MONDAY REFLECTION – Hide from God?

Monday Reflection – April 27, 2020

Hide from God?

 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God. Genesis 3:8  

As I read today’s Watchword, I began thinking about the many games we used to play when I was growing up. One such is ‘hide and seek’. It involves one person hiding away hoping not to be found, while the other(s) was to seek until the person who is hiding is found. Once that person is found, he/she becomes a seeker after another who has gone to hide. The two skills required are to hide so as not to be found, and to seek until we find the person who is hiding.

Sadly, this practice of running away and hiding has followed a lot of us in life in more serious ways. Many have become accustomed to running away once there is trouble or conflict. Many run away from marriages, relationships, jobs, hard work and even church, without any attempt to find a resolution. Their first response is to leave. Many lack the patience, fortitude and sticktuitiveness to deal with any challenging situation. Many also hide when they don’t want to face a situation, especially when they are in the wrong. They lack the courage and also the willingness to admit wrong, so they hide behind excuses and even attempt to hide from God.

Adam and Eve attempted to hide from God when they heard God coming. In the context of today’s text, shortly after being made in God’s image, the first humans were tested. The crux of their choice, and thus the temptation, was that they could ‘be like God’. Up to this point they had implicitly trusted God for everything and taken him at his word for everything. But now they had the choice to leave that behind, to become ‘like God’. They could become ‘gods’ themselves, captains of their own ship, masters of their destiny, being autonomous and answerable only to themselves. Having fallen, they felt shame and tried to cover it up. When God confronts Adam about his breach of covenant, he blames Eve and she in turn blames the serpent. No one would accept responsibility.

What started that day has continued because we have inherited that same innate disposition. We have inherited this nature of Adam and thus innately and willfully we continue the uprising that he started. We may not want to be god of the universe, but we want to be gods in our settings. Bon Jovi’s chorus “It’s my life”, Frank Sinatra’s more sublime “I did it my way”, and Buju Banton’s “I want to rule my destiny” are echoes of this.

Adam and Eve must have learnt two things about the nature of God that is worth noting ourselves. God is omniscient – that is all-knowing – and God is omnipresent – everywhere at the same time. This means that we cannot hide from God. David learnt this when he echoed in Psalm 139: 7-10, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Solomon advises, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place” (Proverbs 15:3). So let’s not run away, hide, nor blame others, but face God in penitence, and our situations with faith and a fresh resolve. In the midst of Covid-19, let’s not cower in fear, but trust God. Don’t hide from God; instead make God our hiding place.

Jermaine Gibson

BISHOP’S MESSAGE 2020 – COVID-19

TUESDAY REFLECTION – Keep Praying, God has the final say!

Tuesday Reflection – April 21, 2020

Keep Praying, God Has the Final Say

Picture with me friends a man thrown into a den of hungry lions. What a horrible way to die. Daniel however was no ordinary man, he was a praying man. Prayer was his habit, prayer was his source of strength, and prayer was his accusation. Today’s Watchword is from Daniel 6: 23. Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in the Lord. As we reflect on Daniel today I urge you, keep praying for God has the final say.

The story of Daniel in the Lion’s den is so well known that Daniel is as famous as another world influencer who lived during his time, Confucius. When he was thrown into the den, Daniel was about eighty years old, well known throughout the Babylonian kingdom and so loved and respected that the king at that time, King Cyrus, wanted to promote him to being in-charge of the kingdom. Daniel was an exile in Babylon who had been trained in Babylonian ways, given a Babylonian name and placed into state service by the overlords. The plan was to so indoctrinate and intrigue the Jews by the Babylonian culture and religion that they would willingly abandon Jewish culture and religion. We live in a world that seeks to so captivate us with a modern neo-political, social and religious culture that we will want to move away from what we have known and held to. We should never forget however that the ‘old time religion’ which was good enough for our mothers and fathers remains good enough for us today. Like Daniel we should be unrelenting in our practice of our faith, regardless of the new expressions or the new and more attractive ‘gods’ that the world provides for us. Daniel kept praying and as a result of his faith no harm was found on him.Now Daniel could have prayed in secret without looking to Jerusalem. What he wanted to be known however was that even under pressure his well cultivated habit had not changed. His dedication to prayer had not changed in either its subject not its object. He knelt three times a day and he looked to Jerusalem as he always had. Neither his obligation nor his affiliation had changed. Let others look towards a statue of a human being, let others look to human powers, he would still look to his God for therein lay his salvation and that of his people. Like David in Psalm 121 Daniel knew the source of his help. ‘I will look to the hills, from where my help comes, my help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth’. Like the prophet Isaiah in ch 12: 2, Daniel knew: “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” For his dedication to God Daniel was thrown to lions but for that same dedication, God delivered him. Evil may often seem stronger and the darkness that enfold us may be overpowering, but in the end the power of God will always stand supreme and we will overcome even against all odds. At a time of religious persecution throughout the world, even in least expected places, Daniel reminds us that faithful persistence preserves us even in the face of death. At a time when the sovereignty of God is being questioned by a world that is becoming more atheistic and irreverent than at any other time, Daniel reminds us that we ought to stand in all sincerity for what we believe for in so doing others may come to know the blessings of serving God. At a time of severe medical challenge gripping the entire world, Daniel reminds us that we should never lose hope, never give up even to the very last, we should keep trusting and never stop praying for God who alone is sovereign, has the final say. Amen
Bevon White

