THE METHODIST CHURCH IN ZIMBABWE
COVENANT MONTH BOOKLET 2023
THEME: The Lord of Revival and Restoration (Psalm 85:6)
Click or tap on the day number of your choice to jump down the page to the notes for that day:
On 25 December 1747 John Wesley strongly urged Methodists to renew their Covenant with God. His first formal Covenant Service was held in the French Church at Spitalfields on 11 August 1755. Right from that time to date, people called Methodists have set aside the first month of the year as a period of renewing their Covenants and well as entering into new Covenants with their God. Entering into a Covenant at the beginning of the year is critical to Methodists’ spiritual journey with the Lord as they do so in understanding that two cannot walk together unless they have agreed to do so (Amos 3:3). Inspired by our 2023 theme (The Lord of Revival and Restoration – Psalm 85:6), this booklet was prepared so as to be a tool that helps trigger our need for revival and restoration, and at the same time help us rediscover our place in being faithful Covenant keepers. As we use it, we get challenged to seek the face of God in prayer and fasting as we begin the year. It is also designed in a way that it helps us meditate upon God’s Word and be anointed for the challenges that may be lying ahead of us. When the anointing is upon us, we will definitely fly above all satanic obstacles. With that type of anointing, we will not only beat our adversaries, but we will disgrace them. The same anointing which was upon Jesus is available today. That anointing will wake up our inner fire.
I warmly commend this Covenant Month booklet to all Christians, particularly the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe Community, who are thinking afresh about their commitment to their being revived and restored, and their response to the Grace of God in Christ Jesus as we focus on “GOD OF REVIVAL AND RESTORATION”.
May God bless people called Methodists.
Revd. Dr. E. Mashonganyika
(Acting Mission Director)
The Research and Publications is grateful to the church for the affordance of coordinating and producing church literature, of which this publication is a product of one of such given tasks. This is coming at the backdrop of the truth that Methodists are ‘reading people’, and that culture has been inherited from the founding father of Methodism himself – John Wesley. However, one can only read something that has been written. In other words, ‘No Writing, No Reading’. In this regard we want to extend our profound gratitude to Revd. B. Chinhara (the former Mission Director) for preparing this material for the church.
We continue to thank our church leadership, headed by the Presiding Bishop Rev. G.T Mawire, the Connexional Lay President Mr. G. Hanyane, the General Secretary Rev. Dr. M. Mujinga, the Mission Director Revd. Dr. K. Paradza, our District Bishops and Lay Presidents, Circuit Superintendents and ministers for keeping the legacy alive. Our District and Circuit Research and Publications teams continue to be our eyes and ears on the ground. They are important to us. Our local languages Committees always make sure that every Methodist gets literature in his/her mother language. They do great job on the ground. Last, but not least, we continue to thank our Connexional Bookshop for always making sure that this treasure reaches all corners of the Methodist community, locally and abroad, as both hard and soft copies. It is our sincere appeal that each one of us buys a personal copy so that we will be able to remain effective and keep the fire burning.
May God bless people called Methodists.
Revd. O. Chagudhuma
(Research and Publications Coordinator)
DAY 1 THEME: THE LORD OF REVIVAL AND RESTORATION.
READING: PSALM 85:6
Psalms 85:6 was written soon after the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity. The Psalmist felt that God had been very favourable and gracious to His people, and while considering the goodness of the Lord in restoring them to the land, he breaks out in prayer for reviving of spiritual power among them. Such a petition should be a cry of our hearts as well, especially during this time of ominous events taking place in our midst.
We need a revival because COVID-19 disturbed our faith and we were bound to ask, ‘where is God when it hurts most?’ We questioned God and questioned our faith in Him. A revival is needed to rediscover the true essentials of our Christian faith.
We need a revival because the people of faith are being secularized by the world and so many of the people of cloth now believe that the Bible has errors. Their belief in the completeness and holiness of the bible is no more. A bible which has been relevant and current for centuries has suddenly been found to need alterations according to man’s views. The God who does not make errors and who does not change remains true to His word. In our haste to adapt, we have been holding on to a physical world when we should have been holding on to the consistent God, who grounds us no matter how unstable the world around us becomes.
A revival is needed at a time when people worship the creation rather than the Creator. God who is invisible is seen through the things He created and no one should have an excuse of not knowing Him. Obviously, wrong belief leads to wrong morality. Once we divert from the true path of Jesus’ leading, we become entangled in idolatry, immorality and bloodshed where we are called upon to offer allegiance sacrifices to an evil deity.
We need a revival in the church of God especially now when John Wesley’s words seem to be fulfilled that and I quote, “I do not fear that the movement called Methodist shall cease to exist but that it shall exist without power”. The Old Testament attests to the age of the Father while the first advent of Christ can be called the age of the Son. From Christ’s ascension to His second coming becomes the age of the Holy Spirit. We are in the age of the Holy Spirit but being denied His place in the church of God.
Who can deny a revival at a time when church politics is so dirty and wicked without any difference to that in the world? Hate and gossip is taking centre stage and a general lack of sisterly and brotherly love is taking root. There is too much carnality growing up in the church even among clergy. The same mouth being used to praise God is the same mouth that gushes out evil words.
God can never stand idly by while the church which He bought with His own blood is tarnished and clothed in dirty raiment. He calls upon us all to wash our clothes in the blood of the lamb so that we can be reconciled back to Him. When there is a worldly spirit in the church, it is manifested when you see believers conform to the world in dress, entertainment, and behaviour. At such times, the church will find its members falling into gross sin, giving the enemies of the cross an occasion for reproach.
When sinners are careless and sinking into hell unconcerned, it is time for believers to call out to God for spiritual power. It is also useless to revive others and reform them if your relationship with God is not right. Therefore, the best place to start reforming and revival is with you. Draw a circle around you, then kneel down and fervently pray to God to start a revival within that circle. This is the truth that is not easy to accept, but until you find yourself living in harmony with God, it is impossible to really influence others.
We ourselves have to become aware of God’s kingdom first and allow it to take control of our lives. Then it will be revealed in our characters, attitudes and deeds and cause ripples which will touch others. It will not touch hearts and will not make any sense to teach others on how to pray if you are not prayerful or teach others about fasting if you do not practice fasting. Call for your own revival. Even Paul said that he did not seek his own righteousness but the righteousness of God which comes through faith in God. We are therefore called to submit ourselves to God for remoulding according to His will. The maker must make us the way he wills and we must not dictate how we should be moulded.
The thread that runs through this encouragement to be revived is to prove that the God whom you say heals does indeed heal. How is this proved? If he heals then prove it through the demonstration of the power of the cross like Christ did, so that others will know that you indeed speak the truth and believe what you preach. If he saves, prove it! If he can turn lives around, then let us see it happening. We stand behind what we believe and what we can prove, otherwise we are empty vessels making a lot of noise about a God whom we do not trust or believe in.
In 1 Samuel 17, King Saul was leading the Israelite army against the Philistines. A man called Goliath from the Philistines camp challenged the Israelites to find one who can fight him. For about 40 days the Israelites were reduced to a tiny and useless army. David was sent by God through his Father Jesse to bring revival to the Israelite camp. His brothers and King Saul thought David was a rival hence they scolded and looked down upon him. They misconstrued revival as rival. Each time when the church of God is under attack or operating without power, God would raise men and women, boys and girls to bring revival.
When we do not believe in the God we claim to worship, we are doomed to undermine His power and short-change ourselves in the process. God remains a God who is able but at the time when the Israelites faced Goliath, that truth was not a reality because they did not see God as able. It took David, who had believes the God of Israel to stand up and seek to prove the truth of that power. The question therefore becomes this: do you truly believe in the God whom you worship or do you put a limitation on His power and ability to revive a dying church?
When we pray for a revival, God may answer in His own way and not our way. The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe can pray for a revival and the answer comes through another denomination. Is the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe able to thank God for the prayers answered with the understanding that the Church of God is one body and not construe that as a rival?
The challenge with a revival is that it may be started through some people we do not appreciate. Remember that God uses the lowly to render powerless the things which are strong. King Saul and the Israelite army never thought David would bring victory. We look down upon the anointed of God because they normally appear different from what we expect.
“Heavenly Father we thank you for the gift of a new year. You have given us another chance to mend our ways. Help us by starting a revival in our individual lives and in the Body of Christ. Touch our hearts once again and restore our lives in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Today is a Covenant Sunday according to our Christian calendar and our tradition. We need to enter into a Covenant with God. We ask for revival and that we ourselves will commit to the demands of the revival.
DAY 2 THEME: TRAIN YOUR CHILD.
READING: COLOSSIANS 3:18
(We are dedicating day 2 to pray for children all over the world. We make a Covenant with God as regards our children. They are a target of mass destruction by the devil. We lament before God and seek God’s mercy.)
