TUESDAY 28TH AUGUST, 2018
THEME: LAMBS IN THE MIDST OF WOLVES
TEXT: LUKE 10:1-9
MEMORY VERSE: LUKE 10:3 “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”

Wolves and lions are ordinarily flesh-eating animals called carnivores. This group of animals can attack and defend themselves against any adversary. On the other hand, the lamb has no means of defending itself and is open to all kinds of danger. The lamb depends on an external force for its defense. When Jesus used the axiom ‘Be wise as the serpent and meek as the lamb’, He was using the characteristics of these animals to describe His expectations of His followers. When He calls us to a life of service, we are required to pattern our life to His. All the negative attributes that we could ever possess should be discarded e.g. anger, foul language, violent character, etc.

This means we tolerate more abuses from the people that surround us. Even when we are unfairly treated, we are to have a very restrained approach. When we are provoked we leave all the issues to God. (Rom. 12: 17-21).

However, Jesus also calls us to be wise as the serpent. So we are not to take the non-intelligent attitude of the lamb but ask God for wisdom to rightly choose our reaction for every situation. Being a Christians does not make us stupid or docile. Jesus alluded to our source of wisdom. The Holy Spirit will teach us all things and we are supposed to have intelligence that is higher than the world’s as God is the source of all wisdom and He will give us liberally when we ask Him. Our protection is also dependent on our God, shepherd guardian. (Ps 91:1, 2)

HYMN: EMHB 694 – LORD, THOU HAST BEEN OUR DWELLING PLACE
PRAYER: When danger surrounds us and we are fearful of our safety, dear Lord let Your rod and staff be our comfort.

MONDAY 27TH AUGUST, 2018
THEME: A CHEERFUL GIVER
TEXT: 2 CORINTHIANS 9:6-11
MEMORY VERSE: 2 CORINTHIANS 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

The level of poverty in the world today appears to be at its highest. There is poverty of the mind, spirit and finance. The Church of God is meant to be an agent of God in reducing, if not removing, poverty. The church is meant to reduce spiritual poverty by preaching the gospel. The church reduces financial poverty by its compassionate work of giving.

How can the church do this when people do not give? The motive of giving is the sharing of God’s blessings among His creation, especially the less-privileged. Paul states in 2Cor 9:6-12 that believers should first give their heart before they give out of their earthly possession. This means that you, as a child of God, must share this love relationship with God.

When you exist in this relationship, the grace of giving is bestowed upon the believer. You cannot love without giving. Giving is like sowing; you reap in proportion to what you sow. When God wants to extend His compassion to the needy, He goes through the church and the church relies on you to be God’s instrument. As Paul commended the Macedonian believers in 2 Cor. 9:4, a cheerful giver does not rely on such as tithe; first fruits harvest thanksgiving alone but also gives any time as the work of God demands it. Because the believer knows that his needs are met by God as Paul notes in Phil 4:19, he opens his hands to those who do not enjoy such fellowship and confidence in the Lord. So they can be brought to the fold as the early Christians did in Act 4:32-36. It is not how much we give but how much LOVE we put into giving that matters.

HYMN: EMHB 923 – WE CAN GIVE THEE BUT THINE OWN
PRAYER: Benevolent God, let Your love open our hearts to give others. As You have given us so let us be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name. Amen.

SUNDAY 26TH AUGUST, 2018
THEME: STOP MAKING EXCUSES
TEXT: EXODUS 3:10-14, 4:1-14
MEMORY VERSE: EXODUS 4:10 “Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since You have spoken to Your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

When Moses saw the spectacle of the burning bush, he was attracted to the unusual scene. When God them approached him with His proposal, he grew cold feet. Moses gave five excuses before the anger of God was kindled against him. Thereafter he made six more excuses. Find out the 11 excuses. His fears may be genuine as a human being. First, he was a fugitive from the same palace he was sent to. He could be arrested and imprisoned. Or, like he said, he was an unknown figure in a big family. So how will he introduce himself and the project to elicit their total loyalty? As humans, we look at our human limitations when faced with herculean tasks. However, as God proved to Moses, he was not meant to perform the task in his own strength. So are we when we are called to a duty post for our God. Gideon in Judges 6:13-18 was an unlikely choice to lead the Israelites from bondage. After he was reassured that it was not his imagination, God told him to wait on His Instruction and strength.

Today and always, God is always looking for the human component to perform certain tasks. He supplies His strength, His foresight, His great overview and knowledge of the task. He is only looking for those who will submit willingly and say ‘Here I am, send me’, like Prophet Isaiah.

