let me point out here that despite David’s rights to the throne, despite the fact that Saul had lost the anointing of God to be king, David showed nothing but respect for Saul.
You have to learn how to respect leadership whether you like them or not, agree with them or not, because all leadership is from God even if it’s not Godly. Have you ever worked a job and the position came up and they brought somebody in instead of bringing somebody up? And you knew more than the one they hired, but in order to keep your job and keep peace in the office you had to dumb down so they could dumb up. David showed nothing but respect for Saul.
I don’t know about you this morning but I feel prophetic: I speak elevation over your life: you have been in the second seat long enough. Somebody ought to shout, “I receive it!”
One of them said well we know a young man in Bethlehem, who’s minding his business, hustling by watching his father’s sheep, and not only is he a talented harp player, but he’s handsome, brave, and strong, and has good sense and solid judgment. And “the Lord is with him.”
Not only can we not afford to lose his Spirit but,
- We can’t afford to do it by ourselves.
The harp was the national instrument of the Hebrews, Moses had it made. Josephus records that the harp had ten strings, sometimes it was smaller having only eight, and was usually played with the fingers.
Isn’t it interesting that it took David’s fingers to relieve Saul’s fears? Isn’t it sad how your haters don’t know how helpful you are?
I tell you it doesn’t matter if you’re handsome, cute, brave, strong, and educated, it’s alright to have a good appearance, but make sure you’re working with something. It’s alright to be educated and degreed, but you have to have the learning and the burning.
If you don’t have the Lord with you, you are just a fine good looking failure: biceps without benefits, triceps without a testimony, you might be tall, dark, and handsome but without the Lord you are just a fine failure.
Is there anybody here with the testimony that,
The presence of the Lord is here;
I feel it in the atmosphere,
the power of the Lord is here,
I feel it in the atmosphere,
Everybody blow the trumpet,
And sound the alarm,
Because the Lord is in the temple,
Let everybody bow,
Let all the people praise Him now,
The Lord is here!
We can’t afford to do it by ourselves; we need the Spirit of the Lord.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in hell you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand shall lead me,
And your right hand shall hold me.
You ought to tell your neighbor, “The Lord is with me,” and “we can’t afford to do it by ourselves!”
Because elevation takes preparation, because God’s not blessing any overnight wonders. It costs to be anointed, you have to go through some things for this anointing to overcome some opposition, and even deal with betrayal from people who God has assigned you to help. Do you not know that God’s anointing is upon your life and the only reason you are still here is because he kept you? In order to be eligible for elevation you have to learn how to have wisdom to make the best of what you already have.
- We can’t afford to waste time.
My brothers and sisters it’s a dangerous thing to be fired by God and his Spirit be removed, repossessed, and retired from your life.
It’s a dangerous thing to be labeled as anointed and have no anointing on your life.
It’s a dangerous thing to be in a position of power and have no power.
It’s a dangerous thing to be a part of ministry and have no ministry.
It’s a dangerous thing to
sing in the choir,
preach in the pulpit,
and sit in the pews
and not realize that the Spirit of the Lord makes you do more than shout, dance, and speak in tongues.
But when the spirit of the Lord is really upon you it should be evident after the praise break, after the music stops, after the praise team sits down, and after the preacher celebrates that we ought to have enough power and enough Holy Ghost on the inside of us to declare like Jesus in Luke 4:18 that,
The Spirit of the Lord is on us,
Because he has anointed us
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent us to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Is there anybody here who knows that the hand of God is upon your life?
And if it had not been the Lord who was on your side you wouldn’t be up in Varick this morning giving him glory and declaring that I don’t mind having a holy hustle until God opens up the position! Because you should never become comfortable in your temporary place. In other words, while you are working that side hustle, while you are working that job that you have to clock in to that’s nerve wracking and stressful never forget that what’s coming is better then what is.
You can play your harp when you know that God has promised you greater, bigger, brighter, and better.
When the Spirit of the Lord is upon your life you can play your harp because you have been anointed to handle hell, haters, and hypocrites.
When the anointing is on your life you can play your harp because
you are able to handle opposition,
overcome stumbling block,
speak life to dead situations,
and proclaim good news even in the midst of problematic situations.
When the anointing is on your life you can play your harp because you have a spirit of freedom to
break every chain,
and imprison that which is trying to hold you hostage to your past pains, predicaments, and problems.
