SERMON DELIVERED BY BISHOP SAMUEL JEROME QUIRE AT THE CLOSING OF THE 188TH ANNUAL SESSION OF THE LIBERIA ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN GBARNGA CITY
BONG COUNTY, REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA
SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2021
THEME : “… AND KNOW THAT IAM GOD”s
TEXT : PSALM 46
Bishop Emeritus, Retired Bishop Arthur F. Kulah, the Acting Lay Leader, Sis. Theresa Davies, Rev. P. KaryidiaGartor, Dean of the Bishop’s cabinet, Rev. Dr. James Z. Labala, the Conference Secretary, Special guests of the Bishop, the Pastors and laity, brothers and sisters In Christ,
The Lord has been so good to us since we got on Mount Gbarnga for the 188th Annual Session of the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. We are grateful that the Lord brought us from different parts of the country to give account of our stewardship. We appreciate God for our coming in spite of the manychallenges we are faced with as individuals, as a nation and as a people.
Let me express my thanks and appreciation to God for the Conference Speaker, the Bible Study leader and the devotional leaders for the powerful sharing given to us during this week. May the name of the Lord be exalted.
The text of 188th Annual Sessionis a wonderful Psalm. It is a Psalm that encourages us to put our trust in God no matter the circumstances that confront our very existence because our God is the divine refuge and strength for his people.
Our theme, “… And Know That I Am God”is a powerful theme for such a time in our nation and the entire world. There is no one god like the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There is no God like the God we serve. Our God is bigger. Our God is stronger. And each of us here has the responsibility to be connected to Him.
Psalm 46 may have been written after David defeated the enemies of ancient Israel from surrounding lands. The Psalm praises God for being a source of power and salvation in times of troubles and uncertainties. It tells us that Psalmist rejoices in the deliverance that the Lord gives his people in the midst of fearsome battle and siege.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Psalmist points his readers to the Creator of the universe acknowledging that the Lord whom we serve is our divine refuge and strength. He further mentions that God is always there for and with us in times of difficulties.
He tells us that irrespective of what happens around us, the Lord is there for us. No matter the threatening situations around us, our God stands up for and with us.
Let me againread few verses of Psalm 46:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; he God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Do you know that God is powerful? Do you know that God is bigger and stronger than our situations? Do you know that our God can do what no man or woman can do? Do you know that our God can destroy the powers of satanic forces? Do you know that God can break down strongholds that have held us for years? Do you know the power of God can undo the wickedness that is practiced in high places? Do you know that the Lord can bring down demonic powers and evil influences? Do you know that the Lord can disconnect you from evil covenants that were signed on your behalf?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, do you have a personal connect with the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you rely on Him when times of good as well as bad? Do you trust Him as your Lord and Savior?
As we progress in this message, I want us to consider two points:Know God Personally and Trust Only in God.
- KNOW GOD PERSONALLY
The Psalmist had a personal relationship with God. His relationship with God was an experiential one. To have an experiential relationship means that an individual has committed his or her total being to the service of the Almighty. Such a person lives a crucified life. This is what Paul tells us: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Knowing God personally calls for us to totally surrender our bodies, souls and spirits to God. We must make him the center of our existence. In elementary Science, we all learnt that the center of the cell is the nucleus. “The nucleus controls and regulates the activities of the cell (e.g., growth and metabolism) and carries the genes, structures that contain the hereditary information.”It plays a very pivotal role in the cell. Therefore, to know God and to experience the power of his resurrection, we must allow Jesus to be the center of our lives.
This is what Paul says:“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
God wants us to build an intimate relationship with him. And this can be done if we all have a mutual desire to be in connect with our God. We must be intentional about developing our relationship with God. We must put an end to superficiality. We must put an end to informational Christianity (knowing about God- having information on God and God isnot in the control of our affairs – a Christianity that John Wesley practiced before his Aldergate’s experience in May 1738).
To develop a personal relationship with God, we mustTHIRST FOR GOD. The Psalmist declares:“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”(Psalm 42:1–2).
We must practice SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES (Study of the Bible, Prayers, Service and Worship) if we must grow and know the Lord. The practice of spiritual disciplines will bring us closer to God because they focus on God instead of just knowledge. This is what Paul says: “No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
When we develop a closer walk with our God, there are many things we will experience:
- “Have great thoughts of God” – Daniel 2:20-23: As he received revelation from God concerning the dream ofNebuchadnezzar, Daniel praised the Lord for “revealing deep and hidden things” to him.
- “Have great energy for God” -Daniel 11:32: Daniel affirms that “the people who know their God shall be strong, and carryout great exploits.”
- “Show great boldness for God” – Acts 5:29 — Peter and the other apostles experienced an intimacy with God that madethem bold, even in the face of the most powerful authorities of the day.
- “Have great contentment in God”– Philippians 4:11-13 — Paul’s intimacy with God led him to say, “I have learned the secretof being content in any and every situation” (v.12b). He went on to say, “I can do all thingsthrough Him who gives me strength” (v.13).
- TRUST ONLY IN GOD
The author of Psalm 46 trusted in God. He had experienced the greatness of the Almighty God. He trusted God in good and bad times. He trusted in God so he declared: “our God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its water roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” The writer of Psalm 46 did not put his trust in anyone but in the God who created the universe.
My brothers and sisters in Lord, who do we turn when we experience the worse? What do we do when we experience the odds of life? Where do we anchor when all else fails? Who do we trust?
The Bible declares:“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm20:7). Some people put their trust in other gods – gods that have eyes but they do not see; gods that have hands but the hands cannot move; gods that have legs but they are carried by their worshipers; gods that have mouths but they cannot speak. Those gods can be destroyed by the Almighty God.
There are some people who are worshipping all kinds of gods. They are giving allegiance to all kinds of evil powers. Some people are bathing in human blood. Some people are consulting with the power of darkness. Even in the church, some of us do not trust the Almighty God. We turn to something else. We cannot play with God. We should not mix God with anything. Do we not know that the Lord is the Almighty One? Do we not know that the Lord has the power to break down and destroy those we put our trust in?
The author of Psalm 20:7 simply says that while others put their trust in created things, he puts his trust in the Creator who has the power to give victory to him. We must trust only in the God who is the creator of the universe.
Friends, when we know God it is easier for us to put our trust in God. Knowing God is trusting in God. And trusting in God is to have confidence in God in all conditions of life. Our God is able to do what no man can do. He is the omnipotent God. He is the omniscient God. He is God all by himself.
Proverbs 3:5-6 states: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
The Prophet Samuel declares:“The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Saviour; thou savest me from violence” (2 Samuel 22:3).
Fellow United Methodists and guests at this 188th Annual Session, it has been tough and rough but the Lord has been on our side. Liberia is going through difficulties but God has been there for us. The continent of Africa is experiencing difficult times as well but God has been with the continent. The world is experiencing all kinds of crises: diseases (the most recent the COVID-19), financial crisis, political uncertainties, economic hardships, ,etc, but God has been good to us.
The global United Methodist church is going through a hard experience but God is with us. The church has come to a place where we must know and trust our God. We must arise and stand up for the truth. We must not compromise the true gospel of Jesus the Christ. The God who has brought us thus far has the ability to take us into the future. We must not lower God’s standards for little peanuts that will end us into hell.
The Apostle Paul declares: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Our God is not broke. God has sufficient supply for his children.
As we develop intimacy with God and trust our entire being to him, God will do all for us. Know him and trust in him.
May God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit bless and keep us all.