TUESDAY REFLECTION – Fear God

Tuesday Reflection – July 16, 2019

FEAR GOD.

There are many times when as Christians we place more faith in the process than in the one who directs the process. We may even chose one aspect over another, thinking that this will bring more security for us. Today’s watchword challenged us to examine what drives our faith and points us to what truly matters. ‘Fear God’. For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God. Ecc 5: 7

The watchword speaks to a specific situation. One in which the religious practice of the day was to place a lot of faith on dreams and long speeches. The person who is superstitious will place great value on dreams and may even adjust their lives accordingly. The verbose person, quick to make vows, will be contented in thinking that their long and articulate prayers are pleasing and acceptable to God. In both cases God is second place. We must be careful that we do not fall into the trap of placing God second to superstition or to self. When self is first, dreams and words are powerless to help us. It is not what we or others say or believe that matters most. It is not how we present ourselves before others and God that counts, it is how much we fear God. To fear God is to be in awe of God, to give the respect, the honor to God that is due only to God. To fear God is to be in complete submission to God, realizing that our will and desire leads to bad choices, but God leads us constantly to what is best for us and those around us. Proverbs 9: 10 reminds us The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.Someone stated it this way ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and wisdom is to depart from evil’. God created us for this purpose because it in in fearing God that we are able to truly worship him with all our heart, soul, body and mind. Ecc 12: 13 -14 tells us that our complete duty is to fear God and obey his laws for God will bring all our actions into judgement, both good and bad. I urge you friends, do not put your trust in the things of the world, as beneficial as they may seem. Do not trust in popular religion, attractive though it may be. Rather keep your faith in God intact and depend on God only.Trust nothing and no one more than you trust God. In all that we do let us remember first and foremost to fear God. Amen. 
Bevon White

MONDAY REFLECTION – The Test

Monday Reflection – July 14, 2019

The Test

The Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you indeed love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. Deuteronomy 13:3

Hear the context of today’s Watchword: If prophets or those who divine by dreams appear among you and promise you omens or portents,and the omens or the portents declared by them take place, and they say, “Let us follow other gods” (whom you have not known) “and let us serve them,” you must not heed the words of those prophets or those who divine by dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you indeed love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.”(vs 1-3)

The text outlines that dreams can be from God, or they can be false prophesies. We should allow God to bring confirmation to any dream we believe brings a message from him. Interestingly, this text is not focused on a prophet who speaks a word and it does not come to pass. Rather, it is about a prophet who speaks a word and it comes to pass, but then say that they should follow other gods and serve them. For Moses, such prophets and dreamers should be ignored.

What is critically required here is discernment. In this age where popularity and falsehood are the order of the day in Christendom, Christians cannot neglect the importance of discernment. The reality of signs and wonders can never be the only evidence of truth or the revelation by God. Indeed, those who are immediately convinced at the sight of supernatural power or reality are in danger of great deception. Godly discernment will always carefully examine the message of a prophet or dreamer, instead of the spiritual experiences which he or she perform. No prophecy can be true if it speaks against what God has already revealed in his word.

We are reminded of John’s admonition, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). No matter how impressive or accurate a prophet’s miracles or prophecies, his credibility hangs on whether he leads people toward or away from God. For Richard Ritenbaugh, the following questions must be answered before we judge a person as a true or false prophet:1. Does he claim to prophesy in God’s name or in a false god’s name?

2. Do his prophecies come to pass?
3. Does he teach the truth based on God’s Word?

Yet, Moses points out that all this is a test for God’s people to determine the sincerity of their allegiance to God. God allows deceivers to exist among his people so as to allow the hearts of his people to be tested and proven, to see if they really love the God of truth or are merely seeking a spiritual sign or experience. This forces us to ask some serious questions – Why do we really serve God? What is our motive for following God? What benefits are we seeking? Are we seeking wonders and signs, prosperity and blessings? May we be reminded that God will ultimately separate those who are true from those who are not, and each of us will receive our just reward.

Jermaine Gibson

SATURDAY REFLECTION

Saturday Reflection- 13 July 2019

Jesus said, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.                                 Luke 12:15

I can always remember the time for Young People’s Hymn at Holy Cross when the hymn sung would be “Just as I am thine own to be’, specifically verse 4

With many dreams of fame and gold,
Success and joy to make me bold,
But dearer still my faith to hold,
For my whole life, I come.

With that hymn in mind, we reflect on today’s doctrinal text where Jesus warns the people not to be consumed with what we can possess in this life and that becomes the driving factor to everything that we do. Our sole purpose, the unhanded motive, everything is in an effort to earn. Jesus wants to us to hold a holistic view and not blinded by the achievement of wealth, power, status and possessions. It’s not that we must be minded on success but it must not engulf everything else in life.

