Thursday Reflection – January 16, 2020
God’s Love is Sure
“The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes” Psalm 119:64
Where? Tell me where on this earth can we go and not experience the love of God? What? Tell me what situation is too great for God’s love? How? How can we go on living and not accept God’s love? Psalm 119, the longest psalm in the bible and the longest chapter as well, is believed to be written by King David throughout his life. This Psalm is centered on God’s laws and following those laws. The words representing law- statues, judgement, word, testimonies, commandments, precepts- are mentioned in at least 171 of the 176 verses in this psalm. Our verse for reflection is one such verse.
David reflecting on God’s laws desires to know them more intimately. As he reflected he stated, “The earth, O Lord. Is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statues.” David throughout his life would have been on the run, hidden in cave, wandered in the wilderness, driven from his home and experienced death threats, but none of these situations prevented him from experiencing God’s love. He would have experienced the opposite as well where he governed a unified Kingdom, conquered armies and nations and received riches. In these moments good and bad he experienced the love of God.
Friends, there is no situation, or circumstances, or individual that can stop us from experiencing the love of God. God’s love is present in all situations. David says that the earth is full of God’s love. Think about it, whether you are a Christian or not, we would have experienced God’s love and mercy throughout our life. We are alive because of God’s love. We have been pressed on every side, but not crushed, because of God’s love. We have faced times of adversity but we are still here because of God’s love. We cannot hide from it, we cannot run from it; God’s love is everywhere. God’s love has filled this earth. Many might say they cannot see God’s love in such a wicked world, but let’s not look at the world, let us look at our own lives, that way it is easier to see how much God love us.
The Psalmist also makes this declaration, God’s love is steadfast. Steadfast means sure, loyal, faithful and unwavering. God’s love is certain. We might have doubts about many things in life, but one thing we can be certain of and that is God love for us. Hallelujah! We all want love and that is why many of us search after relationships whether intimate or friendship wise. We all want to experience love, but let me tell you something, “There is no love greater or as good as the love of God. No one will love you like God.” God’s love is certain! I guarantee you that neither your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father nor anyone else can love you like God.
When we have experienced such love, we too, like the psalmist must say, “Teach me your statutes.” Teach us your love Lord and show us how to love others.
Until next week, embrace the love of God!Shalom!
Tuesday Reflection – January 14, 2020
The Person Behind The Gift
In Genesis 4 Cain and Abel gave their offerings to God. While God was pleased with the offering given by Abel, God was displeased with Cain’s offering. Cain was not happy with God’s displeasure and became angry. Today’s Watchword is God’s response to Cain’s anger. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4: 7
This is described as one of the most difficult biblical texts to understand because of the difficulty with translating it. Many theories have been given as to why God rejected Cain’s offering yet chose Abel’s. Some scholars have concluded that this was God’s prerogative and needed no reason. God chose to accept and reject because He is God. While possible it would be inconsistent with God’s characteristic of being just and fair. Another theory is that Cain’s gift was refused because it was not an animal and did not include blood. This is most unlikely however since it was not a sacrifice that was being made but an offering, and both brothers were expected to give offerings from what they were occupied with. One raised animals and the other planted crops. Still another theory is that while Abel gave of his best to the Lord, Cain did not put out any effort and simply brought a gift that was not the best of his produce. The only reason why a person would not give of their best to the Lord is that they are neither fully committed to nor fully trusting of God. Giving in such cases becomes a routine or a show. When we are not considerate and intentional in our giving to God, we risk our gift being rejected by God. This cautions us to be very careful in our giving because it is possible to be giving the biggest, most attractive gifts, to be giving the heaviest envelopes or writing the biggest checks and not have our gifts accepted by God. The earthly recipients may be very happy, but we receive no blessing because our gifts have not been pleasing to God because we have not given our best. God is more interested in the person behind the gift than in the gift itself.
