Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Intercessory Prayer for 4 October 2020.
Brothers, Sisters and Friends we hope you are well. However, if you are not, please let us know.
We continue to look at the issue of lack of forgiveness. Our focus in the last couple of weeks has been centred on the causes or what gives rise to lack of forgiveness. We deliberated on the issues of misunderstandings and misconceptions last Friday, and the week before we dealt with words voiced. Today I will talk about the words that we write.
Brethren, I came to the realisation that forgiveness is a critical issue in any relationship. We may feel hurt by others, especially those who are closest to us. Yet, we are required to forgive them. I find that continuously forgiving others forms part of relationship building and maintenance.
Some people may say that we have been in a new age with the emergence and influence of social media. Most people send a text rather than place a call to you. As you are aware, many groups on social media are formed because of interests associated with family, church, business or recreation. One of the things that do not give us an opportunity to see facial expressions and other mannerisms, and to hear a voice tone, is when we put something in writing. It requires careful thought so that we do not struggle to clarify our intent, and others do not struggle to understand us.
Recently, a friend of mine who I love as a dear sister-in-Christ asked a question of me via text but I had already given her the information and she had responded acknowledging it. My response was “Wake up”, and she felt like I was harsh with her. I ensured that the matter was clarified but this experience took me to a place of awareness that I had not given much attention in the way I relate. Hear me out! There are people who would never be offended by what I wrote. However, we need to understand who we are talking to, the person’s belief system, and the way that person responds to situations and what is said, whether in voice or writing.
The truth is that I am mainly silent in some of the groups on social media because I feel that there is a need to carefully coach what is written. I also find that the type of relationship in those groups is not effective, so people tend to be sensitive. Sometimes I have to pray over what I am going to say in order to ensure that I am on the right path. You may note that praying does not necessarily eliminate negative feedback so there is still no guarantee. However, when God is in it, regardless of the feedback, we are at a place of peace.
I prefer to speak with someone on the telephone rather than write but the young people who I have dealt with a lot, only text message me. If you call them, they never, I mean never hear the phone ring. Some of the adults I know respond in a similar manner, so I have to send a text. We have also developed a body of informal language to relate via social media. Some people have captured the art of typing fast and respond in short times.
The forwarded messages are another issue. Wow! They should bring laughter or provide us with information. However, the taste of some of them is either bitter or messy. Based on our expectations, we may have to develop written and unwritten protocols in terms of the way we relate with others, and even block or eliminate some contacts.
Persons have also used social media and other means of writings to place an attack on the character of others. I have seen hurts as a result, and those have led to a struggle to forgive and, in many instances, lack of forgiveness.
You may find that persons prefer to write because they do not have the boldness or courage to have a face-to-face or telephone conversation with you. I recall the apostle Paul sending a number of letters because he could not always have a physical presence. Some felt he was not a prolific speaker but sent them words in writing to make them uncomfortable. We read Paul’s writings today as a guide to our Christian living. However, the tone at times was really harsh but he also encouraged the Brethren. There was a time when he felt the need to defend his ministry and eliminate bad feelings and hurt after being criticised for his letters. He provided the church with clarity in an effort to address their concerns. A couple of concerns were highlighted.
- He gave an assurance of his approach, that is humility and gentleness. “By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you.” (2 Corinthians 10: 1, NIV)
- He merely stated what he believed was in the minds of some of the people at Corinth who criticised him, and not necessarily what he thought of himself. “…I, Paul, who am ‘timid’ when face to face with you, but ‘bold’ toward you when away!” (2 Corinthians 10:1, NIV).
- He gave an assurance of good intent. They compared his letters with his ability to speak but he had a few words for the false prophets. “I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’ Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.” (2 Corinthians 10-9-11).
- He went on to speak about boasting in Christ and evidence of the effectiveness of his ministry in the Corinthian church ( 2 Corinthians 10: 12-18).
- He gave an understanding of where his heart lies. “…Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory.” (2 Corinthians 10:15-16, NIV).
- He gave an assurance of his ultimate expectation. “But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18, NIV).
Paul still felt the need to bring clarity and understandings. However, he had more unloading to do so he reminded the Corinthians of his experiences. It also seems like he had a fear of misleading the people, so he laid things out. He spoke of having a godly jealousy (2 Corinthians 11: 1-4), he was prepared to continue and not allow anyone to stop his ministry (2 Corinthians 11:12).
