Watch Night: A Historic Time of Reflection and Renewal

Learn about the significance and history of New Year’s Eve – also known as Watch Night – and the traditions designed to bring Christians closer to God.

The significance and historic symbolism of New Year’s Eve have been overshadowed in recent years by revelry and broken resolutions. Some in society have even discouraged the tradition of making resolutions, citing studies which tell us that only 8 percent of us keep them, and that resolutions may even be harmful to us![1]

But did you know that the Christian New Year’s Eve church service – also known as Watch Night Service – was created to bring Christians closer to God, and also has very special significance in the African American community?

"Waiting for the hour": Watchnight, 1862. Courtesy, Library of Congress.

“Waiting for the hour”: Watch Night, 1862. Courtesy, Library of Congress.

 

WATCH NIGHT IN HISTORY
The Watch Night Service tradition can be traced back to the Moravians, a Christian denomination from the Czech Republic during the mid-1700’s.[2]
John Wesley, the British founder of the Methodist Church, adopted the Czech practice of celebrating Watch Night, along with other English Puritan principles, when he instituted the Methodist Covenant Renewal Services[3]. These services were started in August of 1755 as a means of creating for Christians a more formalized and personal connection and covenant with God. British Methodism soon developed the custom of holding these Covenant services near the beginning of the New Year. The service was preceded by a period of preparation through prayer, fasting, reflection and self- examination, which has been credited as the modern source of today’s New Year’s Resolution[4]. The singing, prayers of allegiance and gratitude, testimonials, and scripture readings provided Methodist Christians with a Godly alternative to other secular ways of celebrating the day.

In America, however, another tradition was unfolding. In 1770, the first Watch Services were held in America at the St. George’s Methodist Church. Two slaves, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, were a part of this congregation and they later left the church after being denied the right to pray alongside white worshipers. In 1794, they became the renowned founders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.)[5].

The founders of the A.M.E. Church inspired the celebration of a new Watch Night tradition when, on December 31, 1862 – also known as “Freedom’s Eve” – the first Watch Night Services were celebrated in African American communities.
Gatherings  of African American slaves, as well as free blacks, came together in churches and private homes all across the nation awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law. At the stroke of midnight on that day, all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy, as many people fell to their knees and thanked God[6].

WATCH NIGHT SERVICE TODAY

Watch Night Services usually begin between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., and often end just past midnight. Today, the services may combine praise and worship, testimonies, and prophecy for the year to come, but many African American churches still honor Watch Night’s connection to the abolition of slavery.

Over 150 years has passed since the first “Freedom’s Eve,” and tradition now brings Christians of all colors together for worship and celebration each year. African American Christians have gathered in churches annually on New Year’s Eve ever since 1862, praising God for safe deliverance through another year: but, most importantly, honoring the ancestors’ prayers for a future of freedom and liberty.

Karen Lascaris is a regular contributor to Westa.org. She is the author of “In Our Own Image: Treasured African American Traditions, Journeys, and Icons”, published in 2001 by Running Press of Philadelphia.

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References:

[1] Forbes.com, “Just 8% of People Achieve Their New Years Resolutions.  Here’s How They Do It.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/.  Accessed 12/26/2015.

[2] “Watch Night”; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchnight_service, accessed 12-28-2017.

[3] “The Covenant Service”. http://www.methodist.org.uk/who-we-are/what-is-distinctive-about-methodism/a-covenant-with-god/the-covenant-service.  Accessed 12/27/2017.

[4] “Why We Make New Year’s Resolutions”.  LiveScience.com.  http://m.livescience.com/42255-history-of-new-years-resolutions.html, accessed 12-28-15.

[5] “The Official Site of the AME Church”. www.ame-church.com/our-church/our-history/, accessed 12-28-2017.

