Sunday Sermon – 21 Oct 2018 10:46:49 am – Pastor James Yang
“When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it. Then Samson said: “With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!” And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi. Then he became very thirsty; so he cried out to the LORD and said, “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant; and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?” So God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore he called its name En Hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day. And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.”
Judges 15:14-20 NKJV
I spent a thankful week. There is sister Eva who is from Latvia 🇱🇻 but lives in Townsville. She has passed away a few weeks ago and I attended her funeral service. She lives right next door to our church and she would ring up her sons and daughters. She would tell her sons and daughters on the phone what she heard on the church.
There were many family members who came from overseas also – about 40-50 people. There were refreshments after the funeral ceremony and I wanted to go there to speak more to them. There were two daughters of the grandmother and I spoke to them. I spoke to her that if they have sins then they would not be able to go to heaven. The daughters said that they had no more sins anymore as they heard from the funeral service sermon that I shared. I was so thankful to hear that.
I remember the time when I used to minister in Townsville. She would sometimes forget that the service was on. My wife would send the short-term missionaries to ask her to come to church. And even if she had some family members over, she would just get up, pick up her bible and come to church. In such a way, without even preaching to them, she was witnessing to her family members indirectly. This was very powerful.
Now her grandson has also received salvation, and I even hear that he is attending the service in Townsville today.
Samson used the jawbone of a donkey to slay the thousands of enemies.
Samson here represents Jesus and the fresh jawbone represents us. The jawbone cannot exert any strength and cannot exert any force.
Look, you are all sitting down in the church at the moment. It is actually God who put you here. You although seem to have power and decision making, it is actually God who weaves His strength and moves you.
When we drive or ride a vehicle, we need a fuel gauge to indicate how much fuel we have. If not, then we will be in trouble.
Do you have the gauge measuring the heart of God? If you do, then how helpful is that!? It can tell you how far or close you are from the heart of God. If far, then you can know that you should perhaps read the bible.
Thankfully, the bible tells us precisely where our hearts are at.
No matter how good to TV or the washing machine, without the electricity, it is good for nothing.
In the same way, when Samson reached out and grabbed the jawbone of the donkey, it was used as a powerful weapon as Samson pleased.
Thus, in our spiritual life as well, our performance is actually nothing. What is most important is whether God holds on to our heart or not.
When you have distrust and difficulties in your heart, then you are in a difficult state. God can just chuck you away as a jawbone and you become useless.
““I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
John 15:1-2 NKJV
We are actually nothing. Our skills and abilities are nothing. Everything is entirely by the grace of God. The problem is that we are not free from ourselves.
When Samson held on to the jawbone of the donkey, it became so useful. After he slaughtered the enemies, did he decorate it in his house? No! He chucked it.
This is why in our church, we do not exalt people at all. If we do so, it is like decorating the jawbone in the house. What do you do with the jawbone after use? You throw away as far as you can.
There are a number of you who are used in the church but suffer in the end because you are not exalted. You may say that you have used your time, made offerings and volunteered for the gospel’s sake – so why is that person not exalted in the church? Is not this how you complain?
The “worldly” churches exalt people. It is where people are established and not God.
I am a servant of God here as a pastor. I feel I am nothing but like the jawbone of a donkey. The moment God chucks me away then there is nothing I can do.
The moment you feel that you are able, then you are alienated from God.
God made us with dust. When Adam and Eve heard the voice of Satan, their heart changed and they focused on themselves. God wanted to fix that problem.
“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.””
Genesis 3:19 NKJV
We are dust. It just receives anything. It does not speak against you nor go against you.
So once you know to your heart that you are dust, then even if someone insults you or steps over you, then you are fine with it. You will be able to receive it just as you are. But why is it that you cannot do it? It is because you are exalted above the fact that you are nothing but dust.
Once I argued with my wife. When we argue, we of course raise our voices, and swear and what not. Once I slept in, and I usually wake at 4am. However, that day it was way past 5:30am and my wife told me off – “Are you even qualified as a pastor?” And I was so convinced too. However, I came to realise that I am truly a pastor only by grace.