 In chapter 12 of Luke’s gospel, Jesus encounters a rich man who asks Jesus to order his brother to divide his inheritance with him. After sharing today’s doctrinal text, Jesus goes on to tell a popular parable of a man who grows a large harvest and as a result does not have the space to store his crops. So he decides to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. He stores his crops and says that he has down well and now has the time to take life easy, eat, drink and be merry. There God says to him “Thou fool, this night thy soul is required of thee.” And asks him, who will benefit from what he has put aside. He warns the people that this is how it will be when one is rich in possessions and not rich towards God.

Heal Thy children’s warring madness,
Bend our pride to Thy control;
Shame our wanton selfish gladness
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal.                                                            (God of grace and God of glory, verse 3)

My brothers and sisters, in our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, let us ensure that we have spent the time with family, friends and loved ones, enjoying our professions and calls in life. But most of all, let us know our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the giver of all, and let us have a relationship with him. Let us prayers not only be consumed with our wants and earthly desires, but like Solomon let us pray for wisdom and understanding that we may discern the things of God. Let us not store our treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break in and steal, but store treasures in heaven where moth and rust cannot corrupt and where thieves cannot break in and steal. As we know, that if our earthly house is dissolved we have a building not made with hands, eternal in heavens. And reiterating last week’s point, freely we have received, freely give. That’s the challenge God give us when he says Prove me, that I will not pour a blessing that you will not have room enough to receive it. Let not live a life that is consumed and driven by our material possessions, but live a life, that is consumed and driven by God. For where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also.

Until next week, let us make God our vision, our wisdom, our breastplate, our all-in-all, let us not be blinded by all this world can afford, that we go through all means necessary to attain it. But let’s seek first the kingdom of God all his righteousness, then, everything else will be added unto you. My brothers and sisters, let’s look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith and surely all the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.

Dominic J. Blair

FRIDAY REFLECTION – Powered by Grace

Friday Reflection
July 12, 2019

Powered by Grace 

He saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
2 Timothy 1:9 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/2ti.1.9.KJV

Greetings, peace from God the Father, I hope you are in good health and prospering in the GRACE of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

I share with you the commentary on the word for today. Matthew Henry puts it this way:

“The origin of salvation is the free grace and eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus. If we had merited it, it  would have been hard to suffer for it; but our salvation by it is of free grace, and not according to our works.”

In my own words, it is not of good that we have done, but we are called to serve ONLY because God has given to us the free gift of Salvation. It is through him that we are POWERED BY GRACE

As I reflected on the text , I began to wonder whether we truly appreciate and understand the mission to which we are called. I wonder if we recall the reason for which  we are called. I wonder if we are cognitive of the fact that we are called by God. I also wonder why we “work” so hard thinking that our works will carry us into eternity! 

Paul in his letter to Timothy, belabored 3 very important points: 

1. It is God who saved us:
2. We are called to a Holy calling:
3. It is ONLY by GRACE that we receive the FREE gift of salvation:
I want us to pay keen attend to these three pronouncements. None of the above requires human input. For this reason I urge you to keep your hearts and minds stayed on Jesus. It is easy to get caught up in the WORK of the church, it is easy to become self righteous and to act has though we are POWERED by our own doing rather that by GOD’S GRACE. 

Brothers and Sisters, my beloved friends, do not be ignorant of the gospel. Instead , let the word of God sit with you day and night, that you may understand why you are here and what you are meant to do. Do not be ashamed of the admit that you are not powered by your own skills and competencies, but be bold in declaring that you are POWERED BY GRACE!

Paul is by far the most resolute apostle in history. He warns against self gratification and self righteous. He embraces the free gift of salvation. He speaks of the GRACE of God in ALL his teachings. If you won’t take it from me , take it from him. 

Untill next week, remember it is not works that saves, keeps and satisfy Instead, it is the GRACE OF GOD. 

Shaneka Raymore-Euphfa

THURSDAY REFLECTION – God’s gift of Peace

Thursday Reflection – July 11, 2019

God’s gift of Peace   “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those he favors!” Luke 2:14  

Greeting friends!

