WEDNESDAY REFLECTION – Learning the Lessons of Life

Wednesday Reflection – August 14, 2019

Learning the Lessons of Life

I said, “Surely the citywill fear me, it will accept correction; it will not lose sightof all that I have brought upon it.” But they were the more eager to make all their deeds corrupt. Zephaniah 3:7

It is such an important task for us to learn the lessons of life that are afforded to us every day. I struck me just now that there may be so many lessons that I have missed in my every day experiences…Lord, forgive me. Every experience, whether we have had it or another person that we know of, every person we meet, every conversation we have, absolutely everything, everyday are all here to teach us lifelong lessons.

The book of Zephaniah consists of God’s warning of coming destruction. God declared judgement against Judah, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Cush and Assyria. God then turns his attention to Jerusalem, his own people. He describes them as being rebellious, defiled, disobedient, arrogant and shameless. They fail to trust in God and is in a long distant relationship with God. The state leaders are vile and cunning, while the religious leaders are arrogant, treacherous, and lack compliance with the law. In the context of this shameful behaviour of the people, God remains present, righteous, just and upright.

In today’s Watchword, God expressed disappointment at the behaviour and conduct of his people. He expected his people to fear him, accept correction and always remember all that he has done for them. However, the people became more corrupt, and of course ungrateful. One would have thought that in the very presence of God destroying others, but as yet sparing them, they would have learnt to fear God, to stand in awe of God for his judgments on others; that they would be in fear of God for his loving longsuffering towards them. Surely one might have expected that under such circumstances they would have repented and received correction, but no! They continued in their old way of living contrary to the will of God.

God’s judgement on others should have served as a lesson for his people, but they missed the lesson and received their own judgment. God was ready to exercise mercy, but only if the people repented. This text holds in proper balance the justice and mercy of God. We should always remember that we serve a God of justice, yet a God of mercy. In the midst of God’s justice is his mercy, and in his mercy is his justice. Our response to God is to acknowledge our sins and sincerely repent of them; to commit to seek first God’s Kingdom and pursue always the things that honour God. We ought always to strive to learn the lessons God is always teaching every day.  

Jermaine Gibson

TUESDAY REFLECTION – Led to Restoration

Led to Restoration

Psalm 23: 2 – 3

The journey of the Moravian remnants to the rebirth of the Moravian Church on August 13, 1754, can be described in the words of David in Psalm 23: 2 & 3. ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.’ Persecuted for their faith, the brethren were scattered and almost lost forever. As this was happening, John Amos Comenius, the last Bishop of the old Unity of the Brethren, prayed that the Lord would preserve a remnant of the church. His prayer was answered almost a hundred years later when Christian David was given permission by Count Zinzendorf to bring any persecuted member of the church he could find to stay on his estate in Germany where they would be safe from persecution. For these persecuted brethren God was truly leading them from turmoil, hardship, persecution and even death, to a place of restoration, a place of green pastures and still waters. David used the shepherd imagery to describe God’s complete provision for His servants. As the shepherd led the sheep daily to green grass, calm water and shade, the sheep would find satisfaction and restoration. Christian David had been a shepherd himself so he understood the imagery of the Psalm. God would lead his people from trouble, fear and turmoil, to restoration. Christian David made trips into the areas where the remnants of the Moravian Church were to be found and led them to the estate of Count Zinzendorf where they were restored and renewed.

All was not well however as the new settlement was anything but settled. There were frequent disagreements and they were helped by Zinzendorf to unite under a common understanding of their faith. They agreed to, and signed the Brotherly Agreement, (known today as the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living) a code for Christian conduct, and it was agreed that they would celebrate this milestone with a communion service on August 13, 1727. They gathered with a common purpose, united in prayer. As they worshipped the Holy Spirit filled their hearts with love for God and for each other and out of that experience the Moravian Church was reborn. God had led His people through the valley of the shadow of death, through persecution, wars and hardships to a place where they could worship in peace and safety, a place of restoration.

As we celebrate today I would like to assure someone that God still restores and renews. You may be in the valley of death and despair but that is not your destination. Do not get comfortable in despair for God is leading you to your place of restoration and renewal. Remember the woman with the issue of blood was healed and restored when she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. Remember the blind and deaf found new life when Jesus entered their situation. Remember Lazarus was dead bur Jesus called him forth from the tomb. Nothing is too hard for our God. Whatever your situation may be, He is able to bring restoration. Do not give up. Do not turn away. Let God lead you friend so that God can restore you. 