Can I prophesy to somebody up in this place this morning? Keep on playing your harp! You are too anointed to allow the devil to dictate your destiny. You are too anointed to allow issues to limit you, you are too anointed to allow imps to integrate you, you are too anointed to allow hellhounds to hinder you.
And I stop by to make an announcement to somebody who has been battling with depression, struggling with stress, crying over what you lost instead of appreciating what you have? Welcome to the year of the Lord’s favor!
If you are a harp player-play your harp!
If you are a soloist-sing your song!
If you are a preacher- preach your sermon!
If you are a musician- hit your note!
If you are a servant-get involved in ministry!
If you are a baller-pay your tithes!
Because you have to perfect what God has already give you before you qualify for more. All I said was, you have to be faithful over a few things, then the Lord will make your ruler over many. You have to be like David and hustle until your haters ask if you’re hiring. Welcome to the year of the Lord’s favor!
If the truth be told your life have been so jacked up that the Lord should have fired you like Saul, but it seems like every time you turn around favor was looking you right in the face.
You know you weren’t qualified for that job, but you’re working it.
You know your credit report was low, but you’re still styling and profiling.
You know your GPA wasn’t high but you’re still in college.
You know you should have cracked up and went crazy by now, but you’re still here in your right mind.
You know you should have had a nervous breakdown trying to raise children as a single parent, but you still have food on your table.
But when the Spirit of the Lord is upon your life and his anointing is activated, favor will skip over the qualified and find somebody that’s sanctified. Somebody that made up in their minds come hell or high waters,
I’m going to give God praise
not because he keeps on blessing me,
but the reason I dance, shout, and give him glory
is because he didn’t fire me
and he didn’t remove his Spirit from me.
And Varick, whenever you make ministry about you, whenever you feel that the church should cater to your needs, whenever you feel that you direct the vision, mission, and mandate of the church, you have placed yourself on God’s spiritual repossession list. Some of us are so egoistic and caught up in ourselves that the Lord has placed spiritual boots on our lives and we are fired like King Saul and don’t even know it.
We are singing for performance rather than praise?
You are fired!
And no deliverance is taking place.
We are serving for money rather than ministry?
You are fired!
And people still walk out the door the same way they came.
We want so much from God, but give so little to God; it’s dangerous to get fired by God and not even know it. Because of Saul’s rebellion, God allowed him to stay in position but removed his power. And that’s why I don’t understand why everybody wants a title. Because a title without power and God’s Spirit is nothing more than a false advertisement. Because with every level comes a new devil and you better make sure that your title is in sync with God’s spirit or like Saul you will find yourself being tormented.
The text says that God removed his Spirit from the king and allowed an evil spirit to torment him. Please understand that depression is real, some of us are well put together on the outside but are struggling on the inside to hold it together. Some of us are fighting to hold back tears because you feel like things are not going to get better, but I stop by with a Word!
When the Spirit of the Lord is upon your life you have the power to torment what’s trying to torment you.
And my brothers and sisters when God has singled you out for greatness,
Like David some people will try to ignore you, but they can’t deny that the hand of God is upon your life.
Like David some people will criticize you, but they can’t cripple you.
Like David some people will underestimate you, but God will appreciate you.
Like David some people who you helped will hate on you like King Saul.
But I don’t know about you, I don’t mind hustling while I’m waiting!
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
I stopped by to preach to somebody and let them know: don’t stop the music!
Praise Him in Advance
I’ve had my share of ups and downs, times when there was no one around,
God came and spoke these words to me,
Praise will confuse the enemy.
I started singing,
I started clapping,
I started dancing,
People were laughing,
They knew my problems,
They knew my pain,
But I knew God would take them away.
That’s why I praise him with my hands,
That’s why I praise him with a dance,
He’s given me a second chance,
Come on lets praise him in advance.
That’s why I praise him with a song,
When things are right and when they’re wrong,
He’s given me a second chance,
Come on lets praise Him in advance.
Reflections on the Quadrennial Address from the 50th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Assembled July 20-26, 2016 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Like millions of Zionites, I watched our Bishop’s Quadrennial Address at our recent General Conference, given by Bishop W. Darin Moore, Bishop Dennis V. Proctor and Bishop Kenneth Monroe. I watched it particularly with hopes that their words and vision would speak directly to me and to my ministry context. I was moved both intellectually and spiritually as they charted the new course for our beloved Zion.
