Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 23 July 2021 for our country, businesses, frontline and other workers. Deacon Burton owns the copyright to this post. We reprint here with her permission.
My Brothers, Sisters and Friends, we are hoping that you are well. However, if not, please let us know. Just a reminder that if you or anyone you know needs prayer, please let us know. You can post your prayer request here on our website.
I am extremely grateful to God Almighty for my faith. The world is evolving into a state wherein people have become self-absorbed and self-directed, resulting in self-standards hitting a high note. This type of behaviour gives comfort to voices that set their own standards and function as if it is okay. As followers of Christ, do we jump on a wagon to give support and not examine situations to see if there is anything wrong?
If we are not careful, we can easily get caught in the crowd because it does not set us apart. We are not called out so we remain quiet and comfortable. We may not make known the principles that we represent. Or we may be called to defend what we say. We may be afraid of doing so because this may expose us. When we are unable to articulate what we believe we can be easily swayed by the philosophies of humankind. When we are able to articulate what we believe but are unable to connect this with the Holy Spirit functioning in our lives we can be easily swayed by the philosophies of humankind. We can become easily deceived and thrown off the right path.
A number of times I saw deception coming at me but I noticed that if I am not alert, I can easily let it slide. There are times when I do not see it so it hits me without realisation on my part. This can happen. However, constant self-examination through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, frequency in prayer, feeding on the word of God and fasting will expose the culprit of deception and other things that are not of God. It requires us to stay connected. The Spirit of God provides us with gifts, counsels us, comforts us and really equips us for life. If we do not stay connected to Him in the right way we will not receive the spiritual food that builds us up and gives us the energy that we need for daily life. The truth is, we will become spiritually malnourished.
I thought about what the elder, John, said concerning the vine and the branches.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the words I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.John 15:1-4
Here John spoke of what Jesus was saying that He is the true vine and His Father, our heavenly Father, is the gardener. The aim and expectation are to obtain good fruit.
Jesus went on to say that we are the branches (John 15:5). You see, God the Father and gardener is working on the branches through His Son who is the vine. The branch is cut off if it bears bad fruit. It withers if it is of no use because it does not stay connected to the vine. God does not use us in the way He intended and expected when we are not on the right path, when we are not connected in the way He wants. Imagine the way the electrical current flows at times. There may be load shedding, no electricity or full electricity. The work of the Holy Spirit in us can be operating at a low to high level depending on how we are connected to Him.
Even if the branch bears good fruit, it needs to be pruned to remain healthy. Therefore, it has to remain connected to continue bearing good fruit. It seems God wants us to continue bearing good fruit as long as we are alive and not relying on our historic accomplishments. Aah!
You know something, the Lord showed me that this description of a vine is not new. Let us take a trip. Isaiah the prophet was singing about a vineyard. Isaiah said, “I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well….” (Isaiah 5:1-2, NIV).
Isaiah spoke of God the Father’s love for His people. He told of an equipping and provision for His people that was second to none. Isaiah went on to say that although all that was done, the Father was disappointed because “…he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.” (Isaiah 5:2, NIV).
Who were the vineyard and vine? Isaiah later showed us that “The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in….” (Isaiah 5:7, NIV). Having invested so much, the Father was disappointed at the results. He poured a lot into His people but the performance of His people did not yield the results that He expected. I am sure that He knew but assessed His input. “… judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did they yield only bad? (Isaiah 5: 3-4, NIV). Think about your investments. How would you want them to perform? How then does God expect His people to perform?
Then He issued a judgement. In the judgement, we could see He knew what caused His people to bear bad fruit. He began by saying “Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard…” (Isaiah 5: 5, NIV). He spoke of what He was going to do to the land, etc. Then He went on to judge the people. “Woe to those who…. stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine,” (Isaiah 5: 11, NIV), “…have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands.” (Isaiah 5: 12, NIV). “Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes.” (Isaiah 5: 18, NIV).
And the woes continued. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5: 20-21, NIV).
Even back then, some of humankind walked along a path of deception, called evil good, and darkness light. They operated based on their own wisdom, were self-directed and consumed. They had no regard for what God wanted and lacked the thirst and appetite for God and the things of God. You know what? They were God’s people. Think about it. They were gifted to bear good fruit. Yet, they lost their true purpose.
Thank God for the redemption that we have access to through Jesus Christ. Yet, we are required to bear good fruit. Even with this redemption, we have not escaped the vine. We have not escaped the gardener. We have to stay connected to the vine, Jesus Christ, allowing the gardener to operate through the vine so that we, the branches, can bear good fruit. This we do while being cognizant of the fact that the gardener still needs to be at work in us, establishing the work of our hands.
You know, at times I buy plants. I feed and prune them. Some of them do so well. However, there are some that need more pruning than others because they tend to easily get bad leaves and stalks. Wow! This sounds like some of us. Anyway, if I do not prune them though, the bad leaves will still take the food of the good leaves. Then there are those that just go bad after a while. I keep them and put a lot into ensuring that they are revived. Some respond to me and I feel that those have reconnected. However, a few times, there are those that become totally withered. The only thing I can do is throw them away.
Think about my experience with plants. Think also about God’s experience with the people of Israel. Can you imagine the Father, the gardener at work? Can you imagine your response? Think about what Jesus said concerning us connected to Him, the true vine in order to bear good fruit, to achieve what God placed us on earth to do and our response.
“Think bout it, chat bout it.” What are you going to do about it?
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, we thank You for a new day and weekend. We honour Your infinite greatness and majesty. We also thank You for your provisions and for covering us as individuals, families, communities, businesses, government and a country as a whole.
Hallowed be thine name; thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Have mercy on us O God, In the name of Jesus Christ, forgive our sins and help us to forgive those who sinned against us. Cause it that we are not led into temptation, nor deceived but deliver us from all evil.
Lord, bless us as individuals, families, communities, businesses, government and a country as a whole. So as the psalmist stated, help us to be:
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Lord, grant us insight into the ways of the wicked, and the results. As the psalmist stated:
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
(Psalm 1, NIV)
Lord, we pray especially for our church leaders, 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, and the leader of the opposition Mark Golding and his team. We also remember the judges in our congregation, Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie.
We lift up to You those among us who are in business: Ewan and Maxine Oliver; Lanna and Desmond Bennett; Warrick Bogle, Carol and Leroy Blake, Marcia Leair, Robert and Bevelin Smith, Paulette Dixon, Kemorine and Karl Henry, Ava Comrie, Catherine Barkley and husband, Cornel Richards and family, Everton Lewis, Pauline and Mark Garvey, Brother Astley Hall, Maxine and Benedict Ranger, Melva Knight, Nicole Fender, Sharon Baldie, Karl Jones and others.
We also pray for the frontline workers connected with GMC. Medical Doctors: Asana Anderson Wilks and Rohan Wilks, Kahlete Falloon, Tina Kong, Vernon Jones, Leighton Logan; trainee doctors (Emily Reynolds, Gabrielle Channer); Dentists: doing emergency cases; Jhenelle Black, Dania Jones, Eleanor Reynolds; Pharmacists: Sandra Bucknor-Jones, Viveen Watson; other doctors and nurses from GMC or in connection with members and adherents of GMC who are working on the frontline (for example Dr Richard Reynolds) and their families.
Lord, strengthen us, provide for us, grant us insight and help us to exercise good judgement in all that we say and do. Lord, grant unto us Your peace. Hear, O Lord, and answer in Jesus’ name we pray with thanksgiving.
Our Prayers of Encouragement are for everyone. Therefore, please contact us with your request if you are also in need of prayer or comfort. We would be so very happy to share with you.