[Click or tap on a Day number below to jump down to the lesson for that Day.]
This piece of work came out as result of immense sacrifices made by people called Methodists to ensure that the mission of Christ is accomplished. Mission is not unprecedented yet every effort remains new. For times immemorial, the Methodists have observed the mission month with the sole aim of equipping believers with necessary hope and courage to navigate difficult terrains. With this masterpiece we hope and trust that God is going to help the facilitators, teachers and preachers; clergy and lay, to demystify the novel corona virus and give assurance to people that “Our help comes from God.”
The purpose of this masterpiece is to help believers understand that God has not abandoned us regardless of the challenges we are facing today. This booklet is intended to be a handbook of doing God’s mission in the midst of a pandemic not just for the month of July but throughout the journey. This booklet is not intended to be some work of fiction but a spiritual guide to assist the reader with some theological insights during difficult times.
When reading this book, I suggest you read it prayerfully and have time to meditate after reading it.
For this work to be what it is, I acknowledge the effort made by Rev O Masawi in writing the booklet and thank the contributions made by the Methodist church in Zimbabwe at large and in particular the Presiding Bishop Revd G.T. Mawire, General Secretary Revd Dr. M. Mujinga, and the Connexional Evangelism Coordinator Revd D. Maturi. The work done by our Research and Publications coordinator Revd J. Paradza, and Mrs Chihanga in editing and proof reading it cannot go unmentioned.
Rev B. Chinhara
DAY 1: REDEFINING MISSION
READING : JOHN 14 V 12: I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father.
The mission of the church is, in reality, a continuation of Christ’s earthly ministry (John 14v12). According to Jesus, redeeming men’s souls was His whole purpose for coming to the earth. He said, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matt. 18v11). And in turn, He imparted this same objective to His disciples. He said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4v19).
The Apostle Paul later confirmed that the ministry of bringing people to God had been imparted to all those who had been brought to Him (the church). He wrote, “God… has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5v18). It is the purpose of every believer, not only pastors and clergymen, to bring souls to Jesus Christ.
Our duty is not to create followers for ourselves. Observe your devotion to Christ and seek to bring more followers to him.
➢ Do you think we are yet to witness more miracles than what Christ did?
➢ What do you think are the challenges surrounding the fulfilment of this prophecy?
➢ What methods do you think we can use as a church in order to be effective in soul winning?
DAY 2: MISSION AND THE WILL OF GOD
JOHN 6 V 38 I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.
We are created differently and each one of us carries gifts and talents instilled by God upon creation for the divine mission. This means we don’t live for ourselves but for God, that is, to do his will as Christ says in the text. Christ came into the world, not to do his will but God’s. He was tempted and rejected; he underwent pain but did not lose focus or start pursuing things of personal gain and pride.
Given this, we as Christians should understand that the church is not a place for exercising personal wills against God’s will.
The question that comes is how to fulfil God’s will in the midst of the will of our friends’ relatives and even those in authority. The mission of God can only succeed if we, as its agents, seek to do God’s will over that of our relatives, friends or ourselves. This means that unfettered obedience to God is a requirement. Despite the pressure he had from the Jews to obey their laws and their will, Jesus humbled himself and was obedient to God even unto death (Philippians 2v8)
REFLECTION…Whose will are you doing? Are people in church today respecting the will of God? is it easy to follow God’s will? What challenges do we usually face in doing God’s will?
DAY 3: MISSION AND THE MASTER.
READINGS : 2 KINGS 6 V 1—7: 1 One day the prophets said to Elisha, “The place where we meet with you is too small. 2 Why don’t we build a new meeting place near the Jordan River? Each of us could get some wood, then we could build it.” “That’s a good idea,” Elisha replied, “get started.” 3 “Aren’t you going with us?” one of the prophets asked. “Yes, I’ll go,” Elisha answered, 4 and he left with them. They went to the Jordan River and began chopping down trees. 5 While one of the prophets was working, his axe head fell off and dropped into the water. “Oh!” he shouted. “Sir, I borrowed this axe.” 6 “Where did it fall in?” Elisha asked. The prophet pointed to the place, and Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. The axe head floated to the top of the water. 7 “Now get it,” Elisha told him. And the prophet reached in and grabbed it. (CEV); LUKE 5 V 5: “Master,” Simon answered, “we have worked hard all night long and have not caught a thing. But if you tell me to, I will let the nets down.” (CEV)
In today’s texts we see the sons of the prophet faced with an accommodation problem, hence they decided to move on and build a bigger place in Jordan. Brothers and Sisters, there are times when we are challenged socially, economically and even politically. For some years we have been experiencing challenges of unemployment, starvation and acute medical facility shortages.
In trying to solve the above mentioned challenges, some of us have moved on to other places, locally and abroad, just like the sons of the prophet did. In the story, one of the servants’ axe fell into the river and Elisha helped to have it float and be recovered. The story teaches us not to walk alone leaving the master behind as we can never make it alone. We might have great evangelism or business ideas but when all is sinking, we need the master to have them afloat.
It is no secret that the weight of a metal axe head will definitely make it sink to the bottom of the river bed, and according to the gravitational laws of nature, the metal axe head cannot float above water. There is a time when, according to laws of nature, it is not possible to make it out of the woods, but with our Master Jesus Christ, we are rest assured that the impossibilities become possibilities.
In Luke Peter says “Master we have toiled all night and, took nothing, but at your word I will let down the nets.” We can never make it alone but if God our Master is with us, our mission gets accomplished. May we always seek to be in his presence.
DISCUSSION…Have you ever embarked on a mission without Christ? What were the dangers on the mission?
DAY 4: LIFE RESTORATION THE MISSION OF CHRIST.
READING : JOHN 10 v 1-10: Jesus said: I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. 2-3 But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd’s voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out. 4 When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. 5 The sheep will not follow strangers. They don’t recognize a stranger’s voice, and they run away. 6 Jesus told the people this story. But they did not understand what he was talking about.
7 Jesus said: I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. 8 Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. 9 I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. (CEV).
Today’s text, among other texts, clearly characterizes Christ’s mission as well as our relationship with him. We are the sheep and he is the Shepherd who came to give us abundant life. We, as the flock, should not listen to the robbers and thieves who seek to destroy but to Christ who seeks to restore life.
As inferred in the text, Jesus had a mission to restore life through the gospel. Life restoration includes the art and science of healing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Jesus’ plan to heal the world is revealed to us in the book of John chapter 10 vs.10 where it is said, “the thief comes to steal kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” The devil is bent on destroying every source of happiness in our lives; Jesus is bent on giving us life and multiplies our happiness in this world and for eternity.
When we wait on the lord, we will mount like an eagle flying without getting weary. The devil came to discourage us but Christ came to encourage us. The devil wants to tear us apart but Christ is forever building us up. Whereas the devil is bent on bringing sickness to the world, Christ is always washing away pandemics; Jesus wants us to be healthy. In the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic, we are all being encouraged to stay put and be alert because during such times of trouble, fake prophets and prophets of doom will emerge. Do not be swayed by them. Jesus predicted such pestilences towards the end of the world in Matthew 24, so never fear these things. The mission of God will continue to flow like a flooded river and nothing shall stop it.
