TUESDAY REFLECTION – Stay Focused For 2020

Tuesday Reflection – December 31, 2019
Stay Focused For 2020

If you are hearing or reading this then you are blessed to have lived to see the dawning of the last day of 2019, the last day of this decade. That is a blessing since we are never guaranteed a new day. Someone said the most certain thing in life is death and the most uncertain thing is the timing of death. Let us give thanks therefore that we are counted among the living and let us maintain hope that we will make it into the new year. It is with this hope that I invite us to stay focused for 2020. Today’s watchword comes from Exodus 23: 7. Keep far from a false charge. A false charge or a false accusation is defined by the online dictionary as a claim or allegation of wrongdoing that is untrue and/or otherwise unsupported by facts. It helps to know that the rest of verse 7 says ‘and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked’. The caution being given here was for the people of God to be vigilant in the administration of the laws so that it be not used to take advantage of anyone. It was a call to care for rather than tear down others, knowing that God is the supreme judge, and no one will escape God’s justice.

Knowing this, the text calls on us to honor the eighth commandment, ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor’ Ex 20: 16. It is a call not only to be honest in what we say but also in what we support. To keep far, not only suggests we shouldn’t be the instigators of false accusations, but also that we shouldn’t spread rumors and we shouldn’t support something we do not know to be true. In other words, don’t ‘run with it’ because it sounds like it could be true. This seems to be society’s way today. We should also note that those who instigate such actions are impacted by it as much as those they seek to destroy so no one wins. God therefore calls upon those who know and follow Christ to be different. Proverbs 6: 16 – 19 gives us a list of things God hates. There are six things that the LORD strongly dislikes, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among the brethren. As we end 2019 we need to look back and take stock of our faith walk. Have we been doing any of these actions that displeases God? If yes, there is need for us to refocus for the new year. If no then I say to you maintain your focus for 2020.

Today’s doctrinal text points us in the direction we ought to grow for the new year. I leave it with us as spiritual compass for 2020. It comes from Philippians 4: 8 Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. These are words to live by and to build up ourselves and others through their practice. While false charges destroy others and us, living by what is good, right and pure is uplifting and spiritually enriching to us and those around. No need to worry about those who practice evil either for God has promised ‘I will not acquit the wicked’. May we all stay focused for 2020 as I wish for all a happy, blessed and prosperous new year.  Amen

Bevon White

MONDAY REFLECTION – The Battle is the Lord’s

Monday Reflection – December 30, 2019
The Battle is the Lord’s

All this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s. 1 Samuel 17:47

When Saul became king of Israel, one of his goals was to limit the power and influence of the Philistines. By the time we come to 1 Samuel 17, King Saul was successful. However, the Philistines did not give up easily. Here, the Philistines are trying to penetrate the highlands of Judah through the Valley of Elah, where they are met by Saul and his army. The Philistines and the Israelites arrange their forces on opposite sides of the valley. This makes it very risky for either army to begin an attack. By descending one slope, crossing the valley floor and wading its stream, and climbing up the other side, the attackers will make themselves very vulnerable. So the result is a stalemate; neither army dares to leave its position.

It is Goliath who provides a solution. He boastfully challenges anyone in Israel to a one-on-one confrontation. This encounter will then decide the battle; a victory for Goliath will entitle the Philistines to dominate Israel; on the other hand, a victory for whoever answers his challenge will entitle Israel to dominate the Philistines. Twice a day Goliath descends the valley slope and shouts taunts at the armies of Israel. He hopes his insults will make Israel angry enough to send out a challenger or perhaps begin a foolish attack. Goliath defies the ranks of Israel, the armies of the living God, and God Himself. Goliath, then, is God’s enemy.