Bevon White

MONDAY REFLECTION – Let’s Sing!

Monday Reflection – August 12, 2019

Let’s Sing!

They sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.       Ezra 3:11

The book of Ezra opens with the end of the Babylonian captivity and the return of the exiles to Jerusalem. For some time after their arrival they were occupied with the necessary work of rebuilding their houses and lives, amid the ruins of Jerusalem and its neighborhood. Having accomplished this, they sought to rebuild the altar of burnt offering. This was urgent and immediate so they could make atonement for their sins and receive the divine blessing on their preparations for the temple.

As they set out to rebuild the temple, they organized the base upon its old foundation, so that it occupied as nearly as possible the site on which it had formerly stood.  There they offered the burnt offerings, as they wanted to restore their religious and worship life even before the temple was rebuilt and dedicated. At the establishment of the foundation, the faith community began to worship God. They sounded the trumpets and cymbals as they sang and shouted, praising and giving thanks to God. They declared, ‘God is good and his mercy endures forever toward Israel.’ There were no walls, no roof, no pulpit or table, yet they worshipped God. Isn’t it true that sometimes we get caught up in the beautiful edifice that we lose sight of the worship? Sometimes our focus is on the sanctuary more than the worship? I am in no way suggesting that we ought not to ensure that God’s temple is in an appropriate state. However, our focus should be more on the quality of worship to God.  

It is interesting that there was a mixed reaction from the people when they saw the foundation of the temple built. Some shouted for joy, while others wept. In fact, verse 13 says that one could discern the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping. Those who had only known the misery of having no temple at all, praised the Lord with shouts of joy. For them, it was as life from the dead. However, many who had seen the first temple were distressed that this new temple is likely to prove far inferior to that of the first, not only with regards to its outward structure, but also relating to the extraordinary marks of the divine favour that were evident in the first.

There was no hope that the poor beginnings of the latter temple would ever be raised to the grandeur and magnificence of the former, since the first was built by Solomon, the wisest and richest king. However, this new temple was being pursued by a small company of exiles. The first was finished with the most costly stones and timber, with exquisite art and overlaid with vast quantities of gold, while this one was going to be built with no better materials than what could be dug from the ruinous foundation of the old one.

Perhaps the greatest source of grief was that the ark of the covenant, and the mercy- seat which was upon it, the holy fire upon the altar, the Urim and Thummim, the spirit of prophecy, the Shekinah or divine presence, the five great things for which the former temple was so renowned, were lost and gone, and never to be recovered. What a time of distress for many! But, God provided a word through the prophet Haggai, “I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory: the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, says the Lord of hosts.” (2:7-9) Let us not stay consumed with the past and weep over it. Instead, let’s open our mouths and sing for joy; open our eyes and look, for God is going to do something new and better!

Jermaine Gibson

SATURDAY REFLECTION

Saturday Reflection – 10 August 2019

By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. St.Matthew 12:37

“May our light shine forth with brightness

From thy light reflected shine              

Then the world will bear us witness

That we, Lord are truly thine.”

(Christian hearts in love united verse 4b, N.L v Zinzendorf)

I was always told that Bishop Neil would say that “Lip and life must say the same thing” In the text, Jesus addresses the Pharisees an in turns warns against hypocrisy. Jesus, as he speaks in St. Matthew 12, says “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” We cannot serve two masters, be half-way or have “one foot in and one foot out” We cannot mask the fruit that is the produced when the tree bears, for our mango tree will always bear mangoes. So even if we mask the tree of our lives with hypocrisy and pretense, the fruit that it bears will always show the true result. Therefore since we affirm our faith in Christ, then we should live Christ-like lives.

Jesus warns against pretense in Matthew 23:27-28 (MSG) where he says “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” What God desires is a true and genuine relationship with in, born out of constant conversation, devotion and meditation with him and fueled by the Holy Spirit. When we spend time to nurture and grow our relationship with God, then the fruit of our effort will show this. Jesus is telling us that our actions, our thoughts and words are fruits from our habits and lifestyle, from the things we put into practice. That is why he says, “…out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” A true and genuine Christian life, engages the Holy Spirit to indwell us and in turn be taught all truth. There, my brothers and sisters, we won’t make pitfalls in what we do or say, because we are led by the Holy Spirit.