Our passage today from St. Luke 2 is centered on the birth of Jesus. The Roman Emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire and each person should return to their home town to facilitate the census being taken. Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father, was from Bethlehem and had to travel there from Nazareth in Galilee with his wife Mary who was visible pregnant to take the census. Whilst in Bethlehem Mary gave birth to Jesus. The same night he was born an angel appeared to shepherds tending their flock nearby, sharing with them the good news of the Messiah’s birth. Suddenly, the angel was joined by a host of other angels praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those he favors!” After the angels left, the shepherds went to Bethlehem to bear witness of what was spoken by the angels. 

In analyzing the message of the angels we first need to break it down, that we may have a greater understanding. The angels began with a statement of praise, “Glory to God in the highest heaven.” They offered praise to God for the birth of Jesus. I ask the question why? The answer to that question is in the second part of the message. The angels stated, “… on earth peace among those he favors.” Who are those favored by God? Those favored by God are those who accept the Good News of Jesus. Those who are favored will receive peace.  

What is this peace offered by God? Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus said this in the context of preparing his disciples for his death, resurrection and ascension. I do not give you as the world gives can be translated I do not give you the peace that the world has. Peace according to the dictionary is defined as freedom from disturbance; tranquility or a period where there is no war or where war has ended. If Jesus says that he does not give us as the world does and the world defines peace as the absence of trouble then what is this peace offered by Jesus and that the angels are talking about?

The peace given to those favored by God is not the absence of war, or troubles or difficulties, rather it is the peace of mind and heart that only Jesus can give. Only Jesus can give it, because we do not know what it truly is until we experience Jesus. It’s illogical to be facing difficulties in life and still be at peace, but this is what Jesus offers. Not until we truly understand what Jesus offers will we be able to experience peace. Remember those who accept Jesus are favored by God and are given peace, but we do not truly experience this peace until we fully understand what Jesus offers.

What is Jesus offering? Jesus is offering God’s security in a world of turmoil, therefore we can be at peace. We do not have to worry about the troubles of this world, what we will wear or eat, nor fear death the greatest enemy for God has and is dealing with those and the fact that Jesus is dealing with those challenges we can be at peace.

Let us rejoice and praise God for those who have accepted Jesus are favored by God and will receive peace.Until next week, praise God for the gift of peace.


Christopher Euphfa

WEDNESDAY REFLECTION – The Mustard Seed Effect (PART II)

Wednesday Reflection – July 10, 2019

The Mustard Seed Effect – Part 2

Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.

Matthew 13:31-32

As I reflected some more and did further readings on this New Testament text used for reflection on Monday, many thoughts began to consume me. I felt led to share some more thoughts on this text. Jesus indicates that the mustard seed grows into the greatest of shrubs and unnaturally becomes a tree. Indeed, it is the simplicity of the gospel that produces exponential growth. The spread of the gospel began like a humble, lowly plant, yet with a powerful, pervasive, penetrating and pungent effect. The church has grown like a great shrub and tree.

Yet, I believe that there is a word of caution here. There are aspects of the church that have grown into a huge, ungainly, abnormal tree, concerned with power, pride and domination, wanting to be served instead of to serve. Too many churches have become more concerned with putting up great, imposing church buildings as a sign of our prestige and status in the community. We want to create an image that sells like secular businesses, and we become consumed with advertising and publicizing ourselves to keep ourselves before the eyes of the world. We crave for power and pursue setting up empires, instead of building the Kingdom. I think that sometimes the way the gospel is proclaimed we forget that the church doesn’t save anybody; the Lord does. The church doesn’t help anyone; it is the Lord who helps through us. We sometimes forget the Lord and talk more about our church. Look again at the early Christians, they never mentioned the church until after a person joined the family of God. They talked about Jesus.

Jesus also states that ‘…the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” What does this mean? Ray Stedman points out for us that right in this series of parables, Jesus tells us what the birds mean. In the first parable he said that when the seed of the word falls upon a hardened human heart, the birds come and snatch it away. The birds represent the evil one, the enemy, whose evil powers and forces are at work upon people’s lives. For Stedman, “… vultures and buzzards, birds of prey, apt symbols of evil persons and evil ideas make their home right in God’s church.” One of the ways that this is demonstrated is where preachers and spokespersons for the church propagate a flood of stupid, ridiculous, mixed-up ideas. These are evil concepts which have blasted, blighted and even ruined the hearts and minds of people. We must wake up, discern right from wrong, and ban anything that is not truth from our pulpits and worship services.  Too many Christians have fallen asleep while seeds of falsehood are being sown and producing evil plants and fruits. IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP!!!

Till next week, may a fresh anointing fall on us as we build God’s Kingdom.

Jermaine Gibson

TUESDAY REFLECTION – God Offers Life!

Tuesday Reflection – July 09, 2019

God Offers Life!