We are living in some critical times, which calls for critical measures. Mostly everybody sitting in church today looks pretty good. We all clean up really well. But one of the unique things about being a pastor is that I get to sit with many people outside of Sunday morning when they’re not cleaned up so well and listen as they tell me about the brokenness and pain that is eating them up from the inside out.
I’m proud to declare that the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is my church. It’s my church of birth, it’s my church of choice, and it’s the church I love. It is known by many as “The Freedom Church,” and this I do not take lightly. Yet, while no church can ever claim to be perfect, the church must at least strive to be true. By God’s grace the “Old Ship of Zion” has traversed many dangerous and sometimes tumultuous waters since it first set sail in 1796 from the harbor of the John Street Methodist Church in New York City. We gathered and praised God for the safe arrival at the port of the 50th Session of the General Conference. – Rev. Kelcy G.L. Steele
THE FREEDOM CHURCH: REFOCUSING ON OUR PURPOSE
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. (Luke 4:18)
We rely on the foundation of our Wesleyan heritage to proceed on our way forward and stay focused on our purpose. We are a church of order and rule and discipline. We respect authority and submit to being governed by the powers of God and of those whom God has set in positions of leadership. This is an important part of what it means to be a Methodist.
Bishop Ruben L. Speaks outlines a framework for understanding our purpose in what he termed the “Zion Methodist Synthesis”. He states that Zion Methodist doctrine is founded upon three major pillars:
We are now faced with modern-day oppression in multiple forms:
-The senseless violence in our streets
-Mass incarceration of African Americans
-Overcrowded and underfunded public schools
-A faulty criminal justice system
-Disproportionately high unemployment
Our national community is hurting. The Black Lives Matter movement has become the modern-day Civil Rights movement energized and led by millennials. We are demanding an end to the value gap that places less value on black lives than on others. The A.M.E. Zion Church has called for greater accountability for the police departments who are given lethal authority and are sworn to “protect and serve” their communities.
THE FREEDOM CHURCH: REVIEWING OUR PRACTICES
Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.
Then you’ll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar! (Psalm 51:16-19, MSG)
Some may argue that the church is dying, or maybe even dead. We must reject this heretical notion. A dead church is an oxymoron. It is either a church or it is dead, but it cannot be both. The church is not dead for it is connected and inextricably linked to a living savior. Jesus established the church as his agent of peace, healing, and transformation in the earth realm.
The Board of Bishops calls for an end to the “worship wars.” It does no faction or segment of our church good to debate whether any are more “true” or “sincere” than others in the way they worship. The important concern is not whether the style of a worship experience is more traditional or contemporary, the issue is whether the substance of the worship is transformative.
The A.M.E. Zion Church offers earnest prayers for our sister church, the United Methodist Church, and other ecumenical partners as they face threats to their organic unity over the issue of LGBTQ rights to ordination and marriage. We respect the deeply held convictions of Christians on all sides of the issue and recognize the diversity of strong opinions within our own denomination.
The upcoming presidential election will certainly impact our social, economic, and political life in significant ways. It could have devastating implications, especially when the next president will be responsible for nominating persons for the Supreme Court as well as set an agenda that will shape this country for generations to come.
THE FREEDOM CHURCH: RETOOLING OUR PURPOSE
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12, NLT)
In the words of Bishop William Jacob Walls, “Methodism is a spiritual movement in the temporal environment.” In Autopsy of A Deceased Church, Thom S. Rainer suggests some observations that are common in churches whose best days could be behind them. Some characteristics are listed with his headings.
-The church refused to look like the community
-The facilities continue to deteriorate
-The church has no community-focused ministry
-The pastoral tenure grows shorter
-The church rarely prayed together
-Members tend to idolize another era
-The church had no clarity as to why it existed.
The maladies affecting ministry of this generation are diverse and complex. So we inquire, which tools can be used to stem the tide of the present reality? Bishop Robert Schnase offers some practical steps in his treatise, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. The tools are profoundly simple and yet, simply profound;
-Radical hospitality – without a warm and engaging environment this is oxymoronic.
-Passionate worship – spirited worship devoid of authentic spirit resonates as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals!
-Intentional faith development – requires a plumb line or biblical understanding and application.
