Monday Sermon – Final Encouragement

Dear All:

We who are still in training can benefit from persons who were near the end of their training, and who wrote to encourage us from that perspective.  There are several examples from the Old Testament, but only one from the New Testament, namely Simon Peter.

Peter knew that he would be killed, having been warned of this by Jesus.  Hear Jesus.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”  This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”  (John 21:18-19)

Peter was waiting to die, and wrote a wonderful letter to us.  Hear Peter’s justification.

“Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.

“Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.”  (2 Peter 1:13-15)

His “tent” is, of course, his physical body.  Peter used this final opportunity to put our training in perspective.  He encouraged us to persist with our training, despite the distractions, obstacles and objections that will certainly come.

I have decided to paraphrase his final letter, 2 Peter.  You are encouraged to read it for yourself.  It follows.

My dear fellow trainees:

Our Employer has graciously given us everything we need to complete our training.  He has promised us that all of the training exercises are achievable, once we start with the right attitude.

If you are committed to becoming productive employees, then please read the employee manual so that you may understand the Employer’s standards of work and behaviour.  With this knowledge, you can then begin practising the exercises.  You may find them challenging at first, but please do not become discouraged. They will eventually become easier if you persist with them.

Once you have become proficient in the exercises, then please encourage your work colleagues, and teach them everything that you have learnt.  Your own training will be complete when you have unselfishly helped to train enough of your colleagues.

Please try to encourage those who find the exercises challenging, especially if they seem discouraged.  If they give up, they may never develop the confidence that comes with completing an exercise, and will probably develop a fear of failure or a crippling belief that such exercises are unachievable.

I have completed my training and will shortly be leaving this department.  However, before I go, allow me to give you some important advice.  I hope that after I am gone, you will reread this letter to remind and encourage you during your own period of training.

Firstly. Please understand that the Company is not a myth or a cunningly devised fable. I personally know the Chief Executive Officer, and I heard when the Employer confirmed his appointment. The Employer Himself actually dictated the employee manual for your benefit.

Secondly. Please be aware that some members of your class may not appreciate the purposes of the training exercises, or they will think that the exercises are too challenging, irrelevant, or unachievable.

They will then try to promote their own low standards of productivity.  Unfortunately, this will only ensure that they, and those who they mislead, are unprepared for the work of the Company.  They will find themselves unemployable after their time of training has expired.

If those promoting low standards are able to influence most of the class in unproductive behaviour, then the Employer may have to take drastic measures.  He has had to do this at least three times in the past.

The first time was when a vice-president and some associates attempted to take-over the Company and they were fired.  The second was when the entire student body rejected the training and the Employer had to wash down the facility.  The third was when a class engaged in abominable behaviour and the Employer had to apply a hot treatment.  However, if you remain faithful to your training, despite the unproductive influences around you, then you will be retained.

Those who try to frustrate your training are ignorant, presumptuous and self-willed.  Most of them only attend the training classes to impress and seduce those of the opposite sex with smooth words.  They continually try to entice others away from their training and promise them a fun time, while they are actually addicted to corrupt behaviour, that prevents them from attaining any reasonable level of productivity.

Both the enticer and the enticed will become unemployable, just like those who refuse to start training and instead waste all of their precious time on the playground.  If a person starts training and then becomes addicted to corrupt practises, then it is better if they had not commenced training at all.

Thirdly. Please remember that the Employer’s expansion project will commence.  However, He is waiting patiently, and He will suffer and be inconvenienced for as long as practically possible.  You see, He has no desire that those who are not training properly, or those who are not training at all should be destined for unemployment.  He is desperately hoping that those in the playground, and those playing the fool in the classroom will commence and complete their training respectively.

Since the expansion project will start, please prepare yourself for the wonderful responsibilities that you will receive upon completion of your training, and do not be distracted by those who have no interest in your future.  Above all, grow in the favour and knowledge of our Chief Executive Officer, Jesus Christ.


Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer.  He can be reached at

Monday Sermon – Basic Preparatory Training

Today, it is useful to understand the basic preparatory training for those who want to follow Jesus.

Jesus gave a set of commandments.  Some Christians found them challenging to follow, so they developed diverse and conflicting traditions about these commandments, including:

  • they should be followed;
  • they are optional;
  • they are a guide;
  • they are impossible to follow; and
  • their purpose is to show us how sinful we are, and our need for a savior.

However, rather than speculate about whether we should follow them or not, we should go to the first rule on interpreting the Bible – what does Jesus say about it?  If Jesus is silent on the matter, then we can go to other rules.

Jesus introduced His commandments by stating:

Whoever breaks the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)

Jesus ended His commandments by stating:

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I [Jesus] will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

It would seem that Jesus intended that that all of His followers should obey all of His commandments, which are included in what is popularly called, ‘the sermon on the mount’. A descriptive outline of this sermon follows. The details are provided in the Gospel according to Matthew, chapters 5 to 7.

  1. Expect to face challenging situations, so count the cost before making a commitment to follow Jesus. (Matthew 5:3-12)
  2. Be visible and effective in your obedience to God. (Matthew 5:13-16)
  3. Do the right thing, especially when there is no expectation of a reward. (Matthew 5:17-20)
  4. Maintain good relationships with others, and reconcile quickly with your adversaries. (Matthew 5:21-26)
  5. Do not sin in thoughts, words, or deeds. (Matthew 5:27-30)
  6. Be faithful to your spouse. (Matthew 5:31-32)
  7. Tell the truth always, regardless of the consequences. (Matthew 5:33-37)
  8. Submit to everyone and trust God. (Matthew 5:38-42)
  9. Love your enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48)
  10. Do charitable deeds in secret. (Matthew 6:1-4)
  11. Cultivate a relationship with God, your heavenly Father, and genuinely forgive everyone who hurts you. (Matthew 6:5-15)
  12. When fasting, do not make it obvious to others. (Matthew 6:16-18)
  13. Let your principal security be in heaven. (Matthew 6:19-21)
  14. Do not be distracted with things that can cause you to lose your way. (Matthew 6:22-23)
  15. Trust God for your security, rather than trusting in your wealth, or your ability to generate wealth. (Matthew 6:24)
  16. Do not worry about anything, but first seek God’s kingdom and righteousness. (Matthew 6:25-34)
  17. Do not attempt to correct others while you are struggling with the same challenges. (Matthew 7:1-5)
  18. Wisely share information with those who lack understanding. (Matthew 7:6)
  19. Treat others the way that you want to be treated. (Matthew 7:7-12)
  20. Stay on the responsible path, even when you have little company. (Matthew 7:13-14)
  21. Beware of counterfeit leaders – you will recognize them by their irresponsible behaviour, which they cannot stop doing. (Matthew 7:15-20)
  22. It is not only acknowledging Jesus as Lord that will allow you to enter the Kingdom, but by practicing these commandments. (Matthew 7:21-23)
  23. If you obey these sayings, then you will be stable, otherwise, you will be unstable during challenging times. (Matthew 7:24-27)

Jesus commanded His followers to obey both the letter and spirit of the law. Jesus did this by contrasting His commandments with those given by Moses and Jewish tradition, for example.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. (Matthew 5:21b, 22)

Jesus’ commandments not only instruct believers to avoid doing what is wrong, but to proactively do what is right, motivated by love.

Many of these commandments appear to be contrary to our natural tendencies.  However, we normally improve at doing whatever we practice. Therefore, with persistent practice, this behaviour can become habitual.  Enjoy your improvement journey.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at