Ecclesiastes 3:1 asserts, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
God never promised us that our life would be easy, but He did say that there is a time and season for everything. If you continue reading the chapter of Ecclesiastes through verse 8 you will see how many things that we consider good end up countering with something we recognize as unpleasant, yet God has expressed to us there is a purpose for it all.
Whether reading the international, national or regional news accounts, it can become very easy to get discouraged. Press your way beyond the reports and forecast. Despite whatever “it’ looks like, know that it is only an optical illusion to distract. Galatians 6:9 challenges us to not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t give up.
Ephesians 6:12 clarifies something, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Often the spiritual breakthroughs you need are brought about through prayer, not by asking favors from friends and family, or pushing for your own way. Stop looking to people for your breakthrough, and start storming the gates of heaven through prayer. That said, continue to fight the good fight of faith!
So suit up with the whole Armor of God and prepare to FIGHT ON!
A united front and effort
The United Pastors, Clergy and Community Leaders have expressed outrage about the acts of violence and confirm our commitment to our community to continue the efforts we have initiated in the Stop the Violence campaign.
First and foremost, our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of these most recent acts of violence and all of the families who have been affected by the senseless shootings and killings here in the city of Youngstown, but especially to the family of Persayus Chanell Davis, the 10-year-old innocent child who lost her life the other day in a flurry of gunfire.
We will not allow these misguided, thoughtless and reckless offenders to continue to terrorize the streets and neighborhoods of our city, jeopardizing the safety of families and children of our community who just want to live in peace.
We understand that what we are facing and experiencing here in the city of Youngstown and communities across this nation is spiritual warfare. We are battling against the forces of evil and spiritual wickedness that are influencing and controlling the minds of these individuals who are the perpetrators of the violence. And that is why we will continue to combat those forces with our prayers and our presence in the neighborhoods of our community until we break this stronghold of violence and peace is restored here in our city.
We are calling on all of our churches and the faith community to join the effort to end this violence. Because it is going to take all of us who believe in God and care about our community to get involved at some level of the campaign in order for us to make a difference. And it is going to take a sustained effort beyond the campaign to maintain the peace once we achieve it.
We are also calling upon all concerned citizens of our city to be a part of the solution as we work together with our local law enforcement officials to bring justice for the families who have been victims of or affected by the violence. Don’t simply complain or lament, but volunteer and join efforts that are working toward eradicating these violent episodes. If you see something or know something, then we have to say something. Each sincere and honest effort moves our community closer toward this lofty but achievable goal.
The message remains clear and consistent. This violence has got to stop — and it will stop! Knowing that the God who we serve is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we could ask or think, according to the power that works in and through us.
Stop the Violence, Pursue Peace efforts
The 2 p.m. community prayer walks will continue each Sunday in August. Persons with mobility challenges are welcome to participate in a stationary prayer gathering at the locations.
TODAY: Wick Park on Youngstown’s north side; in the event of inclement weather the gathering will be at Tabernacle Baptist Church, 707 Arlington Ave.
Aug. 29: The location is being planned for the Mahoning Avenue area to be determined. This will be the final scheduled community prayer walk; however, more activities are being planned beyond the Stop the Violence Campaign.
The community-wide 24-hour fast and prayer schedule continues until Aug. 31. You may contact New Bethel Baptist Church 330-747-2125 to obtain a prayer assignment, yard signs or order shirts.
Don’t let the Aug. 31 date on the calendar distract you. God continues to transcend time! II Peter 3:8-9 reminds that, “You must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
Each One Reach One
Mentoring training will take place tomorrow at New Bethel Baptist Church, 1507 Hillman St., from 6-8 p.m. The workshop will equip volunteers to work with area youth and young adults. No advanced registration is required to participate in the classes.
The call to the church to be the church
It’s quite a time we’re living in — social unrest, political turmoil, and a worldwide pandemic. The local church must be restored to its place as a source of direction, guidance and physical resources for the community it serves. People are looking for guidance and answers.
