Easter Message 2015

Easter Message 2015

The Rev. Dr. Cuthbert A. Edwards

Methodist Church

Rev. Dr. Cuthbert A. Edwards

Rev. Dr. C. A. Edwards

I greet you very warmly at this the Festival of the Resurrection as we celebrate the presence of the Risen Lord with us. It is my hope that this may be a period of renewal, growth in the faith, and confidence in the sacrificial, atoning and emancipating love of God for you, your loved ones and friends!

The emotion of fear has affected negatively the lives of many persons, including persons of various faiths or none at all.  Many are mortally afraid of the unknown, death and the future. Others are fearful of illness, other people, and are also afraid to take decisions.  They are unsure about the years ahead and this has affected how they live out their lives. They are immobilized and this affects their judgment and their actions. They are crippled by fear.

The women who went to the Tomb on the third day of the death of Jesus were also affected by fear. They were perhaps afraid that someone may have stolen the body of Jesus thus depriving them of the opportunity of anointing his body. So they went with trepidation. Then an apparent stranger at the Tomb saw the fear and immediately said to them; ‘Do not be afraid.’ (Matt.28:10).There was every reason for them to be afraid since as Jewish Christians their identity was now distinct from the Jews; as a result the Jews were making life very difficult for them.

They were likely to be afraid of the future and the unknown since their teacher and Lord had been taken away from them. He perhaps sensed their concern that this was the end of the new world that he had promised where the meek would inherit the earth; the poor would claim the kingdom of God and the pure in heart would see God.

The conditions in Rome were difficult and challenging for Christians to live and witness. The Galileans were rebelling against Roman rule. They were reacting to Roman domination and exploitation. Is it then any wonder that the first words of Jesus to the two women were not to be afraid? The very words used by the Angel to them as they visited the tomb. There was the uncertainty about the body of Jesus, the possibility of persecution now they were a distinct group, life in Galilee was dangerous and the might of Rome could be unleashed upon them at any time.

These words also ring true for us today. In an age and at a time when so many uncertainties in life abound in our Caribbean societies – employment, the economic state of our nations, the lack of material well-being, violence and war, concerns about personal health; and a world that seems far more dangerous than ever with ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and the constant threat from terrorists, we need to hear these words over and over again: Do not be afraid!

Fear not! Why? Because the entire world’s no, God has turned into yes. The world condemned Jesus, rejected him, mocked him, killed him by crucifixion and God raised him from death to life. God exalted him and gave him a name that is above every other name. God turned despair into hope. Tragedy into triumph! Death into life! No into yes! There are many today who are literally and mortally afraid: afraid of the future and what it holds for them; afraid of death and the grave; afraid of illness and the unknown. This is the story of men and women; hence the words are as relevant as they were then, “do not be afraid.”

The Resurrection is a reminder to us that danger and difficulty do not have the last word, God does. Hence the two Marys were challenged to go in a dangerous world, knowing that persecution is possible, and tell others. It was a message for the wider community and world at large. They were to leave their safe harbor; they were to leave their security and become vulnerable and take risks for the cause of the kingdom and the message of the gospel. They were to go and tell in dangerous and difficult places, then and now.

The command to go denotes action. It cannot be ignored. Therefore one cannot remain unperturbed and stand by and do nothing. We are to go because the resurrection is not just a fact of history but that which is to be experienced, witnessed to and spread abroad. The resurrection is a mandate to go. Hence it is commanded by Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations!” Therefore the disciples of every age and generation are to go and tell others that Jesus is alive. He is risen. He has been raised from the dead. As a result their fears were gone. Their disappointments had been resolved. This is the message, “He lives! He lives! I know that my Redeemer lives”.

On this Easter Sunday, the Risen Christ comes to us again. He speaks that word, no matter what your experience may be, you need not fear, God has made provision already. God has answered your questions. God has already said yes to all of the nos of the world. Therefore fear not. Do not be afraid. He has gone to Galilee so that you and I may go and discover him for ourselves and share with all persons, the good news—he is alive!

The faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not where there is life there is hope, but where there is hope there is life; with hope and in hope in Jesus Christ, we need not be afraid.

May the blessings of the risen Lord fill your hearts and lives with God’s peace and grace today and always.

“…He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know…’

Sermon at Ann Gill on Ezekiel 37:3

Whenever we read Ezekiel’s account of his encounter with God in the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37) many questions immediately spring to our minds.

Is Ezekiel dreaming? Is he having a vision? Was he taken physically into this valley? Why did God take him there? And what was the significance of giving him such a seemingly useless task of preaching to dry bones? Why the question “Mortal, can these bones live?” Did the bones actually come to life again?