Don’t feel sorry for or fear for your children or grandchildren because the world they are going to grow up in is not what it used to be. Secularism is spreading like a veld fire. Moral values are being thrown into the dust bin of history. To be rude, naughty, and being part of a gang is what is considered to be the norm. The television shows are full of violence and sexual persuasion. Integrity is a dying quality in our society. Respect that should be accorded to parents and significant others is regarded as old fashioned.
God created children and called them for the exact moment in time that they are in. Their life wasn’t a coincidence or an accident. Raise them up to know the power they walk in as children of God that they are a royal priesthood. Train them up in the authority of His Word. Teach them to walk in faith knowing that God is in control. Teach them that Christian living will never be out of fashion.
Empower them to know they can change the world and not changed by the world. They do not need to be conformed to the standards of this world. Don’t teach them to be fearful and disheartened by the state of the world but hopeful that they can do something about it.
Every person in all of history has been placed in the time that they were in because of God’s sovereign plan. God knew that Daniel could handle the lion’s den. He knew David could handle Goliath. He knew Esther could handle Haman. He knew Peter could handle persecution. He knows that your child can handle whatever challenge they face in their life. He created them specifically for it! The challenge with our children is that they are being handled by situations they face hence they have identity crisis.
Don’t be scared for your children, but be honoured that God chose YOU to parent the generation that is facing the biggest challenges of our lifetime. Rise up to the challenge. God isn’t scratching His head wondering what He’s going to do with this mess of a world.
He has an army He is raising up to drive back the darkness and make Him known all over the earth. Pray that your child will be part of that army. Don’t let your fear steal the greatness God placed in them. I know it is hard to imagine them as anything besides our sweet little babies, and we just want to protect them from anything that could ever be hard on them, but they were born for such a time as this.
“Heavenly Father, pour your Holy Spirit upon our children that they may shine as bright light in a wicked and crooked generation. They were born for such a time as this to make a positive impact in this world. Cover and protect them with the blood of Jesus. Amen.”
What challenges are being faced by today’s children? How best can we help them overcome? In what ways have the children of today risen up to fly high the flag of the cross of Jesus Christ?
DAY 3 THEME: MEDITATION
READING: Psalm 94:19
We are virtually left with the burnt-out ashes of the old year, which has come to an end. We welcome the New Year in the Name of Jesus Christ, knowing very much that yesterday is now a memory, today is reality and tomorrow is an imagination. We are always tempted to look back to our past. Unfortunately, for many people this means to dwell and concentrate on failures, disappointment and other misfortunes. This then causes fear and anxiety about the future.
To meditate on the past certainly has its rightful place in your life, but then it should always be done constructively. You should be able to learn from past mistakes, without being weighed down by their burden. Also guard against an excessive feeling of guilt which could darken your days.
Do not concentrate on what has gone out of your life; rather concentrate on what God is planning to bring into your life. Imagine a future full of the blessings of God. What we think and what we say is what we become. Consider that your past is over and you are opening a new page.
At the same time you should also be careful not to proudly rest on your laurels, congratulating yourself on the successes achieved during the past year. These should only serve as inspiration to strive for more in future and to work even harder in this year. These are but landmarks of God’s eternal grace at work in your life.
When you review experiences of the past year in prayer, you should be adamant to enter the New Year in the company of Christ, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let Christ be your Example and your Guide. Let your mind become sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and make a decision to obey His will under all circumstances.
By employing this unbiased type of meditation, you will ensure that, in spite of what has happened in the past, you can face the future with confidence, assurance and peace. These are qualities which are only developed when you live close to God, obeying his will. Then you will experience his consolation that will bring joy to your soul.
Meditation also applied to aligning of your life to the will of God by placing yourself side by side with the word of God. This helps you to think constructively about the needs of the future when it comes to your spiritual life. Remember that you cannot change the physical alone but efforts have to be made to transform the spiritual being so that it will influence the physical being. How can I improve in prayer, how can I meditate more on the word and how can I dedicate more of my time to God in the coming year? These are some of the questions you must sit down and ponder as part of spiritual assessment.
“You, Who have always protected us, God on Whom we build; You are our refuge when storms rage – we know we can trust You.” Thank you Heavenly Father for the year that has ended and thank you for yet another opportunity to serve you in the New Year in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.”
Make a promise before God now that you will follow Him no matter what. List the things that you would like to do for God in this year. Make a Covenant with God.
DAY 4 THEME: THANK GOD FOR FRIENDSHIP.
READING: 2 SAMUEL 1:17-27
This is the season when we reconfirm old friendships and establish new ones through which God enriches our lives. There is an element of truth that part of what you are was shaped positively or negatively by friends. Bad company ruins good morals while good company is for the betterment of your life. A friend is someone whose company you wish to enjoy as long as you live and whom you want to be with you when you die. It is someone you can turn to without thinking twice when you go through hard times and who will sincerely share in your joy and good fortune.
You seek your friend’s advice when you are worried, and welcome his/her congratulations when the problem is solved. You can share a secret with them, but they will never search your heart, looking for secrets that should not be revealed. You lean on them when your heart wants to break, yet they never exploit that. A true friend goes down on their knees with you when life has dealt you a blow – but forgets about it when you are back on your feet. You can cry on a friend’s shoulder when you are sad and laugh freely with them when you are happy. They will have tears on their cheeks when you suffer and a twinkle in the eye when the sun is shining for you again. True friends marvel at your good qualities and love you in spite of your weaknesses. They laugh at your moods without getting angry and are proud when you achieve your goals, but are not ashamed of you when you fail. A friend is satisfied when you please them, yet does not blame you when you disappoint. They will speak the truth, even though it might hurt you; and you can tell them the truth without fear of offending them.
True friends will not hesitate to prove their friendship, even at the risk of it being abused. They offer help without expecting something in return. They will talk about the best in you when others talk about the worst.
How have you positively impacted the life of your friend? Have you been instrumental in helping them become better and more mature versions of themselves or have you been responsible for their downfall? Have you abused their trust or have you been a strong pillar of strength? A friend must add value to your life, and so to grow, you need a sharp tool in your arsenal to sharpen you when you are dulled by the cares of this world. Iron sharpens iron, so a true friend will be a source of dignity, pride, elevation and transformation.
We must discard people who take away from us because they are a source of distress and they limit our focus on Christ. When the COVID-19 pandemic came around, did it show true friends among us? Those who stood by us even when we were contagious and helped us get through our dilemma. Taking care of others even in isolation was more than being present. The pandemic showed us that we can do so much more for each other and show care that goes beyond saying a word of encouragement. We were taught to be practical in our approach to give of the little wealth we have without making people feel that they owe us. Just as Christ gave without measure, true friends will give in the spirit of ‘paying it forward.’ Receive assistance so that you can assist others who need your help as well and the cycle continues.
Did your friend encourage you to pray over the last year? Did they lead you to Christ when the situation was dire? Did you pray together, did you fast together; did you study the bible together and walk together towards the path of righteousness? Decide today if you should continue in friendships by assessing how positively or negatively they impact your life as you continue on life’s journey as a Christian.
2 Samuel 1:17-27
‘Redeemer and Friend’, please help me, by your grace, to be a faithful friend. Thank You that You want to be my best Friend.
What is more important to you: to have a friend or to be a friend? Are you going to continue with the friends you had last year? If yes or no what are the reasons.
DAY 5 THEME: GOD SPOKE TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE
READINGS: JOHN 10:27
There are some Christians who claim that God only speaks through the Bible. They forget that God spoke and the Bible came into being. Other sceptics say God does not speak anymore and their belief is that He spoke with the people in the Bible and no longer speaks with today’s people. Consider the very vivid examples in the bible. The people of Israel received the Ten Commandments because Moses heard God’s voice. Mary knew she will carry a Saviour because she heard God’s voice. Gideon delivered the Israelites from the hand of the Midianites because he heard God’s voice. Bible prophets such as Samuel became prophets because they heard God’s voice.
Abraham left Haran because he heard God’s voice. King Jehoshaphat went to war with a praise and worship team in front of the soldiers as front line commanders because he heard God’s voice. The question therefore is not about whether God still speaks. The question is, are we listening? Malachi 3:6 says, ‘I am God and do not change.’ If He spoke to people in the past He will still speak today. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Jesus implored to all the seven churches in Asia that those who had ears to hear use them to hear. Do we have the ears to hear? In the past God spoke to our forefathers and prophets in different ways says Hebrews Chapter 1. But in our days and generations He is using Christ. God spoke in an audible voice to Adam and Eve, to Moses through the burning bush and to Saul on the road to Damascus. God’s message was also given through angelic visits and He still speaks today to us through dreams and visions.
God promised to pour out His Spirit on all flesh so young men shall see visions and old men shall dream dreams. The Spirit is on all flesh but not all flesh is able to accept and use it and the receiving of signs depends on our motive.