He will determine the mode and pattern because the project is always His. When He calls you like He did to Moses, will you look at the enormity of the task and make excuses? Remember what Jesus said at the event of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. If you will not praise, He can raise stones instead.

HYMN: EMHB 585 – RISE UP O MEN OF GOD
PRAYER: When You choose duties for me to perform, dear Lord, let me be conscious that You also will supply the grace to perform them.

SATURDAY 25TH AUGUST, 2018
THEME: RENEWAL OF MIND
TEXT: PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11
MEMORY VERSE: ROMANS 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Philippians 2:5 talks about the mind of Christ. ‘Mind’ is another word for ‘attitude’. When you talk about both interchangeably, you are talking about the way you think or do things. Renewing our mind or attitude means we should change the way we do things or the way we think. Looking at the passage we read, we see that our Lord Jesus has attitudes that should be followed.

Let us seek out from various scriptures each of the attitudes portrayed by Jesus. As we find each attitude we compare how we are different from it. One of these attitudes, as shown in our text, is humility. Jesus exhibited humility throughout his life. John 1:3 says all things were made through Him yet He did not appropriate anything to Himself. Another attitude is compassion. This is borne out of love. Jesus never only had pity on those around Him; He also did something about it. He healed, he fed and he related with all those He came into contact with.

Another attitude is thankfulness. Jesus never took anything for granted but was always thankful to God who made it possible. These are all commendable attitudes that should be copied by all who truly believe in Him. Due to our fallen stature, we are unable to exhibit these attitudes on our own without the help of the Spirit of God. But our resolve to follow these ideals should be a conscious decision that can only be taken by every believer.

HYMN: EMHB 549 – LORD THAT I MAY LEARN OF THEE
PRAYER: God, create in me a mind of humility, compassion and thankfulness in the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Read the previous post here.

Jesus did not only step in but also gave mankind the greatest assurance of all time, that for everyone who believes in Him, everything is going to be ultimately, gloriously and eternally okay, (John 3:16; 11:25-26). He didn’t stop there, He went further to demonstrate the reality of His claim and its trustworthiness when he died for the world, defeated death and came out boldly to announce in Matthew28:18 that, “…all power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth.”

With all audacity, He is saying to everyone who believes in Him that, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.” (Luke 12:22) Invariably, He is telling us not to be anxious for nothing!

I need you to be rest assured that In Christ, everything will ultimately make sense, and Jesus is saying emphatically to us – you and me, right now, right where we’re at – that junction of life, that “Do not be anxious.”

I know the Lord asking you not to be anxious can seem like an almost impossible task, but this should not surprise you because Jesus already commands us to believe, as he said that “…whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die…” (John 11:26)

So when troubles set in, don’t talk to your anxieties as they talk to you, rather, talk to God.

This is very tasking and typically hard to comply with because; our anxieties often disguise themselves in our imaginations – playing in our minds and subconscious as realistic scenarios which in turn compel us to dwell on them emotionally. Other times, anxieties come to us in the form of people – ones we know or are used to.

It is important to note that there’s a type of anxiety that is righteous, Hallelujah!

Examples are: the type Jesus felt in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:38-39), the anxiety Paul felt for the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28), parents’ godly concerns for their children and likely worldly influences on them.

Now, we need to understand that what keeps our anxieties from turning sinful is when we, like Jesus and Paul, translate our fear-laden concerns into prayer requests, weaving them with thanksgiving and handing them all over to God.

Indeed, prayer is the key to escaping the snare of sinful anxiety. Channel all your uncertain concerns and bothering “what ifs” to God alone while clinging to, believing and declaring the unshakable promises we have in God’s word.

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), hundreds of people gathered from across the world for an ecumenical prayer service at the Nieuwe Kerk, a 15th-century church in Amsterdam, the very spot in which the organization was founded.

The World Council of Churches (WCC), an organization formed as a fellowship of churches that believe in the doctrine of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Saviour of mankind.

WCC goal is to provide a forum to promote tolerance and unite various Christian denominations. It is not an organized church and does not espouse any particular religious doctrine other than the belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour.

The council assembly, the controlling body of the WCC, meets approximately every six years at various international locations.

WCC grew out of two movements of the late 1930s: The Faith and Order movement and the Life and Work movement. The Faith and Order movement sought to address church organization and beliefs and the Life and Work movement addressed practical issues that impacted the lives of believers.

In 1938, representatives from both movements gathered in the Netherlands with the plan to create a unified constitution and merge into one council. However, World War II put these plans on hold until the following decade.

