As the second lockdown is moving into full swing, I have created a YouTube Channel where I post videos on how we can keep strong in faith during these uncertain times. The channel name is Christine Emelone and the first video on how to stand in faith during lockdown is already up. This is all very new to me, but I know and believe that God is in control now when things are difficult.
Please show some support by checking out my channel as I hope to regularly post new videos each week. I plead that we would encourage and spur one another on in the faith, even during this lockdown.
With every hope, I pray that God will continue to guide and lead the way through this tricky season, and pour His unending grace into our hearts.
This year has been far from easy. The pressures, stresses and burdens of life have taken a toll on us all, yet the Father’s name remains glorified.
God is still using His children during a time that is frustrating, difficult and complicated to understand, to glorify His magnificent name. Even though we may feel beaten down, upset and possibly confused due to lack of faith, God will never give up on us because His grace is sufficient for us all. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I haven’t blogged in a while due to being bombarded with university work, a dissertation and other commitments, but I still stand certain that God is in control. His name will forever be glorified and I plead for us all to take heart and trust in His unchanging grace
As Jesus prepares to be arrested, betrayed and killed on the cross, we see how he prays for future believers to be united in Christ.
‘I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.’ John 17:20-21
It is clear that Jesus has a specific kind of unity in mind. The oneness He prays is for us to be similar to that which the Father and Son enjoy within the Trinity. Without a doubt, this powerful oneness is one which we cannot fabricate ourselves. It comes as people joined to Jesus through His message become unified with one another.
As followers of Christ, we are spiritually united with each other and one within Christ. This emphasises the importance of praying with and for one another and not neglecting meeting up together to study His Word. We are not to be divided or left out on our own, but lifted and held up by other believers in unity within Christ.
As Jesus is about to sacrifice Himself on the cross, we see how Jesus prays for His people. In particular, He prays for the Father to provide heavenly protection and unity, as Jesus prepares to leave the earth.
“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:11
Jesus prays for believers because we have been specially chosen out of the world to follow Him. Notice how He states that He is not praying for the world, because they do not belong to the Father nor live in accordance with His will. The powerful connection between the Son and the Father is amazing, and we should follow Jesus’ passion to glorify the Father in all that we do.
The fact that Jesus is intervening through divine protection over our lives can leave us rest assured that He is with us during this pandemic, and even post-pandemic. God never planned to abandon us. He is always with us, and will guide us through what to seems to be an uncertain, difficult and challenging time.
How do you prepare for big opportunities? In what ways do you look towards the ‘big moment’? In the parable of the Ten Virgins, we see how Matthew emphasises the importance of getting ready and responding to God’s call.
‘At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.’ Matthew 25:1-5
This parable is not about people who have rejected God at the end of time. This is about urgency, readiness and how we spend our time in a season of preparation. Jesus is with us now and he calls us to be discipled by His Word and not the culture we live in. He calls us to get ready for the calling He has placed in our lives. Later in this parable, we read the consequences of not getting ready and being prepared for God.
‘But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.’
When we postpone our call to action for obedience and are not readily prepared for God’s calling, we can miss our moment. As the foolish virgins delayed the instruction to get ready, they were unable to benefit from all God had in store for them. To put it plainly, the wise live in the now but the door closes on the foolish.
How will you be more prepared this week?
In what ways will you get ready and respond to God’s calling?
In the Book of John, we see where Jesus has been preparing His disciples for His death and they are filled with grief and fear. They had left everything to follow Jesus and now He was leaving them to return to the Father. As He sees their hearts, He reassures them that His death is not where the gospel ends.
‘Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.’ John 16:20
Although Jesus would be physically absent, He had gifted them with the Spirit to dwell within them and lead them to the truth. Jesus had never really abandoned them as the Spirit had given them Jesus’ intimate, righteous and spiritual presence.
‘So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.’ John 16:22
Because no one can take away their joy, the disciples are able to experience a deep sense of peace when Jesus ascends and leaves them physically. Although the disciples grieve from hearing the death of Jesus, the results of His sacrifice reunite them with Christ.
What reasons have these verses given you for joy as a Christian?
This morning, I woke up to a message from a friend saying she had been thinking about me and found some Bible verses to encourage me in my walk with Christ. The truth is, we all need loving friends in life and Jesus is the most loving and truest friend of them all.
‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ John 15:14
Jesus demonstrated His sacrificial love for us on the cross where He paid the price for all our sins, even though we were undeserving of it. Clearly, Jesus states that there is no greater love that can surpass this incomprehensible act.
‘You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.’ John 15:14-15
When we follow and obey the commands of Jesus, we become His true friends and are no longer servants, as He has given us the inside track on what is going on. A servant is unaware of His master’s business, but Jesus is completely open to us as His friends and followers of Him.
I’d like to ask you these questions:
How will you reflect Jesus at work in you through your friendships?
In what ways will you go the extra mile and show sacrificial love for others?
During these very unusual times, God calls us to not only follow Him but to remain spiritually connected to Him as a branch is to a tree. When we fix our eyes on Him, we display our trust, commitment and obedience to Christ.
‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’ John 15:5
To bear fruit means that we focus on reflecting Jesus in our lives and creating a long-lasting impact which glorifies and walks in line with His Word. Although these strange times appear to be ‘fruitless’ at first sight, God is very much active and working in our world today, and calls us to follow, connect and walk with Him in faith.
After Jesus had humbly washed His disciples’ feet, well aware of His hour on the cross approaching, and told Peter about His coming act of betrayal, He states this in John 14:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.’ John 14:1
When our trust is in Jesus, we have no reason to fill our hearts with fear or alarm. As we are complete in Him and certain of the eternal hope we have, we can be rest assured that Jesus goes above and beyond our limitations to extents we cannot contain.
Jesus loved us to the end and didn’t look back for a second because the depth of love He has for us is beyond comprehension. We need to look no further than the quintessential example He sent by washing his disciples’ feet.
Fear not for God loves and cares about You unconditionally.
In these crazy times, it can be easy for us to prioritise and pursue our own desires instead of lining up our wants with Scripture and God’s perfect will. The truth is, God has our best interests at hearts and our highest aim as followers of Him should be to glorify His name.
‘So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to for the glory of God.’ 1 Corinthians 10:31
We must remember that God does not keep a scoreboard of how many times we pray or have had quiet time with Him. However, the Bible commands us ‘to not lose heart and pray without ceasing.’ (1 Thessalonians 5: 17) We should not see praying as a chore, but as a gift and opportunity to connect with our Heavenly Father and trust in His perfect will.
When we cannot find the words to say, we can be rest assured that we have the Holy Spirit’s help to guide and assist us in praying. “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” Romans 8:26-27