Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 6 December 2020 for our country, businesses, frontline and other workers.
My Brothers, Sisters and Friends we hope that you are well. However, if not, please let us know.
I looked at the issue of fear in the last couple of writings. As I write today I am still thinking about it. I have in the forefront of my mind the battles that Jeremiah endured as a prophet and the times when he was afraid. One may say that though he faced great opposition, and at times thought of rejecting God’s will, he never gave up. Yes, he complained to the Lord repeatedly but never walked away or ignored the purpose of God for his life, and God’s people.
I am reminded of the times Jeremiah was beaten and held against his will. In one instant the manager of the temple thought Jeremiah was a disturbance, though he was prophesying. “When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the official in charge of the temple of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the Lord’s temple. The next day, when Pashhur released him from the stocks….” (Jeremiah 20:1-3, NIV).
Another time Jeremiah was accused of leaving Jerusalem. He tried to reason with his accusers but that did not stop them from dealing with him harshly. He was beaten and held against his will for a long time.
“After the Babylonian army had withdrawn from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army, Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the territory of Benjamin to get his share of the property among the people there. But when he reached the Benjamin Gate, the captain of the guard, whose name was Irijah son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah, arrested him and said, “You are deserting to the Babylonians!”“That’s not true!” Jeremiah said. “I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah would not listen to him. Instead, he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison. Jeremiah was put into a vaulted cell in a dungeon, where he remained a long time.” (Jeremiah 37:11-16, NIV).
Yet another time, Jeremiah experienced the fear of death. He appealed to the king for release. “But now, my lord the king, please listen. Let me bring my petition before you. Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the secretary, or I will die there.” (Jeremiah 37: 20, NIV). King Zedekiah then gave orders for Jeremiah to be placed in the courtyard of the guard and given a loaf of bread from the street of the bakers each day until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.” (Jeremiah 37: 21, NIV).
Jeremiah continued to face harsh opposition and was thrown into a cistern. “So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.” (Jeremiah 38:6, NIV). “Then the king commanded Ebed-Melek the Cushite, ‘Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.'” (Jeremiah 38:10, NIV).
As I reflected on Jeremiah’s consistency and persistency in the midst of his challenges, I am reminded of my father’s favourite song. I recalled hearing him say something and it was repeated but it was not clear to me. The fact that he repeated it a number of times drew my attention. I listened keenly and realised that he was singing a song, “Keep on the Firing Line”. It was the first time I heard that song so I researched it and was really impressed with the words. I later learned that it had become his tagline. I was told that whenever he preached at his church that song was done. He would encourage the Brethren to “Keep on the Firing Line.” Let us look at the words of this song.
Keep on the Firing Line
1. If you’re in the battle for the Lord and right,
Keep on the firing line; If you win, my brother, surely you must fight,
Keep on the firing line; There are many dangers that we all must face,
If we die still fighting it is no disgrace; Cowards in the service will not find a place,
So keep on the firing line.
Oh, you must fight, be brave against all evil,
Never run, nor even lag behind;
If you would win for God and the right,
Just keep on the firing line.
2. God will only use the soldier He can trust, Keep on the firing line;
If you’ll wear a crown then bear the cross you must,
Keep on the firing line. Life is but to labor for the Master dear,
Help to banish evil and to spread good cheer; Great you’ll be rewarded for your service here, So keep on the firing line.
3. When we get to heaven, brother, we’ll be glad,
Keep on the firing line; How we’ll praise the Savior for the call we had,
Keep on the firing line; When we see the souls that we have helped to win,
Leading them to Jesus, from the paths of sin, With a shout of welcome, we will all march in, So keep on the firing line.
You may note that the first verse speaks to those who are in the battle for the Lord. I believe that it is referring to us in the body of Christ. It acknowledged that there will be dangers, and even in the face of death, we must “Keep on the Firing Line”. The second verse refers to God’s trust in the one on the battlefield. It also indicated that if we intended to wear a crown then we have to be prepared to endure challenges and oppositions. It reminded the fighter that our priority is to labour for our God, and that we will be rewarded. The third verse tries to paint the heavenly experience to come. It tells us that we will be happy about our labour and the souls that were saved during our battles. The chorus encourages the fighter to be brave and not run away.
