Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 5 September 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 my God, Lord and Savior for access to eternal life. I am grateful that it is free so I do not have to worry about an entrance fee. It requires an act on my part that will not cost me any funds. Yes, there are people in some countries who may have to give up family and friends because of conflict in religious beliefs. Even then, the Christ-follower does not require an entrance fee.
As Christ-followers, eternal life seems to be something that easily rolls off our tongues. However, there are times when we may find ourselves grappling with what it really means. It may be one of those times when someone leaves this earth and we try to make sense of the way it happened, especially when we trusted God to do something different. I had to reconcile this with God in the past. Now, I have been faced with some questions concerning eternal life, especially in recent times. I decided to share some thoughts in this regard. There are many scriptures that could be used but I have chosen a few to try and address some points in response to questions posed. What is written is in no way limited. We can always talk further.
Some persons are of the view that Satan won when a loved one who is a Christ-follower dies at a young age, from murder, wounding or the Coronavirus disease. They expressed concerns about people who were committed and consistent in doing the work of the Lord but died in those same circumstances or other devastating ones. Another concern that faced me had to do with persons who fasted and prayed for extended hours and waited for a turnaround but ended up being disappointed when their loved ones died. The question arises as to whether or not they stood by their faith and ended up being a mockery.
I like to start with the Apostle John’s writings. His gospel spoke more on the divinity of Christ. John was a very young disciple of Christ who later in life had an opportunity to reflect during the process of his writings. Let us take parts of the first chapter of John. He said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him, nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5, NIV).
John introduced the One who was to come and dwell among men. He was talking about Christ, our Saviour who sealed the new covenant. He spoke of Him as the Word, as God who was there from the beginning of time being involved in creation (“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth….” (Genesis 1:1, NIV)). John spoke of Him as the light who darkness cannot overcome.
John introduced Christ in another way that speaks to His purpose when he said, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” “…all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:9, 12-13, NIV). Those of us who opened our hearts to receive and believe in Christ became God’s children, already born of the flesh but now born of the Spirit of God. Our second birth came through grace representing an unmerited favour requiring no payment.
How did this grace come to us? John spoke of God being revealed through Christ, the Son of God, the Word, the Light who is Himself, God. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” ”Out of his fullness, we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1: 14, 16-18, NIV).
Grace and truth were expressly demonstrated when our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ took a journey from birth until death; death on the cross, His resurrection and ascension. The writer of the gospel of Matthew tells us of Christ’s death and resurrection from the dead. “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.’” (Matthew 28:5-6, NIV). The sacrificial act of Jesus Christ’s death and His resurrection gave humankind the opportunity for eternal life.
How do I gain access to eternal life? Let us hear it live and direct from our Saviour. Jesus Christ informed the people of the requirement that would give access to the Kingdom of heaven. “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.’” (John 3:5, NIV). It is a birth that comes from us receiving Christ and believing in His name.
What was the reason for Christ’s death? We are told that it had to do with the love of God for humankind. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17, NIV). In a lost world, we are given a choice. This choice is made known in the scriptures, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NIV), which speaks to eternal death/damnation and eternal life.
Can you tell me a little more? Help me to know what is in it for me. The apostle Paul struck a balance when he said, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17, NIV).
How can I know for sure that there is eternal life? Jesus spoke with Martha about this at the time of Lazarus’ death though she did not seem to get it. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:24-25, NIV). In conversing with His disciples, Jesus gave another assurance. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3, NIV).
What if something bad happens to the Christ-follower? Regardless of our experiences, we are assured of God’s commitment to His children. The apostle Paul and others spoke concerning these things. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, NIV). “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, NIV). “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:28-29, NIV).
How committed should be the Christ-follower? The apostle Paul spoke to a selfless mentality and approach, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (1 Corinthians 5:15, NIV). “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV). “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11, NIV).
What example can you use to show that Satan will not have victory over the child of God even in death? Remember Stephen was a committed deacon who worked tirelessly. He stood for what he believed and spoke against those things that were wrong even among religious leaders. He went into the temple and said some things that cut deep into the hearts of the people. Stephen said, “‘You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”(Acts 7:51-53, NIV).
The people were upset with Stephen but at that time he experienced the glory of God, and he was near death. “When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said. ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7:54-56, NIV).
Even then, Stephen appealed to God’s mercy on behalf of those who were about to kill him. “At this, they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:57-60, NIV). The writer did not even say he died, he said Stephen fell asleep. Stephen commended his spirit to Jesus, there was no victory for Satan.
You know, the truth is that there is no guarantee as to what will happen to the Christ-follower on earth. However, there is an assurance of eternal life that gives us a picture of indescribable peace and renewal that may seem too good to be true. We are told of a place that God’s people will be with Him. John revealed a vision concerning this. “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4, NIV).