Today’s Watchword comes from Amos 5: 4. Thus says the Lord, ‘Seek me and live!’ Known as the prophet of Doom, Amos did not mince words when it came to calling Israel to repentance. Unlike many of the Old Testament prophets, Amos was not from a family of prophets or from a school of prophets. He was a farmer by profession. He made it clear that he was not trained to be a prophet but God had called him and sent him to proclaim his message that God offers life.

We learn from Amos’ prophesies that God was tired of his people’s lack of love for each other. They took advantage of each other and did not practice being good neighbors. In fact they had become a selfish people, looking out only for their self-interests. As a result of their sins, God made them know through the prophet that they were doomed, they would be destroyed. Many calamities had befallen them but it had not been enough to cause them to return to God. The final warning now comes in chapter 4: 12 ‘prepare to meet thy God’. When people fail to heed God’s warning their situation will become worse and God withholds his mercy from them. Remember the man at the pool in John 5? After he was healed Jesus said to him  “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (14). Through today’s watchword, Amos offers an escape from God’s anger. ‘Seek God and live.’ Along with God’s passing of judgement comes the offer of hope for those who would repent. There are many parallels between Amos’ time and today. Our society is in danger of being destroyed by sinfulness. The message of Amos is as relevant today as it was then. Seek God and live for God offers life.  Seeking God is vital to our faith. We cannot truly know God unless we seek Him. Speaking through Jeremiah in ch 29: 13, God said, ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. Seeking God means turning away from this world and seeking a relationship with God. It is finding our completion in Him. It is knowing that all that we need, our fulfillment, our help, our strength, comes from our God. To seek God is therefore to seek a complete life, life at its fullest and best. Such seeking takes energy and faith and should not be seen as light duty. It demands our all for it results in our finding our all in all. It is no wonder that it is in seeking God that we find life, for to the person employed in seeking God, life can never be the same. In seeking God there will be great improvement in our quality of life for God offers life at its best for those who seek Him. Seek God and live. Amen.
Bevon White

MONDAY REFLECTION – The Mustard Seed Effect

Monday Reflection – July 08, 2019

The Mustard Seed Effect

Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. Matthew 13:31-32

Today’s New Testament text records the third of five parables which Jesus shared about the Kingdom of heaven. These were all given in one message delivered on a single occasion as he sat in a boat on the Sea of Galilee teaching the people gathered on the shore. He interprets the first two for us as a guide to our own interpretation of the rest. It is clear from the first two that every element in the story has significance.

In this parable five symbols are used. There is the sower again, and the field in which he sowed, and the seed that is sown which in this case is mustard seed, the tree which grows from it, and the birds that make their nests in its branches. It is easy to interpret the first two symbols. The sower obviously is Jesus himself. In each of these parables he has been sowing, and in the second parable he told us, “The sower is the Son of man.” The field is the world. In this case a mustard seed is sown. The use of these various seeds is Jesus’ way of revealing the various aspects of the gospel which he turned loose in the world. He sowed a fantastic, revolutionary, radical word in human society.

Mustard is a peculiar kind of seed with an unusual quality. It was known to be an irritant, something fiery and biting. Jesus uses this symbol to indicate that the message of the kingdom of God is intended to be arousing, yet irritating among people. Turn it loose, and it will get a whole community excited, stirred up, either negatively or positively. The gospel makes us uncomfortable at times. We sometimes experience the mustard working in and on us as we begin to squirm and itch, or experience transformation and healing.

Jesus points out that this mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds. A mustard seed is small, but obviously not the smallest of all seeds. I believe that Jesus was using a proverb of the day, “small as a mustard seed”.  Here he is clearly stressing the apparent insignificance of the gospel. It does not look like much; it does not sound like much. We say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” That does not sound very impressive to many people. It is so simple that you can teach it to children and they understand. So the world is not very excited about it; the world does not regard it as a tremendous, earth-shaking philosophy. The gospel is simple. But, let someone actually believe it, and see what happens. When we really trust Christ and invite him into our lives, it is the most transforming, the most revolutionary thing that could ever happen. It is the beginning of a radical change.

This is the seed our Lord is talking about. This message of the kingdom is like a seed of mustard planted in the midst of society, with fantastic power. Look at the tree that grows out of it! Yet mustard is not a tree; it does not grow into a tree. What in the world is Jesus saying then? I believe he intends to teach that growth in the kingdom is an unnatural growth. When Jesus is our Lord, he takes away pride, destroys egotism and self-centeredness and renders a person humble and gentle toward others, ready to serve. Real growth is in surrender and service and not in domination, pomposity and power. It is the inward working of the Holy Spirit that reflects itself in humble service on the outside.