God also speaks to us through the written word, the spoken word (Rhema), through preachers and teachers. God uses human channels to speak words of prophecy. The Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the entire World as a witness to all the nations. Mass media platforms are being used to convey the message of the gospel.
God also speaks through creation and nature, through our conscience and through the Holy Spirit. God will speak to us more often as we learn to recognize His voice. The problem is that we expect to hear Him on Sunday at Church but He wants to speak to us every day.
Let us stop limiting the power of God or His magnificence. God is not limited by space or time and we must be willing to seek Him diligently because He promised to be found by Him. Cultivate a culture of prayer and meditation on the word in searching to hear from God. He will surely commune with those who will commit to having a relationship with Him.
“Heavenly Father you are still saying something in our generation. Help me hear your word and obey it. You are not silent and my challenge is the capacity to hear you. Father increase my capacity to hear you.”
Today’s exercise is to go through the ways God speaks to us. Examine and verify them.
DAY 6 THEME: GOD IS SUPERIOR
READING: Isaiah 55:8-9
When God created heaven and earth, he was not in heaven or in the earth Himself because it did not exist. He created everything from a position of power and that power was outside what he made. God existed in the beginning. Him being the author of all things means that He exists beyond our comprehension. What that says to us is that God is on the outside, looking in on everything that happens on earth and in heaven as a superior being. At one point, the bible says the earth is His foot stool. What that means is that, the earth is under his power.
God has power over everything he created, including us. When he gave dominion to mankind, he was taking from a place of infinite possession. God gave us a portion of His spirit; he then gave us a portion of His power, which is the dominion we have over earth. People are mistaken to think that once we as mankind were given dominion over earth, God no longer had a part or a say in how the earth was run. He remains the all-powerful, omniscient God.
He remains in control of all things. God even went on to give us a portion of His wisdom. He still has far superior wisdom than we can comprehend. What we have and possess is a small portion of God’s abilities and if we are to live a life of conviction and fulfilment, we ought to acknowledge Him as the source of all things. We must give honour to God, the author and finisher of our faith. We must possess a type of faith that honours God as the giver of all things. What we have, He gave us, what we hope for and He will give us. We must therefore need no other source of provision, because our God far supersedes all counterfeits who may claim to have what we need.
“Oh God, activate within me, the gifts which you have bestowed upon me.
May the excellence upon my life come to life so that through faith, I can take my rightful place in this world and bring positive impact to it.”
Meditate upon the measure with which God has provided his nature upon you. Make an active resolution to cultivate the positive attributes in yourself while weeding out the negative tares sown in you by the devil to contaminate the beauty of what God placed in you.
DAY 7 THEME: A JEALOUS GOD
READING: Isaiah 42:8
Worship is paying obeisance offering a sacrifice of submission. When God says that He will not give his praise to carved images, He is saying that He will not be placed on the same platform with manmade deities. When the Philistines placed the Ark of the Covenant which represented the presence of God alongside their image Dagon, they found Dagon fallen and broken before the ark. Repeated hard heartedness in the worship and honour of images breaks our spirits more and more, causing harm to us every day.
Man has a knack to divert what belongs to God and direct it to personal entities they have themselves created. When we respect money more than we respect God, the one who gives us power to make wealth, we are replacing God with images. When we spent time feeding our ears with secular music which glorifies the flesh, we are offering praises to human idols and serving the prince of darkness. This prince will have us suppress the spirit in favour of the decay of the flesh. When we exalt the thing which was made above the maker thereof, we are giving glory to another and are guilty of the sin of idolatry. The bible likens rebellion to divination and stubbornness to idolatry in 1 Samuel 25:23. The more the Philistines raised up Dagon before the ark, the more they exhibited their stubborn nature through idol worship. The Israelites were branded as stiff necked because of their stubbornness as well. God created man so that he may glorify Him, therefore when we transfer that glory to another, and we serve foreign gods, we are violating the very principle of creation. The more we persist in self-serving behaviour, the more we move away from God. Stubbornness is as the sin of idolatry. We were given a portion of the spirit of God. We were also given dominion over the earth and a portion of the wisdom of God. To maintain those gifts, we have to be constantly connected to its source that is God. When we are disconnected from God, we become impoverished in our spirit; we lose the dominion and wisdom given to us because we deny the source of power and sustenance.
We ought to remain connected to God who put into place the plan of salvation so that we will be reconciled to God and to His will. When we have reconciled with God, we must be diligent in giving Him His due honour and praise, for He is a jealous God.
“O Lord, help me to reconnect with you. I need to live and grow in you so that I do not starve your spirit which is in me and l increase in wisdom and dominion. Help me to spend more time with you in Jesus name I pray, Amen.”
Let us make a checklist of all the things we value in life and honestly assess whether they in any way take the place of God by being more important than Him. How do we spend our time? Would we opt for self-serving activities when given a chance to choose between serving God and going about our own business?
DAY 8 THEME: INCREASING IN WISDOM
READING : Luke 2:52, Daniel 5:12
We have since ascertained that God has given us a portion of His character, He placed his spirit in us, he gave us wisdom and He also gave us power by allowing us to have dominion over the earth. When we consider the gifts given to us because God made us, we must remain indebted to Him.
All we possess from God can only increase and prosper when we align ourselves to the will of God. The positive attributes we obtained from God when we came to this earth were diminished by sin but the plan of salvation is there to restore us. A consistent life of prayer and meditation on the word
of God will build up our character. Wisdom therefore increases when we increase in walking with God.
We read about Enoch’s life and how he walked with God to the extent that he was taken and was not seen again. When we possess the wisdom of God, we live an unlimited life. We are able to obtain blessings which surpass our foundation. We have blessings prepared for us in this earth and in the next.
Daniel and his friends were highly intellectual young men but mostly, they had the spirit of God in them and were therefore filled with the wisdom of God.
We obtain the mind of God when we commit to Him and walk in His will so we cannot fail to walk in the excellence of His gifts. Asking for wisdom from God therefore has a requisite condition attached to it. Remember how Solomon first walked in a dedicated manner to God and fulfilled the building of the temple as instructed by his father David. He engaged in elaborate worship sacrifices to God before God came and asked him what he wished for.
What have we done to prove to God that we can utilize the gift of wisdom in a manner befitting a child of God? Wisdom cannot come upon us unless we embrace the discipline of prayer and worship. We also have to be on a path to enhance the life of others. Solomon did not request for wealth but for wisdom to govern God’s people because he knew that wisdom was more important than wealth. God will bestow gifts upon us when he ascertains that we will use those gifts positively. We must have the capacity to impact others positively and not be selfish and that will push God to give us the wisdom we require.
The bible often castigates foolish behavior and says that it is detriment even to one’s personal progress and results in others around you falling because of it as well. The opposite is true. When one is wise, they are likened to a huge tree which will offer shelter to many others. The wisdom of Solomon resulted in many visiting his kingdom to gain a piece of that wisdom. When we become wise concerning the things of God, we can utilize that wisdom to get more people to come to Christ. The level of knowledge and excellence bestowed upon us through Christ becomes a means to gain for the kingdom of God. We are able to build others and impact life in a positive manner. Wisdom is bestowed upon the patient, the long-suffering and the selfless because it is a huge responsibility to carry the wisdom of God. Once one gives themselves to study and meditate on the bible as well as to diligently pray, those alone are qualities worthy of receiving the wisdom of God. When we have been moulded by the word and have given ourselves to its instruction, we will no doubt receive the wisdom of God which is foolishness to those who live by ungodly rules. It is however life to those who know Christ for to know Christ is true wisdom.
“Oh Lord help me to know you more and to yearn to be filled with your wisdom for it is foolishness to those who perish but a precious possession in the ever-changing tide of life. It is your wisdom which is constant and which will sustain me and help me to bring more people to the knowledge of Christ.”
Commit yourself over to the study of the word and to prayer and supplication so that you may be filled with the wisdom of God on a daily basis if you need to be impacted and to impact others positively.
Day 9 THEME: COMPASSION MAKES US GIVE TO THE WORK OF GOD
READING: Luke 8:1-3
Compassion was at the centre of Jesus’ heart. Everywhere He went, He was moved by compassion and that pushed Him to heal the sick and to set the captives free. He even read from the book of the law once in a synagogue to cement this mission. Christ said that He was anointed to bring help to the helpless and to change the trajectory of the lives of people He came in contact with. No one ever came to Jesus and left the same person.
The kingdom of God needs financiers. Not just people who will give of their possessions to enhance the work of God, but people who will also give of themselves to be used of God. There is nothing as strong as a heart full of compassion for others. It makes us give fully and expecting nothing in return.
Sometimes a testimony is stronger when a life is turned around completely and that turn around results in more workers being added to the vineyard of the Lord. When we receive Christ and experience His power, we must be seen to be fully dedicated to bringing others to Christ. We must be seen to be giving of more than our possessions but our time as well to God’s work.