As children of God, whatever the situation, we still spend time in His word, fast and pray to commune with Him, to understand His will. The results may not be what we hope but it does not necessarily mean that our faith is weak. It means that the will of God is accomplished, knowing that He works things out for His glory. Our aim is to understand the will of God, pray accordingly and accept it.
We are faced with many challenges and life may seem unfair at times but it is important for us to keep our eyes on the things above knowing that all things are working out by God for the good of His people, and most of all for His glory. We have to process our feelings and thoughts and it can be very hard at times. However, we need to try and get to a place of realising that God is in control and His will must always prevail.
May He grant us peace and understanding of His will as we submit ourselves to His sovereign power, remaining confident that we are His children and He is our Father, Saviour and Lord. Importantly, while we are here on earth, we submit ourselves to His work in accordance with His will. Think bout it; chat bout it. What are you going to do about it?
Let us pray:
Almighty, Most Holy and Righteous God, we come in the name of Jesus Christ, thanking You for this a new month, new week, new day that gives us an opportunity to once again praise and glorify your name.
We praise You, Lord. We extol You with all of our hearts. Great are Your works, O Lord. They are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are Your deeds, and Your righteousness endures forever. You have caused Your wonders to be remembered.
Lord, You are gracious and compassionate. You provide food for those who fear You. You remember Your covenant forever. Lord, You provided redemption for your people, You ordained Your covenant forever— holy and awesome is Your name.
Lord, as individuals, families, communities, Churches, private sector, government and a country as a whole we are grateful for Your guiding hand of mercy over us and in our lives. We thank You for our provisions, we thank You for deliverance and protection.
Lord, out of the depths of our hearts and the recesses of our minds, we ask for Your continued mercy, cleansing and forgiveness of all our transgressions and iniquities. Let not evil dominate our lives but cause it that Your glory will be seen in us.
Lord, You are the God of our past, present and future who has proven time and time again that You are all-sufficient. Cause it that we are sustained as individuals, families, communities, Churches, private sector, government and a country as a whole by Your infinite resources, assured and comforted by your omnipresence.
We pray, Lord, that You take every heart and mind that sways towards wrongdoing and turn them to seek You. Disrupt and eliminate every criminal network, and let Your peace reign and ring throughout our lives. Lord, let Your glory fill our lives as You establish the work of our hands.
Help us to make the right decisions concerning the taking of vaccines in relation to the Coronavirus, practising the necessary protocols, and being supportive of each other. At the same time, we pray that You strengthen our health workers. Provide for them, protect them, and grant unto them Your peace. Lord, we ask for the provision of resources that they will need to be effective in what they do.
Lord, we pray for Your continued protection concerning the hurricanes that are currently developing and ask for Your continued mercy. We also remember those who are in war-torn countries facing harsh treatment, genocides, civil unrest, other natural disasters. Hear their cries and intervene. Lord, only You can help. So cause it that they will reach out to the only true God who hears and understands. Oh, God, let no form of evil rule.
Oh God, there is so much happening in our lives but we are trusting You as our shield, our glory and the lifter up of our heads to carry us through, and grant us victory.
Lord, we will sing to You all our lives. We will sing praises to You, our God, as long as we live. May our meditation be pleasing to You, as we rejoice in You, Lord.
May Your glory Lord endure forever, may you rejoice in Your works— You who look at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. Awesome are You Lord. Our souls praise 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 also remember the judges in our congregation, Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie. Lord, let not evil rule over us. Grant to our leaders the wisdom and courage to do what is in our best interest. Also, grant creativity and strategies that will help us to manoeuvre through these unusual times. Protect and continue to provide for us.
Lord, we remember those who are not well, especially Deacon Loy, Sisters Nicole Evans and Kadine Stewart. We also 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, Mary Clarke, Cherrie Lee, 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, Merlena Hartley Roberts (Sister Nicole Roberts Mother); 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), Brother Cornel Richards and family; and any member or family member who is in need of healing and comfort. Lord, grant healing, strength and peace.
Lord, we continue to keep in prayer Sister Jhenelle Black who will be leaving for the United Kingdom (UK) to pursue further studies in Dentistry. So we pray for safe passage and Your favour as Sister Jhenelle and her mother Sister Ruth travel to the UK.
We also congratulate Sister Jhada Graham on being awarded the final disbursement of the Sandra Channer Scholarship Fund and pray that You will do a mighty work in and through her life. Lord, we pray for a special blessing on the Channer family.
Lord, we ask that You comfort the hearts and minds of those people who are mourning losses of different kinds. Have mercy and help, Lord. Saturate us with Your peace, Your presence and Your power. Help us to realise that we are overcomers and grant us victory in our circumstances.
In Jesus’ name, we pray with thanksgiving.
Our Prayers of Encouragement are for everyone. Therefore, if you also need prayer or comfort, please contact us with your request. We would gladly share with you.