I wish to extend warm and sincere greetings to all you ladies gathered here in the presence of Almighty God on the occasion of your annual general meeting. I think it’s only fitting that we should begin by acknowledging God’s Blessings for the opportunity that He’s given each and every one of us to be present in this New Year 2017 to minister and fellowship in His Holy Precious Name. The Psalmist David reminds us quite aptly at Psalm 136, “Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever. Throughout this psalm, we are reminded of God’s great creative power and wonders and so let us reaffirm our faith and magnify His Glorious Name by conveying our gratitude for His Bountiful Blessings and for His Mercy that endureth forever. It is good to give thanks for the mercies He has bestowed on this Organisation in the past, the Blessings He is presently crafting for you and His intervention for the future in which your faith, my faith in Him will be firmly put to the test. So let us do as the Psalmist at Psalms 96:12, Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His Holy name.
Ladies, I am delighted to be here with you to share in this forum with the thought- provoking theme which you have proposed Faith in Action. Your congregating for this meeting is an attestation of your faith and so you must pray at all times, unceasingly for God to increase your faith so that you can spread His message of Love and Grace which He willingly gives us even though we are so undeserving. 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 exhorts us: Rejoice always, Pray without ceasing, In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Yes, ladies, we are in the midst of perilous times as Timothy predicted, globally, regionally, nationally, in our communities and in our family milieu, and so our task increases tenfold to intervene with faith wherever we may be to impress upon our audience the extent of God’s Love, His Faithfulness to us, and the need for us to exercise that same Love to our brethren irrespective of colour, creed, gender or ethnicity, so that we can make a difference in the lives we touch and they in turn can do likewise and transform the society in which we live.
Philippians 4:13, tells us: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me; we must remember that our faith is called into action in whatever we attempt to do; it is not we ourselves, but the Omnipotent architect and His infinite power and craftsmanship that transcends our lives and gives us the will and the impetus to act. God’s Faithfulness to us His children is captured very vividly by the songwriter: Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God my Father; There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassion, they fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be. Great is Thy faithfulness…. Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed thy Hand hath provided, Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me. Can we ask for further manifestations of His faithfulness when John 3:17 states: God sent His Son into the World not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved?
God paid for our redemption at great cost, so all that we can do as Christian believers is to reciprocate His Love through our faith in action. So let us stop and reflect for a while on the action we have to take, the responsibilities that are incumbent upon to fulfill as women and moreso as disciples of God in our immediate vineyard which is Guyana. You will agree with me that we wear many caps as women and we face a plethora of social and health woes in our society to which we cannot a blind eye.
So, sisters in Christ, before becoming involved in any action, call upon the Lord for faith and strength. Ephesians 6:10-18 sets it out clearly; verse 11 states: Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; vs. 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. The devil is in our homes; we have to wrestle with him constantly. As parents, as spouses, we are faced with children at risk of dropping out of school, from drug and alcohol abuse; even we ourselves are victims of physical and verbal abuse, of depression and the list goes on. What do we do; what can we do? As I mentioned earlier, we cannot turn aside and say it does not concern us, that we will do nothing; we have to battle for God, we have to wage war for our children, we have to protect them and bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4.
Our faith must be grounded in the Rock of our salvation. Let us recall the Mother of Jesus and the trials and turmoil she endured for her son, Our Savior Jesus Christ. She saw Him in countless scenarios, bruised, beaten, humiliated, nailed to the cruel cross. What an extraordinary and unwavering demonstration of faith in the Almighty Father! Can we not do likewise and fulfill our role with faith and confidence when we see our children awry, our homes dysfunctional and things falling apart? Sisters in Christ, I want to encourage you to take a moment away from the demands of the job, from the distractions of the telephone, computer and social media and focus on the home. Listen to your children, commune with them not talk down to them; they may have something important to share, a life that is being bullied or abused, an intent that may be bordering on suicide. Let us not be caught up in our little world to the detriment of those around us who are in search of a listening ear and words of comfort. Sisters in Christ, do not preach to them, teach them so that the lessons will be user friendly and more enduring.
As we move outwardly into the society, where we assume leadership roles in our communities, in our work environments, I cannot overstate how critical and pivotal a role you will be called upon to play. This is our faith in action or to use the current term, this is Intentional Living. Each of us makes choices and has beliefs that we adhere to throughout our lives; similarly some of us attain high stations in life while others rank along the poverty lines, but sisters in Christ James 2:1 advises us: My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory with partiality; we have to reach out to one and all. We have to move out of our comfort zone and minister to those adolescent mothers, to those trafficking in persons, those living with HIV, with mental disorders and on the fringe of society; they are all our brothers and sisters in need of guidance, love and spiritual food. We can achieve nothing much if we keep the spiritual promises and benefits to ourselves; we have to worm our way into every nook and cranny and ferret out the cancer that is eroding our society. We must mobilize ourselves as women in the battle field and help to reduce the incidence of social and health woes that are rife in our beloved land.
I want to share with you a powerful story of faith recorded in Acts 3. Peter and John were on their way to the Temple and at the gate of Beautiful, they encountered a lame man from his mother’s womb begging for alms. The story continues that fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said “Look at us”, Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have, I give you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk….. So he leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking, leaping and praising God. Women in Christ, this is a stirring illustration of faith in action. Peter was so imbued with the spirit of God and anchored in faith that He was able to perform the miracle in the name of the Lord. Similarly, the lame man demonstrated an act of faith; he did not hesitate nor question Peter’s words but responded forthwith, leaping up and giving praise to God. Yes, our Great Redeemer lives and we need only but call in His Name with conviction and things will happen. This is certainly a lesson that we can share, and like Peter say: And His name, through faith in His name has made this man strong; whom you see and know. Yes, the faith that comes through Him has given him the perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
As I conclude, I want you, sisters in Christ, to be strong in your conviction, tenacious in your faith. Colossians 3:17 says that whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Do we need to be reminded that we serve a risen Lord? I think not. Our spiritual journey is a process with choices and consequences, some easy, the majority difficult but we have the assurance that we can count on God, that we have the privilege to share a relationship in which we can grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2nd Peter3:18).
Each time we look in the mirror, we must be emboldened to pray for a deepening of our faith. Our prayers and faith are the powerful tools in our tool box that will allow us to transform lives, to change lifestyles and inappropriate behaviors, to help our Guyanese citizens who are in search of that action of love. Let us like the Colossians at 4:2 continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. As you deliberate at your meeting, may you come up with innovative strategies to enrich the organization, to help each other to strengthen his/her faith in God, to seek reassurances from the Most High and an increase in wisdom so that you can make an indelible impact on all those whom you serve. Let us make good our mission as women in Christ and through our humility and faith, be catalysts in teaching and changing lives, in short empowering each other and engendering the peace that passeth all understanding. I leave with you this verse of that famous hymn: Fight the good fight with all thy might, Christ is thy strength and Christ thy right, Lay hold on life and it shall be, Thy joy and crown eternally.