DISCUSSION…..How can we as the flock withstand and stay safe from the thieves and robbers who have invaded the pastoral space?
DAY 5: CHRIST’S GREATEST LOVE.
READING : JOHN 15 V 3: You are already clean because of what I have said to you. (CEV).
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Christ’s love connects us with God as it should connect us with one another, therefore we should love one another, putting away all strife and jealous. There is no harm in congratulating a brother or sister for an achievement, for love is demonstrated more in wishing others well and counting them as equally deserving of life’s opportunities.
God proved this when he gave his only Begotten son to the world so that the people may have eternal life. The reason why God gave his son was not for God’s benefit but for humanity’s benefit. Sisters and brothers, love seeks for no benefits but sacrifices for the sake of others, just as Christ sacrificed his life for our sake. Can we love one another to the extent of sacrificing our resources for the benefit of others? What manner of love is this?
Our readings today encourage us to transform our attitude towards others. The lesson demands more than works, for true love goes beyond human imagination and comprehension, and the bond it creates is stronger than death itself. Christ saw it fit to die for us than to let us perish in sin and darkness
➢ Do you think true love is possible among us so that we fight the spirit jealousy and cultivate one of love?
➢ How can we fight jealous and strife among us?
➢ Is it easy to be empty in order for others to be full?
DAY 6: MISSION MEANS TO BE SUBSERVIENT.
READING: MARK 10 V 45: The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people. (CEV); JOHN 13 v 1-17 1 It was before Passover, and Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and to return to the Father. He had always loved his followers in this world, and he loved them to the very end. 2 Even before the evening meal started, the devil had made Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, decide to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that he had come from God and would go back to God. He also knew that the Father had given him complete power. 4 So during the meal Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 He put some water into a large bowl. Then he began washing his disciples’ feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing.
6 But when he came to Simon Peter, that disciple asked, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You don’t really know what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “You will never wash my feet!” Peter replied.
“If I don’t wash you,” Jesus told him, “you don’t really belong to me.” 9 Peter said, “Lord, don’t wash just my feet. Wash my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus answered, “People who have bathed and are clean all over need to wash just their feet. And you, my disciples, are clean, except for one of you.” 11 Jesus knew who would betray him. That is why he said, “except for one of you.”
12 After Jesus had washed his disciples’ feet and had put his outer garment back on, he sat down again. Then he said: Do you understand what I have done? 13 You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. 14 And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. 15 I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. 16 I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. 17 You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them. (CEV); 1 CORINTHIANS 9 v 26-27: 26 I don’t run without a goal. And I don’t box by beating my fists in the air. 27 I keep my body under control and make it my slave, so I won’t lose out after telling the good news to others. (CEV).
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
This statement by Jesus is a very strong expression stating that the Slave –Saviour, as the son of man in His humanity, was a slave of God to serve sinners even by giving his life. Being a servant means serving as Christ did when He used a towel to wash the apostles’ feet, and influencing, equipping, and empowering people to accomplish God’s purpose and plan. Christ’s example prompts us to adopt the “basin and towel” attitude (John 13:1-17)
For us, being subservient also means to serve others unselfishly while influencing and empowering them to grow in a Christ-directed, purposeful direction. This was an uncommon trait in Jesus’ time, just as it is in ours. Do not let it be uncommon for you! Be a servant in the church, home, community and workplace, not as a force of personality, but because you truly love and care, just like Jesus loved us and cared enough to die a shameful death for our salvation. Many in the bible whom Jesus served came back to fall on his feet to call Him “Lord! Master! Saviour,” and some such reverent names, not because He asked them to do so, but because He had earned it through humility. You too can earn such unsolicited respect if you care to follow Jesus’ footsteps.
Today we are being encouraged to emulate Christ and continue with his mission, serving in our own way. In our communities there are people whom we always think are below the status of everyone else, people such as orphans, widows and widowers, the poor(of course by this world’s standards), and other vulnerable people in our societies. We consider them unworthy of our attention, and often bypass them and their pleas as if they were non-existent. Jesus, by his declaration that he came to serve, is teaching us a lesson in humility where, to carry forward God’s mission, we need to come down to the levels of those despised by everyone else, sit with them by the well in Samaria as Jesus did with the prostitute, dine with them like he did with Zacchaeus, and Cleopas and his friend in Emmaus, and bring them the good news like Mary Magdalene and her friends did after their visit to the empty tomb.
We need to understand and empathise with all the vulnerable people of our society like the rape victims, the convicted, the prostitutes, the drunkards and drug abusers, and some such, so that we are able to pick up the relevant towels with which to wash their feet. That done, we will be able to bring them to Christ so that through serving them in humility like Jesus served humankind in human flesh when he was God, we also are able to participate in their salvation, thus accomplishing God’s mission, unto His Glory. God help us!
➢ Have you ever served a person who was neither your friend nor your relative, or one who is looked down upon as worthless in your society? How so? What was the result?
➢ How can we as individuals and as the MCZ, render subservient service to all and sundry?
DAY 7: COVID19! OUR MISSION IS POSSIBLE.
READING : PSALMS 22 V1ff
“My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me, why art thou so far from helping me….”
These are the opening words of Psalms 22. When Jesus’ mission was under threat, he recited these words from the Psalmist. We are meeting once again during a time when mission is under threat. Due to the novel Corona virus disease, we are seeing ourselves as forsaken. However, no matter how difficult it is or how silent and bleak the future may look, we are very certain that our help comes from God.
The Psalmist went on to declare in verse 3 and 4 that even though God’s voice is not being universally acknowledged: “yet thou art holy enthroned on the praises of Israel. In thee our Fathers trusted; they trusted and thou didst deliver them.” In the praises of Israel, God’s throne was set. Sisters and Brothers, may we be encouraged so that even in the midst of challenges we praise God, for it is in the praises that his throne is found.
The beginning of Psalms 22 paints a picture of hopelessness, but the Psalmist goes on to give a renewed hope in verses 25 to31, showing that God is capable of rescuing humanity from every danger and snare. Indeed he reaches all nations of the world. Sometimes we lose focus thinking that God has forgotten us or doesn’t simply care about us. No! God is with us as He is with other prosperous nations of the world! During those very moments when we are at our lowest ebb, God never forsake us, be it as families or individuals.
REFLECTION….May God renew the spirit within me when I doubt his presence so that our troubled minds are comforted.
DAY 8: CHRIST WAS RICH BUT FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS HE BECAME POOR.
READINGS : 2 CORINTHIANS 8 V 9: You know that our Lord Jesus Christ was kind enough to give up all his riches and become poor, so that you could become rich. (CEV); DEUTERONOMY 15 V 7: “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother.”
Our lesson today seeks to encourage us to consider the needs of other people and learn to share.
Man is a social, rational and spiritual being. In order to live, he needs food, water, shelter and good health conditions in order to live and grow. Sound relationships with others (social dimension) are also important, for man cannot live in isolation. To survive and live meaningfully, a person needs to be among people who watch and motivate him/her to do better in life.