One day, David came back to Ziklag and all his men and cattle and wives and children were taken captives. Then, all the people tried to stone David and kill him for they also lost their family and belongings. At this time, there are two kinds of people – one group will say because of this, let us quit! The world and way of faith does not work…so let’s quit! Another group will say “This is why we should ask for the grace of God”.
It’s been 9 years now since I came to Sydney. When I first came, I felt so stuffy. This building was bought and there was a badminton net in this hall and elder Frank and sister Ruth used to come and play badminton here. The church service was actually being held in Dulwich Hill. I felt so stuffy. I actually did not want to come here. But God sent me here.
Since God sent me here, so it means that God still has work to do through me.
In Townsville, pastor David asked me to preach in English. I did not want to but he asked me “Pastor, how long will you live like this?” So I changed my heart and preached in English. In Brisbane too, I was asked to preach in English and so I did. There is the world I see but there is the world that God sees.
With my lacking English, I went to the council and asked for permission to use this building. That was how we started and by the grace of God, in the end, we could obtain all certificates including construction certificates to use this church. This is all totally by the grace of God.
Let’s say you have tiling skills. Do you think that it is you who acquired the skills? If you do, then you are truly deceived.
People can be largely divided in to two groups.
“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
Romans 11:36 NKJV
Where are all things from? God.
Through whom are all things? God.
To whom are all things? God.
There is therefore nothing that we have produced ourselves. Sadly, there are many people who misunderstand. They think that things came out from themselves.
Let’s compare two different kings in the bible.
“Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters and masons. And they built David a house. So David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted His kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.”
II Samuel 5:11-12 NKJV
Building a house here is trickier than in other countries. For the parsonage, we had to dig the ground and then build the foundation by pouring concrete. Between the ground and the concrete, we have to place a yellow sheet in order to prevent termites from eating the house. Second between two layers of iron, we put grease in there so that it can prevent earthquakes when the building shakes.
David and his works are separated clearly. David became king over Israel. Also what God had done for him is very clear.
“All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.” That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.”
Daniel 4:28-33 NKJV
You can see the clear comparison between king David and king Nebuchadnezzar.
When a house is being built, there is a clear layer of yellow sheet and the two layers of iron sheets. Likewise, in the heart of David, there was a clear separation from his works. For king Nebuchadnezzar there was no separation. He was connected strongly to his heart.
If the house is built connected from foundation to concrete, then indeed the building will collapse in the event of an earth quake.
Through words of God, we are nothing but a jawbone of a donkey.
Being in the church has nothing go do with our works. When Samson held the jawbone of the donkey, it became very powerful. God really wants to rid of our works.
David knew clearly it was not him but God doing it for him.
Everyone is so self-centred. We feel that without ourselves, nothing else would work out. The problem is that people make great of themselves. In this way, they are deprived of peace and thankfulness.
The reason why God gave us the law is so that we can understand who we are.
God has no expectation of us to do well so that is why He sent His one and only son to save us.
The heart to witness and preach the gospel is not from us but from the Lord.
Please say after me: “I am just a jawbone of a donkey”. The more you increase your own self, the more you get deceived. Please just put your own value down then you will see the great work of God. The jawbone of a donkey which is nothing can be used greatly for the gospel.
One day, when I came to Australia, I read Jeremiah 1. It says there that God knew us before we were formed. God sees me as a Spirit. When I see myself, I am evil, dirty, filthy and lustful – so how can I call myself a servant of God. Yet, God already knew be before I was formed in my mother’s womb. And He has established me as a prophet of many nations.
When I first ministered in Muchangpo church, I told them all that I would travel many countries and I will preach the gospel overseas. I was so poor then and so was the remotely situated church. But now God has sent me to many nations to preach the gospel. I am truly nothing like the jawbone but God uses me.
Folks, if your heart is exalted, then God will have no choice but to throw you away like the used jawbone.
Folks, you are in the hands of God which is why God gives you all the conditions, including good conditions for the work of God. If you believe that your works are yours, then you will be thrown away like the used jawbone.