It behooves us therefore to give the gift that truly pleases God. The way to do this is to be more like Abel in our giving than like Cain. I tend to like the school of thought that says that God’s response to the brother’s giving had nothing to do with the gifts they gave but with the attitude behind their giving. Abel’s gift was given in faith while Cain’s was not. Abel’s gift reflected his gratitude to God while Cain was using his to seek latitude before God. Have you ever thought about what is behind your giving? God challenged Cain even as we are challenged daily, to understand the attitude behind his giving. ‘Do well and your gift will be accepted.’ Not doing well in our giving is therefore a result of sinfulness. Sin is always close, always seeking to overpower us. Like Cain we too are warned not to fall into sin but to overpower it. Our giving should flow from an attitude of gratitude. That way nothing we possess would be considered too great a gift for our Lord who gave us everything in the first place. A final lesson to note friends is that the heart that gives acceptable gifts to God is one that has mastered sin. Let us again examine our giving and learn of our faithfulness and commitment to God. Let us follow the instructions of our teaching text, 1 Timothy 6: 11 ‘pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.’ In so doing we will develop characters that please God, for God values the person behind the gift much more than the gift itself. With the right attitude towards God our gifts will always be accepted by God. Amen
Saturday Reflection – 11 January 2020
Jesus said “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.” St. Mark 10:42-43
In this world where we are stewards over that God has given us and where we are given responsibilities and leadership roles both in the church and in society, we are taught by today’s text that we must approach leadership in the perspective of servanthood, that is our goal is not be a commander to lord and rule but a servant to attend to the needs of that which we have been given a charge.
As we reflect on today’s text, let us include verses 44-45 “and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The text arose out of a request by James and John, the sons of Zebedee, as recorded in the gospel of Mark, to be seated at the right and left hand of Christ in his glory. You can imagine that they considered their own importance and the honour and acknowledgement they would receive being seated at such a place of prominence. And even though, Jesus questions them as to whether they would be able to drink the cup that he is drinking alluding to his suffering and death and to be baptized in his baptism that is of the Holy Spirit, they still did not get the point that Jesus was getting to. Though they answered yes, Jesus’ response was what then led to the text. “The cup that I drink, you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or my left hand is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
You could even surmise that the cause of the outrage of the disciples which followed, could be that they would have had the same thoughts as did James and John. It’s almost a natural form of thinking of the power and prestige that accompanies leadership, however as we approach stewardship and ministry in whatever form, remember we are engaged in servant ministry and servant leadership. Not as lords in the king’s court, but as sinners saved by grace and charged to tend and care for his sheep as we by his power and his might extend the love and grace of God to the world. Matthew Henry even draws this comparison in his commentary “… those that shall be put under your charge, must be as sheep under the charge of the shepherd, who is to tend them and feed them, and be a servant to them, not as horses under the command of the driver, that works them and beats them, and gets his pennyworths out of them.”
Jesus’ greatest example of such servant ministry, is shown where he washes the disciples’ feet. He explains to them that “…no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (St. John 13:16) In this great lesson that we know well, Jesus brings the understanding that we approach this ministry of servanthood with humility. We are all members of the body of Christ and labourers together in his vineyard. The important thing being that we have all been washed by his blood and anointed by his spirit which makes us one. When we hold on to these truths of leadership we will not be puffed up but will remain humble as he who humbles himself will be exalted but he who exalts himself will be humbled.
And lastly, Christ was obedient in his ministry, to death, even death on the cross. We have been given a privilege by God to serve and we must be obedient and faithful to him. For the truth is we are ultimately accountable to God who made stewards of his creation and “to whom much is given, much is required.”
Until next week, let our approach to leadership in whatever sphere be to serve the ones that we lead.
Dominic J. Blair
January 10, 2020
Who is able to separate us from God’s love?
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 NIV
Good morning friends, happy Friday!
Today we are reminded of ten (10 ) things that cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord:
5. Things present
6. Things to come
10.Any other creature
Today’s Reflection is a practical one that will need your input, not just for the benefit of one’s self , but to help others.
Paul in Romans 8:38-39 only listed 10 things that isn’t able to separate us from God’s love. In today’s society we face all sorts of situation that seek to separate us from God’s love. Sometimes we get drawn away because of our own lusts, but we are never separated from God’s love!
Today I am asking you, the readers, to share some of the things that this present world is using to try and separate us from God’s love. This is how I want you to begin ” I (state your name) am persuaded that (list the things that confronts you) will NOT be able to separate me from the love of MY GOD. Share them with me today, and thereafter, keep them as a reminder for 2020.
I will post a listing of the responses later today.
Together we are declaring, that NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. Not this year!!!!!! Not EVER!
until later, I, Shaneka Simone Raymore-Euphfa , am persuaded that negativity, poverty and stress will NOT be able to separate me from the love of MY GOD.