The church is represented by the likes of Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna who went a step further and became dedicated workers to ensure that nothing was lacking as the work of the Lord was being done. The Bible points out that sometimes when we encounter the needy, speaking a word of encouragement to them is not enough. Where we see a need, we must be practical enough to stretch out our hand and help.
The church therefore represents people who are in tune with the needs of others. It is expected to fulfil the spiritual as well as the physical needs of those who come to it for shelter. In times of war or calamity, churches are often open to house people who have no shelter. We should not wait to open our doors or our hearts only when disasters strike, but we should exercise compassion in the lives of others by being destiny helpers on a daily basis.
It is not those who have wealth who are expected to give but it is those who have the capacity for compassion in their hearts who are expected to lend a hand. Brethren let us measure the capacity for compassion which we hold in our hearts by the number of times we have extended our hand to hold that of another ailing brother or sister. That measure will prove to us how much of Jesus’ compassion we have in us. If we do not help, we should not expect to receive help either. If we claim to be Christ like, we must be seen to be exercising compassion the way He did. God is looking for the Cornelius of our time, people who will give of themselves wholly to the work of God.
A willing heart is what God requires and He will gladly use that heart to further His kingdom and to fulfil even our unspoken needs, if only we will give of ourselves completely to Christ.
“O Lord, I give to you all that I am and all that I have so that I may be used by You to impact the life of others. May the kingdom of God move forward continually because of the commitment which I make this day to enhance your kingdom. Amen”
Take stock of ways you have directly or indirectly enhanced the kingdom of God without seeking validation from people but to the glory of God alone.
DAY 10 THEME: WISDOM COMES WITH GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
READING: 1 Chronicles 12:23,32; Genesis 49:14-15; Deuteronomy 33:18-19
This was Jacob’s blessing upon Issachar; to become a burden bearer and a pastoral inclined man. Issachar was therefore a born servant, born to serve but Jacob saw that he was able to bear two burdens: his and those of others.
Because the sons of Issachar had the ability to carry the burdens of others, they had the wisdom to keep the word of God in their hearts, a trait which God seeks in us. If we are able to bear the burdens of others and to keep close to our hearts, the secrets of God, God will keep trusting us with his secrets.
Wisdom is therefore not selfish and is willing to be humble and to work in unity. A person who will work in isolation lacks the wisdom that comes from unity. God Himself showed us the need to give of ourselves when He gave Jesus, His only begotten son. Therefore our gifts are meant to be shared with others. We must be aware also that we have specific gifts but not all gifts are borne by one person.
There is a reason why God bestows on one a gift and on another a different gift. For our gifts to matter, we must work together and blend our gifts for them to bear fruits. One is wise, another is a giver, and another is a labourer.
Each gift must be brought to the house of God in order to fit just like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. When we have brought all the pieces together, we are able to produce results. The greatest responsibility therefore is in uniting what God gave us so that we accomplish the mandate of bringing people to Christ.
Zebulun and Issachar were joined in the Mosaic blessing to illustrate the cooperation and partnership of two brothers. Issachar was the fifth son of Leah, and Zebulun was her sixth son. Both of them were people of joy, always rejoicing in the LORD! The symbol for the tribe of Zebulun was a ship. The children of Zebulun were merchants, doing trades or businesses. One of the symbols for the tribe of Issachar was a tent. The children of Issachar set up tents to study the Word of God.
One produced material blessings while the other produced spiritual blessings.
Their brotherly teamwork and unity brought manifold blessings of the LORD to their community. Besides studying the Word in their tents, the sons of Issachar kept track of the sun and moon so that they were able to calculate and announce the appointed times of the LORD.
The sons of Issachar had both the knowledge and wisdom of the Word. They were prophetic and accurate. They knew where the abundance of the seas were, and they would tell the sons of Zebulun, (their brothers) where and how to find them. They were also able to research the whereabouts of the treasures hidden in the sand. The sons of Zebulun would then dig them up.
We therefore see the working together of spiritual knowledge and wisdom to obtain physical and material wealth. This was a healthy community having both spiritual and secular leadership.
“O Lord release your Issachar anointing upon me so I know what to do.
Please use me in your kingdom to move your mandate and to support your anointed in your vineyard in Jesus name.”
Assess the gifts that God bestowed upon you and find a gap where that gift can be utilized in unity with others to fulfil the mandate of bringing people to Christ.
DAY 11 THEME: DO NOT LET DISCOMFORT FIGHT YOUR PROGRESS.
READING: Exodus 16:1 – 3
Each time we tell others of our situation we need to ask ourselves what the motive is of telling such. There is nothing wrong with telling your story as it is. When things are bad, it is not a sin to say that they are bad, although you get more motivated when you speak opportunities in a crisis. Imagine being amongst the children of Israel and some of them begin to complain bitterly about hunger. You are likely going to start feeling the hunger more, even though you may have been resisting it. This shows that human beings are social beings hence some of our behaviour is socially constructed.
The Bible says, “The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:1-3 NIV) I think it sounds disrespectful for them to say, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt!” If they were prepared to die in Egypt, why were they now afraid to die in the desert? Death is death. But those who live have hope for a better tomorrow. That is the problem when people exaggerate the crisis that they would be going through.
What is even worse is that every word you speak can be prophetic and you tend to become more of what you say. We are products of what we think and say. Death and life lies in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21).That is why faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. On the other hand, exaggerations are often demoralizing and destructive. Hence, if you want progress in your life, be prepared to suffer discomfort as you do your best to achieve greatness. Jesus Christ is there for you in your mountain top experience as well as in your lowest moments.
They told Jairus that the child is dead and therefore there is no need to trouble Jesus. But Jesus told Jairus to only believe that what he called Jesus for he would receive it. Sisters and Brothers let us have hope against hope.
“Heavenly Father help me to be positive and believe in you when I am in the valley of my life. I may be perplexed but must not despair in whatever crisis I go through. From today I will have hope against hope in Jesus Christ’s Name.
Today we want to give Testimonies which point out to the fact that perseverance is a great virtue against challenges we face. They that conquered the devil did so by their Testimonies in the blood of Jesus.
DAY 12 THEME: WORSHIP THAT IRRITATES SOME FELLOW CHRISTIANS.
READING: Mark 14:3-5
In Genesis 22 we are told that Abraham did not invite Sarah his wife to the mountain of prayer where he was going to sacrifice his son Isaac. And upon reaching the mountain he did not allow his servants to journey with him to the mountain top. Abraham knew that the level of worship that he was to offer to God would irritate Sarah and the servants. Most gifted people in the church of God are not hated by the people outside the church but often times by people inside the church.
There are people who just get upset by things that do not even concern them.
You find a grown up man or woman seething with anger because of something that has nothing to do with him or her. It is understandable if someone gets upset because you have done something wrong, but many actually get upset by people who would have done well. Envy is a cancerous sin within the Body of Christ.
In fact, many people nowadays will not be bothered if you worship God in a half-hearted way. As long as you are lukewarm in church people do not think or talk about you. But as soon as you get fired up in the Lord, a lot of people will get upset. They start by murmuring in the background until they openly attack you just like those who were upset because of the woman who poured perfume on Jesus Christ’s feet. As it is written, “While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.’ Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. (Mark 14:3-5 NIV) Never be afraid of upsetting some people when you worship God in Spirit and in Truth. The challenge is that most of the worshippers take a back seat when they are persecuted for using their gift for the furtherance of God’s work. When you know who Jesus Christ is to you and what He has done for you, just go ahead and worship Him in the best possible way. It does not matter who or how much some people get upset, because whatever they say or do is your cost of worship. A disciple is not above his teacher. Was Jesus accepted in his days on earth?
If your worship does not upset the people around you, there is a chance that your worship is not out of the ordinary. You can worship and dance like David, or pray like Daniel or climb a tree like Zacchaeus or do anything radical as long as you are worshipping God. Yes, you may not be very popular with those around you, but then, true worship is never a popularity contest. When Joseph told them his dream, the brothers got upset but by the following day he told them another. Just do what the Lord instructs and work for Him while it is day.
(I acknowledge Dr F Mawunganidze’s articles on the Daily Metro Bulletin
where part of this lesson was extracted.)
“Teach me Heavenly Father that when the going gets tough the tough gets going. I will use my gift to worship you for the furtherance of your work and I will do it no matter what people say. I declare to be strong in Jesus when I face persecution for doing good.”
Narrative how you were persecuted in the Church for executing your God given gift. How did you overcome? Encourage one another to soldier on in the face of persecution.
DAY 13 THEME: COMMIT YOUR BURDENS TO CHRIST.
READING: Matthew 11:28
Dare we go into the future, carrying our heavy burdens? The above-mentioned text is one of the most comforting, but at the same time the most challenging in the New Testament. Through the years it has brought strength and comfort to innumerable people. Many a pilgrim, weary of life and its struggles, managed to derive new hope and inspiration from it. Have you accepted this gracious invitation?