It is the little shepherd boy David who answers his challenge. Yet, let’s not forget that David is the Lord’s anointed; he is God’s chosen instrument. David challenges Goliath not because he is an enemy of Israel, nor for the sake of his brothers, nor to save the honour of Saul and Jonathan. No! He challenges the giant because he is an enemy of God and David is God’s chosen instrument. David burns with a zeal and love for the Lord and the things of the Lord. The Lord’s enemies are his enemies. David also knows what is at stake here. He declares, “The battle is the Lord’s”. It is God’s struggle against Satan and the forces of darkness. The contest is not Israel against Philistia or David against Goliath, but God against Satan. It is God’s name that is being blasphemed; it is God’s honour that is at stake; it is God’s power and might that are being challenged.

Today’s text reminds us that the war between God and Satan rages on! Satan still hates and attacks the people of God and loves nothing better than to have us sin and fall from the faith. He loves nothing better than to destroy God’s Church. Christian soldiers, the war is on!!! Wake up and keep alert!!! Yet, we must realize that the battle is the Lord’s. Like David, we are called to be faithful warriors and instruments in the hands of God. We shouldn’t be scared and frightened into inaction, lose our perspective and focus on the might of the enemy. Rather, we should keep our eyes glued to the power of God and be filled with zeal for the Lord.

Soldiers of God, another year, another decade beckons. We know not what it will bring. What we know is that we are in a battle that is the Lord’s. What we also know assuredly is that victory is guaranteed by our Warrior God. We march forward in faith and with a deep resolve to follow Christ, for indeed, “Our Lamb has Conquered, Let us Follow Him!”

Jermaine Gibson

FRIDAY REFLECTION – Listen with receptive hearts

Friday Reflection

December 27, 2019

Listen with receptive hearts

O that today you would listen to his voice! Do not harden your hearts. Psalm 95:7-8

 Good morning friends,
Happy Friday…. I trust your holidays have been treating you well thus far. Have you heard anything from Jesus during this season of Advent? What did he say? Do you recognize his voice when he speaks? Are you receptive to his word? Lots of questions for you today. I trust that as you reflect on today’s word, you will  be challenged, encouraged and motivated.

I would like to share the following with you from today’s text:

1. Jesus’ voice is  not only calling you, but, commanding you, inviting you and encouraging you. Most of the time we associate the “call of God” with repentance..  it isn’t always that..  God calls us to repentance yes, but he also calls us to do his will, to  be more involved in church activities, to be brave and full of courage and to be the light in this dark world.  We are called not only to listen, but to obey

2. The word “today” in the passage means “the present time;” it means NOW. Albert Barnes puts it this way :  The purpose to obey should not be deferred until tomorrow. It should not be put off to the future. The commands of God should be obeyed at once; the purpose should be executed immediately. All God‘s commands relate to the present. He gives us none for the future; and a true purpose to obey God exists only where there is a willingness to obey “now,” “today;”.

3. The only way to know and do his  will is  if you are receptive to his voice, and act on his commands.  It is the same as being obedient; doing what he calls us to do. Not making excuses as to why we can’t, instead of finding means by which to accomplish what he commands. I pray we will be so receptive to his voice, that we act without question.

Untill next week friends, know his (God’s) voice, listen to him speak, act on that which he asks of you. *Harden not your hearts, listen and hasten to obey*

Blessings
Shaneka Raymore-Euphfa

THURSDAY REFLECTION – The amazing story of Christmas

Thursday Reflection

December 26, 2019

The amazing story of Christmas

Advent Greetings!

We have heard the story of the birth of Jesus being told every year at Christmas. For some of us we have even participated in the Christmas plays depicting the birth of Jesus. We have read the scripture lessons about the prophecy of the birth of Jesus and the actual birth of Jesus. For some of us we have even committed some of these lessons to memory. These activities have become part of our yearly experience. As I read the text for today and looked at the reaction of those who heard the shepherd’s account of the birth of Jesus I wonder if the story of the birth of Jesus still amaze us or has it become a repetitive story lacking meaning and purpose in our lives?