Tuesday Reflection – January 07, 2020
Trusting God for the New Year
The prophet Zechariah was born during the Babylonian exile and returned to Jerusalem during the time of the rebuilding. He prophesied at a time when the question of the day was whether to rebuild the temple or to rebuild the walls protecting the city. Zechariah receives a vision, his third, in which he sees a man measuring the city. As he measures, presumably to begin the construction of the protective walls, the Lord speaks to him. He is told that the city of Jerusalem will not need a wall because God will protect it himself and will be the glory in her midst. Today’s watchword is from Zechariah 2: 5. ‘For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around Jerusalem’.
Can you see what was happening here friends? One group of the people were concerned about their safety and decided that the best option would be to repair the walls first. That would guarantee their protection from the many enemies without and give them the time needed to reconstruct the temple and the rest of the city. The other group was convinced that if they rebuilt the temple first, the presence of God in their midst would offer them more protection than any physical wall could. This is not much different from the way we reasons today. There are those who put their security in physical things. Their jobs, their doctors, their physical structures, their wealth, and I could go on. Such persons feel lost without these physical securities for they represent their strength, their future and their longevity. They live their lives worrying about the security of these assets. Then there are those who place their trust fully in the Lord. Possessions are but tools to be used in God’s service and there will be nothing withheld from Him. This is total surrender and complete trust. While the group that depends on the physical security will be structured in their giving and service and always worried for their security, the group that completely trusts will be like the widow who gave everything, leaving their provision and protection to God. Which group do you fall in? The other aspect of the text is the limitations of our own visions versus God’s extensive plan. While the group that wanted to rebuild the wall was concerned about protecting those who were inside, God’s plan was for the growth and expansion of the city. The physical walls would not be able to contain the spiritual city that God was in the process of building. When our vision is limited, our efforts will not be far reaching or as impactful as they can be. We will waste valuable time worrying about the things that God has promised to take care of for us. If you worry easily, I implore you, replace your worry with trust. Worrying is lack of trust in God and says we place more trust in our own abilities than in God’s faithfulness. We cannot add days to our years by worrying. Matt 6: 27. So today if you have issues that you are trying to work through, or just a few thing on the mind to sort through, or even if you are just dealing with something, I say to you stop building that protective wall and find peace, presence and protection in the temple, the presence and plan of God. The Lord’s promise is to surround his beloved with a protective wall of fire. This wall will expand as the city grows. Today we too are surrounded by that protective wall and as such we have no need to worry but in faith we can ‘cast all our cares on the Lord, because He cares for us’. The doctrinal text is a fitting mantra as we go through today and indeed this new year. Whenever you become afraid, whenever you begin to doubt, whenever you become worried just whisper this question form the apostle Paul in Rom 8: 31: ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’. Amen.
Monday Reflection – January 06, 2020
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Isaiah 40:27
The first section of Isaiah deals primarily with preparing the people of Judah for their captivity in Babylon. In chapter 39 verse 6, the prophet said to King Hezekiah: “Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord.” Under the impact of this crushing prophecy of doom, those Jews who were still trying to serve the Lord needed encouragement, comfort and assurance. The faithful remnant needed hope and consolation to endure the calamities of the exile. Thus, the second part of Isaiah begins here in chapter 40, and it was intended to give assurance to the faithful who would face seventy years of captivity in Babylon.
The text offers three truths about God:
1. God is Aware – To a people tempted to be impatient, forgetful and of little faith, Isaiah says in today’s Watchword, Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Why do you think that way? Why make such a reckless charge? Then he goes on to say, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable” (vs. 28). God is aware! He is aware of that affects us from day to day. We may be surrounded by all manner of hostility, and we may find ourselves tempted to fret and begin to think that God has forgotten us. Whatever our inadequate emotions and reactions may tell us, GOD IS THERE, AND AWARE.
2. God is Able – One sign of our frailty is the futile practice of thinking that God is like us. We get tired and want to quit, so we figure God gets tired and wants to quit. Well, God neither faints nor is weary! There is a vastness about the reach and depth of his power that is overwhelming. Not only does God not lack strength! He supplies it! “He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted” (vs. 29-30)
3. God is Available – He is available to renew the strength of those who wait on him. When we trust in God, we will would mount up with wings like eagles, run and not be weary; walk, and not faint (vs. 31). Life is a sojourn of trials and testings; temptations, successes, failures; dark and wearisome days. Yet, for those who wait on God, he is available to renew our strength. This is a sincere and steady dependence on God, with an obedient trust.