Most people continue to carry their burdens even if they do not have the power to carry through. It leads to frustration and despair. There are many with weak bodies as a result of over thinking when burdens appear to stay forever. Yet in the eyes of God there is no situation that is permanent.
To take your problems and burdens to Jesus and to find the peace that only He can give is one of the most enriching experiences anybody could hope for.
Unfortunately people are sluggish when they have to let go of their burdens. They tell the Master what it is that worries them and when they get up from their knees, they pick up those very burdens and worries, shoulder them once again and struggle on.
Some people hesitate to cast their burdens onto Jesus; what will they have to complain about and how can people sympathize with them then? Some people cannot live without this. To lay your burdens before God is not an immediate action. Perhaps you have been carrying them for so long that they’ve become part and parcel of your life. You cannot even imagine life without them. They have to be phased out of your life until you are rid of them altogether. However, also make sure that you fill the void left by the cast-off burdens, with the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Only then will you experience the peace which only Jesus, the Prince of Peace, can give you. Matthew 11:25-30
“Spirit of Christ, please fill my life so completely that I can be set free from every earthly burden. Help me move from little faith to great faith so that each time I give you burdens in prayer I should not take them from you and continue carrying.”
Discuss the reason why it is difficult to completely surrender our burdens to Christ because each time we surrender we immediately withdraw from him and carry again.
DAY 14 THEME: I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.
READING: Genesis 28:15
Today is a very important point of departure for your journey to tomorrow. It is only when you acknowledge the importance of each day that you can build the future constructively. It is imperative that you have a goal towards which you are working. However, to get there, successful planning is necessary, or you will waste much energy and enthusiasm and not achieve anything. If your planning fails, you plan to fail.
If you want to live a meaningful life, your goal must present a challenge. It must inspire you to attempt something which presently seems beyond your abilities. Heroes and Heroines are men and women who acted on a particular thing greater than their capacity and capability. They eliminated the word impossible and believed that all things are possible with God. Never fear or hesitate to start on something new or difficult. Only then will you experience joy and fulfilment, intellectual and spiritual growth.
You might wonder where such a lofty goal is to be found. Part of the answer can be found in your job or profession. If your life has purpose you will always try to find new and better methods to perform even routine tasks with excitement and enthusiasm. Your greatest responsibility however, is to do the will of God in the circumstances He chose to put you as his representative. Doing his will right there will afford you the greatest joy and satisfaction. To the uninformed it might sound too pious and utterly impractical. Nevertheless, it is the wisest and most constructive thing to do with your life. The road ahead will unfold before you in a most surprising manner. Think about the four lepers in the book of Second Kings Chapter 7. They questioned their status quo and decided to do the unusual.
“Holy Spirit, please grant me the will and the wisdom to do God’s will knowing very much that He is with me wherever He directs. Teach me to accept that with God all things are possible.”
Discuss whether this statement is true or not:- that “God is always with us but we may not be with Him”.
DAY 15 THEME: REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.
READING: 1 Peter 2:9
Are you one of those Christians who are unsure of their faith and therefore experience times of doubt and depression? On such occasions you feel tempted to give up trying to be a Christian disciple or communing with his followers. Please allow me to remind you in earnest today that there are two distinctly discernible sides to your Christian life: God’s side and yours. At your conversion and rebirth it was God who called you to live in harmony with Him. You reacted and became a Christian disciple. This alone is sufficient reason for you to stand strong in your faith and to live the spiritual life with confidence and courage. You belong to the living Saviour: He bought you with his blood and accepted you as his own. When you start doubting or become depressed He is certainly not to be blamed, rather the fact is that you do not have such a close relationship with him any more as you used to have.
Always remember your rich inheritance and the kind of life God has called you for. Nothing can be substituted for the right relationship with your heavenly Father. This world might offer you seemingly attractive temptations which appear to be better than what Christ is offering you. Come to your senses for a moment and remember who and what you are. You have been “chosen”; you belong to a “royal priesthood” and you have been “set apart”.
Muster all the strength you possess to be true to this high and lofty calling. Even if you sometimes find it difficult to faithfully hold on to God – rest assured that He will never let go of you!
“Gracious Lord, thank You for my high calling. Grant me, through the Holy Spirit, inner strength to live accordingly. I will not compromise my status from today in Jesus Christ Name Amen.”
Write down the implications of your status as a chosen one and a member of the family of God.
DAY 16 THEME: THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK.
READING: PROVERBS 15:28. COLOSSIANS 4:5-6.
Impulsive comments are often not meant to be degrading and painful, yet they are. Most people have experienced the very painful situation that they express an opinion without thinking or make a harmful comment and feel sorry about it immediately. A word already spoken, however, cannot be recalled.
The Bible tells us that the world was created by the word of God. God spoke and things came into being. He created a beautiful world. We were created in the image of God and so each time we speak we create a world either of beauty or chaos. Our speech must be full of kindness. A wise man once said that there are four things which cannot be recalled: the spoken word; an arrow that has been shot from the bow; a life that has passed and neglected opportunities.
You hear some people saying, “I am a straight forward person; I say what I think.” It is true that you may be frank when commenting on others, but isn’t the love in your life perhaps a bit warped? The apostle James admonishes us to be “quick to listen but slow to speak” (James 2:19). The art of listening is an integral and virtuous component of the controlled tongue. Each person should have an Editor-in-Chief of his or her mouth. The duty of the Editor in Chief of any newspaper company is to read through a publication and edit before it goes to the public. His or her job is to remove anything that is not palatable to the public. We will live in peace and harmony if we all edit out words especially when we are angry.
Attentive listening is the prelude to wise words. That person whose spirit is in harmony with the Holy Spirit will resist the temptation to be witty at the expense of another person. To be always ready with a quick, cutting reply, is a sign of intellectual and spiritual immaturity. It is an indication of a personality that is battling with insecurity.
Also learn to refrain from making a hasty judgment or jumping to conclusions. Take time to consider your view in prayer. If you are pressurized by a situation that requires immediate action, submit your thoughts to God. Then you will be able to view the problem with much more insight. Your inner peace and calm will increase, thus enabling you to speak and act positively and constructively. Proverbs 15:23-33
“Help me to pray without ceasing, Lord, so that I will make wise and loving comments. Thank You for the help of your Holy Spirit. From today I will speak that which is positive in Jesus Christ Name.”
Start practicing the well known advice again, to count to ten before you speak. Is it true that most divisions at your church and in families is a result of some of us who utter words without careful thought?
DAY 17 THEME: YOU CANNOT DO IT ON YOUR OWN.
READING: JOHN 15:4
It is a very painful experience for you as a Christian to discover that all your efforts and strain have been in vain. You might have been working faithfully, yet the end result is failure. If you have had this experience you will know the demoralizing effect it can have on your faith. If perhaps you are going through such an experience right now, it is time for you to come to a halt and do some heart -searching.
There are a few questions that you should ask yourself regarding the areas in which you failed: Did you follow the plans of your own blind heart or did you honestly seek the will of God before you started? Did you make time for prayer, earnestly asking God if that really was what He expected of you or did it just neatly fit into your own plans? If you practice intimate communion with God on a daily basis, submitting all your plans and ideas to Him for approval and guidance, you will start experiencing how the Holy Spirit takes over and guides you in the way that you should go. The more profoundly you are tuned in to God’s will, the more certainly you will know what God’s will is for your life. Then you will not foolishly rush into projects and ideas which are the figments of your own short-sighted will.
Obedience is the sure sign of a committed life. Any person’s greatest joy then is to live in the centre of God’s will. If you act in obedience to God, seeking the glory of his Name only, every effort of yours will be crowned with success. Otherwise, no matter how worthy your intentions, failure is sure to occur. Always remember that He, the True Vine, warned us: “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). John 15:1-8
“The weaker l find myself, Lord, the more I need You to bind me closer. Please forgive me for trying to do things in my own strength. I pray this in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”
What are your plans for this year? Studies? Travel? Extending Your business concern? A new job? Have you entrusted these plans to God?
DAY 18 THEME: CARRY ON WORKING PEACEFULLY.
READING: HAGGAI 2:4
People often feel they cannot go one step further. The pressure and worries of their daily tasks starts taking their toll. Lack of recognition makes people feel like throwing in the towel in this uneven struggle where their energy is tapped out and they are not appreciated. While it is good, right and courteous for people to appreciate your input, lack of acknowledgement may never be used as an excuse for letting go.
Your main purpose in life should always be to please God in your job and to seek his approval. If this is the attitude with which you complete your daily chores, you will be a true servant of the Lord and receive new inspiration regularly. No matter how despondent you may feel, never forget that Jesus is with you in everything you undertake. In the most depressing circumstances, remember the example that Jesus Christ set: He was victorious when He went through all kinds of discouragement and oppression even till death on the cross.