The birth of Jesus is no ordinary story. It has its origin in prophecy in the Old Testament. Imagine a prophecy so exact being spoken of approximately 700 years before it took place. The prophecy foretold that Jesus would come from the tribe of David, “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land … This is the name by which he will be called: the Lord our righteous savior.” Jeremiah 23:5-6

The prophecy foretold that a virgin would give birth to Jesus and that he would be born in Bethlehem. Isaiah 7:14 states, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and you will call him Immanuel.”

Micah 5:2 tells us, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

This amazing story is filled so much excitement and joy including the visits of the angel Gabriel to Zechariah, Mary and Joseph all highlighting the role they would play in this amazing story. Also angels visited the shepherds who were watching their flocks by night to speak about the birth of the savior of the world in a Manger.

This amazing story have wise men following a star, yes a star to where Jesus was born to worship him. This amazing story includes high drama as Jesus and his family had to flee to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod who killed children 2 years and younger in an effort to get rid of Jesus.

This story is further amazing because of what the birth of Jesus symbolizes. It is God’s wonderful gift of salvation to humanity. It is the gift of love to us. On this Boxing Day let us reflect on all that took place with the birth of Jesus. Let us reflect on what Jesus’s birth means for us and let us reflect on this amazing story that was foretold so long ago.

Until next week continue to reflect on this amazing story of Christmas.

Blessings!

Christopher Euphfa

WEDNESDAY REFLECTION – The Love of God.

Wednesday Reflection, December 25, 2019

The Love of God.

Brothers and sisters, I greet you well and wish for you a very happy Christmas. Today’s verse in focus is from 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Indeed, the Fathers gift of the Son reflects the unfeigned love that God has for us. It matters not that you and I as sinners, even in our low estate were/are not able to summon even a minute thought about God, yet, from the Genesis,  the very beginning there is solid evidence of how much He thinks about and loves us.

That the Lord continues to provide, His mercies are new every morning, His promises are sure and we know He is not a man that He should lie. We can glory in the fact that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

As we observe today in whatever way we may, may we like Mary, ponder these things in our hearts, may the true meaning of Christmas be a ready explanation and expression on our lips, may we reflect like we often do during communion on the gift of the Christ Child, our Lord and Savior and our soon coming King. Amen

Kerone Lamoth

TUESDAY REFLECTION – Expectant Preparation.

Tuesday Reflection – December 24, 2019
Expectant Preparation.

It’s Christmas Eve and today many Moravian Churches all over the world will gather for Christmas Eve love feast and candle light service. Others will gather on Christmas Day to adore and welcome the ‘new born king’. Let me use this opportunity then to wish for everyone a Merry Christmas with the prayer that Christ may be born anew in our hearts. Merry Christmas from our home and family to you and yours.

Psalm 24 is a Psalm of David. In this Psalm the king makes reference to a greater king than himself, the King of glory. In verse 7, our watchword for today, we see a prophetic call for the city of Jerusalem to welcome the king of glory, Jesus Christ the Messiah. Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors! That the King of glory may come in. David’s call is for Israel and Judah to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah on that first Advent which we celebrate just before Christmas. The people were to be prepared or they would miss the coming of their Lord. The call of David is for the Jerusalem to welcome their Lord. Jerusalem represented the people of God. It was the central place of the Jewish kingdom. The lifting up of the heads was synonymous to a call to be attentive, to be alert so that they would be part of that great event. In like manner, the lifting up of the ancient doors symbolized the city being opened to receive their King of glory, Jesus. Palm Sunday was the closest they came to this but even then there was great opposition to Jesus. The sad reality is that many did not heed the call of David and so were unprepared for Jesus’ coming. In John 1: 11 the apostle describes it thus, He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. Look at the events of Jesus’ birth. Joseph and Mary could find no place for Him to be born and eventually ended up in an animal shed. Herod, when he heard the news, plotted to kill Jesus. Jesus began life on earth as a refugee in Egypt, fleeing religious and political persecution. His life was not easier. His own people in the city in which he grew up tried to kill him. He was often challenged by the religious authorities of the day. Some for whom he had performed miracles did not even say thanks and after three and a half years of dynamic world changing ministry, the Jewish religious and Roman political authorities put him to death through crucifixion. David had called the people to be ready but they refused to listen and for many in Israel the coming of the messiah represented missed opportunities. 