Jeremiah has been referred to as the weeping prophet. However, as I continue to reflect on his ministry, I am of the view that we need to consider it in context. Yes, he had a variation of emotions on display but he faced some harsh opposition, physical and emotional wounds. We may say that he was disappointed, distressed, disturbed and depressed at times. Yet, Jeremiah never ran away from the will and purpose of God for his life, and God’s people.
When I consider the life of Jeremiah, I am encouraged to go on in the midst of grief having to contend with the loss of my father. It is a tough time and I will be emotional at different points so please do not expect me to be perfect. Persons have said that I should remain strong. I really cannot promise to do so. My emotions are real and I have decided to allow them especially during this intense period of grief. Nonetheless, I am relying on the strength of the Lord.
I truly appreciate all of the support that I get at this time. The song has also been a true encouragement for me. I do not plan to run. I do not plan to give up. If Jesus Christ had given up our souls would be lost, and all that we do in the body of Christ would be in vain. He said to His Father “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me. Yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV). Jesus’ death has given us an opportunity for our salvation. We are also given the privilege of witnessing to others for their salvation.
Think about it. What do you have to say?
Let us pray:
O Lord, how excellent is thy name? We praise and honour You. We give You all of the glory, we adore You. You are almighty, You are awesome, You are marvellous. You are more than wonderful or anything that we could describe.
Lord, we thank You for sending Your Son to die so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly. We thank You for sustaining us in the midst of persistent disasters and other challenges that come at us on a daily basis. We thank You for coverage, protection and provision.
Lord, we ask that You have mercy on us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness and forgive all of our sins. Lord, let not evil have dominion over us but protect us from the wiles of evil. Counsel us, watch over us, and guard our thoughts, words and deeds.
Lord, we lift up our leaders of churches, government, private sector, voluntary institutions and homes to you. Lord, You see and know the hearts of humankind, and nothing is hidden from You. Everything is bare to Your eyes. We ask that You grant us wisdom, knowledge, compassion, understanding, discernment and peace in all that we think, say and do.
We pray for the leaders of our country especially, 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. 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, help them make the right decisions for the country.
Lord, we lift up every community in this country and pray that the church and the external community will connect in peace, and that the church will hold the respect of all people, and Your authority in those environs. Help us to understand Your call and be obedient to Your will and way. We commit the way we operate to You and ask that You renew our thinking, as You transform us so that we can be Your effective agents of transformation.
Dear Lord, You did not send Your Son to die in vain or our efforts would be worthless. Help us as church communities to discern and know the way for ministry in the midst of the Coronavirus and other disasters and challenges. Help us to diligently seek You for wisdom and guidance every step of the way. Lord, many people are dying this year and many of those souls are being lost. We ask Lord, that You cause it that You renew the right spirit in us, and cause it that we step out and not just lock ourselves away. Lord, at the same time, cover and guide our path, and protect us as we proceed. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in ministry. Let us not waiver in well-doing but grant support to each other.
We remember those who are hurting, mourning, sick and despondent. Lord, grant hope and peace, and surround us with Your love.
We ask that You comfort and sustain Sister Sonia Dean and her family, and my family as we mourn the loss of a parent. Help us and intervene on our behalf in every detail of funeral arrangements as we plan to put away the remains of our loved ones. Lord, cover, protect and guide us, and let Your blessings and favour be upon us every step of the way.
Lord, 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, Brother Cornel Richards, Mr. Alan Ashley (Sister Dawn Ashley’s father) 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.
Lord, help those who are emotionally distressed for different reasons. Lord, embrace us with Your mercies and blessings, favour and love in Jesus’ name we pray with thanksgiving.
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.