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Daily Devotional 3-19-20

When Life Seems Paused 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2

For many people, their regular schedule has been altered, if not halted. Daily rhythms and routines have been tweaked in small but significant ways. And, some may not know how to respond to these change. Having your kids at home all day at this time can be unnerving, especially when spring break plans have been canceled. The limited movement can also be very discomforting. Now, we all have to make new plans to adapt to the changes, after all, life must go on. All this can be very overwhelming.

The Psalmist recognized his vulnerability to being overwhelmed, but He was also cognizant of the leadership of God. He, therefore, entrusted his life to the guidance of the presence of God during turbulent times. When he wasn’t sure of the next plans, and the future seemed quite unknown and uncertain, he leaned on the Rock of Ages for safety and refuge. 

Allow this storm to carry you to the arms of Christ. Let Him be at the center of it all. This can be an opportunity to spend quality time with your family and those close to you. You can create some sabbatical moments for yourself to could help refocus on God. It can be an opportunity to mend some long-standing relationships. So, call some people and have really important conversations with them. This, I believe, is a time to come together. Make something out of this downtime. It could be a gift in the storm.

PRAYER: Gracious God, help us keep a positive attitude in this season. May we have the right heart and responses to those around us.



Daily Devotional 3-18-20

Locked Down? 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  John 20:19

Social isolation is already an epidemic in our culture, and now, we have a new phenomenon—social distancing. But, while the former has been negative, the latter is very positive in the wake of the health crisis that is threatening the world right now. We are being encouraged to do something we would normally do, so we can mitigate the spread of the virus. Social distancing is difficult but we’ve got to do it. 

Jesus’ disciples were locked down for fear of the Jews. They forgot all that their teacher had taught them. They were people like us—one minute we are full of faith, the next minute we are running for cover. They were not just physically locked down, but more so, their faith was “locked behind” closed doors. They were experiencing an unprecedented situation. Their future was uncertain. But, the good news was that Jesus appeared amid their lockdown. He joined them in the very space they took refuge.

For most of these days, you may have to recluse. But don’t lock down your faith in Christ.

The history of our faith reveals many followers of Christ who were locked behind bars, at homes, etc., as part of persecutions, but they kept their faith in God going and strong. In those days, they kept true faith community: they cared and provided for each other, as they desired to show love.  We, also, have the opportunity to let the beauty and the light of our faith shine for such a time as this. Yes, the little light of yours can still shine. And, this pandemic cannot take it out.  

Christ’s presence is felt closer when we are most fearful!

PRAYER: As a hen broods over her chicks, so do we pray, that you may brood over us in this season, oh Lord. May we experience your blessings of protection, peace, and healing.



Daily Devotional 3-17-19

Peace in the Storm 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:17

John and Charles Wesley set out for America in 1735, enthused at the idea of preaching the Gospel to Native American people. During the voyage, a terrifying storm struck the ship. John was afraid. He prayed with the English passengers, one of whom brought him a baby to baptize in case they were all about to die. Shortly afterward he was with a group of German Moravians when a huge wave engulfed the ship and water poured down into the cabins. While the English passengers screamed in terror, the Moravians continued singing—men, women, and children seemingly untroubled. Later he asked one of the Moravians if they hadn’t been afraid. He replied that no one had been afraid.

Your faith may not be as strong as the group of the Germans, or you cannot even tell how you would have responded or reacted if you were on that voyage, but the reality is, we are in a storm right now. The responses of people in the public, news updates, empty isles at grocery stores, major sports events called off, canceled Sunday worship, increasing recorded cases of the virus are enough to throw you into fear and anxiety. 

This pandemic is real, but more real is the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus.

As part of His final messages and encouragement to His disciples, Jesus exhorted them not to be afraid. He knew of the challenges they would face after his ascension, and as they took the Gospel from one place to another. He was fully cognizant of the fact that many troubles would accompany the daily lives of the disciples; therefore, He encouraged them not to be afraid. And, I want to encourage you: don’t let anxiety and fear drive you. Christ has made His peace available to keep you composed and calm. The Prince of Peace lives in you. You can be unafraid. His peace is with you and I invite you to walk in it and live it out. Get in touch with other people. Inspire, encourage, and pray for one another. This will help you be at peace.

Practice peace in your family. Call an elderly person you know, encourage, and pray with them.  And, yes, practice all the needed precautions the authorities have shared. Christ will see us through this!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, protect our hearts and minds with your peace.  Shield our families, friends and loved ones from this darkness.  In Jesus’ name. Amen!