Since, we are then led by the Holy Spirit, we then must be careful of our behaviour. We must always exemplify Christ and shine his light through us at all times. To do this, we must ensure then that our words, our thoughts and actions are worthy of the name that we bear. We cannot transform the world with the gospel of Christ, if we conform to the world. We are therefore called to come out from among them and be separate so that we lead others out of darkness into his marvelous light. So then, in all our words and actions, we employ love and show the light of Christ. We tear down the walls of pretense and work on a true and genuine relationship with Christ. If we say Christ, then we must live Christ for the best message that we can preach is by the life that we live.

Until next week, may our lip and our life exemplify Christ so that we can truly be his disciples. It is our fruit that will show the result of our effort. May the fruit that we bear prove us faithful.

I leave you with a prayer that we said at the end of our Youth Meetings. Let it be our prayer as we live as Christ’s disciples

God be in my head and in my understanding,

God be in mine eyes and in my looking

God be in my mouth and in my speaking

God be in my heart and in my thinking

God be at mine end and at my departing, Amen.”

Dominic J. Blair

FRIDAY REFLECTION – Only God Can!

Friday Reflection
August 9, 2019

Only God can! 
Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
Zechariah 4:6 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/zec.4.6.KJV

An amazing message was given to Zerubbabel – a descendent of king David, who having returned from the Babylonian captivity to govern Jerusalem, was the one chosen of God to start rebuilding the Jewish Temple. He was told by Zechariah the prophet that God would carry out the work – ‘not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.

This divine revelation is as relevant today as it was centuries ago for we must all come to an understanding that the Lord Himself will carry out His plans, which He alone has purposed – ‘not by might nor by power, but by the grace of God’s Spirit alone. Zerubbabel was not told HOW God was to carry out His plans and purposes… for like us, he only saw through a glass darkly – nevertheless his responsibility, like ours, is to live by faith in God – to trust the Word of the Lord  and to believe all that God has told us.

God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year, but we are not always party to the plans that God has purposed in the counsel His own will However, we are His workmanship… we are the spiritual Temple of God, that is being built together by His Holy Spirit. God’s work is not carried out by the cleverness of men or the influence of their mighty ministries– we are being built together by the work of the indwelling Spirit of God. We are the body of Christ. We are the Church of God that is quietly being built into His eternal dwelling place, precious stone by precious stone.

Zerubbabel faced tremendous difficulties as he sought to carry out the work that God had prepared beforehand, for him to do – but he was given an assurance that he would complete the task that God had set before him… ‘not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.

We too face increasing pressures in our own days and age and at times we too may be tempted to consider that the task of living by faith and trusting the Lord is overwhelming in the midst of a crocked and perverse generation… nevertheless this Word from the Lord is as true for us today as it was so many centuries ago – that God Who started a good work in us will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus… ‘not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD.

Today’s prayer
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the encouragement that I get from the Word of God, which is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. Thank You that I am equipped to carry out Your work in my life, not through my own might or my own cleverness or intelligence – but through Your Spirit Who lives in me. Thank You in Jesus name – AMEN.

Blessings
Today’s reflection is shared from knowingjesus.com

THURSDAY REFLECTION – Omnipotent God

Thursday Reflection – August 8, 2019

Omnipotent God

In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you. 2 Chronicles 20:6
What do you do in times of difficulty and fear? I can tell you what King Jehoshaphat did. Three nations joined forces to fight against Judah. So large was this army that a messenger to the King referred to the army as, “A great multitude.” The scripture tells us in verse 3 “Jehoshaphat was afraid;  so he set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. The following verse tells us, “Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the towns of Judah they came to seek the Lord.”
It is here in a prayer Jehoshaphat declared, “In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you.”
We can learn from Jehoshaphat how to deal with situations of fear, anxiety, and attacks from the enemy; we fast and pray.
We do so with confidence, because of the declaration made by the King. In God’s hand is power and might. What a mighty God we serve. Jehoshaphat declare the might of the Lord. It was God who brought them into the Promised Land and defeated their enemies.
Similarly, we too are well acquainted with the might and power of God. I share a few of mine:It was God who healed me from severe stomach pain as a child when doctors could not diagnose the problem. It was God who saved my life when a gunman entered my community to kill someone who insulted his cousin (not me). It was God who provided money to fix my car when the engine needed to be replaced.
The testimonies are many of God’s might and power. When we are afraid and overcome by the challenges of life we MUST REMEMBER God is Omnipotent- All powerful. There is no one as mighty as God. God has proven himself time and time again. Just by looking at nature, we can see the power  and might of God.
Because of his great might and power; no one can withstand Him. No situation or person is too big for God. So even though a multitude come against us, my God, our God is mightier.
Until next week rest assured of the might and power of God.