While both theologian and layman continue the debate we are aware that God in his wisdom has provided this experience to teach us some wonderful truths about his power and his nature.

Ezekiel was born just after the reforms of King Josiah (2 Kings 22 and 23). It was a prosperous and spiritually great time for the Israelites; for King Josiah did what was right in the sight of God. The Book of the law had been found and Josiah used it to call the Israelites back to God. He destroyed the statues of the false gods Baal and Asherah and burned them outside Jerusalem. He killed all the pagan priests and knocked down their altars. He led the people in a time of covenant renewal. God was once again worshipped and adored in the land.

But in his 31st year, Josiah fought against Pharaoh Neco, King of Egypt, and was killed. His ill-advised and unwise son, Jehoakim who took over from him was an evil and ruthless king, a puppet of the king of Egypt who tolerated no criticism. He killed the prophets and imprisoned Jeremiah, and the people returned to the worship of false gods.

As a result of their sins against God, Judah was destroyed by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar who came to power in Babylon. He did not destroy Jerusalemor the temple but deported the king Jehoiachim, the officers and all the leading men of the land to Babylon. Among them was the prophet Ezekiel.

While in Babylon Ezekiel heard what happened in his home country. Zedekiah the next king of Judah,who was allowed by Nebuchadnezzar to rule, rebelled against Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar then completely destroyed Jerusalem, the temple was burned and all the people deported. Jerusalem and Judah were no more. What a discouraging and disappointing time for the children of God.

It was at this time that Ezekiel was called by God (Ezekiel 37:1-3) and placed in the valley of dry bones. It was a mysterious, mystical call during which God spoke to Ezekiel.

We cannot always understand the way God works. There are just some things that we have to accept by faith.

Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us of God’s words8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,   so are my ways higher than your ways   and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

So Ezekiel is placed in the middle of this valley of bones – dry and hard bones. 3Here he reports this dialogue with God, “He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’” Ezekiel 37:3

What can we learn from this passage?

Firstly we learn that God cares about his people.

The symbolism of the bones is clear. Israel is dead; as dead as the bones are dry. There is no life in her and of great importance is the fact that the Israelites believe that no one seems to care about them, Israel, the chosen ones of God. Not even their God Jehovah seems to care. In fact the people in exile see themselves as dry bones. God relates this to Ezekiel,

Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely”(Ezekiel 37:11).

The Psalmist in 137 captures the feeling of despair.

1 By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows* there
we hung up our harps.
3 For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ But how can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.

But God cares about his children who have gone astray and who are suffering. This God demonstrated to the Israelites many times in their history. Remember when the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt? They were crying to God about their suffering and he acknowledged them.  Listen to God’s response as he speaks to Moses in Exodus 4:7-8

 7 … ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey,’

This passage along with many others clearly shows the caring nature of God. Our God cares about us. No matter what is happening, he never leaves us. Scripture informs us that God knows what is going on in our lives and is faithful to us.Hence Jesus says to us:

6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

However, the reality is that very often in life when we are afflicted in some way, when we have problems which seem insurmountable, when we have more sadness than joy and we feel all alonewe tend to believe that God does not care or has forgotten us.

Sometimes we wonder if God cares about the suffering masses around the world; for instance the kidnapped Nigerian girls, the continuing wars in the world which are increasing daily, the many mass murders, the deadly diseases, starvation, deprivation and the natural disasters. Right here in our island of Barbados we know that many persons are currently suffering through loss of jobs and are worrying about the future. Amidst all of this we ask “Does God care?” With a resounding “yes” I say God cares. He is never far from us for His promise to our forefathers extends to us: never to leave us or forsake us (Deut 31:6).

The loving and caring nature of God was clearly demonstrated by Jesus again and again as he ministered to many while on earth. He cared about those with demons and healed them. He made the blind to see and the deaf to hear. He fed the hungry and raised the dead because he had compassion for the people.

In Mark 4:35-41we read that the disciples were travelling in a boat with Jesus when they faced a fierce storm and feared for their lives. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’

Jesus demonstrated that he cared. Mark records,

39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ (Mark 4:39)

1Peter 5:7 also reminds us of the caring nature of God when he encourages us to cast all our anxiety on God because he cares for us.

Let us remember however, that the cause of the suffering of the children of Israel came about as a consequence of their behaviour. We must not play the fool with God. Yes my friends God cared about the Israelites but it was their sin which landed them into captivity.  In many cases it is the sins of mankind that cause the suffering and make us feel like we are all dry bones, and believe that God does not care.