[6] “First Watch Night Service Occurs”; The African American Desk Reference,
Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture. http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/first-watch-night-service-occurs, accessed 12-28-2017.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Not all Slaves were freed by the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Only 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves were freed at that time. Freedom’s Eve was a call to action for all Black Americans; a moral imperative to fight for the full realization of freedom for their brothers and sisters who were still enslaved.
  • All enslaved Africans were freed from chattel slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy during the Civil War and the ratification of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery on December 18, 1865.
  • In the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, the tradition of the late night service is called Midnight Mass or Eucharist.  Like the Watch Night service of the Church of Scotland, it is attended on the night of Christmas Eve.

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Praise the New Year in with West Angeles! Please join Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Evangelist Joyce Rodgers, the West Angeles Mass Choir, and other special guests for Watch Night Service on December 31, 2017 at 10:00 PM the West Angeles at the Cathedral, 3600 Crenshaw Boulevard, LA 90016.

Please join us for the Afterglow Breakfast! We’re having breakfast in the Crystal Room immediately following Watch Night Service, 12:30-2:30 a.m. on January 1, 2018. Cost: $10 per person in advance, $12 at the door. West Angeles North Campus, 3045 Crenshaw Boulevard, LA 90016. See you then!

January is Consecration Month. Please join West Angeles Church of God In Christ in fasting in prayer for the month of January, 2018.  Complete guidelines and prayer calendar available in the lobby, and on Westa.org.

The Power of Women: 7 Dynamic Traits of Women in the Bible

On Westa.org, we’re celebrating the power and strength of women. Read our list of 7 dynamic traits of women in the Bible which are sure to keep you inspired.

As modern-day women, we seem to have as many mountains to climb today as at any other time in history. Sometimes we find ourselves questioning whether we have the strength to balance the weight of all the responsibilities heaped upon our shoulders. We start our days on the run, stressed-out.  We worry that we’re unable to manage in our multiple roles as wife, daughter, mother, and career woman.

Often, we end our days seeking serenity by immersing ourselves in our favorite TV shows or social media outlets. Instead of finding peace, however, we’re bombarded with soul-shaking news stories and demoralizing images.  Those news reports seem to challenge the progress we’ve made as a people and as a nation.  And those challenges are made worse when they undermine our faith. 

We also know that we should make sure we’re healthy mentally and physically.  When one is mentally and physically fit, one can help others more efficiently. However, with so much to do and so little time, we go to bed exhausted and awaken the same way, unsure of how we’ll summon the strength to rise again and to start another day.

As women before us have known for centuries though, we must not lose heart when our help is as close as the Bible on the nightstand beside us.

8 dynamic traits of women in the Bible.

Prayer Warrior: 8 dynamic traits of women in the Bible.

OUR BIBLE, OUR POWER

The Bible tells us the story of our history, and it has the key to our empowerment. Women throughout history have overcome obstacles by seeking God.  They’ve relied upon His Word, and have gained strength from the Bible’s unlimited source of power.  

Here’s a list of 7 dynamic qualities of women in  the Bible to inspire and fortify you:

Prayer warrior. Women in the Bible reflect the power of prayer: Hannah’s prayers produce a warrior for God (1 Samuel 1:9-11); while Anna’s prayers and devotion to our Savior brought her honor and the promise of the Kingdom to come (Luke 2:36–38).

Support system. Together, Naomi and Ruth use Godly wisdom to secure their family’s future – and change the course of history (Book of Ruth).

Purpose-driven. To cure her condition, one debilitated woman endures possible disdain, scorn, and banishment to connect with Jesus. Nothing deters her from God’s Healing Power.  She exhibits a shining example of unwavering faith (Matthew 9:20-22).

Entrepreneur. The woman described in Proverbs 31 is a hard-working, enterprising, industrious entrepreneur.  She not only weaves her own fabrics (Proverbs 31:19) but from that fabric she also “makes linen garments and sells them.” She supplies products for other merchants (Proverbs 31:10-31) and makes her family proud.

Life-saver. Esther uses the power of grace, fasting, and marriage to save her people from extermination (Book of Esther).  And Deborah, prophet and judge, knows how to save her nation from oppression.  She aligns herself with a leader named Barak who can get help her to get the job done (Judges 4).