He went off his own standard a little and was speaking of himself but did not regret it in the end because of its impact. He stated that he worked harder, been in prison more frequently, flogged more harshly, and frequently exposed to death, received forty lashes three times minus one, three times beaten with rods, shipwrecked, exposed to the dangers of the seas, rivers and bandits. He bore hunger, being naked and cold, laboured and toiled, all for the gospel (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).
Paul’s writings hurt some of the people of Corinth but their criticism also hurt him. He unloaded his thoughts, and made his case known by providing clarity as to the intent and purpose of his ministry. The scripture did not say so but he may have forgiven and moved on. The scripture did enunciate that he was looking to God for His commendation and not deterred by what humankind had to say (2 Corinthians 10:17-18, NIV). He was hurt, but was prepared to continue in ministry.
Brethren and Friends, many times we blame God and mankind for what has been done to cause us hurt instead of recognising God’s purpose for our lives. Stepping beyond self is very important for the work of God to continue through us. It is difficult at times but necessary. I am learning to understand and stick to God’s purpose in each experience that I face. Remember, it is still a process. Remember that God has forgiven us and we continuously forgive. How about you?
Let us pray
Almighty God, we thank You for those experiences that You have allowed to happen in our lives so that You are glorified. Lord, be magnified in our circumstances. We exalt You! Be glorified, O Lord.
Lord, You are an Awesome God! You reign in all things! All things were created for Your purpose and pleasure. We adore You! We thank You for sending Your Son who died so that we have an opportunity to receive forgiveness and reconcile with You. Thank You Lord that it is by Your stripes that we are healed. We thank You for Your healing power!
Lord, we come in the name of Jesus Christ asking that You cleanse us from all unrighteousness and forgive all of our sins. Out of the depths of our soul, we cry out to You Lord, have mercy!
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, we thank You for keeping us as a country. We thank You for church and biological families. Lord, many times those relationships are estranged or strained. Lord, we pray for Your mercy on us! Grant us a heart to forgive our brothers and sisters so that we may receive healing in our church and biological families.
Lord, words spoken or voiced have hurt so many people. There are others who have been physically abused. Many are discouraged for differing reasons and are losing hope. We ask that You instil hope in us as families and as a country.
Lord, crime and violence of differing sortshas riddled our country. Lord, we pray that You will hold each criminal mind accountable. Hold every community and every business within each sector accountable to live justly and with integrity. Help us Lord, to be the keeper of our neighbours.
Lord, we lift up the leaders of our churches and nations. Lord, we pray for healing among those who have experienced hurt and are discouraged.
The Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, Minister of Health and Wellness Christopher Tufton, Minister of Finance and the Public Service Nigel Clarke, health workers and support staff, Minister of Education, Youth and the Environment Fayval Williams, Minister of National Security Horace Chang, and his team, Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck. We also remember the judges in our congregation; Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie.
Lord, heal our nation.
Lord, we remember those among us who are on the usual sick and shut-in list, as well as Sisters Iris Lawrence, Lelith James, Jennifer Nicholson, Virginia Muir, Marville (Cherry) Murray (Sister Iris Lawrence’s daughter), Janet Chen-Young, Joyce Bailey, Lucille Alexander, Jhada Graham, Ethlyn Atkins, Cherrie Lee, Brother George Gabbidon, and Andrew Robinson (Sister Claire Robinson’s son), Brother Danville Japp’s father, Mr. Isaiah Japp, and any family member who is currently struggling with the Covid-19 virus. We mention especially our Sister Rachael Dixon and her family members in Mandeville who are fighting the battle of the Covid-19 disease.
Lord, we remember those who are mourning, especially our Sisters Sandra Bucknor Jones, Sharon Lynch and Jehan Johnson, as well as Brother Andrew Getton.
O Lord, have mercy and provide healing, coverage and comfort.
Lord, we commend to You Choose Life International, an organisation that has a critical role in a time as this. Lord, provide wisdom, insight, coverage, boldness, physical, and human resources for the leaders and staff of this organisation. Let Your blessings and favour be upon them.
Lord, as we face the days ahead, fill us with Your peace, provide for our tables and cover us.
Surround us with Your love, in Jesus’ name we pray, with thanksgiving.
Our Weekly Prayers are for everyone. Therefore, if you are also in need of prayer or comfort, please contact us with your request. We would be so very happy to share with you.