As we observe Advent and celebrate the Christmas season, we need to once again hear the echo of David’s words, Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors! That the King of glory may come in. Advent is a reminder to us that ‘the Lord strong and mighty’, ‘the King of glory’, will return and we need to be ready to receive Him. Jesus himself revealed to John in Rev 22: 12, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” It behooves us therefore dear friends to be expectant, to lift up our heads, and to be prepared, to open up the doors of our hearts so that the King of Glory may reign supreme as the King of our lives. Expectant preparation means we take nothing for granted. Rather we live in expectation so that we will be prepared to meet our savior. Do not let it be an occasion of missed opportunity for you as well.

As we celebrate Christmas, let us be anchored to the reason for the season, Jesus our Lord. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews encourages us in chapter 10: 24 – 25 let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Dear friends, this is preparation time and we cannot afford to relax for our Lord’s return is near. Let us expectantly prepare to meet our Lord.

Bevon White

MONDAY REFLECTION – A Word for the Season

Monday Reflection – December 23, 2019

A Word for the Season

The angel said to Joseph, “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Season’s Greetings to you!

Indeed it is Christmas Time again! The year has quickly passed by. We have once again proven the abiding presence of Jesus the Christ who came to save us from our sins. Though underserved we are, God, through His love, sent his only Begotten Son for the ultimate purpose of sacrificing his life so we may experience eternal life. God continues to bestow His grace upon us; indeed grace multiplied by grace.

In this season of Christmas, we pause to reflect on the birth of the Christ Child. We must be reminded that this is the greatest gift that has ever been given. This season is about love, kindness, generosity, and goodwill. Let us not allow the message of Christmas to just disappear or be over shadowed by the business, the lights, the shopping, and the festivities. No! Instead allow the Tiny gift, Strangely wrapped and Silently delivered to humanity over 2000 years ago find true and lasting lodging in our hearts and homes.

In the context of today’s New Testament text, Joseph received what he must have thought was the most devastating news. The woman he loved so dearly and was preparing to marry is pregnant, but not for him. He decided to put her away privately, but the Holy Spirit revealed to him that Mary was faithful and had indeed become pregnant through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. In today’s text, Joseph was told the gender, name and purpose of the boy to come.

Not only was God sacrificing his son, but Joseph and Mary were sacrificing their lives to fulfill God’s plan. Joseph and Mary certainly did not fully understand it, they likely had doubts and fears, but they were prepared to be used by God. They must have thought about the implications of such a thing. What would family, friends and community think and say? What a disgrace? Yet in spite of all this, they were prepared to face it all this for the cause of God. What of us today? What are we prepared to face and to sacrifice for the sake of God?

We join with the hymn writer Horatius Bonar in declaring:

He has come, the Prince of Peace:
Come to bid our sorrows cease;
Come to scatter with His light
All the shadows of our night.

He, the mighty King, has come,
Making this poor earth His home:
Come to bear our sin’s sad load,
Son of David, Son of God.

Every blessing! May peace, joy, hope and love be with you and yours.

Jermaine Gibson

MONDAY REFLECTION – A Word for the Season

Monday Reflection – December 23, 2019
A Word for the Season

The angel said to Joseph, “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Season’s Greetings to you!

Indeed it is Christmas Time again! The year has quickly passed by. We have once again proven the abiding presence of Jesus the Christ who came to save us from our sins. Though underserved we are, God, through His love, sent his only Begotten Son for the ultimate purpose of sacrificing his life so we may experience eternal life. God continues to bestow His grace upon us; indeed grace multiplied by grace.