In days like these, the eyes and ears of the Body of Christ must only be to the Holy Spirit’s leading, their pastor-shepherds, and those the Lord Jesus Christ brings into their lives to support and guide them. Pastors and faith leaders need to be encouraged and strengthened for the assignment to rise up and lead those shepherded to be a light to all in the community.
Lawlessness and evil are reigning in every aspect of our culture, from the hall of government to the corridors of our streets. It is incumbent that the Church must manifest God’s love, grace and power to the world. By the enabling of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Rusty Wills and I share the position and posture of the Church in these last and evil days as hope.
As Your Church, may our goal in life be intimacy with You;
As Your Church, fill and empower us with the Holy Spirit;
As Your Church, help us to submit to the authority of Scripture;
As Your Church, open our eyes to understand Scripture;
As Your Church, give us hungry and thirsty hearts for You and Your Word;
As Your Church, give us fresh revelation of who You are;
As Your Church, give us an undivided heart for You only;
As Your Church, give us a heart and mind to worship You in Spirit and in truth;
As Your Church, give us a heart for fervent, passionate throne room prayer;
As Your Church, draw us deeply to You;
As Your Church, give us the desire to be an intercessor;
As Your Church, teach us to be still and know you are God;
As Your Church, give us a heart and mind to seek first Your Kingdom and Your righteousness;
As Your Church, make us Kingdom-minded in all we do;
As Your Church, may we be an extension of You to impact our culture;
As Your Church, help us to forgive as You have forgiven us;
As Your Church, may we walk in the humility;
As Your Church, may we consider and honor others better than ourselves;
As Your Church, give us a heart to live in harmony with other;
As Your Church, let us tear down the walls that divide us so we may walk in unity of faith;
As Your Church, let us take the plank out of our own eye;
As Your Church, give us the heart and willingness to reconcile wherever there is a chasm between ourselves and other people;
As Your Church, give us a Servant’s heart;
As Your Church, make us “poor in spirit” so we only trust You;
As Your Church, let us be weak so we may be strong;
As Your Church, help us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow You;
As Your Church, help us to walk in the authority of Your Victory;
As Your Church, help us to believe that You can change people and a culture;
As Your Church, may we realize the only hope is You;
As Your Church, may we recognize the only solution to every problem is You;
As Your Church, Lord give us opportunities to plant and water seeds today, and watch You grow them;
As Your Church, help us to surrender everything to You- our life, family, will, wallet, job, it’s all Yours;
As Your Church, help us to see with Your eyes, with Your perspective;
As Your Church, help us to feel with Your heart;
As Your Church, help us to work with Your hands;
As Your Church, give us a heart of obedience that we will do anything You tell us to do or say;
As Your Church, give us the wisdom of Solomon;
As Your Church, may our heart be to serve You by serving our neighbor;
As Your Church, show us our sins and take away our pride & egos;
As Your Church, strip us of whatever is not of You in our life;
As Your Church, help us to understand how much You love us, the depth of Your love;
As Your Church, let our life reflect Your love so that we may live a life of love;
As Your Church, give us a heart to love our enemy and allow us to love those who don’t love us;
As Your Church, help us to love our neighbor as You have loved us;
As Your Church, may the fruits of the Spirit- Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control- be manifested through us;
As Your Church, we are willing that You should make us willing;
As Your Church, guard us from the evil one. Put Your armor around us, protect us with your angels;
As Your Church, give us a heart to joyously share the money and resources You bless us with;
As Your Church, help us to know that every dollar we have is Your dollar. Let us spend money with Your wisdom and discernment;
As Your Church, we pray we will not fall into temptation;
As Your Church, give us a heart to make disciples;
As Your Church, give us a heart to share our faith and testimony of what You have done in our life;
As Your Church, may You use us to lead someone to know You today;
As Your Church, give us a pure heart and mind;
As Your Church, may we always give all glory to You;
As Your Church, increase our faith, help us to live in faith and always keep the faith!
— The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.
— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.