THURSDAY REFLECTION – Do not show favoritism

Thursday Reflection

January 30, 2020

Do not show favoritism

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.” James 2: 1

Greeting Friends!

Today’s text teaches us to show equality. In our text James, the brother of Jesus, speaks against showing favoritism as children of God. We cannot treat some people good while ignoring others and mistreating them. James gave this example:

“Suppose someone comes into your assembly dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “you can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”- well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgements are guided by evil motives?

Friends, those who believe in God are called to treat the rich, the poor, the educated and the not so educated in the same manner. We cannot treat the rich and educated better than how we treat the poor and not so educated. We cannot speak ill, or speak down to others, because we feel that they are below us. This type of behavior is not reflective of Jesus. In fact it is contrary to the teachings of God. Matthew 7:1-2 states, “Do not judge, or you will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Showing favouritism means we have judged others. Our role as Christians is not to judge others, that role belongs to God. Our role is to love everyone as depicted by the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We have allowed the world’s standard to impress us- being well spoken, good education, richness, fame and the likes- while ignoring those who are in need. James encourages us to view everyone on the same level. He encourages us to have the same respect for everyone. He encourages us to treat the poor just like how we would treat the Prime Minister or anyone else in authority. We must remember it is not the fancy clothes that impress God, it is the sincerity of heart.

In like manner, the poor should not show favouritism and speak ill of the rich or of each other. As Christians we all are called to show love and care to each other. We have to be careful of the cliques we form at church that cause division amongst church members as you favour one group over the other.

Until next remember to treat everyone the same, that is with love and respect.

Shalom!

Christopher Euphfa

WEDNESDAY REFLECTION – A Gentle Savior

Wednesday Reflection, January 29, 2020

A Gentle Savior

A bruised reed he will not  break and a dimly burning wick he will not quench – Isaiah 42:3a… today’s watchword.

Brothers and sisters, today’s watchword reminds us of how loving, kind and gently the Lord our God is. We being born in sin and shaped in iniquity are fragile beings. We are produce that really could be considered as a “bad batch”

Sin defiles us, places limitations on us that God did not intend and yes, sin appears as if it makes us healthy and happy, providing a perpetual high but in reality, what the practice or habit of sin does is to  distract us from reality and then defeats us, further by blocking us from our true purpose which is to serve God wholeheartedly.

God in His infinite wisdom and grace, continues to make provisions for us for although sin has rendered us incapacitated,  Jesus’ loving arms remain opened to us, welcoming us into His gentle embrace though we be bruised reeds and dimly burning wicks. The gospel according to Luke 19:10 reinforces the fact that “the son of man came to seek out and to save the lost”

There will always be those among us who are expecting God to be to them the type of superhero the world has come to love and magnify, however,  we know that those types of heroes are based on vain imaginings.

In Christ, lies all we need.  His hand is always outstretched and his arms are ever ready to receive us especially after sin and life has left us poor reeds bruised with our wicks dimly lit…

Drained and weary from a life of confusion,  uncertainty and pain, our Father God, bids us come. Until next week,
May you find all you seek in the will and presence of the Lord.

Amen

Kerone Lamoth

MONDAY REFLECTION – God and God Alone!

Monday Reflection – January 27, 2020

God and God Alone!
Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord—with the first of them and with the last—I am he. Isaiah 41:4

Isaiah 41 begins with God summoning the people from the coastlands or distant lands to appear before him. They are to come near so they can address him. Yet, they are to keep silent before him because they are coming to his courtroom. Hear the latter part of verse 1, “Let us come near together for judgement.” These idolatrous people were being summoned before Yahweh as judge where they should keep silent, but they will get their opportunity to speak. They were also charged to renew their strength. Indeed, if they are going to contest with God, they better come fully ready and prepared.

Yahweh lays out his case by asking six questions, rhetorical ones too. Hear him: “Who raised up one from the east? Who in righteousness called him to his feet? Who gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? Who gave them as the dust to his sword, as driven stubble to his bow? Who pursued them, and passed safely by the way that he had not gone with his feet? Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning?” Yahweh provides the obvious answer: ‘I, the Lord, am the first; and with the last I am He.’ (Vs. 2-4 -NKJV) Hear the Message Version beautiful rendering of verse 4: “Who did this? Who made it happen? Who always gets things started? I did. God. I’m first on the scene. I’m also the last to leave.”

God invites those in distant lands to come and reason with him. He shows them his greatness over all creation, and over all history. They must ask themselves, “Who is in control of the course of human events?” This is always an important issue to reflect on. In this confusing world, people are asking many questions including, is there a point, a direction to human history? Is it just a random, meaningless combination of undirected events? Is it a cycle whose fate is endless repetitiveness? Or, is there a God in heaven who directs human events, always moving to a final resolution and fulfilment? Our answer to these questions influences almost everything in our lives.