Human life always different hence some are poor whilst others are rich. Such a life gap can be defeated by sharing all that we have such as knowledge, time, talents, values, services and capacities. This springs from the belief that together we can conquer poverty, and all insufficiency and incompleteness can be defeated through sound relationships and sharing. (Acts 2 v37ff.)
Today’s text points to us the need for a caring attitude towards each other; it encourages us to shun selfishness in the understanding that we don’t need to have much so as to give, but we can give even from the little we have as a demonstration of love and care towards each other
REFLECTION…… What is your response to poverty? Do you blame the poor for being poor, or do you blame somebody for your own poverty?
DAY 9: THE TRIUMPH OF GRACE OVER THE POWER OF SIN.
READING : ROMANS 6 V 1-13: 1 What should we say? Should we keep on sinning, so that God’s wonderful kindness will show up even better? 2 No, we should not! If we are dead to sin, how can we go on sinning? 3 Don’t you know that all who share in Christ Jesus by being baptized also share in his death? 4 When we were baptized, we died and were buried with Christ. We were baptized, so that we would live a new life, as Christ was raised to life by the glory of God the Father.
5 If we shared in Jesus’ death by being baptized, we will be raised to life with him. 6 We know that the persons we used to be were nailed to the cross with Jesus. This was done, so that our sinful bodies would no longer be the slaves of sin. 7 We know that sin doesn’t have power over dead people.
8 As surely as we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. 9 We know that death no longer has any power over Christ. He died and was raised to life, never again to die. 10 When Christ died, he died for sin once and for all. But now he is alive, and he lives only for God. 11 In the same way, you must think of yourselves as dead to the power of sin. But Christ Jesus has given life to you, and you live for God.
12 Don’t let sin rule your body. After all, your body is bound to die, so don’t obey its desires 13 or let any part of it become a slave of evil. Give yourselves to God, as people who have been raised from death to life. Make every part of your body a slave that pleases God. (CEV)
The chapter shows us that it is not by might or by power that we are saved but it is by grace. The law does not and cannot conquer sin but the Grace given to followers of Christ triumphs over sin and death.
The apostle Paul starts this part of the book with a question most likely in response to a question. He is not advocating for sin. Paul’s opponents were arguing that Paul’s gospel was mistaken since, in their view, it led people to continue sinning. Paul had to show them that it was their interpretation of the gospel which was mistaken, and he argued that his gospel did not lead to sin, since those who are in Christ are dead to sin. In the difficult times that we are living in, we are all encouraged to be dead to sin and never alive to the craving of worldly things. We strongly believe as Christians that the grace of our lord Jesus Christ is forever taking care of us. Nothing should lead us back to the old ways that we already declared dead when we got saved.
This grace with amazing powers to save us from the power of sin is the same grace that can save us from the power of diseases, poverty, wars and all social evils alike. The word dead mostly symbolizes inaction while the word alive symbolizes present action. Being alive is not defined by what one did in the past but by what one is doing in the present. Let us be alive today and work for God without getting tired. The power of sin has been broken in those who believe; the tyranny, domination and rule of sin have been defeated for us as Christians. Following this is the idea that the normal life of Christians should be progressive growth in sanctification, resulting in greater maturity and conformity to God’s moral code, both in words and in deeds.
DAY 10: GOD IS THE OWNER OF IT ALL.
READING: PSALMS 50 V 10 -12: “Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains and the wild beasts of the field are mine, if I were hungry I would not tell for the world is mine and all its fullness”
When God is asking us to support his mission it does not mean that he lacks anything. Actually, it is God’s desire for people to be involved in his mission in any way possible since humanity has been slightly elevated above other species. God, being the owner of everything, chose to make man the steward of it all.
Let us make it a point that we support God’s mission through giving, knowing very well that everything we have belongs to God, including our very lives. Our giving is a demonstration of our love, commitment and appreciation to Him for creating us in His image.
We are qualitatively superior to other creations. Let us be proud and thankful to our loving and caring God.
DAY 11: MISSION DEMANDS NAMES NOT TITLES.
READINGS: LUKE 10 v 17-20: 17 When the seventy-two followers returned, they were excited and said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed when we spoke in your name!” 18 Jesus told them: I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 I have given you the power to trample on snakes and scorpions and to defeat the power of your enemy Satan. Nothing can harm you. 20 But don’t be happy because evil spirits obey you. Be happy that your names are written in heaven! (CEV); AND 16 V 19-31: 19 There was once a rich man who wore expensive clothes and every day ate the best food. 20 But a poor beggar named Lazarus was brought to the gate of the rich man’s house. 21 He was happy just to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. His body was covered with sores, and dogs kept coming up to lick them. 22 The poor man died, and angels took him to the place of honour next to Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried. 23 He went to hell and was suffering terribly. When he looked up and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side, 24 he said to Abraham, “Have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and touch my tongue. I’m suffering terribly in this fire.”
25 Abraham answered, “My friend, remember that while you lived, you had everything good, and Lazarus had everything bad. Now he is happy, and you are in pain. 26 And besides, there is a deep ditch between us, and no one from either side can cross over.”
27 But the rich man said, “Abraham, then please send Lazarus to my father’s home. 28 Let him warn my five brothers, so they won’t come to this horrible place.” 29 Abraham answered, “Your brothers can read what Moses and the prophets wrote. They should pay attention to that.”
30 Then the rich man said, “No, that’s not enough! If only someone from the dead would go to them, they would listen and turn to God.”
31 So Abraham said, “If they won’t pay attention to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even to someone who comes back from the dead. (CEV).
In one of today’s texts we are presented with the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This is one of the most uncomfortable stories ever told by Jesus, which contains painful details.
In the bible, only Lazarus has a name and not the rich man. Some scholars say that the rich man’s name was Divas, yet the bible presents him just as a rich man. A good number of men and women were called to exercise ministry in different areas but we need to be careful that instead of clamouring for titles, we crave to have our names written in heaven.
Let us work hard so that at the end of the day it is our names that are written down in the book of life not our titles. Christ said to the disciples “rejoice that your names are written in heaven,” and Paul says in Philippians 4vs 3 “with Clement also and with my fellow labourers whose names are in the book of life.” It is much beneficiary to us in this mission month that we labour for our names to be written in the book of life, not to be known as a nameless title holder who does not please the Lord. Mission demands people who work such that their names will be remembered for good reasons and the furtherance of the gospel.
Our own Reverend Matthew Jacha Rusike is not remembered because of the title, but he left a mark and his name is written and immortalized in the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe and the world over.
DISCUSSION….Is having a title wrong? What exactly did Jesus’ words to the disciples mean?
DAY 12: MISSION AND OBSTACLES.
READING : MARK 11 V 12 -25: 12 When Jesus and his disciples left Bethany the next morning, he was hungry. 13 From a distance Jesus saw a fig tree covered with leaves, and he went to see if there were any figs on the tree. But there were not any, because it wasn’t the season for figs. 14 So Jesus said to the tree, “Never again will anyone eat fruit from this tree!” The disciples heard him say this.
15 After Jesus and his disciples reached Jerusalem, he went into the temple and began chasing out everyone who was selling and buying. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those who were selling doves. 16 Jesus would not let anyone carry things through the temple. 17 Then he taught the people and said, “The Scriptures say, ‘My house should be called a place of worship for all nations.’ But you have made it a place where robbers hide!”