Daily Devotional 3-16-20

Set Yourself Free
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…  Hebrew 12:1

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. There are things in our lives of which we are proud; others we are not so proud of. While we celebrate our strengths and keep employing for our personal and public good, we sometimes do not know what to do with our weaknesses. Many people have concluded they cannot do anything about their weaknesses. It’s a lost battle!

The writer of this letter seems not to downplay sin. He recognizes some sins easily entangle us.  You may have the mastery to resist and avoid certain sins, but other sins easily overcome you.   In such situations, we are tempted to see those sins as normal because we’ve lived with them for so long, and over time, we’ve lost the truth about them. It could even be associated with your personality. 

The writer also points out “weights” we ought to lay aside. These may not necessarily be sins, but are activities, behaviors, tendencies, etc., that slow down our spiritual progress; depressing and stomping our growth, they cause retrogression and make us spiritually immature. These weights do not provide you with the freedom and joy to live a spiritually vibrant life. They cause you to lag; they decrease your momentum and effectiveness.

We are in the Lenten season, and we take the opportunity to examine our lives to identify the sins that easily entangle us and the weights that drag us behind our spiritual potential. Can you identify these in your life? In Christ Jesus, you have what it takes to be free from the things you aren’t proud of in your life.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me recognize my besetting sins, and the weights I have carried for years, and grant me the desire and strength to please you with a new way of living.   



Daily Devotional 3-13-20

Do You Desire a Change?
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:6

It is one thing to have a problem; it is another thing to desire help from your problem. Some people are so accustomed to their problems that they create a routine and rhythm of life out of their problems. Their problems become their new normal. They accept this new normal because of many failed relief efforts. Thus, promises of new life and hope are perceived as empty and futile. “There’s simply no need for new life; I’m okay, this is what it’s meant to be; I have people in my family who went through a similar experience,” they say.

It seems surprising that Jesus would ask a man who had been sick for 38years, and had laid at the pool without any sign of hope for all those years, “do you want to be made well?” In most of Jesus’ miracles, people’s consent and faith in him were important. By this, Jesus was involving them in the miracle and healing process. This is important because persons who have experienced protracted years of problems could have an indifferent attitude towards restoration.  How bad do you want that change?  How far can you go with your faith to reach out to Jesus for a situational change?

Hope is a gift that energizes our faith for change and results.

“Do you want to get well” allows us to recognize Jesus as greater than our problems. It allows us to affirm and confess our faith in Christ. This question grants us the opportunity to break free from doubts and unbelief that often time fight our breakthrough. It grants us the opportunity to embrace new life. 

So, do you want to get well? Where do you see suffering and struggles in your life and family? 

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, give me fresh eyes to see hope in problems around me.  May I see Christ as exalted high above all.



Daily Devotional 3-12-20

Complete Abandonment
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.  John 5:2-4

If you have certain abilities, you can achieve a lot in life. If you are well-connected, you will have many open doors. If you have people caring for you, you will be happy. These are thoughts we claim to be true and working. But, what about the person who has no resources, no one to care for him, no human connection to give him opportunities? We may say, then, such people are doomed to struggle and suffer in life. 

The healing pool had many sick people around and waiting for an angel to stir the water. It was one opportunity at a time to be healed. In this situation, a person’s healing depended on his ability to move first into the pool. The sick had to compete for their healing. The faster a sick person ran, the brighter his chances of getting healed. 

This is a system Jesus came to destroy. He came to break life-sucking traditions and systems; he destroyed the depressing systems that offered no hope at all so that all may have access to the blessings to meet the needs of their lives. I am glad that we belong to an era of abundant grace where we don’t have to compete with one another to receive supernatural blessings. I am glad each person has equal access to God and His blessings. I am glad that in Jesus, everyone’s needs are met. Your blessing is not in the hands of a person. It is on God’s hands. Stop looking to people and systems. Look up to God (Psalm 121:1). He uses people to bless, but people aren’t the source of our blessings. 

In this season of Lent, Christ Jesus invites us to completely abandon our trust and faith in Him to meet the pressing needs of our lives. 

PRAYER: Lord, help me keep the right perspective on people in my life. May I never seek people, but You to meet my needs. Help me not to place undue demands and expectations on people around me.