Secondly we can learn from this text that God gives us hope.

To Ezekiel, to Israel and to all who are full of gloom and in a depressed state the story of the valley of dry bones is a message of hope.

God was telling a despondent people of new life. Israel had reached zero level in terms of faith and hope. For Israel, all of her prior understanding of covenant had been shattered. The belief that Jerusalem and the temple were indestructible proved hollow. Their world had been destroyed. So they gathered together in little groups and said one to another… “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely” (Ezekiel 37:11).

The Israelites had become the living dead. Their spirits had had been broken. So God gave Ezekiel a vision of hope for these people. Ezekiel, who had preached doom and gloom before, now becomes a messenger of hope.

If we learn nothing more from this scripture we must understand that it is a message of hope for all people.

Many of us are like dry bones – persons without hope. Hope is the central theme which permeates the Christian religion. It is the motivation and driving force that underpins or under-girds our belief.  Webster’s dictionary defines hope as “desire accompanied by expectation of our belief in fulfillment.” That means that we confidently believe that what we expect to happen, will happen.  But what is the Christian’s hope? What is it that we confidently believe and expect to happen?

The Christian’s hope lies in our firm belief in the birth, death by crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is central to our hope and the basis for it and Paul confirms this fact in 1 Corinthians 15.

Our hope, the Christian’s hope, guarantees us the abundant life promised by Jesus (John 10:10) and also a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) while we live here on earth. But hope goes further and promises believers eternal life with Christ (John 3:16-17).

It is our hope in Christ that allows us to deal with whatever situations present themselves, good or evil, and to overcome them, knowing that even if we die physically we live eternally because we live and die in Christ. Like Paul, because of our hope we are able to say “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Our hope is a patient hope as we wait on God for the fulfillment of his promise; as Paul says in Romans 8:24-25

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

A person without Christian hope will eventually find himself or herself with feelings of dejection, depression, helplessness or worthlessness since such person is without God. Christian hope gives us reason for living. If our hope is in a god other than Jehovah the end result of our life is frustration, disappointment and chaos.

One song writer saw the Christian’s hope as a pillar to lean on when he wrote “How cheering is the Christian’s Hope, while toiling here below. It buoys us up while passing through this wilderness of woe.”

The  Rev. Jesse Jackson, American civil rights leader adopted the slogan “keep hope alive” to rally his followers and to keep them fired up to achieve the goal. Since success was so hard to achieve he recognized that the only thing to keep the followers going was hope.  Indeed we can be assured that in God there is hope for he can work miracles. Just as he brought hope to the Israelites he brings hope to us today.

Thirdly this text speaks to us of the restorative power of God.

Ezekiel is asked by God ‘Mortal, can these bones live? Can life be restored to these dry and dead bones? I believe that as a human being Ezekiel wanted to say no. However, recognizing the power of God to restore life and to do whatever He wills to do, he did not answer “yes” or “no”. He said “God you know”. In other words, he was saying “God, it is in your hands!” What an answer! Ezekiel knew that with God all things were possible.

As we continue in the passage we learned that these bones were restored to life. Ezekiel 37: 7-10 states,

7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’10I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

God’s ability and desire to restore is seen throughout the Bible. As Israel forsook God, time and time again, the prophets would always foretell and forth-tell the suffering, captivity and enslavement that would befall the nation because of their sins. But there was always the promise of forgiveness and restoration.

Very early in the history of Israel we read of God speaking to Solomon of his restorative power. In 2 Chronicles 14 he says,

14if 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.

In Job 42:10 we learn that Job, who suffered greatly and lost all his material wealth, his health, family and fortunes had them restored twofold.

“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

The second half of Isaiah speaks of the restoration of Israel. For example Isaiah chapter 54 gives an account of a people who were despaired at the “loss” of their God, since they are in exile and are apart from their land and Jerusalem.

 

Among the Minor Prophets, Amos who vividly and poetically foretells and forth-tells the destruction of the nation of Israel speaks of God’s restorative powers in Chapter 9 verses 14 & 15, when God said:

14 I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 I will plant them upon their land,
and they shall never again be plucked up
out of the land that I have given them, says the Lord your God.

The Babylonian exile and captivity meant more than oppression for Israel; it meant shame, disgrace, and humiliation. They saw themselves as lost, forsaken and dead as dry bones. God promises a glorious release not only from the exile and captivity, but also from the shame, disgrace, and humiliation. Restoration was what they most desired. Ezekiel’s instructions of prophecy given by God are therefore most timely.

12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel (Ezekiel 37:12).