18 The chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses heard what Jesus said, and they started looking for a way to kill him. They were afraid of him, because the crowds were completely amazed at his teaching.
19 That evening, Jesus and the disciples went outside the city.
20 As the disciples walked past the fig tree the next morning, they noticed that it was completely dried up, roots and all. 21 Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree. Then Peter said, “Teacher, look! The tree you put a curse on has dried up.”
22 Jesus told his disciples:
Have faith in God! 23 If you have faith in God and don’t doubt, you can tell this mountain to get up and jump into the sea, and it will. 24 Everything you ask for in prayer will be yours, if you only have faith.
25-26 Whenever you stand up to pray, you must forgive what others have done to you. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your sins. (CEV).
Our text today seeks to highlight the obstacles we face in doing the work of God. In the text it is stated that when Jesus left Bethany, his mission was to reach Jerusalem and enter into the temple and pray. However, there were some obstacles along the way. Firstly he was hungry and there was nothing to eat. Lack of basic things in doing God’s work can be a challenge, for example, lack of financial support, means of transport or lack of enough workforces in the face of a huge project may hinder the mission.
Secondly, Jesus faced deception. Always in life when you feel like you need help, there seems to be ready helpers but, in most cases, nothing comes out of it. The bible says the fig tree was leafy, appearing as if it had fruit in it but it had nothing. More often than not, plans are done and agreements are reached in support of God’s work, but eventually, nothing is yielded, and he mission of God suffers in the face of false promises.
The bible says Jesus did not abort his journey to Jerusalem but proceeded although he was hungry. As Christians, we need to be determined to move on to fulfil our goals regardless of how bleak the situation is.
Thirdly, Jesus had to deal with a system of operation which he thought was not proper. There was money changing in the temple! It is not easy to break a system or challenge a certain cultural behaviour. Often, we find ourselves in such situations where we are required to break or challenge a system which appears contrary to what we preach or believe in. Unless God helps us, we can’t succeed.
PRAYER POINT ……. Lord help us deal with obstacles decisively.
DAY 13: WHERE DOES OUR HELP COME FROM?
READINGS : PSALMS 121 V 1-2; ACTS 28 V 1-9
In today’s reading, the Psalmist’s intention is to instil confidence in those making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship. The successful journey becomes a hallmark for someone’s life as an exemplary story of how God helps his people. Lifting our eyes to the hills, our help comes from God.
Like Paul who embarked on missionary journeys, we are following suite. In these journeys there are some challenges along the road such as hunger, pandemics, economic and political challenges, hatred and many others. When we face these challenges, the option is not to abandon the journey. Rather you are encouraged brethren to move on. In the story in Acts, a ship wreck took place, as well as a snake bite. It sometimes happens in life that one may experience a series of problems and people do not sympathize with them. Instead one might be accused for all.
The day today is a day of practical reflection. Reflect on your life and think deeply about the challenges you have gone through, imagine the love of God that saved you from total collapse. We are being encouraged to experience the love of God when we go through an unimaginable magnitude of problems. In spite of inflation going beyond four-digit mark, money losing value in banks, degradation of morals in our society and many other unprecedented challenges in human history, we still find our help, solace and comfort in God, who is not just the commissioner but the mission itself.
REFLECTION… In times of distress and troubles, where does our help come from?
DAY 14: MY SOUL WAITS FOR GOD ALONE.
READING : PSALM 62 John Wesley would open up all small group meetings with the question “How is it with your soul?” Psalm 62 is usually sung to foster confidence in God’s care, in particular when the people of God face people who use power and wealth to oppress them. The strong temptation in such cases is either to despair or to also seek security in power and wealth rather than in God. The flow of thought in this Psalm directs the readers to understand that the only Rock of salvation is God who is not shakeable. All other walls will shake, all other places of refuge will not provide the shelter and security that we need but only God. How is it with your soul – a theological question of greeting. Many times people are not concerned with spiritual welfare and just tend to ask, “How are you?” This is referring to our physical being but John Wesley understands that it is important to know the inner person.
REFLECTION …..It is imperative that we reflect often on the question that Wesley opened meetings with: “How is it with your soul?”
DAY 15: FACE YOUR GOLIATH – GOD WILL GIVE YOU STRENGTH.
READING : 1 SAMUEL 17 V 9-23 and 32-49.
Sometimes God carries us into a battlefield unknowingly and unexpectedly. David did not come to the battle ground looking for a fight but to check on his brothers and bring them some provisions. When he heard Goliath’s challenge, he had no idea this had been going on for forty days (1Sam.17v16). He did not believe that this insult on God’s people had not been answered by God’s people. Sometimes brothers and sisters we have fallen into the trap of generational insults that have remained unanswered for time immemorial.
All of a sudden, David found himself in a battlefield with a very strong man whose stature had intimidated the whole of the Israelite nation. Goliath’s appearance and his swagger had instilled fear in them. However, David got his confidence to face the giant from his faith in the living God.
I beseech you brethren to be clothed in the confidence apparel knowing that God will continue taking care of us. Whether we are going into a battlefield by design or by default, God will always take care of our worries.
REFLECTION ….. Never mind the size of the challenge – God is bigger than the biggest challenge we come across.
DAY 16: STAYING FOCUSED IN A THREATENING ENVIRONMENT.
READING : GENESIS 39 v 11-23.
Joseph’s life story took twists and turns. One moment he is a father’s darling, loved by the whole family, the next moment he is hated with passion by all. In Egypt he was just a poor man who lacked materially, but he did not have a moral deficit. Poverty may lead many people to commit different kinds of sins but Joseph understood the importance of staying focused. He was content with what Pharaoh had offered him.
Poverty is not only debilitating to the mind but also plays havoc with our bodies. When we are poor, it is much easier to feel discouraged and depressed. Have you ever been broke or poor to the extent of not knowing what to do the following day? How was or is the feeling? Can you imagine the condition continuing for the rest of your life? Poverty eats our self-esteem, downgrades confidence and makes someone live in perpetual fear.
God promised us that “whereas you have been forsaken and hated with no one passing through I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age”(Isaiah 60 v15). Never lose focus because of what is prevailing around you. Joseph chose to remain trustworthy to Pharaoh and kept his integrity and self-esteem regardless of the threatening temptation to succumb to immorality.
We are forever singing praises from generation to generation. From age to age we are grateful to God who has us covered by the blood of Jesus. Our redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob, will take care of us. In the world where poverty and diseases have been institutionalized, God never fails us. We march forward knowing that we are conquerors. Even if the environment is prohibitive, our riches lie in the fact that God is our refugee. He neither sleeps nor slumbers.
➢ Do you think it is easy to remain focused in the midst of threatening danger?
➢ What reasons do you think makes many to tremble and then fall?
DAY 17: MAY THE LORD HELP US STAND FOR THE TRUTH IN HIS MISSION.
MARK 6 V 14 -29: 14 Jesus became so well-known that Herod the ruler heard about him. Some people thought he was John the Baptist, who had come back to life with the power to work miracles. 15 Others thought he was Elijah or some other prophet who had lived long ago. 16 But when Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “This must be John! I had his head cut off, and now he has come back to life.”