I leave you with my usual New Year thought that I have found ever renewing at the start of each New Year:
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, “Give me a light so that I may walk safely into the unknown.” He replied, “Go your way and place your hand into the hand of God. That will be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
Let’s march forward resolutely knowing that God is aware! God is able! God is available!
January 3, 2020
Delight in the Lord, He will take care of your needs
Take delight in the Lord , and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalms 37:4 NRSV
“Many delight in wealth, status, material possessions, and other temporary things of this world, but they are never satisfied.” – Unknown
Happy New Year Friends!
I have seen and heard many New Year resolutions, posted on social media or by other means. The more I read and listen, is the more I realise the things in which persons claim to get satisfaction from are null and void.
To take delight in someone or something means to be joyful, well pleased and satisfied. It is likely that we cannot be satisfied in the ways we think we can. Today’s text is reminding us that we should take delight in the Lord and he will grant the desires of our hearts.
Taking delight in the Lord means that our hearts truly find peace and fulfillment in Him. If we truly find satisfaction and worth in Christ, Scripture says He will give us the desires of our hearts. Does that mean, if we go to church every Sunday, God will give us a new car, a house, a husband, a wife, etc…??? . Not so at all!! The idea behind this verse and others like it is that, when we truly rejoice or “delight” in the eternal things of God, our desires will begin to fall in line with His will and we will never go unfulfilled. Matthew 6:33 reminds us, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] will be given to you as well.”
We will never be deeply fulfilled or “happy” with the things this world has to offer. If we place our joy and hope in God first, He will meet all of our needs. He will even grant our wants, as our hearts’ desires begin to match up with His will. If we truly place priority on the Lord, it is very likely that our heart’s greatest desire will not be materialistic but eternal.
Until next week, This world can never satisfy our deepest longings, but if we choose to delight in God’s way, He will always provide above and beyond our expectations. Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
January 2, 2020
Persevere in Prayer
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Romans 12:12”
Happy New Year Friends! It is already day two of the New Year. I pray that this year will be a God inspired one as we reach new heights with our walk with God.
Do you want to know how to live a Christian life? Of course you do! Romans 12 is a good place to start. The Apostle Paul writing to the Christians in Rome now switches his focus from the theological in chapters 1-11 to the practical ways of living one’s life as a Christian (chapter 12-16). In chapter 12 Paul urges us to present our bodies as living sacrifice to God and we do this through the short commands he gave in chapter 12. One of those commands is to “rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”
Rejoicing in Hope
Why is it important to have hope in this world? We live in world filled with sin, chaos, hate and fear. In such a world for many there is no hope. There is no expectation of anything better. The problems of life are overbearing, people are generally self-centered, and at times there is no form of help. Our bodies are dwindling away and some might ask what is the purpose. In such a world there is need for hope and that hope lies in Jesus. The hope that Jesus will help us through this mortal world. The hope that we will be renewed and our bodies will change. The hope that Jesus has gone to prepare a better place for us. The hope that despite the challenges we face everything will be alright. This is the hope we rejoice in. The command to rejoice in hope is not a command to always be happy; it is a command to have the right perspective and attitude to the various situations we will encounter. In other words knowing that Jesus will help us with our various situations is cause for joy and that is what we should focus on.
Patient in Suffering
We all will experience suffering, pain and tribulation. There is no doubt that when we experience such moments, we are going through a difficult period in life. It is hard dealing with pain and the reality is that we all have human emotions and will be adversely affected by it. Paul doesn’t say to abort the pain we feel, for that is difficult to do, but what he says is to be patient during suffering. When we face suffering we try all we can to alleviate the pain and the suffering we are experiencing and sometimes our actions make the situation worse. Paul again asks us to switch our focus from dwelling on the situation to focusing on the glory to come. Romans 8:18 says, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” Paul highlights our choices- we can choose to focus on the suffering or we can choose to focus on the glory that is to come. Might I also add that God is an on time God!
Persevere in Prayer
It is not easy to rejoice in hope and be patient in suffering unless we keep praying. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 puts it this way, “Pray without ceasing”. Prayer is crucial in our walk with God. It is the means by which we communicate with God. It is through our prayers that we possess the strength to do what God wants us to do as Christians. Without a meaningful and strong prayer life it is harder to be patient in suffering and rejoice in Hope.
As we embark on this new journey called 2020 let us Persevere in Prayer