Our Saviour Jesus demonstrated the restorative power of God. Jesus forgave and restored the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well in Samaria? He forgave and restored the thief Zaccheus after he had repented of his sins. He forgave the thief on the cross and said to him, “Because you have repented; today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Like the Israelites we may have enjoyed days of plenty and hours of ease from the hands of God and yet we may have forgotten him. We have grieved his Holy Spirit by our sinful behaviour and our turning away from God.

God may have allowed us to go our own way and now we are paying a heavy price. In our lives we may be experiencing feelings of emptiness, loneliness, lack of joy and experiencing no satisfaction. We may have made a mess of our lives through drug abuse, alcohol dependency, spousal abuse or some such sin. It is possible that even as Christians we have been walking after the flesh and not after the Spirit. This may have caused us to commit many or all of the sins Paul outlined in Galatians 5:19-20. Now we might be paying the heavy price of not knowing or having the fruit of the Spirit within us. In our sorry state we may be suffering greatly and feeling like dry bones – dead and we are now asking where is our God and is he coming to our aid to help us clean up this mess.

We may feel like the Israelites when they were suffering in captivity in Babylon. But just as God cared about them he cares about us. He loves us all the same. Just as God gave them hope by allowing Ezekiel to have the vision of dry bones coming to life He can do the same for us.

God cares about us, and therefore our hope in him is not misplaced. If we repent he will hear from heaven and he will restore us and raise us up to glory once again.

Let us repent today and allow God to work a miracle of regeneration in our lives. Let us invite his Holy Spirit to come in and renew and restore the joy of his salvation within us for this vision of Ezekiel is a lesson in the power of God not only for the Children of Israel then but for us today.

Come, let us return and commit ourselves to the Lord for if we are spiritually like dry bones we can live again. God the giver of all life, cares about us, he is always willing and ready to restore us and with him there is hope. What will your response to God be? I pray that we will all surrender to Jesus.

 

Rev. Ezra Barker

Minister with Pastoral Responsibility for

Ann Gill Memorial Methodist Church

“…what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” Ps. 8:3, 4

‘When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place, what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?’ Ps. 8:3, 4

Like the psalmist I too am in awe that the great Creator God desires to be my friend! I mean, God is God, the Most High, the Almighty! No other is before or above Him! God is the First and the Last, the beginning and the end, the Author and Finisher, not only of our faith but of all that IS- both seen and unseen!

Yet this great, majestic Super Being is concerned with us- mere mortals riddled with sin, consumed with selfish-pride and completely helpless and yet the Great I AM desires our attention and affection and love! Mind boggling, that’s what it is!

Oh Lord, we cannot help but be amazed at Your awesomeness yet we are even more amazed at Your unconditional love for us. A love that is steadfast and unwavering towards us, regardless of what we do or fail to do! Such revelation leaves us humbled and grateful! Such a revelation gives birth to praise and love in our hearts this morning!

Rev. Tanya Conliffe

Methodist Chaplain,

The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus

“…And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability…”Acts 2: 3,4

‘Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability… But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!” Acts 2: 3,4

My prayer is that everyone truly experienced God in a new life transforming way this Pentecostal/Whitsuntide weekend.  As for me I’ve committed to rending my heart (Joel 2), that is: ripping my heart open and placing it on the altar of God so that God can fill it with His life disrupting, life shaking, intoxicating Spirit (new wine).

I’m tired of living in fear which silences me or keeps me locked behind closed doors. I’m tired of living with regrets; of wishing I had done such and such!  It’s time I allow God to work in and through me doing as the Spirit gives me ability!!!!

So what do you say my friends? Are you with me? Is it time now to get drunk on the divine new wine of God’s Holy Spirit? Well, if you agree with me- let’s go and get wonderfully drunk with God’s power! Holy Spirit You are welcomed in our lives!!

Rev. Tanya Conliffe,

Methodist Chaplain

The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus

‘Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.’ John 20:21, 22

My dear friends, just like those disciples, some of us have barricaded ourselves behind walls and locked doors because we fear the persecution of others. We have locked ourselves away from the world in order to protect ourselves from their hurtful words and painful actions.

Yet I believe that just as Jesus did with those disciples in John 20, He wishes to do the same with us today. Jesus desires to infiltrate the inner chambers of our protected and barricaded hearts to offer us the precious gift of ‘peace’. A gift which enables us to boldly go and do what God has sent us to do!  A gift which surpasses all our understanding as it guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. A gift which is powered and backed by the indwelling, life-giving, life-enabling, life-transforming Spirit of God!

