Sister Alecia English offers the Weekly Prayer of Encouragement 28 June 2020.
My Brothers, Sisters and Friends,
We are hoping that you are doing well. During this period of uncertainties and unpredictable events, many comments including jokes have been circulating throughout social media. One of them is that people want to go back to 2019. I smiled but did not give much attention to what was said. Of late I kept hearing the Holy Spirit making a connection with that comment, and the Israelites’ journey to Canaan, in particular, the crossing of the Jordan River.
The story of the people crossing over the Jordan River has been preached and studied many times in numerous ways. Let us see how we can be encouraged by it based on the recent series of events that have been occurring. The fact that the Jordan River was in a flood state did not mean that the people were to return to Egypt or take another route. It was about trusting that the God who was guiding their journey would take them through it.
Joshua was attuned to God and allowed Him to guide the people through him. The leaders and people were given specific instructions by God, who Joshua constantly consulted on behalf of the people. The people responded in obedience. Some people may recall that this was not always the case. Based on the Scripture passage, the working of God’s power is definitely for His glory. But in this situation, He also wanted to elevate Joshua, the new leader who took over after Moses’ departure, in the eyes of the people.
The people were told to position and consecrate themselves in preparation for what God was going to do.
“…when you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it. Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.”Joshua 3:3-5 (NIV)
You will note from the Scripture that the journey was new to the Israelites so they would not have known how to proceed. It was important for them to consecrate themselves and follow the presence of God, carried in the Ark of the Covenant at that time. The experience of the Covid-19 pandemic and the intensity of the Sahara dust, among other things, may be new to us but what do we do?
The Lord assured Joshua that He was with him, and Joshua told the Israelites what God said would have happened.
“…the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.”Joshua 3:7-8 (NIV)
“And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”Joshua 3:13 (NIV)
The event happened just as the Lord said and they all crossed over to dry land. Going back to 2019 is not the answer to our challenges. One way of being assured that we will finish 2020 and cross over to 2021 is to consecrate ourselves, seek God, and stay in His presence; allowing Him to lead us. Let us be reminded that through Christ’s death each one of us has been given free access to the presence of God. The truth is that God will take some persons home to be with Him but many others will be left behind to continue His work.
Last week Friday we lost someone I called a “foot soldier” in the body of Christ, Sister Ileen Benjamin of First Missionary Church. She was a church worker who was, in my mind, a true missionary. She was involved in prayer ministry, prison ministry, visitations, Sunday school and I am sure the list goes on. Ileen always carried a smile, and had a kind and giving heart. You connected with her because she was for real. She did not have a motor vehicle. There was a time that I attended weekly prayer meetings led by her at First Missionary Church, during my lunchtime. We thank God for her time here with us. We pray that her family will be comforted and encouraged.
Today’s prayer is led by our own Sister Alecia English. Sister Alecia is a committed member of the team that works in Rae Town. This ministry has taken on a different format in recent months through the power and leading of God. She also gives support to other areas of the church.
Let us pray:
Dear Lord, we come before You once again to seek Your guidance and Your help as we navigate these interesting times. But before we make our requests known, Lord, we ask that You cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Lord, we ask that You go through every crevice and corner of our hearts and minds and do a thorough cleansing. Lord, leave nothing behind. We ask that You forgive all of our sins. Lord, remove and uproot those things that are not according to Your will and purpose for our lives. Move in and through us so that we may not be pretenders but people who are changed and renewed for having being in Your presence.
Lord, we give You thanks. You are our provider, our shield and our refuge. You are constantly watching over us. Sometimes we become so absorbed with our circumstances that we forget that we serve a big and awesome God. Lord, we give You thanks for Your gift of salvation that has allowed us to come boldly to Your throne of grace as sons and daughters. Lord, in this time, and in the future put in our hearts and open our spiritual eyes to see what You want us to see. Give us discernment, Lord, as we go in uncharted waters.
Lord, as we look to the coming weeks, we pray that You will arrest every fear and anxiety in us. Replace it with Your Spirit of peace, power and love. Lord, You are our present help in time of trouble so we put our concerns to You.
In particular, we bring the leaders of government to You, especially 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, Leader of the Opposition 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.
Lord, they need You now more than ever. Everyday there is a new development or change and it requires quick thinking and the right response. Lord, who can we look to but You? You are the one who knows the beginning from the end and everything in between. We ask that You give insight and the right thinking to our leaders so that they will make the best decision moving forward.
Lord, we bring the situation of crime and violence before You. It continues to be a plague but Lord, we ask that You visit every person who is plotting to do harm and cause hurt to people.
Lord, give them a change of heart. Let them know that there is hope beyond their circumstances, and provide a constructive alternative for them.
Almighty Father, remember Your church and its leaders. It is a new paradigm for us. Lord, changes such as the wearing of mask have brought discomfort but we ask that You renew and refresh our spirit. Help us to seek Your guidance as we try to obey the laws of the land. Lord, send the right kind of shepherd to lead Your flock in these times. Help us to keep our eyes steadfast on You and seek Your way continually.
Heavenly Father, help us each day as it seems to be one thing after the next. Lord another wave of the Saharan dust is on its way. It has affected us in one way or the other especially those who are ill. Lord, we pray that You will cover us and keep us safe from the effects of the dust and for those affected that You will enable a speedy recovery.
Dear God, remember those who are sick and shut-in, who may feel even more abandoned in this time especially as we observe social distancing. Lord, remind us that we are to be our brother’s keeper. Help us to reach out to them and provide assistance to meet their physical and spiritual needs.
Lord, we bring to You every family in our church and across the island. Lord, You know each member and adherent. You know the cares, the distress, the needs, the hurts and the heartaches. But Lord You are the comforter, the healer, the provider, the burden bearer. Sometimes the situations that we face seem too much to bear. Lord, pour out Your grace and make a way in what seems impossible. Lord, show up in ways that will remind each person that You are real and You stay true to Your word. That You will never leave or forsake us.
Lastly Lord, remember the students sitting exams. Lord, settle their minds. Help them to study well in spite of all the changes. Give them good memory and grant them the wisdom of knowing how to apply their knowledge. Lord, remember Romeo Elliott, Jhada Graham, Nachkeemi Smith, Shane Brown, Travis Scott, Kimeka Facey, Renae Lindsay and Carissa Heslop.
Lord, we know that there is no situation that will ever take You by surprise. We can look to the future with confidence because we have a God who is already there. Lord, we know that there is nothing that is too hard for You. So help us to encourage each other to keep on the pathway to victory, and to “Keep on the Firing Line.”
Lord, we thank You for hearing us. We thank You in advance for all that You have taken care of. We give thanks and praise in Jesus’ name.
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