-Risk-taking mission and service
THE FREEDOM CHURCH: REACHING OUR POTENTIAL
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT)
In many ways, life is like an airport; there are those who are staying put and those who are moving on. How unfortunate if we fail to recognize God’s call to move on. The call of the Lord has always been toward a greater future and fulfilling our potential.
God has a plan of movement for everyone; God will lose some doors so that you will find the new door he has opened for you. Sometime God requires you to stay still while you receive clear directions where you are and sometimes God wants you to move on to a higher level, a better place. We must stay connected to God, stay in touch with God, and stay in tune with God so that we can recognize God’s call to move on.
We issue a renewed call for a Faith and Order Conference to be held in conjunction with the General Convention on Christian Education.
Pastors and local churches are challenged to expand our teaching ministries with the goal of offering relevant biblical principles that youth, young adults, adults, and seniors can successfully apply in their daily living and more effectively navigate a complex world.
The AME Zion Church will make young adult leadership development and mentoring a major priority at every level.
Churches must discover innovative ways to provide practical, hands-on ministry opportunities.
In order to engage the unchurched, reach Millennials, and cultivate a deeper Christian maturity of our members we must make intimacy with God through Jesus Christ and healthy relationships with one another the focus of all ministry.
We strongly encourage the revitalization of the class meetings.
Every church will designate a Voter Education/Mobilization Coordinator.
The A.M.E. Zion Church will fully embrace our legacy and our mantra as the Freedom Church.
We recommend that the 50th Session of the A.M.E. Zion Church General Conference officially endorses the following legislative and policy initiatives: (My Brothers Keepers)
-Raise minimum wage
-Gun control legislation
-Additional diversion options
-Boosting opportunities for people in prison to earn time off
-Improving accuracy of federal criminal record keeping
We suggest that pastors and lay leaders offer Life Enrichment Classes or ministries for their churches and invite persons from the community to participate.
We must practice lifestyle stewardship of our time, talents, temple, and treasure.
To learn more visit www.amez.org.
Government authorities like police officers are public servants. They are supposed to be frightening only to those who are bad and do wrong. They are supposed to hold no terror for those who are not bad and have done no wrong. Much of the time, they do exactly what they are supposed to do, and for this we can be grateful.
But they are armed. And the weapons they carry can easily kill people. This means that police officers must be trained to be extraordinarily disciplined in their perceptions of situations and people, and extraordinarily restrained in their use of deadly force. Otherwise the power they have to protect the innocent becomes a power to destroy the innocent. Otherwise their power to keep order becomes a power that creates disorder. Otherwise the sight of a police car in one’s rearview mirror becomes a fear that one will not survive the encounter — a fear that Black people in America know all too well.
Our lives should be informed and marked by prayer. Our God desires us to seek him and pray to him. When we pray with confidence to the Sovereign King, we bring glory to him and joy to his heart. We want to be, always, a prayerful people and a prayerful church.
People should not have to be afraid of dying during routine traffic stops. This is horrifying and outrageous.
The late Philando Castile did not find it to be the case the other night near St. Paul, Minnesota. The late Alton Sterling did not find it to be the case two days before in Baton Rouge. These black men were shot by white police officers, two of 123 black Americans shot by police so far in 2016, out of a total of 506 nationwide.
The question is, what is the role of the church?
Our first call is to prayer; then, our second call is to peaceful protest, to cry loud and spare not.
There is only one real problem in God’s church these days, and that is the prayer life of the Church. We could enumerate many other problems that face God’s people.
In a praying church, there is great grace in the lives of God’s people.
Acts 4:33 says, “Much grace was upon them all”; the word “grace” is the operative word here. It means “Christ-likeness,” and was seen in four ways:
- There was the grace of unity (verse 32).
- There was the grace of renunciation (verse 32).
- There was the grace of fellowship (verse 32).
- There was the grace of liberality (verses 34-35).
Will you do your part, God helping you, to make your church a praying church that will impact our community?
Maybe I can help you by framing it this way.
What you’ll witness when you watch us pray as the people of God is men and women who are well aware of their imperfections. We are well aware of our hypocrisies. We are well aware of our shortcomings, yet we earnestly and completely believe that God hears us and wants to hear from us, and that when we pray, it pleases the heart of God. When we consider the God of the Bible, he is unlike any earthly father ever.
“Why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Might Reject a Beloved Biblical Passage.” Religion News Service. N.p., 07 July 2016. Web. 08 July 2016.