MONDAY REFLECTION – Chosen for a Purpose

Monday Reflection – April 20, 2020

Chosen for a Purpose

 The Lord said, “I have chosen Abraham, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice.” Genesis 18:19  

Our Watchword today highlights Abraham’s special place in the heart of God. God himself says, “I have chosen Abraham…” (Gen 18:19). There was nothing special about Abraham that led God to choose him. He wasn’t better than everyone else; he wasn’t stronger, smarter, or more industrious. God chose Abraham purely out of grace and love, and thus nothing that he deserved. Yet, God has also chosen you and me. Every single believer has been chosen by God and has an everlasting covenant relationship with him. Believers are God’s holy and set apart people. Every believer is called to be God’s co-partner, God’s fellow worker, in bringing about the Kingdom. Every believer is a friend of God to whom God reveals his will through his word.

We live in a world where we make choices regarding our lives daily. We choose our friends and they choose us, we choose our marriage partner, we are chosen for boards and committees, we are chosen for promotion or special position. But to be chosen of God, that is far more important, awesome, enduring and eternal. Yet, God chooses us in two ways. One is for salvation for eternal life and the other to fulfill God’s determined purpose, a calling on our lives.  

Today’s text focuses on Abraham’s choseness to fulfill God’s purpose. God says, “I have chosen Abraham, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice.” Our verse has three important words.

  1. Charge – This is about taking responsibility to ensure that God’s directions are followed. God, by his providence, guides the course of history and expect believers to follow and lead others to follow his will. When applied to Abraham, and us as parents, it means we ought to take charge of our children’s religious and moral instruction.
  1. Keep – The word used here means to guard, to watch. It is the same word used of a watchman standing guard on a city wall for the enemy; he needs to be careful, he needs to be observant, he needs to stay awake, he needs to keep a vigilant watch. In the same way, godly parents stand watch over our children to pay careful attention to the ways of God.
  1. Way – This means path or road. The way of the Lord is found in the Bible. More specifically, children are to be directed towards faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to God’s word and will. But how? This involves regular worship, Bible study, and prayer. It is about reflecting the attributes of Christ and fruit of the Spirit in their lives.

It is critical to note that these acts are geared towards doing righteousness and justice; to be right and just. Solomon reminds us that, to do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3). Righteousness and justice are attributes of God, thus the expectation of God is that we imitate him, as we pursue becoming more like him. Godly parents and guardians are to charge their children to keep the way of the Lord…an awesome responsibility, yet possible through the enabling presence of the Holy Spirit.   

Jermaine Gibson 

TUESDAY REFLECTION – Restored Through Christ

Tuesday Reflection – April 14, 2020

Restored Through Christ

In Isaiah 50 we are made to understand that God is justified in his judgements. We read in chapter 51 however, that even in the face of God’s wrath, he has reserved mercy and hope for his servants, for those who have not turned their backs on him. It gives comfort especially during times of uncertainties. Note that the word of God has always been, and continues to be, a source of comfort, especially during times of distress. Today’s watchword offers us hope that God is never far from what is happening and has indeed made provisions for the faithful to be restored through Christ. Isaiah 51: 5 ‘“My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, And My arms will judge the peoples’ 