God is the first and the last and the in-between. He has a plan for everything and everyone. Our lives are not given over to blind fate, random meaninglessness nor endless cycles with no resolution. God is directing all of life and invites us to place our hands in his and allow him to lead us to purposeful living and triumphant victory. Indeed, only he alone is the sovereign God of the universe!

Jermaine Gibson

WEDNESDAY REFLECTION – A Call to Faith

Wednesday Reflection, January 22, 2020

A Call to Faith

Brothers and sisters, I greet you well. If we should search for a definition for the word faith, we’d find that like so many other words in the dictionary, this one word has many meanings and applications,  however,  none of the dictionary meanings mean more to me than the definition given to us in Hebrews 11:1 faith is the assurance of what we hope for (divinely guaranteed) and confidence in that which we do not see…

True enough, this is another of those words people throw around casually. Faith may either be a woman’s name, confused with Fate and it’s power and purpose are often times misunderstood.

If I should ask, how is your faith? What kind of faith do you possess? Is is the fickle type? Considered to be a noun, you know, something you tell others easily you have? Or is it faith the verb, the state of being, the process of standing still in the face of adversity or affliction so you may witness how the Lord will deliver you? It is one thing to know something, but to believe in that which you know is another thing.

It is not enough for us to be believers of the word but doers also. Most of us believe in God but how many of us have experienced who God truly is? Travelling mercies and grace renewed every morning is not just for those of us who have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, so what then differentiates us from others?

Our faith!

Isaiah 7:9b “if you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all” today’s watchword.

Faith is that total, complete and unwavering trust in God. It is that which keeps us anchored during turbulent flights and stormy seas. Faith enables and encourages us by the help of the Holy Spirit to be confident, to know, accept and see the things the Lord has promised. All of which cannot be seen through the physical or natural eyes.

Today’s watchword is reminding each of us to stay grounded. Not to get distracted, but instead,  fight the good fight of faith, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Brothers and sisters, the believer who makes a commitment to be faithful in prayer will find that their spirit is ever recharged, refueled and refreshed.

Until next week, be faithful and have Faith!

Amen

TUESDAY REFLECTION – The Completeness of God’s Action

Tuesday Reflection – January 21, 2020
The Completeness of God’s Action

In Leviticus 26: 1 – 13 God reminds Israel of their promised obedience to the Law and the blessings they will receive for keeping them. The promise to them is that those who walk faithfully with God will be rewarded with peace, prosperity and power. Israel is then reminded through today’s watchword of God’s action of deliverance in their lives which has continued to be a source of blessing to them. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be their slaves no more; I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. Lev 26: 13

When God freed Israel from slavery he did not leave them in the land of Egypt but led them out of the situation and the place of bondage to a place of freedom and safety. God also reminded them that their yoke was broken. The yoke represented the bondage of slavery. While slaves they could not live like normal people. They could not stand on their own two feet because they were not allowed to do so. The breaking of the yoke allowed Israel to walk upright again, standing as men and women, as people who were free and not as property of the Egyptian slave owners. Egypt represented shame, shackles and suffering, the burdens of which caused them to look down in shame. Freedom meant they could look at each other unashamed, they could hold their heads up and they could square their shoulders and face the world as freed people. God did not just bring them out of slavery, God completely changed their situation of shame and captivity to one of freedom, pride and joy. Such is the completeness of God’s action, giving them full freedom to serve Him as they should. Who the son sets free, is free indeed. Jn 8: 36

Yesterday Martin Luther King Day was celebrated in the United States of America. Dr. King was a Civil Rights leader who fought for the full freedom of the black population in America. Although given freedom from slavery in 1865, 31 years after the English-speaking colonies, Americas black population has been faced with every manner of hardship one can think of as there has been a consistent effort to keep blacks dehumanized. The yoke of the black person has been broken but blacks have not been allowed to walk upright. Dr. King recognized that this was caused by the actions of men standing in opposition to God’s intention. Thus he proclaimed in his dream of 1962 ‘when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!” Lord haste that day.

In today’s society that which spiritually binds and shackles us is sin. God sent Jesus Christ to free us. While sin enslaves us and causes us to stray from God, Jesus offers us forgiveness, freedom from a sinful life and a return to God’s presence. This is accomplished purely through God’s grace. Grace releases us from the bondage of sin, removes us from the presence of sin, makes us cease the practice of sin and protects us from the threat of punishment for sins. Grace gives us the pardon needed to start over and begin living a new life, a life in which we are no longer slaves to sin but can walk uprightly, not as bondsmen but as free. In this new-found freedom we are encouraged to turn fully to God through Jesus and living fully for Him. God in this way brings about a complete change in our lives. May our lives constantly reflect this change as we live for Him, being a visible sign of His grace and His presence in the world. Amen.

