SERMON BY REV. (DR.) WILLIAM OKOYE AT THE 2022 CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND VALEDICTORY SERVICE OF THE OUTGOING C.A.N PRESIDENT,REV. DR SAMSON AYOKUNLE ON 28/7/2022.
I greet you all in the name of our blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Everything that has a beginning must have an end.
We thank God for bringing us successfully to the end of another Administration in our wonderful Association- Christian Association of Nigeria.
I am grateful for the privilege of being asked to bring God’s word on this special occasion. Let us pray.
TOPIC: Finishing Well
TEXT: 1 Samuel 12:1-5 LB
1.Then Samuel addressed the people again:“Look,” he said, “I have done as you asked. I have given you a king. 2 I have selected him ahead of my own sons and now I stand here, an old, gray-haired man who has been in public service from the time he was a lad. 3 Now tell me as I stand before the Lord and before his anointed king—whose ox or donkey have I stolen? Have I ever defrauded you? Have I ever oppressed you? Have I ever taken a bribe? Tell me and I will make right whatever I have done wrong.”
4 “No,” they replied, “you have never defrauded or oppressed us in any way and you have never taken even one single bribe.”
5 “The Lord and his anointed king are my witnesses,” Samuel declared, “that you can never accuse me of robbing you.”
“Yes, it is true,” they replied.
Samuel was a Prophet and a great Leader of Israel. But when he grew old, he appointed his sons in his place who did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted Justice. (1 Samuel 8:3). The perversion of Justice is one of the worst consequences of bribery, enabling the rich to exploit the poor.
In his farewell address to his people at the coronation of King Saul, Samuel asked. “From whose hand have I taken a bribe to make me shut my eyes? (1Samuel 12:3) He had been blameless and the crowd declared without hesitation. ‘You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand’.
Is it not surprising that a servant of God in the Old Testament could live such an honest and transparent life in public service, when many of us Men and Women of God (Christians) in the New Testament with all the Spiritual resources available to us are disgracing God’s name in our places of service.
Daniel was perhaps the most outstanding Public Servant in the Bible. His fellow Public Servants Who sometimes felt threatened by him “Could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt or negligent “(Daniel 6:4).
Daniel served in four different administrations for sixty five (65) years.
Luke 12:13-15 from the living Bible, has this to say, “Then someone called from the crowd, “Sir please tell my brother to divide my father’s estate with me”. But Jesus replied, “man, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that? Beware! Don’t always be wishing for what you don’t have, for real life and real living are not related to how rich we are”.
In my book entitled “Discovering what is really important in life” I wrote about King Solomon who experienced wealth, power, honour, fame and sensual pleasure, all in great abundance, in fact he saw earthly life at its best, yet they added up in the end to emptiness and disillusionment. Solomon’s primary purpose in writing the book of Ecclesiastes may have been to share his regrets and first hand testimony with others before he died, so they will not make the same mistakes he made. Solomon established forever the utter futility of basing one’s values in life on earthly possessions and personal ambitions.
One of the greatest tragedies of our time is that many God’s people do not understand what God values and what are His top priorities.
It is my conviction that the single most important factor responsible for our miseries, emptiness and shadow chasing either as individuals, the church or as a nation is our distorted sense of values and misplaced priorities. We must learn to put the values of the mind and spirit before all else. Any individual or Nation that places more emphasis on materialism is toying with disaster.
As Daniel Webster puts it “If we work upon marbles, it will perish, if we work upon brass, time will efface it. If we rear temples, they will crumble to dust. But if we work upon men’s immortal minds; if we imbue them with high principles, with the just fear of God and the love of their fellow men, we engrave on those tablets something which no time can efface and which will brighten to all eternity.”
Today, our country gropes in the dark, looking for a new dawn. The church is expected to play a prominent role in her rebirth, reformation and reconstruction through a re-definition of the nation’s morality, code of conduct and discipline. These are achievable if the church places greater emphasis on sound Biblical teachings and values.