Till next week, may we be enabled to experience the mustard effect!

Jermaine Gibson

FRIDAY REFLECTION – Outside of God, there is NO life, just mere existence

Friday Reflection
July 5, 2019

Outside of God, there is NO life, just mere existence 

The word for today:
‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
Acts 17:28 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/act.17.28.NIV

Good day friends, 
Blessed Friday to you all… 
If a person is living and not merely existing that means he/she is spending life conveniently. However, Living is to make the most of life and to experience the beautiful reality of life as it is.Living means the actual existence of a being up to the fullest

Are you living or are you merely existing? This a question that each of us should ask ourselves. The answer to this question is heavily dependent on a number of factors, of which I will share only two. The two I find most important comes out of today’s text for reflection:
1. Outside of God, there is No life  In verses 25 -27of this same chapter, Paul exclaimed why outside of the true and living God there is no other God. He went on to establish the foundation of our lives and explained that it is God who gave us life. Brothers and sister these words speak for themselves, if it is God who made us and gave us life, outside of him, WE HAVE NO LIFE! 

2. We should know to whom we belong   I invite you to read the entire chapter as to get a clearer understanding of why Paul said “it is in God we live, move and have our being”. However, I will say to us today, that it is important to know where you are from and to whom you belong.
Society teaches us that this is how we form our Identity and begin to learn more about ourselves. So I say to you friends, be clear about who you are and who you belong to. Otherwise, you will find yourself in the same position as the people mentioned in this passage. They were worshipping UNKNOWN GODS! . THEY HAD NO IDENTITY! 

Untill next week, remember, outside of God there is no life, you are just merely existing 

Blessings
Shaneka Raymore-Euphfa

THURSDAY REFLECTION – Faith expressing itself in love

Thursday Reflection – July 04, 2019

Faith expressing itself in love    

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6

Greeting friends!

Today’s reflection takes us to Galatians chapter 5 and more specifically verse 6. We are more acquainted with this chapter, because it speaks about the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh, however it is the discussion that took place earlier in the chapter that led up to these popular verses. The discussion begins with freedom. At that time there were persons arguing that circumcision was needed in order to be saved, however Paul countered that argument by stating that Christ’s death and resurrection has set us free from the bondage of the Jewish law. This freedom does not mean we are free to do whatever we want. So, we cannot use it to gratify the sinful desires of the flesh. Instead we must use this freedom to serve another in love. Verse 6 summarizes beautifully this text, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

As I examined this text, I began to reflect deeply on this verse. Paul was addressing a misnomer created by Christians who believe that circumcision is the most important thing in salvation. These Christians began to confuse others (verse 7) by focusing on the non-essential. It makes me wonder how often we focus on the non-essential within our own churches… and how often do we allow these non-essentials to take priority over what is truly essential? What is the non-essential? This is anything that is not crucial to your faith in God and the salvific process. So when we argue about the length of service this is a non-essential. If we make it to heaven we’ll be praising God for the rest of our lives. Whether we paint the church in white or blue is a non-essential. Whether we cover our head or not in church is a non-essential. The use of the litany every Sunday is a non-essential. If you use it that is okay. If you don’t use it that is still okay. I doubt you’ll go to hell for not using it.  

What is important though is faith expressing itself in love. I share the commentary on this verse from the New Living Translation. “We are saved by faith, not by deeds. But love for others and for God is the response of those whom God has forgiven… Because faith expresses itself through love, you can check your love for others as a way to monitor your faith.” We know that we are saved by grace for it is a gift from God, but we accept this gift through our faith. Now as a result of this acceptance we are required to demonstrate our love for God and our love for others. THIS IS WHAT IS CRUCIAL TO THE SALVIFIC PROCESS. Anyone who does not love does not know God for God is love (1 John 4:8). If we say we love God, but do not love others then we are a liar and the truth is not within us (1 John 4:20).

How we treat God and others is what is truly important. So we cannot say we love God, but we run the beggar that comes to church every Sunday. We cannot say we love, but our focus is only within Church and there are people within the community that need help. We cannot say we love, but there are those who have not heard the Good News of Jesus. We cannot say we love, but we look down on others or speak maliciously of them. We cannot say we love God and speak down to others and mistreat them, because you’re in a better position than they are.   

I charge us not to make the non-essentials a priority; instead let us focus on the essential and show love to everyone. In the words of Shaneka Raymore-Euphfa “Love is an action word” so let us do it.

Until next week remember faith expressing itself in love is truly what is important.

Christopher Euphfa