Bevon White

MONDAY REFLECTION – Make it Real!

Monday Reflection – January 20, 2020

Make it Real!
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. Psalm 32:2

Psalm 32 is titled, A Psalm of David. A Maskil. Maskil means contemplation or instruction and reflects the mind and attitude of David. We are not told the specific occasion that prompted this song; however, some theologians believe that Psalms 32 and 51 are tuned together and is thus referenced to David after his sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah. Psalm 32 is clearly one of penitence, but it is also the song of a ransomed soul rejoicing in the wonders of the grace of God. G. Campbell Morgan says of this Psalm that sin is dealt with, sorrow is comforted, and ignorance is instructed.

David begins by speaking of the great blessing there is for anyone who knows the forgiveness of God. His or her sin is no longer exposed, it is covered. There is double joy, bundles of happiness, and mountains of delight! We are blessed when we make full confession and repentance of sin. David knows fully well what it was like to be a guilty sinner. He knows the seriousness of sin and how good it is to be truly forgiven. Like David, we should know that if we are judged on works alone, the righteous God must condemn us. David knows by experience, blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

In today’s text, David speaks of real forgiveness by the declaration of God, not merely the quieting of a noisy conscience or an imagined peace with God. This was a standing with God declared and given, not earned. In verses 1 and 2, David uses three words to describe sin:
1. Transgression – which means crossing the line, defying authority
2. Sin – falling short or missing the mark
3. Iniquity – which is crookedness and distortion

Equally, David uses three terms to describe what God does to put away sin:
1. Forgiven – the lifting of a burden or a debt
2. Covered – that of sacrificial blood covering sin
3. Does not impute – means bookkeeping; it does not count against a person

So David declares that the forgiveness of sin is to be found in God. The prior life of sin and double-living was over for David; he was now the repentant and forgiven sinner. The forgiven life needs no more deceit to cover one’s ways. Charles Spurgeon offers sound advice from this text – be honest; do not deceive ourselves; come clean before God; have an honest religion, or have none at all; have a religion of the heart; put aside the mere vestment and garment of piety, and let your soul be right within. Of note is that David reports in verse 3 that when he kept his sin hidden and was silent, the stress of a double life and unconfessed sin made him feel old, oppressed, and dry.

Today’s text invites us to lay bare before the Lord, humbly confess our sins and seek his pardon. We must remember that God already knows, because his eyes are everywhere, keeping watch over evil and good (Proverbs 15:3). There is no hiding! And O what joy and peace we experience when we are set free from our sins! No more looking over our shoulders; no more wondering who will find out; free and free indeed! Let’s make it real!

Jermaine Gibson

FRIDAY REFLECTION

Friday Reflection
January 17, 2020

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the Lord , the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me.
Exodus 10:3 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/exo.10.3.NIV

Greetings friends, happy Friday

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those in power” Unknown

Background
We might be very familiar with this passage of scripture and the story behind it. To cut a long story short,  Pharaoh was king (ruler, leader, man in charge etc)  in Egypt and was holding the people of Israel captive. The Lord on many occasion sent Moses and Aron to bring this same message to Pharaoh. “When will you humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may worship me”‘ says the Lord. Pharaoh continue to refuse and so the Lord sent 10 plagues that brought peril in the land of Egypt. The Lord was adamant that his people must be freed so they may worship him. The Lord inhabits the praise of his people. Therefore, nothing or no one can stand in his way.

Application
Today’s society is one in which people crave leadership positions. They seem to elevate themselves in order to reach the top of the ladder. While nothing is wrong with this, one have to be careful that they don’t fall into God’s punishable hands. We read of many corrupt leaders and we see how they hold people captive to fulfill their own objectives. This kind of leadership is not what God has in mind for his people. The Lord wants his people to be free that they may worship him.

Like with Pharaoh, the Lord will not sit and watch his people suffer and remain in captivity forever! He will intervene. I pray that those who are leaders will understand the seriousness of humbling ourselves before the Lord. I pray that those who lead will lead people to worship God, rather than keeping them from worshiping God

Today’s world is different from “the Bible days” in the sense that the now leaders may not be holding people captive in any geographical location, but they are infiltrating the minds of the people and driving people away from God with their corrupt leadership styles.

Until next week, if you are in any leadership position humble yourself before God, that His wrath might not be poured upon you Do not hold His people at ransom. Let them Go, so they may worship their God.

BLESSINGS
Shaneka Raymore-Euphfa

THURSDAY REFLECTION – God’s Love is Sure

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


Greeting Friends! 
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!  

Christopher Euphfa 

TUESDAY REFLECTION – The Person Behind The Gift

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

Bevon White   

SATURDAY REFLECTION

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