THURSDAY REFLECTION – Ask, Seek and Knock for God gives good gifts

Thursday Reflection – November 28, 2019

Ask, Seek and Knock for God gives good gifts

“If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

Greetings friends!

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Our reflection is centered on this statement made by Jesus in St. Matthew 7: 7-8. Jesus, teaching the crowd on the mount, then went on to say, “Which of you, if your son asks of bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Friends, the text speaks to the ability of God to provide good gifts to those who ask, seek and knock. It reassures that God will not give us gifts that will harm us and it uses parents to drive this point home. If a child request from a parent bread, then in more cases than not the parent will give the child bread or a close enough substitute if bread is not available for the child in that situation. What the parent will not do is give a stone as a substitute for bread, hence parents know how to give good gifts to their child. Now we all know as humans we have our sinful ways, for we were born in sin and shaped in iniquity. However, despite this nature about us, we still give good gifts to children.

Now if we ask, seek and knock then imagine how much more will God provide for us, if God is considered to be the epitome of righteousness. But there is a condition at play here. Jesus begins the passage by saying “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” I believe it is in the asking, seeking and knocking that God will provide you with the good gift that you desire. Also I believe that Jesus is deliberate in how he structures this thought. He begins with asking… Then moves to seeking… Then to knocking. Once we do this there is no doubt that God will provide the good gifts we need.

I want to highlight that just as how a parent knows which gift is good for their child so too does the Lord. So God knows if what we are asking for is beneficial to us or not. Sometimes as children we think we know what we want or what is beneficial to us. We stretch for the hot pot not knowing it will burn us and so God doesn’t give us that gift but something better, but likewise we stretch for the hot pot and God allows us to get burn for it is then we will learn that hot pot is not good for us. However, you look at it God knows what is good for us and we can trust that God has our best interest at heart.

Until next week Blessings!

Christopher Euphfa 

MONDAY REFLECTION – God Reaffirms His Covenant

Monday Reflection – November 25, 2019

God Reaffirms His Covenant

God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. Genesis 17:9

It is fair to say that the context for the covenant story of Abraham has its roots in the covenant story of Noah. Indeed, there are some similar characteristics.

ü  God initiated both covenants

ü  Both covenants favor the humans. In the case of Noah, the covenant promises that “neither will there ever again be a flood to destroy the earth” (9:11). In the case of Abram, God promises to make Abram multiply exceedingly and be the father of a multitude of nations (17:2, 5)

ü  For both, there is a sign to serve as a reminder. The rainbow is a sign to remind God of his promise not to destroy humankind through floods again. Circumcision serves to remind both God and man of the covenant that God has established with Abram/Abraham

Abram’s story began with his call in Genesis 12. Some years later, in response to Abram’s complaint that he remained childless and a slave would become his heir, God promised that Abram’s own issue would be his heir and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. However, Sarai and Abram took matters into their own hands, demonstrating that their faith was less than complete. At Sarai’s suggestion, Abram took Sarai’s servant, Hagar, as his concubine, and she bore a son, Ishmael. Then, when Abram was ninety-nine years old, God made a covenant with him, which is an affirmation and expansion of his original covenant. In recognition of the significance of this event, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah. God also promised a son of the covenant through Sarah and ordered Abraham to name the boy Isaac.

The faithful God charged Abraham to keep the covenant, and lead those after him to do the same. Significantly, God required action on the part of Abraham, as a sign of the agreed covenant. Abraham was to circumcise every male as a token of the covenant. Abraham complied with that order the same day. This was personal, painful, and intimate. It was also symbolic, suggesting God’s influence in every generation and the unending nature of the covenant agreement. Charles Spurgeon says, “Circumcision indicated to the seed of Abraham that there was a defilement of the flesh in man which must forever be taken away, or man would remain impure, and out of covenant with God.” Indeed, circumcision is a cutting away of the flesh and an appropriate sign of the covenant for those who should put no trust in the flesh. It is no wonder that persons like Moses and Paul declared that real circumcision is a circumcision of the heart.

God remains forever faithful to his covenant. Yet, we frequently fall short of God’s standards for our lives as his covenant-people. We are grateful for God’s unending mercies and grace. Today, God challenges us to cut away the flesh, put flesh to death, and live by the Spirit. We must empty ourselves and allow God’s Spirit to indwell us, take residence and pre-eminence in our lives, and lead us all the way. Only then can we be faithful to God’s covenant with us.      