The Church therefore, carries a sacred burden to return our society to the path of sanity, discipline and total submission to the will of God. The Bible says that, “righteousness exalts a nation…”. The result of unrighteousness includes poverty and want in the midst of plenty. From one of the richest nations in the world a few decades ago, our country has dropped to one of the poorest nations in the world.
We must therefore, strive to make the fear of God and righteousness the foundation upon which this nation is built if we expect to see a turn-around in the fortunes of our beloved nation. One of the greatest hindrances to the manifestation of God’s glory in the church and in our Nation today is a new generation of “Christians” I call “The Esau Generation”.
Heb 12:16-17 TLB
“16 Watch out that no one becomes involved in sexual sin or becomes careless about God as Esau did: he traded his rights as the oldest son for a single meal.
17 And afterwards, when he wanted those rights back again, it was too late, even though he wept bitter tears of repentance. So remember, and be careful.
Just as Esau did not mind selling his birthright for a single meal, these new Generation of “Christians” don’t mind if you take their bible from them so far you give them food, money, political appointment etc. It does not matter to them if you spit on the face of Christ, slaughter His children, destroy God’s church, or practice all manner of injustice.
My dear servants of God, Brothers and sisters, unless there is an emergence of men and women whose commitment to Christ is total and their allegiance unquestionable, the church will continue to be ridiculed by the world and the name of our blessed God will continue to suffer shame.
In Pastor E. A. Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church “Open Heaven daily devotional” of Saturday 23rd of June 2018 titled “Defiance is Allowed” he stated, “If at the expense of standing up for God, you melt in the face of threats to your life, comfort or career, you cannot call yourself a Christian. Are you in a situation where you are compromising on the truth? Are you falsifying records in your office or business to make more money? Are you collecting bribes before you do your work? Are you covering up for corrupt colleagues or friends? If you find yourself in such circumstances, you need to search deep within your heart and choose whom you will serve today. Serving God means every moment of your day, every action that you take and every utterance that you make are viewed as service to Him”.
Dare to be a Daniel, a Joseph or Esther. In any position you find yourself, stand up for Jesus.
It is my recommendation that the church should tackle the moral cancer of our nation by refocusing the thrust of our preaching and teaching back to sound biblical values and principles. Part of our strategy should be:
a. To encourage a balanced and holistic approach to the preaching, teaching and interpretation of the word of God.
b. To encourage all Christian denominations to return to sound biblical discipleship of their members. This invariably will lead Christians to be examples of what we preach and teach, and for them to carry on this crusade to the larger society.
c. Christian leaders themselves should endeavor to live exemplary lives. People will take our Preaching/Teaching more serious when they see that we live by what we preach.
d. We recognize that the nature of this moral cancer called corruption is spiritual and therefore, we will back our crusade with intense devotion and prayers.
IN CONCLUSION, THERE ARE AT LEAST THREE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS I BELIEVE THAT GOD WILL ASK YOU AT THE END OF YOUR LIFE ON EARTH:
1. What did you do with my son Jesus Christ?
He died to save you from your sins and give you eternal life; did you surrender your life to him and receive Him as your Saviour and Lord?
2. As one who benefited from my death on the cross for you, did you live for me or for yourself? 2Corintians 5:15 says: He died for all so that all who live-having received eternal life from him-might live no longer for themselves, to please themselves, but to spend their lives pleasing Christ who died and rose again for them. (LB)
3. What did you do with all that I gave you?
All the gifts, talents, money, positions, privileges that God gave you. He gave to you to use them to serve Him and serve humanity. How are you using them presently?
Commend the outgoing President on one of his outstanding demonstration of Integrity during his Leadership of the Association.
LET US PRAY.
▪︎ By REV. (DR.) WILLIAM OKOYE, GENERAL OVERSEER
ALL CHRISTIANS FELLOWSHIP MISSION