17-18 Herod had earlier married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. But John had told him, “It isn’t right for you to take your brother’s wife!” So, in order to please Herodias, Herod arrested John and put him in prison.
19 Herodias had a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she could not do it 20 because Herod was afraid of John and protected him. He knew that John was a good and holy man. Even though Herod was confused by what John said, he was glad to listen to him. And he often did.
21 Finally, Herodias got her chance when Herod gave a great birthday celebration for himself and invited his officials, his army officers, and the leaders of Galilee. 22 The daughter of Herodias came in and danced for Herod and his guests. She pleased them so much that Herod said, “Ask for anything, and it’s yours! 23 I swear that I will give you as much as half of my kingdom, if you want it.”
24 The girl left and asked her mother, “What do you think I should ask for?”
Her mother answered, “The head of John the Baptist!”
25 The girl hurried back and told Herod, “Right now on a platter I want the head of John the Baptist!”
26 The king was very sorry for what he had said. But he did not want to break the promise he had made in front of his guests. 27 At once he ordered a guard to cut off John’s head there in prison. 28 The guard put the head on a platter and took it to the girl. Then she gave it to her mother.
29 When John’s followers learned that he had been killed, they took his body and put it in a tomb. (CEV)
The action of Herodias leaves me reeling at the shocking brutality of sin. Many people, for generations immemorial, have questioned the tenacity of a woman holding so much hatred in her heart, also questioned how a King, whose nobility is expected to surpass the general innocence of the humblest man, is seen to allow the execution of a man just to reward a well-choreographed dance.
Against all these unimaginable actions of the king and his family, John’s righteousness shines bright. In life we come across such situations. Truth is sometimes traded for expedience when the situation is threatening and life is at stake. Never sacrifice your principles on the altars of expedience. Pursue the truth and the truth shall set you free. Many people have shunned telling the truth because of benefits associated with pleasing people.
Some are suffering today because they chose to stand for the truth. Sisters and brothers, the truth will never lose! It may seem like all is lost but the Bible tells us that we should call on the Lord in truth, as declared in Psalm 145 v 18: ”The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth”. Never mind the dangers -just speak the truth and God will reward you at the end of everything.
Are we ready to speak the truth?
DAY 18: GOD’S MISSION IS FOR THE FAITHFUL.
READING : LUKE 16 V 1-10: 1 Jesus said to his disciples:
A rich man once had a manager to take care of his business. But he was told that his manager was wasting money. 2 So the rich man called him in and said, “What is this I hear about you? Tell me what you have done! You are no longer going to work for me.”
3 The manager said to himself, “What shall I do now that my master is going to fire me? I can’t dig ditches, and I’m ashamed to beg. 4 I know what I’ll do, so that people will welcome me into their homes after I’ve lost my job.”
5 Then one by one he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He asked the first one, “How much do you owe my master?”
6 “A hundred barrels of olive oil,” the man answered.
So the manager said, “Take your bill and sit down and quickly write ‘fifty’.”
7 The manager asked someone else who was in debt to his master, “How much do you owe?”
“A thousand bushels of wheat,” the man replied.
The manager said, “Take your bill and write ‘eight hundred’.”
8 The master praised his dishonest manager for looking out for himself so well. That’s how it is! The people of this world look out for themselves better than the people who belong to the light.
9 My disciples, I tell you to use wicked wealth to make friends for yourselves. Then when it is gone, you will be welcomed into an eternal home. 10 Anyone who can be trusted in little matters can also be trusted in important matters. But anyone who is dishonest in little matters will be dishonest in important matters. (CEV)
Jesus adds, “He who is faithful in what is least is also faithful in many and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust in what is much”
What makes someone’s life prosperous? The richest man in the history of mankind around the sixth century BC was Croesus, the King of Lydia from 560 – 547 BC. He is said to be the first man who issued out the true and pure gold coins One day he is said to have asked the philosopher Solon to tell him who the happiest man was in the world. Solon answered that, “to live well, you must prepare to die well!” People nowadays are obsessed with gaining material things to the extent that they forget the importance of faithfulness even in the little aspects of life. We need to restore and value the place of faithfulness in executing God’s mission.
As God’s children, we should shun crookedness in our dealings and seek to be faithful in word and in deed. We should not seek undeserved benefits, neither should we rob anyone. God himself will reward us for such faithfulness.
DAY 19: TIME TO REDISCOVER HOPE.
READINGS: PSALM 71 v 5: I depend on you, and I have trusted you since I was young. (CEV); ISAIAH 61 (v1-2): 1 The Spirit of the LORD God has taken control of me! The LORD has chosen and sent me to tell the oppressed the good news, to heal the brokenhearted, and to announce freedom for prisoners and captives. 2 This is the year when the LORD God will show kindness to us and punish our enemies. The LORD has sent me to comfort those who mourn, (CEV)
Can hope be rediscovered in a world that seems to be out of control? What about in a country with a people that has become hopeless, or a family, even an individual who seems to be broken and devastated. Friends we are living in a world that seems to have lost control, a world devastated by disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and pandemics. Where can we find our hope in such a world?
Christ is the source of our hope as He was sent to deliver the good news to the poor and to bind the broken hearted. The apostle Paul, after he has gone through a lot of difficulty and challenging times, wrote to his friends in Rome declaring that “now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15 vs.13.) In life it is dangerous to lose hope. A lot of people have committed suicide after losing hope. The Psalmist encourages us not to lose hope but to say, “For you are my hope O Lord”. Indeed God is our hope yesterday, today and tomorrow!
How do we make the mission stated in Isaiah 61 practical in today’s life? Meditate on the abundant hope that we can get from God all the times.
DAY 20: GOD LIVES BEYOND HUMANS’ MIND AND CAPACITY.
READINGS : 1KINGS 8 V 27-31; JEREMIAH 29 V 11
The infinite being is invited to live in the finite. God, who is infinite, can be invited to dwell in the finite. Solomon pondered this question, years before even Christ
was on earth traversing the dusty roads of Nazareth. Solomon asked whether it was possible for God to dwell on planet earth which is actually known to be finite. Also, it was a spiritually known fact that heaven and beyond cannot contain God. One thing that puzzled Solomon was that God had high regard for the prayer of his mortal and finite servant.
He prayed to the Highest to watch over His house day and night. As mortal beings our immortality lies in God, and as finite beings our infinity lies in God. When we ask God to be with us, we are rest assured of His protection and presence. .The mission of our God and the mission of our church will go on despite the advent of these temporal setbacks caused by pandemics and economic challenges. The fact remains that God is in control of every circumstance to the extent that His good plans for humanity prevail over all challenges and human experiences.
It is in the understanding of the above that we should not be limited in our thinking; neither should we be diverted by hurts and joys of life. Instead we need to dwell in the infinite God and make sure that our comprehension is not limited by our finite environment. We should keep imagining big opportunities and great achievements, for our God lives beyond human imagination and capacity!
PRAYER POINT ………. God we are here inviting you to our limited existence so that with you, we can be able to see beyond.
DAY 21: THE CHRISTIAN LIFE AS A BATTLE AND A WITNESS.