When you are tempted to give up, turn to your Saviour with your need. He saves us also from disappointment and despair. He promised to be with you always. He knows exactly what you are going through because He was tempted likewise, and went through the same experiences as you and much worse! In his strength and power you will overcome your depression. Stay close to the Lord and trust in Him. With Him you will find inspiration to carry on working peacefully even in the face of severe impediments, and you will experience the joy of a job well done.
“I put all my trust in You, my Lord and Master, so that I can overcome my discouragement and disappointment in people. Holy Spirit help me look unto God for approval in Jesus Christ Name Amen.”
Have you relaxed your commitment because of a lack of recognition? Who is your rewarder, people or God? Discuss the reasons why so many Christians refuse to take up appointments in church and if they accept them, why is it they do not go deeper with those appointments as they do in their professions or businesses.
DAY 19 THEME: THE POWER OF PRAYER.
READING: ACTS 16:24-26.
In today’s text, we meet Paul and Silas who were put in prison when false allegations were levelled against them from the enemies of the cross who felt that they were a threat to their kingdom. As we honestly work for God, we will meet great opposition and that will demand that we pray without ceasing. When they were put in prison, the doors were locked and they were put in chains. The situation looked like there was no way out of it. Those who put them in prison and securely locked it were very much certain that they had managed to stop them from spreading the Good News about the kingdom of God which they felt was a threat to them. Now, one thing they didn’t know was that, you can physically chain a child of God but can’t bind a worshipper. As long as the mouth and the heart is not chained then there will be communion with God even in prison.
Paul and Silas taught us that there is no situation that is an impediment to worshipping God. The children of God are tough for they can worship Him in the blast furnace with a fire fuelled seven times. Children of God are tough; they can call an Esther fast under the threat of a Haman.
The Bible says that, at midnight they were PRAYING and singing SONGS to God in the hearing of the prisoners. Look at the time; at midnight, for every hour is an opportune time to worship God. At midnight miracles began for the foundations of the prison were shaken, doors were opened and chains came off. Brothers and sisters, there is power in prayer. Your life may be chained in some areas, be it financial, health, spouse, children, job, and betrayal to mention but a few; rise up and pray. Prayer should be a lifestyle to a child of God. When you open your spiritual eyes and see that you are under siege, take action against it by way of prayer. Do you know that the same apostles, Paul and Silas were regarded as the men who turned the world upside down by those who opposed them? The only weapon that they used was prayer. Prayer will shake altars of darkness and cause confusion in that kingdom of the devil.
At the end of the day the jailer and his family received Christ as their Lord and personal Saviour. Your chains should lead someone to repentance at a point when the chains are turned into a testimony.
“Holy Spirit help me to be a prayer machine and make prayer a lifestyle. May you do today what you did for the people of old, they prayed and you answered them. I want to have tentative evidence of the power of prayer in my life in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Today we are sharing Testimonies when we prayed and God answered. We also want to discuss what hinders some prayers from being answered.
DAY 20 THEME: WHAT WE HEARD AND SAW.
READING: ACTS 4:20
1 John 1:1-3 starts by saying, “We write to you about Christ whom we heard about, we later saw him, touched him and walked with Him. We are therefore witnessing to you what we heard, saw and greeted. When we testify about Christ it depends on how he revealed Himself to us. Some testify Christ whom they heard from others but some testify Christ whom they heard and saw. The Christ you hear from the pulpit and Christ you experienced, though they are the same, they are different.
The only mistake that the devil is doing is to try to stop us from preaching something that we saw and heard. It’s very difficult to silence a person who has tentative evidence of what he or she saw. The apostles had an opportunity to travel with Jesus for three years and saw that Jesus was not an ordinary person. They saw that he had a wonderful transformative power, whoever met him was transformed.
Peter himself was just a fisherman, but when Jesus came to the place where they spent the whole night without catching any fish, there he performed a nature miracle and the catch was supernatural. Upon realizing this, Peter saw that he was a sinner as evidenced by the utterance, ‘depart from me O Lord, for l am a sinful men. Remember, Peter was also taken up the mountain of transfiguration together with James and John (the sons of the inner circle).
While they were up on the mountain, Moses and Elijah appeared to them and the cloud overshadowed them. They spoke about Jesus’ departure which he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter suggested that three booths should be made, one for Moses, another for Elijah and then one for Jesus.
This experience was not an ordinary one. Later on after the ascension of Jesus, they were being persecuted by the Sanhedrin for preaching in the name of Jesus. They dared preach Christ even when their lives were under a threat of death. For them, there was no going back because they saw everything Christ did.
Brothers and sisters, we have different testimonies that we can give about what Jesus has done in our lives. Having gone through such an experience with God, the devil now wants us to abandon this and live without Christ. This you should know brethren that the devil comes to steal kill and destroy. Remember that Sanballat and Tobiah invited Nehemiah to the plain of Ono when he was busy doing a good job to attempt to divert his good work. Don’t succumb or give in to any pressure that comes from the devil. He is a liar and a frustrated loser because the war was won at Calvary. The devil is fighting a losing battle. We keep on fixing our eyes on Christ for he is the author and perfector of our faith.
“Heavenly Father let it please you for me to have a transfiguring experience with Christ in my generation. I want to testify the Christ I have heard and seen. I pray this in Jesus Christ Name Amen.”
Do we still face persecution in our days for witnessing about Christ? Do we soldier on or we give up witnessing when persecuted? Is the persecution coming from outside only or also from within?
DAY 21 THEME: SEEK THE FACE OF GOD.
READING: 2 Kings 20:1-5
King Hezekiah received the word of GOD saying that he had to put his house in order since he was about to die. The Bible says he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, (2 Kings 20:2).
When faced with problems, our generation turns to Facebook walls, that’s where we post our problems for everyone to read and know what is going on in our life. When others are faced with problems, they run to change their Whatsapp status in order to inform everyone what they are going through. Others run to twitter, others rush to tell their friends.
I am not saying these social media pages are bad. NO! I am asking if it is the right thing for us to display our challenges on these pages. You are likely to get answers from people of different faith and even from those who do not believe in God.
How about we take a lesson from King Hezekiah. When he was faced with a problem, he didn’t go around seeking attention from places which couldn’t help him but he turned his face to the wall and prayed unto the LORD and He was answered there and then. He knew that God is our answer in times of trouble.
Our hope is not on Facebook, Whatsapp or any other website. Our help doesn’t come from people, because sometimes we are faced with problems which men cannot solve. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. Jesus is a friend to those without friends. He is a shelter to the homeless, father to the fatherless, healer to the sick, deliverer to those in bondage, and the answer to those with questions of life.
The time and energy which is used up in posting problems on the internet or telling people must be used to tell GOD in prayer. Take it to God in prayer knowing that there is no prayer that shall go in vain.
Psalms 121:1-2 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” Teach me Lord to commit to you any yoke of my life in Jesus Christ Name Amen.”
Cast all your burdens unto Jesus for He cares for you. How do we cast our burdens unto the Lord? Discuss the integrity of posting our problems on social media.
DAY 22 THEME: MARY’S MODEL OF GIVING.
READING: JOHN 12:1-11
Giving was seen by God as the only way to reconcile humanity to Himself. He gave His only begotten Son to the world as a way to win back the lost family which gave up dominion in the Garden of Eden. The Christian family is a product of God’s giving. He loved and therefore He gave. We meet Jesus at a public meal at Bethany in the house of Martha and Mary. Mary anointed Jesus with very expensive oil and not all in the house were pleased. Mary’s action represents a model of service for Jesus in every generation. What was the secret for such giving?
a) The giving was a result of a humble Spirit. Mary is mentioned in the Bible 3 times at Jesus’ feet. Luke 10v39: She sat at the Lord’s feet listening. John 11v32 she is at Jesus’ feet indicating her dependence. In the text we read she is at Jesus’ feet to express her devotion. No one will truly serve God without a humble spirit. No matter how privileged we are, we must remain humble.
b) The giving was a result of a perceptive heart. She anointed the lord for burial. How did she know that this act was burial preparation? She was a woman of the Word. The secret of Mary’s insight is that she always sat at Jesus feet listening to His Word. The path to the heart of Jesus is that we spend time listening to His Word, we begin to attune with Jesus’ mind and discern how, where and in what ways we can serve Him. In our busy schedules, we must find time to listen to God’s word. True and genuine givers are those who have God’s Word in their hearts.
c) The giving was a timely act. It was intended that the perfume be kept for this moment. Had she kept it for another time, the opportunity would have passed. There are those women on resurrection Sunday, who went to the grave by tradition to anoint Jesus but found an empty grave. Giving demands a shift from tradition to revelation. Life is full of uncertainties; we do not know what will happen to us tomorrow. As we have an opportunity, let us do good. We must work while it is day, when night comes no one will work. Giving is an opportunity to worship God.
d) The giving was sharply criticized. While Jesus may approve us, others may not. Opposition is always from those who follow this present world, and to them, Christian work and ministry seem a sheer waste. Opposition may arise but we need fortitude in serving Jesus.
e) The giving was extravagant. She gave it away; poured it out for her Master. Love is not love until you give it away. In the service of Jesus there is indeed a time to keep and a time to throw away for the glory and honour of him who is worthy of our love and devotion. True giving is when you feel the pain that this gift is going.
f) The giving was fruitful because the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Even those who criticized were blessed with the fragrance. Sincere service to Jesus and God’s people has capacity to touch and bless lives, even the lives of those who criticize, no matter how much opposed.