The WCC assembly appoints a central committee who selects 26 executive committee members and six co-presidents. This elected team carries out the work of the WCC between meetings of the assembly.

WCC maintains a headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The Council began with 147 denominations but has now grown to include 345-member denominations.

Under the theme “Walking, Praying and Working Together,” the service featured special music, greetings from the Council of Churches in the Netherlands, and a procession of pilgrims from all over the world. WCC general secretary Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit offered a sermon, and Dr. Agnes Abuom, the moderator of the WCC Central Committee, led the congregation in prayer.

A “Walk of Peace” through Amsterdam was also held beginning in the Hoftuin of the Protestant Church in Amsterdam and ending at Dam Square.

In his sermon, titled “The Love of Christ Compels Us,” Tveit looked back on the first WCC assembly in 1948 in Amsterdam, reflecting on the difficult questions the delegates were asking at the time.

“The assembly message from Amsterdam shows that the delegates were bold in speaking to the reality of the world,” he said. “Their faith was a hope, against the realities of many of their recent experiences.”

They believed together that God still loved the world, Tveit reflected. “We give thanks for contributions the churches could make together to peace,” he said. “They saw that they—themselves— were called to be a sign of the fulfillment of God’s promise.”

They knew that the need for reconciliation was urgent but difficult, he continued. “They knew they were called to be peacemakers,” he said. “They were convinced that overcoming the forces dividing humanity and also threatening relationships within and among the churches would require that they themselves had to be united in love.”

WCC since its creation has supported and inspired church participation in struggles for justice, peace and creation. One example is the highly-valued support given by the churches, through the WCC’s Programme to Combat Racism, to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Also, support to efforts to bring about an end to the two-decades-long civil conflict in Sudan, or to the reunification of North and South Korea, or to the defense of human rights in Latin America during the decades of brutal military dictatorships in that region are three among many other examples.

Recognition of the importance of inter-religious dialogue and relations with other faiths, as well as of the churches’ responsibility for the integrity of creation, have been hallmarks of the ecumenical movement.

Today, both the ecumenical movement and the WCC are changing. New forms of ecumenical commitment are emerging; young people are finding their own expressions (and thus assuming ownership of) ecumenism and church; amidst the multiplicity of ecumenical bodies, the WCC is redirecting its energies to doing what it does best and is uniquely equipped to do.

The WCC shares the legacy of the one ecumenical movement and the responsibility to keep it alive.

As the most comprehensive body among the many organized expressions of the ecumenical movement, the Council’s role is to address global ecumenical issues and act as a trustee for the inner coherence of the movement.

Most importantly, WCC’s quest is for unity, particularly as it relates to justice and peace across the world.

FRIDAY 24TH AUGUST, 2018
THEME: CRUCIFYING THE FLESH
TEXT: ROMANS 8:1-11
MEMORY VERSE: ROMANS 8:8 “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

When Paul was writing Romans.6:1-14, he had a vivid picture of the event at Calvary on his mind. The event of crucifying Christ was the act of taking a life away. He, however, did not stay at Calvary; his thoughts moved on to three days after when Christ rose triumphantly. This metaphor of being dead and rising again he now applied to our spiritual existence to fulfill God’s purpose. When God gave the created flesh His spirit, the Spirit of God in man was to dominate the flesh (Gen 1:26-28).

However, at the fall of man, the reverse occurred. The flesh and its desires took over. The spirit was relegated to the background. All desires of the flesh such as fornication, pride, and others made man to sin. So the flesh is the entrance of sins to the soul.

Jesus advises us that, if any part of our body would cause us to stumble we should do away with it. So it is very crucial that we kill (crucify) the flesh and its desires so as to restore God’s purpose. The spirit in us should be controlled by the Spirit of the living God. So the spirit becomes alive. When the spirit is now alive, we are restored into communion with God as we enjoy the grace of Jesus in increasing perfection. Our fasting, our reading of the Word and our communion in prayers with God are the rich reward of our act of crucifying the flesh and resurrecting in the spirit.

HYMN: EMHB 547 – THE THING MY GOD DOTH HATE
PRAYER: Teach me, O Merciful God, to let Your Spirit inspire my spirit and live according to Your dictates.

THURSDAY 23RD AUGUST, 2018
THEME: HYPOCRITES!
TEXT: MATTHEW 23:1-33
MEMORY VERSE: MATTHEW. 23:33 – Ye serpent, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Who is a hypocrite? A hypocrite is someone who pretends or feigns to be what he is not. He is a deceiver. Some of their characteristics are that they: teach what they don’t practise; self – glorification; like titles a lot; embrace falsehood but reject the truth; attract people’s attention when they give to the poor or to God’s work; they pretend to be holy; seek praises of men; criticise a lot without offering any better solution.