God offers us two rays of hope through this text. Firstly, God’s righteousness and salvation has not been withdrawn but are always near to His people. Secondly, God’s judgement is passed on the unbelieving. If you have been following the Daily Watchword you would have found that somehow the selection of texts, done a year or more ago, speaks directly to the situation that the world is facing in the here and now. Isn’t it amazing how God preselected the words of assurance that we would need in this crisis? Today is no different. We are being assured that God has not left us but is even closer to us now that we need His presence more than ever. Indeed his righteousness is near and His salvation has already been assured. If we understand this to be the case then we will further understand that God’s judgement is never for the purpose of destroying His people or any people for that matter. God’s judgement should serve the purpose of causing us to turn, through repentance, to accepting his righteousness and salvation. To dig a little deeper, righteousness as used in this verse is better translated righteous one. The righteous one of God is near. There is no doubt that this refers to Jesus Christ. It is through Him that God offers salvation to the world. Thus with the righteous one comes God’s salvation. Paul referred to the Gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, in Romans 1: 16 as the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. He further stresses in ch. 8 that nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. This good news strengthens us each day as we see the discouraging world news and as we watch the statistics climb. We who have been saved from God’s judgment through the righteousness and salvation from Christ, are assured of safety, sanctuary and serenity even in the midst of the worst pandemic we have ever seen. I give thanks for the many testimonies of God’s grace and favor that we have heard. God uses every situation that arises to the advantage of His people. Many churches have been able to reach many more persons through online worship than they did before they had to close the physical doors. Many Christian healthcare workers have been able for the first time in years, to openly minister to and pray for sick persons and coworkers without the fear of being fired. Families are bonding, broken marriages are being repaired. Communities have found innovative ways to care for each other and there are many plans for persons to meet face to face when this is all over. The Holy Spirit has been moving in ways we never imagined in all that is happening, bringing healing to a broken people and planet. Indeed, God has always had a plan in place for such a time as this, a plan that took shape on a cruel cross, was fulfilled with the resurrection of Jesus Christ and continues to give hope through the message of the Gospel, ‘the Lord is risen indeed’. Truly, his righteous and salvation are never far away and continues to save fallen humanity from God’s judgment. May we continue not only to embrace the hope of the gospel, but to also share the good news for the sake of the salvation of all, bringing healing through hope and life everlasting to a hurting world. Amen 
Bevon White

MONDAY REFLECTION – Empty but not Emptiness

Monday Reflection – April 13, 2020

Empty but not Emptiness

 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Matthew 28:5,7

What? What’s happening here? Where is Jesus? This must be some of the questions and expressions of the women who arrive at the burial spot of Jesus and discover that the tomb is empty. They have come to anoint his body with the spices that they had prepared, but the body of Jesus is nowhere to be found. We cannot begin to imagine nor understand the trauma that these women are going through. I believe that the anointing of the body is part of the healing process for them, bringing closure for them, in light of the gruesome crucifixion that Jesus went through via a kangaroo court. There is therefore an empty cross and an empty tomb.

The cross is empty but is not characterized by emptiness. It is full of God’s promises. The cross is God’s remedy for sin. Romans 3:23 reminds us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. Yet, Romans 5:8 inspires us “God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus became sin for us, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The tomb is empty but is not a symbol of emptiness. Without the empty tomb there is no Saviour. The resurrection is proof that God accepted Jesus’ death as full payment for our sins. The resurrection is God’s seal of approval on all that Jesus accomplished. At the cross and empty tomb, God’s justice has been satisfied. Sin has been paid for. The payment for sin that was demanded from us, has been made by a Substitute – none other than God’s own Son. The empty tomb is about victory and new life. It’s about the defeat of sin, and death, and the forces of evil. Death no longer rules the day for Christ has defeated death. Sin is no longer victorious for Christ has paid the price for it. We are now free from sin’s bondage and evil no longer has us in its sway. God’s will has triumphed! His plan of salvation has been completed.

The empty cross and grave are not signs of an absent God; rather they remind us in a very powerful way that our God is still here; his love and grace are sufficient. Easter brings light to lives darkened by sin. It brings hope to people paralyzed by despair. So when dark clouds invade our lives, when raindrops of suffering or trouble dampen our souls, we must remember that the sun of God’s amazing grace is still shining above the clouds. When life’s challenges threaten to overwhelm us and our sins threaten to separate us from our Holy God, remember this: CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED!

The world gives us promises full of emptiness: God gives us empty things full of promises!Jermaine Gibson