Every generation will remember this woman. Giving is an opportunity to leave a legacy and to be remembered. It was a tradition to anoint dead bodies. No one in history ever complained when oil was poured on the dead. They only complained when it was poured on the living. Philippians 1v21 ‘Life is Christ and death is gain. Where there is no Christ there is death.’ When we give to dead situations, we are happy, but when we give to the living we are criticized. We give to traditional ceremonies of the dead, to a small house, and these are examples of dead situations because they do not have Christ and we are not criticized. The moment we give to Christ, criticism starts. Let nothing move you as you busy yourselves in the Lord’s work. In due season you shall reap a harvest.
“Heavenly Father, you set an example of what it means to give. You gave your only Son. Help me develop a lifestyle of giving in Jesus Christ Name Amen.”
Are you happy with your own giving and that of your society. What are the challenges involved in Christian giving? And what do you think should be done?
DAY 23 THEME: IN THE FULNESS OF TIME.
READING: MATTHEW 2:1-10
When the eternal Lord stepped out into time, God’s time reached its fullness. It happened at a very particular point in history and at a very specific place. There is something final and complete regarding Christ’s incarnation and from that moment on, the world has never been the same, because it was confronted with holiness and righteousness in its purest form. Man now not only perceived his deepest humiliation, but also the dazzling heights which he could reach when inspired by Jesus Christ. One of the outstanding results of the incarnation of Jesus is that a holy, sanctified life can now be a practical reality for the ordinary person. In every generation we find pious people who shut themselves off from the hurly-burly of everyday life so as to dedicate themselves to meditate on spiritual truths. Undoubtedly they enriched society and made wonderful contributions to life through the ages. But, the Carpenter of Nazareth lived a life that was totally submitted and dedicated to God, amongst the people and under the most humble circumstances. Every time that you consciously draw near to God and enter into his presence, you will be able to overcome even the most stubborn problems, triumph over temptations and live the mundane everyday life with dignity and courage. When Christ enters your world, an unbelievable change occurs in your situation. Your life can never be the same again because in your life God’s fullness of time has also become a reality and the Child of Bethlehem is born triumphantly into your life.
“Heavenly Father teach me to accept my failures and realize that it is possible to live a righteous life on earth and pursue holiness all the days of my life.”
Why are some people called holier than thou? Is it a good description? What is the difference between Righteousness and Holiness?
DAY 24 THEME: PRAYER: RESPIRATION OF THE SOUL.
READING: PSALM 102:1-5
Most Christians regret the fact that they don’t spend more time in prayer and yet the early church was a praying church. They are intensely aware of the impoverished state of their devotions and yet, when they seriously try to improve on that, they find their thoughts wandering, their spirit restless and few of their lofty intentions realized. However, prayer is the most natural need of the human spirit.
In the depths of your being is a desire which is not to be understood if God is left out of it. When you meditate on the purpose and mystery of life you can never find a meaningful answer without God. Prayer is the heartbeat of the soul. You may probably not understand anything about the various theological schools of prayer, but every time you think of God, you feel a deep desire inside, which you cannot explain or describe. That however, is your searching mind and hungry heart, reaching out to God in the most elementary form of prayer.
Though prescribed prayers and orthodox methods of prayer may help you enter into God’s presence, it is the cry of distress from a broken and contrite spirit, often expressed in confusion and despair that reaches and moves the heart of God. Every time you call on the Name of the Lord, He is already waiting to meet you. Every time your thoughts focus on Him, you are praying. Therefore, don’t despair or become despondent if your prayers seem to be insufficient and ineffective. Every thought about God is a prayer that unites you with a compassionate Father Who wants to give you life. And, in this life Christ is the source, and prayer the breathing.
Make it simple and not theologically complicated. Start with praise and worship followed by Confession prayer and then bind every eavesdropping and monitoring spirit. Go back to praise and worship then confess Christ as your personal Saviour. Do prayer of surrender and commitment followed by your prayer points. Worship again and close by a prayer of Thanksgiving.
“O Holy Spirit of God, I don’t always know how or what I should pray. I praise You for conveying my unspoken prayers to the Father. May you please pour upon me the urge to pray without ceasing.”
Do you feel that you and your church are praying enough? What are hindrances to prayer?
DAY 25 THEME: TRUE PIETY (HOLINESS/GODLINESS)
READING: PSALM 44: 18-27
Many people have the wrong idea that holiness or piety is something unattainable to the ordinary human being. To them it refers to a life-style which is wrapped in the cotton wool of dignity, making the pious person totally useless in modern society. Therefore, to be called pious, is not really regarded as being complimentary. The popular connotation of piety is one of long winded, tedious prayers; strict discipline that is forced on you to prepare you for heaven – While all the time you are of no earthly use!
However, for a Christian to obtain piety, involves much more than strict obedience to rigid codes and religious laws that are applicable only to those who have the time and desire to apply them. To be truly pious, means to open up your life to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to fully and freely express Himself through your life. It involves asking the life-giving Christ to come into your life and to take full control. When you become conscious of his indwelling presence, you start experiencing a feeling of tremendous liberty and relief. While you confess your sins, He grants you freedom and a new appreciation of the real essence of life.
Real piety necessitates total commitment to the will of God. This again means total dedication of spirit, soul and body in obedience to Christ. Pure piety can only be experienced if you have the assurance that God has forgiven all your past sins and that you are serving Him with a pure heart, guided by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Then piety becomes your most precious possession – without your being conscious of. The challenge with our generation is that we live in sin and have no appetite for coming out of it. When others testify of their pious life we begin name calling as we think all people are like us. Instead of wanting to know how they do it, we rather persecute them. Righteousness and Holiness are at the periphery of our generation.
“Holy God, please grant me the faith that will make my piety true and real. I know deep in my Spirit that it is possible to live a holy pious life in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Write down a few traits which you think characterize a pious life. Why is it difficult for our generation to live a pious life and a holy life?
DAY 26 THEME: THE MASTER POTTER.
READING: JOHN 21:15-22.
It will be worthwhile to meditate today on the marvellous way in which the Lord, with his artist’s hands, changed the life of Peter! Initially Peter was outwardly a great success. He was well-built, had sound knowledge of the sea and fishing and had great influence amongst the fishermen of Capernaum. But, in the school of the Master he had to learn that inner strength was of greater importance than physical power; that, if you failed inside, no physical strength could help you. Peter also had to learn that the knowledge which he thought he had was restricted to one area only and that he could not fix his own broken life in the same way that he fixed the torn fishing nets. Only the great Artist of Life could mend his life. His leadership qualities and intense pride had to be changed and utilized to make him a servant, washing the feet of others. Where he used to be an influential leader, he had to become a dedicated follower. Like a stud horse he had to be broken in. It is true that despite his great physical strength, Peter was actually a man of great inner weakness. When Christ mentioned pain, suffering and death, Peter recoiled. After the miraculous catch of fish he becomes conscious of his sinfulness and begs the Lord to go away from him. Later, when he wants to walk on the water, his faith forsakes him and the Lord has to save him. Then at the gate of Gethsemane he flees along with the other disciples and to crown it all, he denies Jesus with a curse.
Therefore, take courage, poor sinner! God anticipated great possibilities for Peter. After confessing his love for the Lord Jesus, he receives the command: “Follow Me!” Hesitantly, but obediently, he starts walking the path of true discipleship. Peter obeyed his marching orders, fulfilling God’s purpose for his life. But what about you and me? The bible says, let the weak say, “I am strong”. Our strength is found in Jesus Christ. Let us come as we are and our Lord will transform us into true disciples, dedicated to the work of the cross of Calvary.
“Thank You, gracious Lord, that You are holding my hand. I will follow willingly and prayerfully through the guidance of your Holy Spirit. I commit myself to serving you the rest of my life in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Are you resisting the work of the Master Potter in your life? What assignments and responsibilities do you have in the life of the Church? Do you feel it in your Spirit that you are serving God whole heartedly?
DAY 27 THEME: GROWTH THROUGH PAIN.
READING: ZACHARIAH 13:1-9.