Daily Devotional 3-10-20

Renewed 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you. Romans 12:1-2

One of the challenges of the modern church is being counter-cultural. For some, the idea of counterculture is not appreciated. Can’t I just be who I want to be? They ask. No, you cannot be who you want to be. You cannot be a Christian on your terms. Christ Jesus determines how His followers live their lives. Paul compares the life of a Christian to a soldier at the base. The soldier does not do whatever pleases him, but lives within the rules guiding the community at the base. Can you imagine a soldier refusing to obey the instructions of a commanding officer?  That’s impossible. Just as a soldier desires and strives to please the master, Paul says the Christian ought to desire to please Christ.

The child of God is different from this world. He belongs to a kingdom different from this world. He has values different from the world. The world prizes individualism and selfishness, but Christ values community and love. The world says you are your own authority, but Christ invites us to submit to His authority. 

Are there some customs and behaviors of this world you’ve bought into? What are the things in your life that stand in the way of Christ? He offers an invitation to renew our minds and heart so we are able to conduct ourselves as living sacrifices.

PRAYER: Pour afresh, your showers of renewal on me, Oh Lord.



Daily Devotional 3-9-20

Loving Jesus Again
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

I know how many good things you are doing. I have watched your hard work and your patience; I know you don’t tolerate sin among your members, and you have carefully examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but aren’t. You have found out how they lie. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. “Yet there is one thing wrong; you don’t love me as at first! Think about those times of your first love (how different now!) and turn back to me again and work as you did before; or else I will come and remove your candlestick from its place among the churches. Revelation 2:2-5

It’s very easy for a technical system to keep consistency for a long stretch of time. For example, a machine could function with a high level of consistency, doing the same thing over and over. Manufacturing companies have industrial equipment set to perform in specific rhythms and patterns, and so long as maintenance gets done, they will function for years. Not so with spheres of life where real human relationships happen. Consistency is difficult where there is free will. That is why sometimes couples go for marriage retreats to rekindle their love. Not only do human relationships suffer inconsistencies, but so does our relationship with Christ.

God takes His relationship with us so seriously that He makes us aware of the quality of our love for Him suffers. In the text today, Jesus sends a message to the angel of the church in Ephesus.  He commended the members of the church in many ways. He also notified them of their growth. The members of the church had lost their first love for Jesus. They loved Jesus but not as in the way they did at first. When you love somebody at first you easily forgive them, you think of them a lot, you desire to be in their company, you treat with TLC (tender, love, and care), and you just don’t get tired of them. But, as the relationship grows, the energy and excitement wane. 

So, what is the temperature of your love for Christ? Is it as fervent as you first loved Him? Do you love others with passion as Jesus would? How would reviving your love for Christ look like?  In what areas is Christ inviting you to awaken your firsts love for Him and those around you?

PRAYER: Forgive me, Lord, for being too busy to love you as I ought. Grant me the grace and desire to respond to your love in pleasing ways.



Daily Devotional 3-6-20

Forbidden Fruits
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Genesis 2:15-17

This is one story you have heard over and over. It has been preached about in worship, discussed in Sunday schools, lectured on at seminars and retreats, etc. But, we cannot finish talking about it because the echoes of that story still chime through the world. 

I remember, as a kid, a time I went to play with one of my friends at their home after school. His parents had gone to work and we had the whole house to ourselves. My friend told me of a gallon on top of a cupboard he wanted to show me. Then his little brother said, we couldn’t do that because their father had instructed them never to touch that gallon. We ignored the little brother, climbed the cupboard and brought the down the gallon to check the content. In it, we discovered traditional wine obtained from a palm tree. We drank some and placed it back on the cupboard. I went back home after playing and my friend’s dad disciplined him when he got home in the evening. 

Somewhere deep down in our hearts we all have the affinity to touch what we have been told never to touch. The spirit of disobedience was passed to us from our parents, Adam and Eve.  And throughout history, humanity has been eating forbidden fruits. The fall in the Garden of Eden keeps playing out in our individual and sometimes corporate lives in different forms. 

We live in a world filled with enticements. I call these forbidden fruits. Touching and eating them draw us further away from God. Enjoying them stifles our spiritual growth and retards, if not retrogresses, our maturity in Christ. Disobedience could be appealing to the flesh and mind but is deadly to the spirit. 

Christ, who is the second Adam, perfectly obeyed and submitted to God in the garden of Gethsemane. And, he gave us the power and grace to walk in obedience in a world filled with forbidden fruits. The power of the Holy Spirit is available to help us exercise the victory over them. Obedience to God is a possibility if we desire so. So, what do forbidden fruits look like for you? Could you name some of them?

PRAYER: God, sometimes I feel weary and defeated; sometimes it seems I cannot win the battle of my forbidden fruits. Help me to choose you. Help me to choose obedience over disobedience.