Christopher Euphfa

WEDNESDAY REFLECTION – O Bethlehem of Ephrathah!

Wednesday Reflection – August 07, 2019

O Bethlehem of Ephrathah!

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2

Today’s Watchword is one of the many prophecies that pointed to the coming Messiah. This prophecy comes at a time when trouble loomed in Israel. Micah summons the people to gather themselves into troops because a siege will be laid against them. Israel will be humbled by foreign powers, and even her judges will bear insults. In this distressing context, Micah offers a word of hope – God would raise up a great Ruler from the humble place of Bethlehem.

Bethlehem was well known as the hometown of David, Israel’s greatest king; yet it was never a great or influential city. It was truly little among the thousands of Israel. Yet, God chose it as the birthplace of the Messiah, the Ruler in Israel. The chief priests and teachers of the law quoted this verse when Herod asked about the birth of the Messiah (Matthew 2:5-6). It is no wonder that Phillips Brooks wrote in 1868:

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in the dark street shineth 
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread’, and Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35). Ephrathah was the old name of the place which the Jews retained and loved. It means ‘fruitfulness,’ or ‘abundance.’ Well, well!! Jesus was born not just in the house of bread, but in the house of fruitfulness. This seems almost like a paradox – Bethlehem was an insignificant place, yet its meaning is rich and bountiful. What a word for a people about to face trouble! You will face trouble, but God will bring forth a ruler from the place of food and abundance to deliver you.
Micah is careful to point out that this ruler did not just come about; in fact, his ‘…origin is from of old, from ancient days.’ The Ruler, the Messiah, did not begin in Bethlehem. His going forth is from eternity past. Revelation 22:13 points out that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. He was from the very beginning. Indeed, the Messiah did come – promised fulfilled!! Yet another of God’s fulfilled promises to us. We can rest assured that whatever God says he will do, he will most certainly deliver on his word.

The Messiah came not just to rescue the Israelites, but to rescue and save all humanity from the forces of men and the armies of satan. He came, procured our salvation, and guarantee us life everlasting. May we receive God’s gift to us and live with eternity in view. May we also recognize that no matter how insignificant we think we are, God has vested much in us and prepared to do great things in and with us.

Jermaine Gibson

MONDAY REFLECTION – Our Father and Potter

Our Father and Potter

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

How do we view God? More than that, how do we view God in relation to ourselves? The Bible describes this relation in varying ways, including today’s text that declares God as the potter and his people as the clay. This description is also present in other texts in the Bible. Isaiah 64 is a prayer of appeal to God to exercise mercy in the presence of the sins of the people. Isaiah begins with, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence… so that the nations might tremble at your presence! …From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.”

It is in this context that we have today’s Watchword declaring God as Father and potter, and us as clay and the work of God’s hand. In spite of everything, God is our Father. God might be disappointed with our behaviour; God might have allowed us to engage in self-destructive behaviour; God might have allowed us to do our own thing, but God’s purpose has never been our destruction. God’s hope is the hope of a Father, who always hopes against hope that the child will see the error of his/her ways and return home. The Parable of the Prodigal Son in St. Luke 15 is a prime example of this.

God is also our potter – the one who fashions us. We are clay and the work of his hand. Just as fathers and mothers love their children, artists also feel a deep affection for their art. When an artist fashions a piece of art, something of the artist is bound up in that art. Part of that has to do with the deep involvement of the artist in the creative process. Part of it is pride of workmanship. Part of it is that the work of art reflects the artist’s understanding of how the piece should look or sound or feel. The artist and the art are inextricably bound together. God has invested much time in us; indeed God has invested himself. He is bounded to us as our potter who desires that we be an excellently admirable art piece of his work.  

This prayer uses that connection of art and artist in an attempt to persuade God to forgive Israel, to save Israel. Having called God a Father, Isaiah reminds God of the creativity that God has expended in fashioning the nation Israel—God’s people—God’s artwork. Israel might have sinned, and be as disgusting as a soiled filthy rag, but God should not abandon Israel, because artist and art are inextricably bound together. It is always God’s intention to fashion us into the best that we can be; however, we should remember that a potter can mold a vessel only as the clay yields to his hands. We have such great potential, but this can only be optimized when we submit to God, our potter, and remain in his molding hands.

I close with today’s New Testament text from Ephesians 2:10, “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” 

Jermaine Gibson