Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 4 April 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 but 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 on our website.
Christ’s brokenness helps me to gain greater insight into my brokenness. The discomfort that I have experienced time and time again has never been in vain. It has helped me to grow as I walk along the path that God has set for me. God has enabled me to walk a particular path so that He is glorified. Many people may find it hard to understand but the strength of my hope is built up because of the evidence of His restoring hand on my emotional and physical well-being.
Knowing that the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is within me is a mind-blower. This tells me that I have been equipped to be used by God to achieve His works. Yet, it is not just I but so many of us who chose to walk by faith. Even then, I realised that my heart and mind must be opened to the ignition of His power and I must be obedient to His instructions.
At times doubt arises and there is a struggle to believe though there may be evidence. Some may argue that if there is faith, there is no need for evidence, so just believe. Is there evidence though not yet seen until it has come to pass? Is faith about trusting the evidence with the hope that it will emerge? Notwithstanding this, I am convinced and convicted within my heart and mind that Jesus Christ died for my sins. He did not remain dead but He arose. I thank God that He raised Jesus Christ from the dead. This is the victory that gives me hope for my victory in the midst of brokenness. Hallelujah! Christ Arose! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord,
May you be drawn to a place of openness before God. May your heart and mind become vulnerable before Him. And may you walk the path that He has set for you, knowing that the grace of God will assist and enlighten you through His Holy Spirit. May you embrace the power of God. May you know that there is enough evidence that He is real, true and can be trusted. And may His blessings and favour be upon you always.
As I reflected on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what it means for me and the body of Christ, I recalled my journey on the hill yesterday. A Sister-in-Christ and friend who has been reading my postings decided to take the journey with me. She seemed very excited. Her comments were that ”It felt like she was in a movie.” Oh yes! “Like the accounts given were coming to life.” We both agreed that it somewhat felt like going to Israel to see the place where Jesus died and was resurrected, having read about it in the scriptures. However, these thoughts were not intended to belittle Jesus’ position.
I allowed her the freedom of discovering what was written, which opened the door for her to experience elements of surprise. She was on a fact-finding journey searching for evidence to my writings. Her greatest surprise was when she reached the dead-end of the walk and saw the small dump. I waited to see her reaction. She walked around and laughed. I noted that she realised something. She said, “This is it!” She then asked, “Where is the Bible?” This would have been the Bibles that I discovered with one open to the passages in the books of Kings. I remained silent. Then she saw them, and the look on her face was priceless. She stood in amazement! She exclaimed “O my God!” “God is amazing!”
I told her to look at the passages in the opened Bible. She did not have her reading glasses but unknown to her, I walked with a small microscope. We both realised that the first set of scriptures that I initially saw were gone. This could have been due to the wind and rain, or just God at work. As I reflected on the missing passages my mind led me to the experience of the women who went to anoint Jesus’ body.
The doctor Luke relates how it went. “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:1-3, NIV).
My Friend saw evidence of the Bible but the actual passages that I saw at the time were missing. Jesus’ tomb and His clothing were still there but He was missing. At least that is what the women thought at the time. Then what they never expected happened.
While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright, the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” Then they remembered his words.Luke 24:4-8 (NIV)
The women remembered what Jesus said to them, so they linked His words with what actually happened. My Friend remembered what I had written and tried to link it to what she experienced on the journey. She got the evidence, which convinced her that I was speaking the truth. She was in amazement. Imagine the face of those women who went to find Jesus’ body. They may have experienced a barrage of flowing emotions, fear, sadness and joy. At the time some of His disciples did not believe though they too subsequently saw Him. “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:16-17, NIV). Think about those who do not have the evidence but believe. Yet, there are many in the world who do not believe neither are they opened to believe.
The journey for my Friend did not end there. She discovered that my journeys on the hill are eventful. Oh Yes! On our way back, we saw a tree laden with juicy looking dark red apples. Wow! They tickled our taste buds. Apples covered the ground like a spread on a bed. It appeared no one was making use of them. We went to the gate just in time to hear someone opening one of the front grills. An elderly lady who was using a walker came out and we asked her for some of the apples. She invited us inside of her yard and was happy to share. I climbed on the walls and went picking with a stick.
Afterwards, we had a short devotion with her, and she talked. I mean she talked. She shared her life story with us. I discovered that we were baptised at the same church. She is still a member of that church. Yep! We laughed and talked, and she told us about some of her relatives as well as her loving husband who also lives with her but has become incapacitated. She was realistic and humorous in disposition. After a while, we had to leave so we bid her goodbye and left.
As I got closer to home, I saw an elderly gentleman sitting on a stone at the side of the road. I usually see him there and extend courtesy but never stopped. This time I was led to stop and find out what was happening with him. I asked if he needed a bun and he said yes because he did not have any. He asked if it was for sale and I told him no. I asked him to wait for me to return with the bun. My friend and I went by my home to get the bun but we were exhausted so we had to refresh ourselves with some coconut water and apples. This was not for any long period of time. We had to walk back to find the man because neither of us had a ride. I put together a small care package including the bun and we went on our way. When we got to the place he was missing. We looked on all of the roads in the vicinity until I saw him some distance ahead on another road. My Friend ran ahead to catch up with him.