READING : 1 PETER 2 V12.
In this verse Peter refers to unbelievers as gentiles, which is in keeping with his understanding of believers being a new Israel. Believers are to live godly lives even though they will often be criticized by unbelievers. When believers do good deeds, some unbelievers will repent and believe, bringing glory to God. Peter’s message here clearly reflects that of Matthew 5 vs.16 which says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
In the quest to continue with mission, we need to take heed of silent preaching where we must preach by both our public and private disposition. Many times as Christians we are caught in between the spiritual and fleshly battle; hence we acknowledge the need to always put on the armour of spiritual warfare. Those who suffer for Christ do so for a worthy cause. Through our bruises, evildoers are going to see our good and glorify God on the day of His visitation. That is why as the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, we always cherish our mission statement which is to “exist to transform lives through biblical teaching, witnessing and nurturing believers into true worshippers of God”. In the endeavour to make our statement clear to everyone, the church comes up with yearly themes to strengthen who we are in the pastoral paddock. This year 2021 we boldly declare that “Our help comes from God.” Regardless of the lethal weapons in the hands of the devil, we are winners because we know our source of help is more powerful and deeper than any other source.
REFLECTION…… what does it mean to be a silent preacher? Can my lifestyle influence evildoers to change their ways of life?
DAY 22: TROUBLED BUT NOT DESTROYED.
READINGS : 2 CORINTHIANS 4 v 8-18: 8 We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. 9 In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again. 10-11 We face death every day because of Jesus. Our bodies show what his death was like, so that his life can also be seen in us. 12 This means that death is working in us, but life is working in you.
13 In the Scriptures it says, “I spoke because I had faith.” We have that same kind of faith. So we speak 14 because we know that God raised the Lord Jesus to life. And just as God raised Jesus, he will also raise us to life. Then he will bring us into his presence together with you. 15 All of this has been done for you, so that more and more people will know how kind God is and will praise and honour him.
16 We never give up. Our bodies are gradually dying, but we ourselves are being made stronger each day. 17 These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing. 18 Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen. (CEV); ACTS 4 v 13-21: 13 The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated. The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But they could not deny what had happened. The man who had been healed was standing there with the apostles.
15 The officials commanded them to leave the council room. Then the officials said to each other, 16 “What can we do with these men? Everyone in Jerusalem knows about this miracle, and we cannot say it didn’t happen. 17 But to keep this thing from spreading, we will warn them never again to speak to anyone about the name of Jesus.” 18 So they called the two apostles back in and told them that they must never, for any reason, teach anything about the name of Jesus.
19 Peter and John answered, “Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him? 20 We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard.”
21-22 The officials could not find any reason to punish Peter and John. So they threatened them and let them go. The man who was healed by this miracle was more than forty years old, and everyone was praising God for what had happened. (CEV)
In spite of suffering as an apostle, Paul did not lose heart but encourages us to face the troubles without fear. In this world some challenges are there to frustrate us and degrade our competence. This is why the apostle boldly declares that as Christians, we might be troubled but not destroyed.
In Acts, the disciples faced a lot of problems in their endeavour to spread the gospel, yet, they did not give in but instead preached with boldness.
The world today has exposed Christians to dangers which are almost similar to the ones faced by the disciples. The mission before us requires boldness or else the gospel will not reach afar. Had Peter and John lacked courage, they would have stopped preaching the word in their earliest days, thereby neglecting the great commission given to them in Matthew 28v 16-20.
REFLECTION…..No trouble and no mockery can go beyond what our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ endured. God help us to endure the problems we are facing. Give us a living hope that this will soon be over.
DAY 23: GOD WILL WIPE AWAY EVERY TEAR!
READING : REVELATIONS 21 V 4: He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever. (CEV)
While the devastating COVID-19 has destroyed the lives of our loved ones (relatives and friends) and our source of livelihoods, our hope remains in the steadfast knowledge that God’s mercy will not leave us. It will take us time to recover and sometimes our lives will not be the same again. As we speak, some have lost their jobs, businesses, some are sick and can’t afford medicines, – and along with all these come some unexpected responsibilities.
Healing takes time but we are guaranteed of it in Isaiah 53 vs. 1-4. In today’s text, the writer gives an assurance that God will wipe away every tear in our eyes and death shall be no more! From his throne, he will make all things new; therefore let us take heart in that our help comes from God.
PRAYER POINT …..God of all, our most loving and kind father, help us minister to one another, guiding one another in love and peace.
DAY 24: MISSION AND JOY.
READING : JAMES CHAPTER 1 V 2-8 James entreats us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1v2-4 ESV). Mostly the word “count” is regarded as a financial term, referring to evaluation. In the context of the text, James tried to encourage his colleagues to live a practical faith, a faith that expresses itself in Christian action. We are in an era where we are locked down and mostly inactive in terms of practical Christianity. Temptations are with us as we lose our loved ones and sources of livelihood. James encourages his contemporaries to stand firm in the faith and to watch out for temptation. In this context today Sisters and brothers, let us stand firm for the challenges we face today are no special or more serious than those faced by the disciples, James gives us a weapon to conquer troubles, that is, to consider them as opportunities for great joy, just like the Moravians when a ferocious storm shredded the main sail of their ship and flooded the decks. They were travelling together with John Wesley bound for the Georgia colony in early 1736. A group of Moravians calmly sang throughout the squall while the English passengers aboard screamed. (Wesley Journal). In this raging sea of COVID 19, we continue giving praise to our God, singing in great faith that Christ the Rock of ages will indeed help us
ROCK OF AGES CLEFT FOR ME
LET ME HIDE MYSELF IN THEE.
LET THE WATER AND THE BLOOD
FROM THY WOUNDED SIDE WHICH FLOWED.
With Christ nothing will make our joy diminish.
DAY 25: NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD.
READINGS: ROMANS 8 V 31-37: 31 What can we say about all this? If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? 32 God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else? 33 If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? 34 Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God’s right side, speaking to him for us. 35 Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? 36 It is exactly as the Scriptures say,
“For you we face death all day long.
We are like sheep on their way to be butchered.”
37 In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. (CEV)
Today’s text is meant to teach Christians how great the love of God is towards humanity. Paul says nothing can separate us from the love of God. These words indicate that there is nothing in the past, present or future which can be greater than God’s love towards us. In the midst of it all, death, rejection, sickness and poverty, his love remains unconquerable.
More often we find ourselves trapped in challenges as they are stated in the text. These challenges create a lot of pressure on our mind as well as making us doubt the presence, power as well as God’s faithfulness and love. A closer look of the wording as well as the tone in the text shows us that Paul is so convinced and gives no room for any reason for us to be separated with God. In as much as the life experiences stated there are painful for Paul we as Christians should not allow them to change our view of God as the creator and ever loving Father.
He says “In all this we are more than conquerors“. The statement shows the presence of a certain power and potential in us to defeat the impact as well as effect of these challenges on us to the fact that instead of shame and despair, these challenges give us joy and victory. One may ask how that happens. The reason is that our God will be with us as we walk through these challenges. So, if God is for us, who and what can be against us? In him we get true help that we find ourselves making it through.