So as we prepare to step out of our barricaded inner chambers, let us do so knowing that the Breath of God dwells within us like the wind in the sails of boat. Let us allow the Breath of God to drive and direct our daily walk! So today let Jesus breathe on us anew and receive the Holy Spirit once again!

Rev. Tanya Conliffe,

Methodist Chaplain,

The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus

A young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!” Num. 11: 26,27

‘Two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed behind in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but they had not gone out to the Tabernacle. Yet the Spirit rested upon them as well, so they prophesied there in the camp.  A young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!” Num. 11: 26,27

The background to this passage is that Eldad and Medad should have been in the Tabernacle to be anointed to share in Moses leadership but they stayed in the camp. Therefore, when the Spirit came upon the elders, even those 2 who were not physically present at the Tabernacle began to prophesy. That is why the young man came running to Moses!

He turned ‘informer’ and tattled on Eldad and Medad. He actually thought he was doing good by telling on them; by highlighting their seeming ‘sin’!

Too often we in the Church have set structures that mark out righteousness and when anyone does not follow those demarcations, we get all hot and bothered under our collar and sound the alarm that once again there’s a sinner in our midst- maybe hoping to get them in trouble! Yet I loved Moses response to his tattling:

‘But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!” (v.29)

So my friends I hope you agree with me that we should desist from being ‘holy informers’ or ‘sin police’ and leave that business to the One who knows and sees ALL and thus can judge fairly and more accurately than us mere mortals!

Rev. Tanya Conliffe

Methodist Chaplain,

The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

“Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!’ Num. 11: 21-23

‘But Moses responded to the Lord, “There are 600,000 foot soldiers here with me, and yet you say, ‘I will give them meat for a whole month!’ Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!’ Num. 11: 21-23

Recently, I feel/sound like Moses! When I contemplate the ‘impossibilities’ of ministry those same questions of ‘how?’ and ‘with what?’ and ‘whom?’ and ‘when?’ spew out of my mouth!

But thank You Jesus that God is a relational God. Thank You Jesus that God is a God who speaks with mere mortals; a God who desires to reveal God-Self and Truth to us; a God who desires to show Himself real! So just as God reminded Moses back in the desert, God reminds us today with a question of His own:  “Has My arm lost its power? (Is My power limited?) Now you will see whether or not My word comes true for you!’

I pray that we all have a blessed day as we look and see God’s word come true for us!

Rev. Tanya Conliffe

Methodist Chaplain

The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus

‘My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!’ Ps. 108:1

I know my heart is confident in God- for the God I’ve met is merciful and loving. Such knowledge enables me to walk with boldness- not in my own righteousness but my confidence rest in such a God who has so freely and generously given to all who are willing to accept the divine gifts of the Spirit and Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness! Gifts that I am totally dependent upon for salvation.

Yet there are moments when my confidence stumble. Moments when my heart allows the condemning and judgmental words of others to seep into my conscience. Words that tell me that my sin disqualifies me from being called a child of God! But once I make it my daily task to seek my God’s face, such moments don’t last too long! As usual, in such moments my gracious and loving God reminds me of the simple Truth that salvation is through grace (God’s part) and faith (my part) alone! And such truth births a song of praise within my heart; a song that goes something like this:

‘When I think about the Lord, how He saved me how He raised me, how He filled me with the Holy Ghost. How He healed me to the uttermost. How He picked me up and turned me around, how He placed me on solid ground.

It makes me want to shout: Halleluia, thank You Jesus!

I hope such knowledge births songs of praise in your hearts today!

Rev. Tanya Conliffe,

Methodist Chaplain,

The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus

Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.’ Joel 2:12, 13

God's praise.

God’s praise.

‘Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.  Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.’ Joel 2:12, 13 

This passage is telling us to put away the rituals- the outward trappings of religion and let us offer to God that which counts; that which is a true offering of love!

Let us offer to God our rended hearts- our torn open hearts. A heart emptied of self: of selfish ambition and self pride. A heart made accessible to God. A heart made ready to be filled by whatever God desires!

God is waiting…waiting for us to return to Him…to genuinely seek Him. For our God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love towards us!

Rev. Tanya Conliffe

Methodist Chaplain

The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus

‘Unless the Lord builds a house the work of the builders is wasted….’ Ps. 127:1,2

The Lord shared this scripture with me today and the New Living Translation has used such simple but profound words to express this divine wisdom:

‘Unless the Lord builds a house the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.’ Ps. 127:1,2

Such simple but wise advice!
Simply put: God brings value to everything! Without God our labour, our efforts, our life are worthless. So why not stop striving and start resting in Christ- the source of our everything?!?

Rev. Tanya Conliffe

Methodist Chaplain

University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus