Hillside Methodist Church Covenant Month Daily Services
We come to day 6 of the Covenant month. Let us pray.
Thank you, Lord, for Your word to us. Thank you that it gives understanding to our situation, growth in our lives, brings us closer to You and strengthens us to live the life You have chosen for us. Amen.
Every time I think of you, I thank my God. And whenever I mention you in my prayers, it makes me happy. This is because you have taken part with me in spreading the good news from the first day you heard about it. God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:3 -6.
Those of you who know this letter to the church at Philippi will probably heard it being described by one word and that word is “joy”.
In Paul’s own personal physical circumstances we would probably say that there was not much reason for joy. He was in prison and did not know from one hour to the next if he would be alive to see either the end of the day or perhaps the next day. As a man used to an active life with a wide–ranging ministry on two continents, a large group of friends, a travelling man used to adventures and challenges he was literally locked down and he had no power to change those circumstances. But in vs 4 he speaks of praying with joy. Why is this?
It would seems that he does this for two reasons
1 In vs 5 he speaks of remembering the partnership of the Philippian Church with him. It began when they received the gospel for themselves when the church was established and the partnership is continuing.
2 In vs 6 he speaks of the certainty that the good work begun IN them will be brought to completion – will be finished, on the day of Jesus Christ’s return. Who will bring it to completion. Jesus Himself will do this.
Let me make a few remarks on these points. The spreading of the gospel is always a partnership. If nothing else then it is a partnership between an individual and God but the partnership is far more wide ranging than that because even if it is unseen there is a vast network of supporters praying,
organising financial support for the work, doing the physical work, being there as a presence. The Philippian church took their responsibility towards Paul seriously and supported him because they believed in the importance of the work in which Paul was engaged – the spreading of the gospel.
And they continued to support him even in his lock down status and they were right to do so, they did not withdraw their financial and prayerful support of him even sending Epaphroditus to Paul to be an encouragement to Paul. You see the Philippian church realised that Paul’s lock down would
still be a fruitful time for the gospel and we know that palace guard were saved through Paul’s ministry and at least four letters to the churches which we read to day were written from prison.
But what is the good work begun by Jesus Christ IN the Philippian believers? It is of course salvation. Jesus Christ has saved each one and at the point of accepting the good news each one was “saved” but Paul speaks later in this letter that we need to keep on working out our salvation and in vs 6 this
is what Paul is alluding to. There is a sense that we work through what our salvation means – we do not work for our salvation – we work with Christ, asking Him to show us what He wants us to do and working in obedience to what He has shown us. And as this work, which has been begun, continues
we are assured that it will be made perfect and it will be completed in the day of Jesus Christ.
We cannot sit back in the work of the proclamation of the gospel – we cannot sit down and say “in my personal circumstances I can do nothing” – there is the support in any way possible of those who can – our prayers release the resources that those who proclaim the gospel need, any financial support enables the worker to go out to do the work. Maybe the worker needs you to take him/her to the place of ministry or just be there as a physical encouraging presence. We are in a partnership – may we not be found to be lacking in our part of the partnership and may we joyfully obey what
the Lord is telling us to do so that we can be assured of perfect completion of the work Jesus has started in us. How sad and tragic for us if that day comes and the Lord reveals to us what we have missed out on because we were too timid, too scared, too selfish or too lazy to do our part in this partnership. Can it be said of you what Paul said of the Philippians “ I am assured of this”? And will you be remembered with joy?
As we end this message please take a few minutes to pray about your partnership with Christ in the furtherance of the gospel.
Jesus Is the Good Shepherd
Reading John 10 v11 “I am the good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
I am Angela Mary Penduka leading day eight of the covenant month. I greet you all in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray. Holy God we come before the throne of grace as we continue to rededicate ourselves to you by renewing our covenant with you. You are the good shepherd tend us throughout the year. May we not stray away. May we be still and hear you speak to us through these messages. Amen
I am the good shepherd. Jesus said this to an audience which was very familiar with looking after their flock, the value of the flock and the dangers the flock is exposed to. Apparently there were some hired shepherds who did not have that love and concern for the flock.
Jesus says he is the good shepherd note, not just any ordinary shepherd but THE shepherd Ezekiel 34 v23. The shepherd who lays his life for the sheep.
Why do sheep need a good shepherd?
Why does the Bible refer to God’s people as sheep?
We need to understand the characteristics of sheep to grasp the above.
Having had the opportunity to tend to animals I am very familiar with the behaviour of sheep. As I was looking after my grandfather’s flock we were instructed to ensure the sheep do not stray to the railway line and the main Gwanda road because sheep:
Have no sense of danger. Like sheep humanity can easily wander away from God or all that is holy “All like sheep have gone astray”.
Sheep can hardly defend themselves. We were instructed not to let them into the thick forest for they have no defence system no claws no sharp teeth no brawl. We likewise cannot defend self against the evil one. We need the good shepherd to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Sheep cannot wake up on their own if they fall on their back .How many times are we down cast. When we go to him in prayer & remember where our help comes from he lifts us up back to our feet. If we stumble, stray and wander away from Him we will remain down cast
Sheep need the shepherd to lead them to clean still waters, if not they would settle for less for the dirty puddles .Without the good shepherd we would be fed rubbish by the evil one and his angels.
The sheep of Philistine only listened to their shepherd voice. We need to be still listen to what the Lord is saying to us as we start the New Year. What direction does he want us to take? We should not be too busy to hear Him talk to us.
Sheep move in groups lets fellowship even under lock down a message a call to the lonely under lock down would uplift them
Sheep are not meant to carry any burdens like other animals do .As the flock take all your burdens to Him. Your health issues, your worries, your losses and all take THEM TO THE Lord in prayer.
During Jesus time sheep were of high value a precious possession to the owner. Provided wool, milk offspring and meat. We are more precious than that, bought of the blood of the shepherd. We should not look down on our selves produce offspring for the shepherd that is bring the lost to the Lord.
When other animals are wounded they lick the wound; sheep cannot take care of themselves .They Need the shepherd to clean bandage the wound and carry them to safety. Christ the good shepherd heals the broken hearted.
As we start the new year renewing the covenant let us take a deliberate move to listen to the still voice. Watch out not to stray in these challenging conditions. Let’s not forget he leads us to green pastures when we are down cast he lifts us up. We may feel defenceless, helpless as we face poverty, oppression and disease, but remember there is the living God our fortress. In Shona we would say “Mumwe aripo kumsoro anotida” Don’t settle for less you are valuable .Why carry burdens when they were lifted at Calvary. Jesus is the good shepherd he loves us he seeks that lost sheep and brings it to the Father.
Now may the Lord guide all your paths keep you in his ways of holiness and strengthen you in His service and may His peace be upon you now and always.