Today’s lesson is imploring us to trust God amidst challenges. It is also calling us to have the assurance of victory all because God who loves us so much will see us through; therefore we should look at these challenges as opportunities to experience God’s love and not as platforms for defeat
Is it easy to trust God in the midst of challenges?
Usually we find ourselves doubting God’s love when challenges come. What do you think are the reasons?
DAY 26: MISSION, FASTING AND PRAYING.
READING : 2 CHRONICLES 7 V 14
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chr. 7 v14). This passage has not only encouraged us to pray more, but has also encouraged us to fast whenever contemplating a potentially life-changing decision. God has graciously grown our understanding of the connection between prayer, fasting and mission such that the former two have become our ways of response to any crisis we face in doing the mission of God.
Sisters and brothers, as Christians let us all be vigilant in prayer and fasting. It is only people called by ‘My’ (God’s) name that are being implored to humble themselves and pray, then God will heal their land. A closer look at the Bible reveals how people have prayed and fasted in the midst of challenges. Hannah, faced with barrenness, prayed and was given Samuel. Esther, together will all the Jews, prayed and fasted and they were delivered from the decree of death.
Our reading encourages us to consider prayer and repentance so that God intervenes in our threatening situations. The text carries a call for the right attitude; motive and standing against selfishness, pride and stubbornness. Only a people who humble themselves in faith will receive God’s help. In the face of numerous diseases, only God can heal our land, so let us therefore approach his throne of grace with boldness for our help comes only from Him.
➢ How do we know that we are God’s people?
➢ What areas of our life do you think need healing?
➢ What are the guiding principles to help someone when praying as well as fasting?
DAY 27: TOWARDS AN INCLUSIVE CHURCH.
READING : GALATIANS 3 V 28: Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman. (CEV)
The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe has inclusivity as one of its mission values. As such, we as its members should by all means create space for each other regardless of gender, physical or social status. Paul is urging the church in Galatia to shun any forms of discrimination, for Christ has died for everyone’s salvation.
This means we have been made equal before Him; there is neither Jew nor Gentile, Slave or Master. The text is meant to eradicate any discriminatory tendencies and some disparities emanating from certain perceptions built against the lowly, widows, widowers as well as those with visual, hearing and walking impairment. It is our missionary task to accommodate each other. Everyone has a participatory right in the work of God. This means as a church, we should strive towards removing some barriers that bars the vulnerable and the physically challenged from participating fully in church programs. Our buildings should be able to accommodate those on wheelchair or crutches, even capacitating people to use sign language so that our sermons reach everyone regardless of any impairment. More so there is need to make our literature accessible and readable to the visually impaired
Paul is against the Jewish thinking which made them superior to others and that of making other people slaves, depriving them of any rights. To him to be a man or a woman, Jew or Gentile was of no consequence since we have all been saved by grace.
➢ How do we describe our church on issues of inclusivity?
➢ What areas do you think need improvement?
DAY 28: GOD WANTS TO USE EVERYONE.
READINGS : 1 SAMUEL 16 V 1-13: The LORD was sorry he had made Saul the king of Israel.
1 One day he said, “Samuel, I’ve rejected Saul, and I refuse to let him be king any longer. Stop feeling sad about him. Put some olive oil in a small container and go visit a man named Jesse, who lives in Bethlehem. I’ve chosen one of his sons to be my king.”
2 Samuel answered, “If I do that, Saul will find out and have me killed.”
“Take a calf with you,” the LORD replied. “Tell everyone that you’ve come to offer it as a sacrifice to me, 3 then invite Jesse to the sacrifice. When I show you which one of his sons I have chosen, pour the olive oil on his head.”
4 Samuel did what the LORD told him and went to Bethlehem. The town leaders went to meet him, but they were terribly afraid and asked, “Is this a friendly visit?”
5 “Yes, it is!” Samuel answered. “I’ve come to offer a sacrifice to the LORD. Get yourselves ready to take part in the sacrifice and come with me.” Samuel also invited Jesse and his sons to come to the sacrifice, and he got them ready to take part.
6 When Jesse and his sons arrived, Samuel noticed Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab. “He has to be the one the LORD has chosen,” Samuel said to himself.
7 But the LORD told him, “Samuel, don’t think Eliab is the one just because he’s tall and handsome. He isn’t the one I’ve chosen. People judge others by what they look like, but I judge people by what is in their hearts.”
8 Jesse told his son Abinadab to go over to Samuel, but Samuel said, “No, the LORD hasn’t chosen him.”
9 Next, Jesse sent his son Shammah to him, and Samuel said, “The LORD hasn’t chosen him either.”
10 Jesse had all seven of his sons go over to Samuel. Finally, Samuel said, “Jesse, the LORD hasn’t chosen any of these young men. 11 Do you have any more sons?”
“Yes,” Jesse answered. “My youngest son David is out taking care of the sheep.”
“Send for him!” Samuel said. “We won’t start the ceremony until he gets here.”
12 Jesse sent for David. He was a healthy, good-looking boy with a sparkle in his eyes. As soon as David came, the LORD told Samuel, “He’s the one! Get up and pour the olive oil on his head.”
13 Samuel poured the oil on David’s head while his brothers watched. At that moment, the Spirit of the LORD took control of David and stayed with him from then on.
Samuel returned home to Ramah. (CEV); GENESIS 17 V 1-14: 1 Abram was ninety-nine years old when the LORD appeared to him again and said, “I am God All-Powerful. If you obey me and always do right, 2 I will keep my solemn promise to you and give you more descendants than can be counted.” 3 Abram bowed with his face to the ground, and God said:
4-5 I promise that you will be the father of many nations. That’s why I now change your name from Abram to Abraham. 6 I will give you a lot of descendants, and in the future they will become great nations. Some of them will even be kings.
7 I will always keep the promise I have made to you and your descendants, because I am your God and their God. 8 I will give you and them the land in which you are now a foreigner. I will give the whole land of Canaan to your family forever, and I will be their God.
9 Abraham, you and all future members of your family must promise to obey me. 10-11 As the sign that you are keeping this promise, you must circumcise every man and boy in your family. 12-13 From now on, your family must circumcise every baby boy when he is eight days old. You must even circumcise any man or boy you have as a slave, both those born in your homes and those you buy from foreigners. This will be a sign that my promise to you will last forever. 14 Any man who isn’t circumcised hasn’t kept his promise to me and cannot be one of my people. (CEV)
Our topic today suggests that God is prepared to use everyone regardless of status. Whilst the issue of age is regarded as important in many circles, particularly in the secular world, God’s mission is for all ages. This is evident in our readings where we see God fulfilling his mission for the Israelites through an aged man, Abraham. In the book of Samuel, we see David being anointed king regardless of his age and status. (1 Sam 16 vs. 1-13). God indicated to Samuel that of all the sons of Jesse, David, although considered the least, was his choice. After David’s anointing, which is done before a limited audience, the spirit of God empowers him for service. These two contrasting stories in terms of age give us a lesson of uniting in Mission. No one should be despised because of age. God can use the elderly as much as he can use the young. The responsibility of empowering people remains God’s agenda. This means that as church members, each of us should be prepared to be part of God’s mission in one way or the other. There should be no reason for not creating opportunities for others to work for God, as well as utilizing every existing opportunity in working for God. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the mission of God and the mission of the church are interrelated and God has a plan and everything is worked out according to that plan (Hoehner 2004:284). In that plan, the Church is more than a sign post or an end in itself; it has a participatory and prominent role in the unfolding and execution of God’s plan. “The church is but a means to an end, not an end in itself” (Greenwood 2002:86). Christ being the head of the church and we being members of the body of Christ we should be available for the mission and as well be above every reproach so as to fulfil the mission before us that is, to make Christ known to the dying world!