 Jermaine Gibson

SATURDAY REFLECTION – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Saturday Reflection – 23 November 2019

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

The Twenty-third Psalm is one of the most popular Psalms that we know and often use as our reference. The Psalmist David in declaring today’s watchword affirms the notion that we are sheep in need of a shepherd to lead and guide us and therein declares that the Lord is his shepherd. In this Psalm, David basks in the privilege and bliss to be a sheep of Jesus and he expresses the comforts that he enjoys.

His bold declaration not only acknowledges God but confidently states the promise which is as recorded in the Message Translation, “I don’t need a thing” or in the NIV Version “I lack nothing.” Therefore, there is an understanding that David wants to convey, that under God’s shepherding, we will not want or lack anything good. He trusted the leadership of God, remembering the mercies that he bestowed on his ancestors and even in his own life, and could now confidently declare him as such.

David came to the place, where he understood this as he himself was a shepherd and was known now as a shepherd in whom the sheep could rely on, as we watched and protected them from the attacks of the lion and the bear. He remembered the loving care and skill that had to be executed in the fields and compares it to God’s loving care of his people. Not only having that, but his own story, from his shepherding days to the Goliath experienced the attack from Saul which all led to his kingship. Even God’s shown forgiveness of David can be now counted in the many experiences that David could draw on, and so declares “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”(Psalm 37:25)

David’s declaration also draw us in reflection that Jesus’ invitation saying that he is the good shepherd. The one in whom no one can pluck us as sheep from his hand. David came to this place because he surrendered himself to God’s shepherding. And we must do the same. To surrender means to allow God, to lead us, to show where to and where not to go, to provide the bread of life and the living water and indeed to protect us from all evil. As a shepherd would do his sheep.  And then to trust God enough to obey and follow him where he leads. All this certainty and enjoyment that David boasts in could only be so, as he depended, obeyed and followed God – his shepherd. It is then through this relationship with God that we can believe, trust and labour on knowing that God will provide all our needs. That we will be safe and secure, shielded and protected, blessed and favoured. And so we possess the solid joy and lasting treasure and he will through us, impact the world. This is the contentment we enjoy as a sheep of Jesus. Yes, we lack nothing. Not that we want everything, but as we discern the good shepherd’s will and purpose for our lives, we yield to the care of him – who knows our needs and attends to them – as we are dear to him who provides even for the birds and the lilies.

Until next week, in our reflection, let us ponder our own relationship with the shepherd in whom David boasts. Let our own reflection lead to a dedication to trust the shepherd’s care and to follow and obey his voice. Then we will understand and truly believe Paul’s declaration in today’s doctrinal text “As servants of God, we have commended ourselves in every way: as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet always making many rich; as having nothing and yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:4, 10)

Dominic J. Blair

THURSDAY REFLECTION – Easy Peasy; Yes God can

Thursday Reflection – November 21, 2019

Easy Peasy; Yes God can

See I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

A blessed Thursday to you friends!

Can God do the impossible? Yes He can. Can God create humanity from dust? Yes He can. Can God destroy the world with flood and allow just a family to survive? Yes He can. Can God make the descendants of an old barren couple as numerous as the stars in the sky? Yes He can. Can God save a nation through the interpretation of dreams? Yes He can. Can God create a plague to set his people free? Yes He can. Can God part the Red Sea? Yes He can. Can God bring down the walls of a city with the shout of his people? Easy Peasy; You know He can. Can God cause the sun and the moon to stand still until his people are victorious? You bet He can. Can God give his people a land flowing with milk and honey? Absolutely He can. Can God punish his people and make them slaves while in the same breath promise them salvation from this punishment? Easy Peasy; Yes He can!

Our text is set in Judah as the powerful Babylonian army is poised to conquer the land. Jeremiah has been imprisoned by the King of Judah for prophesying destruction against Judah and the King. Jeremiah has been prophesying what God has told him, which is the punishment of Judah for their numerous and unrepentant sins. Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Judah, the death of their King and the enslavement of most of those who survived. While prophesying this, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah to buy a piece of land and to pay good price for it. This was a symbol to all that God would restore the nation of Judah and bring them out of Babylonian captivity. Both messages seemed hard to grasp for on one hand God is saying He will punish them for their sins and on the other hand God is saying He will bring them back and prosper them. However, nothing is too hard for God.

In explaining this the Lord said, “See I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for me?” Friends as we look at this statement from the Lord I want to say nothing is too hard for the Lord. God made two valid and important points before asking in a rhetorical manner if anything is too hard for him.