There are many hypocrites in the church today, even among the so-called “men and women of God”. In the text for today, Jesus rained eight “woes” upon them. Are you a hypocrite? There was a man who once lived in our village. He was fond of criticising whoever was appointed an officer of the Village Council but if you asked him to be one of them he would say “I have not enough time for that”. Many come to Church to criticise the Pastor’s sermon or to mark his grammatical errors and not to listen to the sermon, no matter how penetrating it may be. There are some, too, who attend the Leaders’ Meeting to puncture every decision. In the text, the Pharisees and the Scribes do what they criticise Jesus for. They always antagonize Jesus, oppress the poor, make false vows, display outward show, are self-righteous, undertake long prayers, self-conceited and so forth. In Matt. 23:33, Jesus warned them, saying “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of fire?”

You are not being asked not to criticise but do so constructively to put a person on the right way. The Pharisees only see bad things and they pretend not to see good things that Jesus did. Be positive at all times because whatever is in your mind the mouth speaks. Change before it is too late.

HYMN: EMHB 352 – OPPRESSED WITH SIN AND WOE
PRAYER: Take away every iota of hypocrisy in my life and give me a new heart that I may speak the truth at all times, no matter whose ox is gored in Jesus name. Amen.

WEDNESDAY 22ND AUGUST, 2018
THEME: ARISE, SHINE
TEXT: ISAIAH 60:1-7
MEMORY VERSE: ISAIAH 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”

The lotus is a plant that produces perfume whose aroma is reputed to be the best in the world. However, for such a sweet-smelling aroma, one would naturally expect that the plant would thrive in very clean surroundings. But this is not the case with the lotus. For the plant to produce such a desirable aroma, it thrives best in mucky places or surroundings. This is an irony.

This irony is also true about Christians and their existence in this evil world. The world does not have to be a good place before Christians can thrive (2Cor 10:5). The Christian is admonished to be a light in the dark world. What this means is that the world is prostrate with sin and cannot align with the values of God. Sin has completely made the world dark. However, Jesus urges the believer to shine as light to show the way to unbelievers. (Mt 5:14-16). When the believer follows this teaching he will rise and shine as light. We do not expect the world to allow us to change the values as we wish. They will resist us because they are ruled by the flesh. With the Spirit of God deposited in him/her, the believer can then shine as the Light of Christ who is the light of the world.

When the believer is true to his calling, he starts affecting his environment. When he does this through the grace Jesus supplies, the world takes notice as they did in Antioch of the early believers, calling them “Christians”.

So we have to stand up and shine to lighten up the world with the light of Christ.

HYMN: EMHB 378 – ETERNAL SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
PRAYER: Almighty God, let your light shine through me and be a source of blessing to others in this dark and sinful world through Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer.

TUESDAY 21ST AUGUST, 2018
THEME: FAITH OVER FEAR
TEXT: MATTHEW 8:23-27; MARK 4:35-41; LUKE 8:22-25
MEMORY VERSE: MATTHEW 8:26 “He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid? ‘Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”

While taking a trip in an aeroplane recently, the storm was so bad that it was virtually tossing the aircraft around like a piece of paper in the air! The pilot asked the passengers to fasten their seatbelts. The cockpit crew did all they could do to keep the aircraft stable in the storm. Fear was palpable all around. The passengers were literally screaming and praying. The situation was like that of Jonah in the boat (Jonah 1: 4-8) or like the disciples’ in the storm on the Sea of Galilee in the text. Interestingly Jonah and Jesus were asleep in the boat in both cases.
When we are confronted by very terrible circumstances, doubt elicits fear-the opposite of faith-in our mind. Faith comes from love. Total faith or dependence comes from a relationship nurtured by love. So the Bible says that perfect love casts out all fears (1Jn 4:18).

Whatever the storm that may arise to cast doubt over us, the Bible reassures us in Mk. 11:22 & 23 that such a storm must surely give way. Like a small child that depends on his father for his safety, Christian believers are to rely on Jesus and His promises which He had made to us that He will never forsake us. Heb. 10:23 tells us to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering for He (Jesus) is faithful that promised.” Our faith is in God. (Ps 91:1-16)

HYMN: EMHB 634 – WILL YOUR ANCHOR HOLD IN THE STORM OF LIFE
PRAYER: Dear Father, the helper of the helpless, when the clouds of fear gather around me let your smiling face disperse them all and pilot me to safety in Jesus’ name.