➢ Why do you think people always have excuses for not doing God’s work?
➢ How can we as a church empower our youths so that they fully become part of the mission of God?
DAY 29: AVAIL YOURSELF!
READINGS: ISAIAH 6 V 1-8: 1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I had a vision of the LORD. He was on his throne high above, and his robe filled the temple. 2 Flaming creatures with six wings each were flying over him. They covered their faces with two of their wings and their bodies with two more. They used the other two wings for flying, 3 as they shouted,
“Holy, holy, holy, LORD All-Powerful!
The earth is filled with your glory.”
4 As they shouted, the doorposts of the temple shook, and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 Then I cried out, “I’m doomed! Everything I say is sinful, and so are the words of everyone around me. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD All-Powerful.”
6 One of the flaming creatures flew over to me with a burning coal that it had taken from the altar with a pair of metal tongs. 7 It touched my lips with the hot coal and said, “This has touched your lips. Your sins are forgiven, and you are no longer guilty.”
8 After this, I heard the LORD ask, “Is there anyone I can send? Will someone go for us?”
“I’ll go,” I answered. “Send me!” (CEV)
Whilst it is be true that God created humanity to be happy and enjoy life on earth, the greatest reason was for us to be partakers in the mission of God. This means we have a task before us, to discover who we are, why and for what were we really created. There is need for us to be convinced within us that we are part of God’s salvific story.
Isaiah saw the Lord seated on the throne and the Seraphim came and cleansed his lips. He then heard the voice, “who shall I send?”, and his answer was, “here I am, send me Lord”.
A closer look of the temple happenings reveals some lessons for us
Firstly, a personal experience with God is important if we are to take part in his mission. Secondly, unless we are transformed we cannot fully participate in God’s mission. Thirdly, there is need to hear the voice or the call from God. The disciples were determined for the mission because they have heard Christ commanding them “Go ye therefore and make disciples”. In the same manner we are also being sent to the world, Isaiah’s’ response to God’s question indicates that he was available and ready to take part in God’s mission. Each of us needs to take part in the various ministries of the word. God has gifted us differently and no one lacks a gift or talent to utilize as we participate in the fulfilment of the mission.
Today’s lesson is meant to motivate us in doing God’s work as we are being called to serve. We need to carry our lot of the burden to fulfil the mission. It is important to identify a gap and be available to fill it. Identify at least an area which you feel you have been gifted or talented and be available to serve God in that capacity. As we observe the mission month, may we find time to introspect, identify our areas of weakness, ask for strength and offer ourselves for service.
DAY 30: GET UP AND GO!
READING : ACTS CHAPTER 8 V 26-40: 26 The LORD’S angel said to Philip, “Go south along the desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So Philip left.
An important Ethiopian official happened to be going along that road in his chariot. He was the chief treasurer for Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia. The official had gone to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was now on his way home. He was sitting in his chariot, reading the book of the prophet Isaiah.
29 The Spirit told Philip to catch up with the chariot. 30 Philip ran up close and heard the man reading aloud from the book of Isaiah. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 The official answered, “How can I understand unless someone helps me?” He then invited Philip to come up and sit beside him.
32 The man was reading the passage that said,
He was led like a sheep on its way to be killed.
He was silent as a lamb whose wool is being cut off,
and he did not say a word.
33He was treated like a nobody
and did not receive a fair trial.
How can he have children,
if his life is snatched away?
34 The official said to Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or about someone else?” 35 So Philip began at this place in the Scriptures and explained the good news about Jesus.
36-37 As they were going along the road, they came to a place where there was some water. The official said, “Look! Here is some water. Why can’t I be baptized?” 38 He ordered the chariot to stop. Then they both went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
39 After they had come out of the water, the LORD’S Spirit took Philip away. The official never saw him again, but he was very happy as he went on his way.
40 Philip later appeared in Azotus. He went from town to town, all the way to Caesarea, telling people about Jesus. (CEV)
Philip’s mission did not start with the Eunuch of Candace. He had proclaimed the message of Christ in Samaria. This should be a lesson to us that the mission of God is not bound to one person or race. It was after his mission in Samaria that Philip was asked by the angel of the Lord to “rise and go towards the south”
What is it that is stopping you? There are a lot of people out there whose lives need to be transformed and you are the agent of that transformation. Some action is required in order to change someone’s life.
In the text, the Holy Spirit brought Philip to an encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch, which wasn’t easy! Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings us close to some uncomfortable situations or personalities. What is important is to “get up and go!” This means grabbing every chance to bring change into other people’s lives, people who may be lost or desperate. God’s message of hope is open to everyone and can transform every situation.
In the text, Philip helped the man in interpreting the word of God. Our role is to guide others in the understanding of the word. The Methodist Church deliberately encourages class meetings where the Bible is explained, as well as running some evangelism programs to reach out to people. Indeed we need to get up and go!
➢ Do you think God’s Spirit always leads his people?
➢ Can you help someone freely without claiming credit?
➢ Do you believe that our meeting with some people or opportunities in life is God design?
DAY 31: GOD HIMSELF WILL REMEMBER US AND GIVE US REST.
READING : GENESIS 8 V 1- 4: 1 God did not forget about Noah and the animals with him in the boat. So God made a wind blow, and the water started going down. 2 God stopped up the places where the water had been gushing out from under the earth. He also closed up the sky, and the rain stopped. 3 For one hundred fifty days the water slowly went down. 4 Then on the seventeenth day of the seventh month of the year, the boat came to rest somewhere in the Ararat mountains. (CEV)
This day historically coincides with the calendar date mentioned in Genesis chapter 8, the Day when Noah’s ark rested on the Ararat. Even though there was water all over, God found a place for Noah’s ark to rest. May the day today symbolize the resting of the troubles that we are going through. We need to pray as a nation and as a church for God to find us a resting place.
Feeling Desolate is nothing new for the people of God, but when we do, Genesis 8 can give us new hope and encouragement.
“And God remembered Noah” As God remembered Noah during the trying times when the storms seemed endless, may He also remember us as we seem to be trapped in the seemingly endless pandemic of Covid 19.
My dear brothers and sisters, the word “remembered” in verse 1 does not mean a recalling of a forgotten somebody but a fulfilment of a promise. Noah was in the middle of nowhere, the storm was raging all around him but God remembered him. On this day in history, God remembered Noah regardless of the situation, no matter how desolate it was. May God remember us in the midst of different storms of life and give us rest.
PRAYER POINT ….. May God provide us with rest as a nation. May the 17th day of the seventh month prayer heal the nation of Zimbabwe.