1.       “I am the Lord”

God ensures he clears up any misunderstanding of his ability by using the definite article ‘the’. God says, “I am THE Lord” indicating that there is no other God out there. He alone possess the ability and power of God. He alone has the strength and the capabilities to do the impossible, hence the rhetorical state of the question, “is there anything too hard me?” How can anything be too hard for God if he is THE Lord? It simply cannot. God is THE Lord so everything is “Easy Peasy” for him. Punishing the Children of Israel is easy for God to do and rescuing them, 70 years later, is still easy for THE Lord to do. We are not talking about a mere human being here, we’re talking about the one who did everything mentioned in the first paragraph of this reflection. This brings me to the second declaration made by God.

2.       “The God of all flesh”

Not only does God declare He is THE Lord, but He declares He is THE God of all flesh. He is THE God of humanity. No human situation is beyond God’s capabilities. Oh my! That sounds so powerful I am going to say it again in bold and all caps. “NO HUMAN SITUATION IS BEYOND GOD’S CAPABILITIES!” God is the God of humanity and all creation, so God can punish if needs be and he can rescue if needs be. God is not limited by human standards so He operates in his own timing and under his own conditions to achieve what he wants for us.

Can God do the impossible? Easy Peasy you know He can

Until next week Blessings!

Christopher Euphfa 

TUESDAY REFLECTION – God is With Us, So Trust God!

Tuesday Reflection – November 19, 2019

God is With Us, So Trust God!

The watchword for today is from Jeremiah 1: 19. They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you. Jeremiah 1 relays the call of the prophet Jeremiah by God. As we got to the end of the chapter God commands Jeremiah to be brave as he speaks the message given to him. He should not allow the expressions or reactions of the people to who he is sent deter him or make him afraid because God would strengthen and protect him. The task given to him would prove difficult, but God would be his protector, his deliverer. He would receive many fights, much opposition, but he would also be under divine protection and guidance. Nothing should deter him.

Can you imagine being given a task, a responsibility, or even a new job and being told that you will have many difficult moments? For some people that would be it. There would be no need to go any further. We do not take up positions to be opposed. Yet many of us have faced opposition on our secular jobs, in our families, in church and just about everywhere we are. Jeremiah was promised by God that he would face opposition but it did not end there. Opposition would not prevail because God was with His servant. Opposition does not come to destroy us, but for us to be strengthened through them. God’s promise to Jeremiah also came true. He faced opposition but his enemies did not prevail against him and he was able to faithfully serve God for forty years. When God promises to be with you, you can trust Him to take care of you. This is a reminder of our first evening of VBS during the summer when we looked at the theme ‘God is with us, so trust God’.  When God is with you, you can trust God as you do what you are called or commanded to do. The commander is the protector and the provider. We can trust God to be our defender and deliverer. We can be busily fulfilling His command knowing that no harm will befall us because God is looking out for us. 1 Cor 10: 13 reminds us, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. As our way-maker, God prepares a way for us to be safe, to be provided for and to be protected as we live in obedience to Him. The way may seem dreary, next to impossible, but He who calls us will deliver us. He will provide the way out. May we be willing therefore to give unflinching service, knowing that at all times we are protected because we trust in God. This gives us the security we need to do faithful service for our Lord. Remember Isaiah 26: 10 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. God is with us, so trust God. Trusting souls are peaceful servants. Amen.
Bevon White 

MONDAY REFLECTION – Hem Me in Lord!

Monday Reflection – November 18, 2019

Hem Me in Lord!

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.Psalm 139:5

Two themes emerge from Psalm 139 – God’s omniscience and God’s omnipresence. Both themes continue throughout the twenty-four verses of the Psalm. In today’s Watchword, David describes God’s omnipresence as one who hems him in. Other versions use the words, enclosed, beset, encircle, go before me and follow me. The Hebrew word is ‘tsuwr’. It means to bind, besiege, confine, cramp.

One commentator says that David’s initial response to the staggering knowledge of God’s omnipresence was that he was troubled. He thought it was confining, that God had besieged him and cupped his hand over him. This thought of such confining knowledge may have prompted David’s desire to escape, as verses 7-12 suggest. Moreover, if he could fly at the speed of light from the east across the sky to the west he could not escape from the Lord. God’s presence then began to take on a new meaning for the Psalmist, as if the light were dawning on him. This led him to acknowledge that the hand of the Lord would lead and comfort him.