The same fire that consumes coal also refines gold. Both are minerals from the earth, but gold has certain qualities that are not to be found in coal and this is what makes gold more precious than coal. Also people who have to go through the fiery furnace of testing differ from one another. Those who trust steadfastly and unconditionally in the Lord are refined and strengthened. They receive grace to accept and handle the high demands that are made on their emotional life. Those people, however, who do not trust God, are consumed with bitterness and rebellion. Believers, who manage to go through God’s fire with dignity, are strengthened by the testing they go through; their characters are moulded according to the will of God and eventually they experience victory. The doubters on the other hand, experience confusion and depression and are headed for total destruction. Testing from God will never harm us, provided we don’t become callous, bitter or sceptical. Your reaction towards the tragedies and trials that you encounter is vitally important. There are those who blame God and then turn away from Him. Then there are those who draw closer to God so as to receive and utilize the full measure of his comfort and grace.
When we start shooting arrows of anger, frustration and bitterness at God, we are only wounding our own hearts. When we strive in prayer, to receive his love, the pain is relieved, the wounds heal and we cultivate the virtues of joy and acceptance. Then gold starts pouring from the fiery furnace. For those who love God and trust Him, these times of trials and testing are times of purification and growth in which spiritual maturity is attained. We should count it joy as we go through temptations and testing for at the end, a golden character is moulded in us. Most of the trials and temptations are within the Body of Christ. Joseph was not strengthened by outsiders but by his own blood brothers.
“May the testing that I go through draw me closer to You, O Heavenly Smelter, so that I can reflect the image of Christ in my life. Create in me the resilience needed to go through my furnace knowing very much that I am Gold in the making in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Try to recognize opportunities for growth in the pain of trials and testing. Why do Christians complain when they go through the furnace of life? Give a testimony when your furnace of life produced a golden character in you.
DAY 28 THEME: THE BLESSING OF A GRATEFUL HEART.
This world is teeming with people who complain incessantly. Sometimes their complaints are valid but often those complaints are born of a spirit of discontentment. The danger of constant complaining is that it can become a lifestyle. Eventually you forget the fact that there are more things to be grateful for than to complain about.
If you are presently complaining more often than expressing gratitude, you are living an inferior quality of life. It is impossible to have a grateful heart without also possessing an appreciative spirit. Such a spirit makes getting along with others easier and more rewarding; it deepens your understanding of life and makes those who live and work with you happier as well. Never let a day go by without consciously expressing your gratitude. Open your eyes to that which is beautiful around you and praise God for what you see or experience. Such an attitude not only enriches your life but also adds joy and satisfaction. It also places God’s treasures at your disposal because praise and thanksgiving are the keys to God’s storehouse of treasures.
It is very difficult, yes, almost impossible to find someone who rejoices in God in constant praise and thanksgiving and suffers from depression at the same time. Human experience has proved over and over again that when you start thanking God for his gifts of grace, He is already planning the next blessing for you. If you concentrate on practicing the art of praise and thanksgiving, you have discovered the secret of a creative, inspired life.
People who are happy tend to live longer than those who are always unhappy and complaining. Paul says in Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord, I say again Rejoice”. The Lord will never disappoint you. Have your joy in Him than in temporary things which will definitely disappoint you.
“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inner most being, praise his holy Name. Holy Spirit help me to be happy in good seasons as well as in bad seasons in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Engage in active thanksgiving and praise to the Lord today instead of moaning and groaning. What blessings are you grateful for? What has the Lord done in your life that you have not appreciated Him for and why is it difficult for people to be grateful?
DAY 29 THEME: SHOW LOVE – NOT RESENTMENT.
READING: 1 PETER 3:1-12.
If someone causes you hurt or suffering, the natural human reaction is to take revenge. One of the most difficult demands Christianity makes on you is to forgive and forget. It is human nature to nurse a grievance or harbour revenge until it breeds total enmity or, at the least, leads to broken relationships. In many instances it also creates warped personalities. While you hurt because of an injustice done to you, suffering undeserved pain, it is not easy to turn the other cheek. Your natural reaction is self-protection and self-preservation.
Forgiveness is something that never even enters your mind when you bear a grudge or try to protect yourself from being hurt again by someone who has insensitively wronged you. The outcome of such an attitude is a drawn-out feud while the relationship between the two people deteriorates gradually.
To obey the command of Christ Jesus and to forgive, is never an easy task. But, if the love of God can be discerned in your life, it is always possible. If you think that it is too much to ask of you, consider for a moment the wonderful blessings you experience because of Jesus’ forgiveness towards you. His love for you was so great that He took your place on the cross – in spite of your recurrent transgressions. In the light of all this, you dare not refuse to forgive others. If you refuse to forgive others, you are burning the very bridge that you have to cross to receive deliverance.
Make it a point that from now going forward you will let go all your hurts and that forgiveness becomes your lifestyle. Someone once said that when you forgive, you free yourself from imprisonment because not forgiving hurts you more than it hurts the perpetrator of a wrong.
“O Holy Spirit of God, please help me to forgive and forget so that I free my soul. I know that hatred begets hatred and from now on I opt to love than to hate in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Is it possible to forgive and forget? What then is the meaning of forgiving and forgetting? Why do we consider the magnitude of a wrong more than the call to forgive? What do we benefit when we do not forgive?
DAY 30 THEME: THE REVELATION OF GOD’S LOVE.
READING: MATTHEW 12: 38-42.
Many people are sceptical towards the Christian faith. If a dying person is not healed immediately and miraculously, the very existence of God is questioned. God is blamed for wars, droughts and famine. He is held responsible for tragic disasters at sea, on land and in the air. Often we hear people scornfully ask: “Why didn’t God prevent that?” To be convinced of God’s character of genuine love and concern, these people demand visible and dramatic proof. They want to see a crooked arm go straight, the crippled person must walk, the blind man’s sight must be restored – and then they will believe. It does not mean that God cannot do this, but our scepticism is our greatest downfall.
The whole world around us is a constant witness of God’s power to work miracles. If it had not been for God’s love and omnipotence, we would not have experienced the regular succession of the seasons each with its own charm and beauty. Without God there would have been no trees, flowers, rain, sunshine or any of the beauty of nature. Just read the history of mankind and you will perceive God’s grace and power. He is the one who bestowed upon man the gifts of knowledge and art. He is God who gives you the faith that carries you through times of testing and trials. He gives inner healing to assist you in times of sorrow. He gives tolerance, patience, understanding and love. But, much, much more than all this, He gave you the greatest Gift which is Jesus Christ (see 2Corinthians 9:15). His love became visibly concrete in his Son, our Saviour and Redeemer – Jesus Christ. What greater sign of a miracle could man have asked for from God? At one point in the Bible the Jews asked for a sign from Jesus so that they could believe in Him and Jesus refused to give them a sign. His argument was that there was already a sign of Jonah of Nineveh who was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. If we fail to believe the signs that are already in our midst then there is no other sign we can believe.
“Heavenly Father, your love is a miracle for you loved the world so much that you gave your only Son. You loved a wicked world and died for us while we were still sinners. Teach me agape kind of love in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Look back upon your life and see the hand of God in it. Count your blessings and you will be surprised that they outnumber the challenges.
DAY 31 THEME: GOD REMAINS FAITHFUL.
READING: ROMANS 3:1-8.
Let us end off this month with the wonderful and comforting truth: God remains faithful because He is a faithful God. His faithfulness has nothing to do with our attitude towards Him but is based on His nature and attributes. He remains faithful to His promises and assurances. The ball is in our hands to remain in a right relationship with Him or not. When we falter He waits patiently for our come back. If you trusted someone and they disappointed you, you feel deeply hurt and disillusioned. Probably you will then also declare publicly that you will never trust anybody again. At the time you mean every word, but you can very seldom persist in this, because our whole life is based on trust. Your family life, friendships, business associations and social relations, yes, even politics require an element of trust. Without trust the whole of society would fall apart. Because man’s nature is so fragile and unreliable, disappointment is a common phenomenon in people. This untrustworthiness is not always intentional, and sometimes it is unavoidable, but because of our imperfect and sinful nature, it is something we have to accept. The only unchangeable one in a changing world is God! He is the same forever. His promises, as related in the Scripture are certain and unfailing. People have been confirming his faithfulness since time immemorial. Even though He did not always act according to their plans and desires, He did prove in his own, unique way that He is faithful and true. He brings his plans to pass in the lives of those who trust Him unconditionally.
Therefore, what God expects from you is your unqualified trust. When clouds of doubt and sorrow threaten and when it seems as if everybody has disappointed you, then hold on tightly to God’s trustworthiness. The clouds will disappear and you will be able to rejoice in God’s faithfulness once more.
I declare in Jesus Christ Name that those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion which can never be shaken. They shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
“My Lord and my God, I may not always understand everything, but I trust You unconditionally in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Write down a few examples of God’s faithfulness towards you and those in the Bible. Enter into thanksgiving prayers and finish the month with praise and worship. You can try as well an all-night prayer with your family.
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