Beloved Saints at Open Baptist Church, Gaborone, Botswana.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:3-4).
Before the world began, God spiritually blessed us in Christ and gave us a heavenly and holy position –our salvation and sanctification. In addition to all this, He has abundantly blessed us in the physical. We praise God for bringing us this far –Ebenezer! We praise Him for showing us and our families kindness, goodness and mercy, in overcoming the challenges of the year, 2018 and safely ushering us into the year, 2019.
I pray for the dawning of a New Year to fill your heart with new hopes, open you up new horizons and bring for you promises of a bright tomorrow. I pray for goodness, mercy, peace and the abundance of good things that come with 2019 to be yours! I pray for your home to be filled with God’s unlimited joy and happiness in 2019 and beyond!
Fellow soldier of Christ, remember that, you are alive for a purpose in the agenda of God, our Creator. I pray that you will prioritize discovering and fulfilling that divine purpose this year. Remember God’s investment on your life and be wise! (Psalm 90:12).
The year 2019 brings upon our church a new challenge. Last year, we successfully ran with “Time to Build” as a theme. Indeed, the LORD graciously helped us to build a number of areas in our Christian walk and work, especially in the area of forgiveness. This year, we continue with the theme of building, but now, “Taking Care How We Build”(1 Cor. 3:10c).
Our theme for this year comes from 1 Corinthians 3:10-17, where Paul speaks about the church community (temple) at work. Paul compares himself to a “skilled master builder” who laid the church foundation –Christ Himself. All others can only build on this foundation, and each builder is to take careful responsibility for his own work. “I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it” (1 Cor. 3:10b). I believe that God is calling upon us at OBC to be careful how we build in the church, because:
There’s No Other Foundation: “For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (3:11). As the only foundation, Christ Jesus pre-eminently controls the shape and quality of the edifice. Not only does He hold the building holding up from the bottom, He utterly influences the entire building. Therefore, Christ’ mark should pervade every work/building we engage in as a church. The good good work we will do is likened to gold, silver, and precious stones. Any work done in a shoddy and indifferent way will be likened to wood, hay, and straw. In God’s eyes, all the work that lifts up Christ in His true greatness will be gold and silver and precious stone. Every work that detracts from Christ’s pre-eminence will be wood, hay, and stubble.
There is Stern Warning: Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Ministry Leaders, Sunday School teachers, counsellors, parents, disciple makers of all kinds and church members are warned against careless building. Building the church with materials that are not in keeping with the greatness of Christ the foundation has negative consequences:
Hurt and Shame for the church: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day [of judgment] will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one had done“ (2:12). Here Paul tells us that, at the end of the age, we will all face judgment. Teachings, ministries, attitudes and actions which are not in keeping with the foundation of Christ, are going to burn up like wood, hay, and stubble. Teachings, ministries, attitudes and actions that glorify Christ will stand the fire of testing like gold and silver and diamonds.
Individual Loss of Reward. “If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (3:14). There will be shame on that day. And rewards will be lost because of shabby building on the matchless foundation of Christ. This is why Paul charged Timothy; “Do your best [study!] to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
Destruction of the church and self. “If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are” (3:17). If we do not take good care in building upon Christ, we destroy the very church in which we serve and ourselves with it. But the one who destroys God’s church, God will destroy him. We dare not handle the work of God carelessly! “It is a fearful thing to fall in to the hands of the living God”(Heb. 10:33).
OBC Faces the Same Challenges in 2019: The problems that Paul addressed in 1st and 2nd Corinthians still dog the church today and OBC is not immune to the maladies. In what ways do we need to take care how we build at OBC? There are several considerations:
Let us fight and resist every human tendency to replace Christ as the one and only foundation of Open Baptist Church. All human beings are only servants who must take care how they build on the already laid foundation. “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’” (Luke 17:10).
Let us prioritize building up people, individuals, couples and families into a true community of faith characterised by Ubuntu/Botho. God is relational, so is His business, the church. Let us all work towards the realization of the New Testament Koinonia – people who believe in Jesus, people who belong to God, people who behave like Christ, people who breathe of the One Spirit, people who broadcast the gospel and people who bond with each other (Acts 2:42-47).
Let us work hard to make sure that, the building blocks of our teaching, ministries, attitudes, and actions follow the blueprint of our foundation and not go off on a tangent. We should never carry out an activity just because other churches are doing it. We must only do that which Christ wants us to do, according to His Word. “Your Word is the lamp to my feet and a light to my path”(Psalm 119:10.
Let us make sure that, all our ministries objectives, building plans and financial goals for the coming year are with excellence, since all our work has to be done as unto the LORD and not unto man (Col. 3:23-24).
Let us all serve “Together In Christ, to the world”, and not only let the gold, silver and precious stones be in our physical buildings, but also in our teachings, ministries, attitudes, actions, and in our stewardship of time, talents and treasure (Eph. 5:15-17).
If we all have “taking care how we build” as our attitude, I believe that, the Lord will take Open Baptist Church to a greater and higher level of blessing to the nation and the world. Remember that, “… Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” (Heb. 3:6), will help us fulfil His divine purpose.
Once again, I wish you God’s rich blessings and all the best for the year 2019. I am praying that each one of you may know and experience the Lord’s will for you this year!
His and yours in Him!
Moruti Asafa Makan’a