Spurgeon points out that the text conveys the sense as though we were caught in an ambush, or besieged by an army which has wholly beleaguered the city walls. So are we surrounded by the Lord. God has set us where we be, and beset us wherever we be. Behind us there is God recording our sins, or in grace blotting out the remembrance of them; and before us there is God foreknowing all our deeds, and providing for all our wants. We cannot turn back and so escape him, for he is behind; we cannot go forward and outmarch him, for he is before.

Not only does God hem us in, but he lays his hand upon us. There is no chance of escape and his surrounding presence is not at a distant; he is right next to us, with his hand upon us. It provides the imagery of a prisoner who marches along surrounded by a guard, and gripped by an officer. God is very near; we are wholly in his power; from that power there is no escape. Yet, this is not a hand of harm or danger. Rather, our heavenly Father has folded his arms around us, and caressed us with his hand.

When we love the Lord, we want to be surrounded by him at all times. We want him to change our thinking to his. Therefore, we are not afraid to ask him to search us, and know us, and change us. We are not bothered by his hand hemming us in. On the contrary, having the Lord cup his hand over us is a good thing; it is comforting and reassuring.

Today’s New Testament text is a beautiful confirmation, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35. Paul answers this question in verses 37-39, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jermaine Gibson

THURSDAY REFLECTION – God the Influencer

Thursday Reflection – November 14, 2019

God the Influencer

It is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

Greeting friends!

We all at one point or another have been influenced by someone or something. Sometimes that influence is for the good and other times it might be for the bad. Today’s text teaches us about the influence of God, which can only be for good. Today’s text more specifically teaches us about God’s influence in relation to salvation.

Paul speaking to the Philippians about imitating Jesus and his humility. He went on further to speak about Salvation stating that they should work out their salvation with fear and trembling. He also noted that “It is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” As we look at this verse we note that it is God at work in you.

Here God is seen in action, doing something in the salvation process. He’s working! We know that “For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith – and it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8. But here we also note that God is doing something to us in this process.  God is influencing us to achieve his will and work. God pricks, nudge, directs, encourages, guides and motivates for us to make a decision that is align to his will. God will not make the decision for us that is something we have to do ourselves. What God does is cause us to see the need and the importance of salvation. God causes us to see the importance of his will and we have to work towards it. Hence we have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. God saves and as a result of that act accordingly.

This is not limited to just the salvation process, but I believe that this is in every aspect of our life. God will influence us to show us his will, but we have to work in achieving his will. The result of the gift of salvation is action. We act according to the will and influence of God to achieve God’s purpose and not ours.

God’s will is for his good pleasure. It is to achieve what God wants in our lives and what is important. We should feel the nudging, urging and influence of God in our lives to complete his good pleasure. God will not harm us with his plans; they are for our betterment. “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. Let us listen to the influence of God for it is to achieve God’s will.

Blessings!

Christopher Euphfa 

TUESDAY REFLECTION – God Gathers and Provides

Tuesday Reflection – November 12, 2019 

God Gathers and Provides

One of the themes of the prophet Ezekiel was God as the gatherer of a scattered Israel. Scattered by the nations around them, Israel would one day be gathered together by God and re-established as His chosen people. God would once again be Israel’s protector and provider. Today’s watchword from Ezekiel 34: 11 is God’s commitment to find and care for Israel. I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 

The text uses the a very common image of God throughout the Bible, God as Good Shepherd. Shepherding demanded commitment to the wellbeing of the sheep. A lazy shepherd would lose his flock and have nothing eventually as the sheep would stray or be killed by wild animals. There is a recognition here that sheep are constantly in need of attention. Sheep will also stray. That’s a given. Most importantly, sheep depend entirely on the shepherd for their sustenance. The shepherd has to take the sheep to pasture where there is still water, shade and fresh green grass. Even with that, sheep are apt to stray so must be watched by the shepherd throughout the day. Sheep are also easy prey for lions and bears and so had to be protected by the shepherd. 