He told us that someone called to tell him that his son’s appendix was ruptured, and he died. This took place in St. James. He was very emotional so we prayed with him. He was broken. I felt the need to put my hand on the nape of his neck and consoled him. We gave him the package, which was highly appreciated. He said it was God’s doing. He shook his head then held it low. He also said that at times he would go to places and preach independently. He blessed us and left.
My Friend thought that our journey came to an end but God had more in store. As I continue to reflect, I recalled that Jesus’ journey came to a close as a man on earth but He set things in order so that His work continues, as well as His presence. He gave instructions to His disciples and believers.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
You know, we are faced with many challenges but in all of what is happening, God wants to show His works through us, His people. How should you proceed? How should you live? Are your heart and mind opened to what God wants to do? Are you obedient to His call even in the midst of Covid-19? He said that He will always be with us, even to the very end. What will you do?
As you meditate, let us pray:
Our souls bless Your Name, O God. All that is within us bless Your Holy Name, O God. Lord, we forget not Your benefits. It is You who has forgiven our sins. You heal our diseases and save our lives from destruction. You crown us with your loving-kindness and the multitude of Your tender mercies. It is You who satisfies our desires with good things so that our youths are renewed like the eagles. It is You Lord, who works righteousness and justice for us when we are oppressed. Lord, You are compassionate and gracious, abounding in love.
Lord, You do not always accuse, nor do You treat us as our sins deserve. For as high as the heavens are above the earth so great is Your love for those who fear You. As far as the east is from the west, so far have You removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion for his children, so You have compassion for those who fear You.
Lord, we thank You for Your love and the evidence of it. The sacrifice that You made and the power of Your love that is shown through the resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead.
We serve a living Saviour so we sing joyfully to You Lord, for it is fitting for the upright to praise You. We praise You with instruments of music. We sing to You a new song, play skillfully, and shout for joy. We exalt You, O Lord.
For Your word is right and true. You are faithful in all that You do. Lord, You love righteousness and justice. The earth is full of Your unfailing love. Lord, it is by Your word that the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of Your mouth. Lord, we the people of the earth hold You in awe. We revere You, for You spoke, and it came to be. You commanded, and it stood firm.
Lord, we give You thanks and bless Your Holy Name. You are worthy to receive glory, honour and praise. Hallelujah to the King! Hallelujah! Who is like You Lord? Hallelujah! Your greatness, no one can fathom. We bow down and worship You. Let every knee bow and every tongue confess that You are God. Hallelujah!
Lord, we come in the name of Jesus Christ with thanksgiving in our hearts and praises to You our most high God. We ask that You have mercy on us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Lord, create in us clean hearts. Lord, cast us not away from Your presence but restore unto us the joy of Your salvation; and renew the right spirit in us. Lord, cause it that we become obedient to Your will, and help us to discern what is good and pleasurable in Your sight.
Lord, as we face many challenges leading to a weekend of lockdown because of the Covid-19 Virus, help us to turn our gaze to You. Help us to turn our focus to the things of God and not become weary. Help us to urgently and diligently seek You, and act according to Your will so that You are glorified. Lord, cause it that our reflections will not be disturbed by the distractions around us. Keep our minds stayed on You, Lord.
Lord, we lift up to You the leaders in our country. 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 remember also, the judges in our congregation, Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie.
Lord, grant true wisdom, knowledge, understanding, boldness and discernment to all leaders. Cause it that they act selflessly and be accountable in carrying out their tasks.
Lord, provide for those who are unable to stock up during the lockdown. As citizens, help us to loosen our fists and share with others. Take away the hearts of stone, and grant willing spirits to give and support each other. Cause it that we do not justify our inactions. Help us to act selflessly, knowing that at the end of the day giving is not losing. It is done for Your glory. Lord, You gave Your life for us. What a great act? Yet, we can be so tight-fisted at times and cold though so many people are in need. Lord, have mercy. Help us to act responsibly protecting each other’s dignity and safety.
Lord, we pray for those who act selfishly, exploiting each other; robbing, killing and causing bodily harm. We pray that You destabilise and confuse their plans, network, resources and activities. Turn their hearts to You, Lord.
Lord, we present to You those among us who are on the usual sick and shut-in list, as well as Sisters Iris Lawrence, Merle Braham, Valerie Smellie, Lelith James, Jennifer Nicholson, Virginia Muir, Marville (Cherry) Murray (Sister Iris Lawrence’s daughter), Janet Chen-Young, Joyce Bailey, Lucille Alexander, Jhada Graham, Cherrie Lee, and Lorraine Richards (Brother Cornel Richards’ wife); Brother George Gabbidon, Brother Lloyd Trusty, Mr Alan Ashley (Sister Dawn Ashley’s father), Brother Danville Japp’s father, Mr Isaiah Japp, Mr, Delorn Dixon (Sister Rachael Dixon’s husband), Emery and other relatives of Brother Cornel who are ill at this time; and any member or family member who is currently struggling with the Covid-19 virus.
We extend special prayers for the DeMercados who mourned the loss of Sister Cilda. She was a committed missionary who worked in Jamaica and Haiti for many years. We pray for healing and comfort for her family, especially her husband Tony and daughter Judy.
Lord, fill us with Your presence, power and peace. Hear and answer our prayers we ask with thanksgiving. In Jesus’ name, we pray.
Our Prayers of Encouragement 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.