Weekly Prayer of Encouragement 10 July
Brother Everton McPherson offers the Weekly Prayer of Encouragement 10 July 2020.
My Brothers, Sisters and Friends,
We hope that you are doing well. In the past week I had an experience, which was not new to me. I was reaching out to someone who has been connected to our fellowship at Grace. Apparently, the person’s telephone number was changed but the telephone company gave it to another customer. I called the number and a man answered, and we agreed that he was not the person I intended to call, and neither was he a woman.
This man proceeded to call me back. I did not answer but he persistently called me for about two days, including one night. I did not answer. He seemed to change his strategy by using a whatsapp number. I blocked both numbers. It appeared he was calling me from another number the morning after I blocked the numbers. I spoke with another leader at Grace about what happened. She had a similar experience while reaching out to a member. Many men are not allowed to clubs and other forms of entertainment right now, so some of them seemed to be on a more intense path to pursue other things to occupy their time.
Brethren, I like to know what my experience calls me to do, so it will roll over and over in my mind. My first point of call is to the Lord, as I prayed for the person who I call “Desperate Caller.” I still pray for him. I am drawn to thinking about the energy, zeal, financial resources and time allotted to his pursuit. We could describe his pursuit as illegal, immoral and not pleasing to God. Of course, in the process of my thoughts, the Holy Spirit provided me with a link to the Apostle Paul. Okay…so, why Paul?
Who was the Apostle Paul? He was named Saul at birth, was a highly connected and trusted Jew, who was also a Roman citizen. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, was very religious, and was a member of the Pharisees religious group. This made him a student of the Hebrew Bible. He also understood Greek. He was a tent-maker, called an aristocrat, wealthy etc. The respect and trust in Saul could be seen during the stoning of Deacon Stephen when the witnesses laid their coats at his feet in carrying out their acts. Concerning Stephen, they “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.” (Acts 7:58, NIV).
“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.”Acts 8:1-3 (NIV)
We could say that Saul allotted his resources with zeal, energy, had a great desire and persistency to persecute the church. He used his connections and strategies to pursue an act that was not pleasing to God.
Yet, God met him in his act, transformed his life and gave him a new name, Paul. Christ became the centre of Paul’s zeal, desires, energy, strategies and connections (Acts 9). This same man became the author of 13 books of the New Testament. Paul is described by some as an important interpreter of the teachings of Christ, and of the significance of His life, death, and resurrection. Hallelujah!
Hear what Paul said to the Philippians about putting confidence in the flesh.
“…If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.”Philippians 3:3-6 (NIV)
Paul understood what it meant to have, and to lose the physical, accolades and positions. He said:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”Philippians 3:7-9 (NIV)
Here, Paul gives a picture of a peeling away of the man he was to become a new man. A position he wanted to pursue with greater depth, relying on God rather than on self.
Paul understood and appreciated what the grace of God meant. His heart and mind were opened to the right desires.
“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)
Here, Paul shows us what it means to truly surrender to God; a profound pursuit that may be scary for many to embrace. Paul acknowledged his limitations:
“Not that I have already obtained all this… I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
Paul knew that his transformation was a work-in-progress but he was prepared to stay on the course with all that was within him.
Brethren, what does the transforming work of God look like in our lives? What utilises our zeal and energy? Do we really appreciate the grace of God? Have we really surrendered to God for His work in us? Are our pursuits to please God, or our desires, or the things and people around us?
We continue to pray for our country, ourselves. Today’s prayer is led by our own Brother Everton McPherson.
Let us pray:
Oh, heavenly Father, we come before You in the name of Jesus Christ, thanking You for Your grace and mercies. Lord, we thank You for keeping us through each day. We ask that You cleanse us from all unrighteousness and forgive all of our sins.
As we battle through this COVID-19 pandemic, we seek blessings for our leaders, workforce and families. Lord, we ask that You give us the will, wisdom, courage, boldness and determination to overcome the Monster, crime; that is affecting our Nation.
We pray for those in government, opposition, and the private sector, people who have given their lives to serve our country in various ways.
Lord, we call into focus Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, Minister of Health Christopher Tufton, Minister of Finance Nigel Clarke, health workers and support staff, Minister of National Security Horace Chang, Minister of Education, Karl Samuda, Opposition Leader Peter Philips, and their families; Jamaica Defence Force and Jamaica Constabulary Force personnel and Security Guards, all other leaders of government and their support staff.
As we battle with crime and violence, Dear Lord, we pray for forgiveness where our nation has forgotten You, and where we have strayed far from Your moral standards. Save us from ourselves, our pride, and our godlessness. Bless our Minister of National Security, Horace Chang and his team, as they fight the good fight to overcome the challenges we face each day. Lord, we put to You and ask for Your blessings on the Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck. We remember the judges in our congregation: Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie. Lord, we ask that You grant them true wisdom, discernment and understandings of an uncommon nature. Cause it that they carry out their duties with strength, courage and boldness.
Lord, we ask for Your blessing of wisdom for our churches. We ask that You guide the messages that come from our pulpits, and that the words uttered among the members are honourable to You. Let us focus on spreading Your Word rather than harm our relationships with You. Help our church leaders to be honest and uplifting and make them good examples to others. We ask that You continue to bless them, so that they serve with a sense of responsibility, those they lead.
We put before You, our business owners, who are facing challenges to remain open and keep persons employed. Lord, we ask that You give these leaders purity in their intentions, godliness in their convictions, and energize their spirits and bodies physically and spiritually to lead. Also, give them the blessings of Your Divine help and guidance. Let them not fail but work for the betterment of our country, Jamaica land we love.
Lord, we also present to You the business leaders in our congregation:
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 pray for our workers across the length and breadth of this country. Many have lost jobs, but we ask You Dear Lord, to provide a way for them to overcome the daily challenges that they face. We pray for the protection of our healthcare workers – the doctors, nurses, and support staff, men, and women who are working assiduously to keep our Nation healthy. Also, we turn to You as our source of strength to serve the needs of our brothers and sisters who are vulnerable. Thank You for the way You have gifted them to stand tall in this COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
We lift up especially those connected with our church: Medical Doctors: Asana Anderson Wilks and Rohan Wilks, Kahlete Falloon, Tina Kong, Vernon Jones, Leighton Logan; Dentists: doing emergency cases; Jhenell 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.
So Lord, we ask that You continue to bless the churches, leaders, frontline workers, the workforce, and our families. Help us as a Nation to continue to serve diligently and creatively and to think generously and honestly so that Jamaica under God will increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, and play our part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race,
in Jesus’ name we pray with thanksgiving.
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