In this season of Christmas, we pause to reflect on the birth of the Christ Child. We must be reminded that this is the greatest gift that has ever been given. This season is about love, kindness, generosity, and goodwill. Let us not allow the message of Christmas to just disappear or be over shadowed by the business, the lights, the shopping, and the festivities. No! Instead allow the Tiny gift, Strangely wrapped and Silently delivered to humanity over 2000 years ago find true and lasting lodging in our hearts and homes.

In the context of today’s New Testament text, Joseph received what he must have thought was the most devastating news. The woman he loved so dearly and was preparing to marry is pregnant, but not for him. He decided to put her away privately, but the Holy Spirit revealed to him that Mary was faithful and had indeed become pregnant through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. In today’s text, Joseph was told the gender, name and purpose of the boy to come.

Not only was God sacrificing his son, but Joseph and Mary were sacrificing their lives to fulfill God’s plan. Joseph and Mary certainly did not fully understand it, they likely had doubts and fears, but they were prepared to be used by God. They must have thought about the implications of such a thing. What would family, friends and community think and say? What a disgrace? Yet in spite of all this, they were prepared to face it all this for the cause of God. What of us today? What are we prepared to face and to sacrifice for the sake of God?

We join with the hymn writer Horatius Bonar in declaring:

He has come, the Prince of Peace:       
Come to bid our sorrows cease;                                 
Come to scatter with His light                                   
All the shadows of our night.                                                 
He, the mighty King, has come,
Making this poor earth His home:
Come to bear our sin’s sad load,
Son of David, Son of God.

Every blessing! May peace, joy, hope and love be with you and yours.

Jermaine Gibson

SATURDAY REFLECTION – Psalm 22:11

Saturday Reflection – 21 December 2019

“Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.” Psalm 22:11

Psalm 22 is one of the most interesting Psalms in David’s collection. This is so as he writes from a place where he feels deserted and lonely. You see, God’s servant had been pursued and attacked by Saul, an event which had plunged him into hiding. As he moves from place to place he suffers the mental impact of the attack and therein comes to the place of lamentation.

Therein, David writes the words later used by Christ on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1) Even in the Christmas season- one filled with joy, peace and goodwill to all people – many may be like David plunged in this state of suffering. There may seem to be no joy – no peace on earth. The darkness that surrounds us seems to engulf the light and we feel alone.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow the writer of the hymn “I heard the bells on Christmas day” pens in verses 1 and 3:
“I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head.
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.”

It is almost a feeling of drowning, or being engulfed by the flames of suffering and we cry out to God lost to a feeling of peace and goodwill. In David’s despair he questions God recalling his omnipotence and the goodness and mercies he has shown in time past. This led him to feeling alone, dejected and less than human.  Then comes his plea, as recorded in Today’s Watchword “Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.” And in his plea, he records the trouble that surrounds him and in his petition to God – he beseeches with God to come to his relief.  He even continues by noting the message and song that he will proclaim at worship and to the people around him should God come to his rescue.

Have we ever felt this dejected? – almost rejected? Does the message of joy, peace and goodwill we proclaim that this time seem to be drowned out by all that is going on around us? Does our surrounding embody the hatred that Longfellow records in verse 3 of his hymn that mocks our message of hope. David felt this way and therein he begs for relief.

The hope that we then feel – comes that David’s note of praise to God. The Psalm changes the note of complaining to one of rejoicing. He comes to the place where he can now again celebrate the goodness of God to him. We know, in our reflection that God had saved him from the hand of the enemies and had made him king of Israel. It is that even in his feeling of desertion, he continues to plea to God and hope for coming relief. He ends the collection with celebration and praise to the God who came through for him. Truly, weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. Hold on to God. He will come through for you. He is God – the one in control and he has our best interest at heart. Just like for David – God will show up, and show himself to God in the face of our suffering.

Longfellow in writing the hymn, also comes to this place in verse 4 and says:
 “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Until next week, let us be strengthened by David’s words in Psalm 43:5 “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

Surely he is a good God whose steadfast love and mercies never fail. It is a truly a blessing then, that David begins his next Psalm with words of celebration “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Dominic J. Blair