In John 14 Jesus declares his himself as the Good Shepherd, willing to die for His sheep. No sacrifice was considered too great for the shepherd to make for His sheep. It is there that He also declares that he has other sheep I other folds. It stands out for me since I may well be one of those from another fold. It also tells me that we cannot limit the reach of the shepherd as He gathers His sheep. We cannot judge where he will gather from, all we can do is ensure that we will be among the gathered. Note also that with the gathering comes God’s caring. I myself will look after them. David declared ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’. In other words, when God becomes our shepherd, our wants will be supplied for he will be attentive to our every need and will supply them according to his riches in glory. Maybe there is someone today who is wondering where to turn next, what to do? You are trying your way, but it is not working as you expected. I challenge you to yield to the gathering of the Good Shepherd and enjoy the richness of his grace as you wants are also supplied. He who gathers us to his presence, will provide what we need. Amen.
Bevon White

MONDAY REFLECTION – Finishing Well

Monday Reflection – November 11, 2019

Finishing Well

If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers. 1 Samuel 12:15 (NASB)

Chapter 12 relays Samuel’s farewell speech to the people. Samuel’s conversation with the Israelites depicts one who finished well. This is in direct contrast to Saul who did not finish well. It has been said that the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. And how we finish is more important than how we start. It’s always great to get off to a good start, but how we finish is what ultimately defines us. The runner who gets off to a good start, but then stumbles along the way loses the race. But when we finish well, we gain the respect of the people around us.

Samuel’s speech marks the final transition from the period of the judges in Israel to the time of the kings; it is a changing of the guard. Samuel’s farewell speech to the people offers four action steps that we can take in order to finish well in life. They are: 1) Maintain a good reputation with God and man. 2) Give testimony to God’s goodness in the past. 3) Urge people to follow God in the present. 4) Never stop praying for people.

Today’s Watchword is in the context of the third step. While we must do our part to live in right relationship with God, we have a responsibility to positively impact others by urging them to follow God. This of course has to be done by word, but more so by our lifestyles. Samuel reminded the people of the consequences of obedience and disobedience. He was careful to remind them that they were wrong to ask for a king at this time. They asked for it and they got it! However, even though they were wrong to ask for a king, there is still a way forward for them. If they will fear the Lord, serve and obey him, and not rebel against his commands, it will go well for them.

The Bible is clear regarding this principle. Paul says in Galatians 6: 7-8, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Indeed, the wages of sin is death, but the fruit of obedience is God’s blessing. We who know the right should practice the right, and lead others towards the path of righteousness. Today’s New Testament text provides this guide: “I want you to be wise in what is good and guileless in what is evil” Romans 16:19. When our lives consist of urging people to follow God, we are on our way to finishing well.

Jermaine Gibson

THURSDAY REFLECTION – Everything we have belongs to God

Thursday Reflection – November 7, 2019

Everything we have belongs to God

For we are aliens and transients before you, as were all our ancestors; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. 1 Chronicles 29:15
King David wanted to build a house for the Lord, but God revealed that that responsibility belong to his son Solomon. That, however, did not prevent King David from laying the ground work for his son. He provided many of the materials needed in building the Temple where God would dwell. He also took from his personal gold and silver and contributed to the Temple. This action by David was a catalyst in others giving to the work of the Temple. After persons had committed to giving to the Temple, David prayed to the Lord before everyone.
In his prayer he blessed the Lord and  acknowledged that everything they gave and everything they have came from God. They are like aliens and transients before God just like their ancestors and their days on earth are like a shadow and there is no hope. 
David’s prayer highlighted a few observations about life that I want to point out. 1. God is the owner of everything we have.In giving back to the Lord, David in his own reflection through this prayer realized that everything he owned came from God. Although he gave back to God, what he was doing was giving back to God what already belonged to God. He realized that it is only through the blessings of God why we own material possession. So when we give to God we are truly giving God what belongs to him. 2. We are aliens on this earthKing David realized that this earth does not belong to him or anyone else except God. If nothing we have is from us then it only stands to reason that this earth that we live also does not belong to us; it belongs to God. Subsequently, we are aliens living on this earth and our time before God is short; it doesn’t last forever. As a result of this David points out that we have no hope. If we own nothing on this earth and this earth doesn’t belong to us then where is our hope? The answer to that is the grace of God. 
3. God is our everythingOur hope comes from the grace of God. We’re undeserving of what God has provided for us, but because of his love for us he continues to bestow his blessings on us. For many of us we can attest to the many provisions of God in our life. We own nothing yet we have so much to give God thanks for. This is why we shouldn’t be afraid to give back to God what belongs to God, because God continually provides for us. This is also why we should share with others, because God continues to share with us of what belongs to him. 
Let us like David acknowledge that we brought nothing into this world and all we have is from God, so we should freely give to God. 
Until next week give for God has blessed you.Christopher Euphfa