Ruler of nations. The Queen of Sheba uses wisdom and discernment before giving King Solomon her blessing (1 Kings 10:1-13).  But Jesus warns the disobedient that they will not have the same results (Matthew 12:42)!

Mother of humanity. Eve is the first woman – mother of us all (Genesis 3:20). And to Mary, a Savior is born, whose existence gives us the only living example of our fullest potential (Matthew 1:18-21).

BE INSPIRED!

So, the next time you need a boost of faith, come back to this list of Biblical heroines.  It will remind you of those who came before you; of those who faced seemingly insurmountable challenges.  They all triumphed through the power of almighty God.  

Stay strong, encouraged, and focused on the Promise of The Word. As women, we can do all things through Him who gives us strength.


7 Dynamic Traits of Women in the Bible: West Angeles Choir Singing King Jesus Is A Listening from West Angeles COGIC on Vimeo.

 

Christian Life: 10 Essential Scriptures for Maintaining Your Cool

Have you found yourself in situations which threaten to challenge your patience, disrupt your peace, and encourage behavior which is counter to what God expects of you? Now, more than ever, saints are uplifting each other with the simple reminder that, no matter what is happening in the world, “God is in Control.” In our latest post on living your best Christian life, Dr. Tonya Lewis shares a list of 10 essential Scriptures for maintaining your cool in challenging times.

When we are confident with who we are and Whose we are, we learn we don’t have to fight each battle which comes our way. Insecurity, immaturity,  and not learning the value of living a peaceable life provokes us to think, say, and do whatever comes to mind, even though it is definitely not wise to do so. Most of the time, many of us feel that we must have the last word or action; we conclude that we can’t allow anyone to think that we are weak or afraid. We then want to blame others for our negative actions; even using the excuse “The devil made me do it!” (which legendary comedian Flip Wilson famous!)

Yes, while Satan and others may influence us, we make the final decision of how we think, speak, or act.  

As we mature in both age and spirit, we actually learn that we express more power by not engaging in each temptation of battle. We are told in Proverbs. 14:29, “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness; and in Proverbs 15:18, “A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them (NLT). Rather than lose self-control, we must take personal responsibility for our thoughts, our choices, and our actions.

We must commit to keeping our hearts holy and righteous so that BIBLE we reflect the Spirit of the Kingdom of God, both internally and externally. When we yield our lives to Christ Jesus, He empowers us to control what we think, speak or do.  

Below are 10 Scriptures which encourage us to maintain our cool and control under the reign of Christ Jesus, Our Lord and Savior:

  1. James 1:19-20 (NIV)My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
  2. Proverbs 10:19Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.
  3. James 3:2 (NLT) – Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
  4. Proverbs 13:3 – The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin (NLT).
  5. Prov. 21:23 (NLT) – He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.
  6. James 1:26 (NLT) If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not bridle his tongue, he deceives his heart and his religion is worthless.  
  7. Proverbs 28:25 (NASB) – An arrogant man stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the LORD will prosper
  8. Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  9. James 3:13 – If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.
  10. Matthew 12:34 – (NLT) For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.

As Kingdom citizens who live under the reign of Christ Jesus, Our Lord and Savior, we are assured of 1 Thessalonians 5:23, which states,

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your entire spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (NLT).

Such is not true for persons who are still trying to live life apart from the Lordship of Christ. In order for our spirit, soul and body to be blameless, we must stay in control! When  living according to the Word of God, we will be kept blameless in what we think, say or do. 

God bless you!

Dr. Tonya Lewis has been a member of West Angeles Church of God In Christ for over 40 years, serving on-staff as the Executive Director of Bereavement Ministries. She holds both Honorary Doctorate and Earned Doctorate degrees. Dr. Lewis has been teaching the Overcomer’s Bible Fellowship for over 34 years at West Angeles, and at other teaching venues.


Hear Jonathan McReynolds sing “MAINTAIN”, featuring Chantae Cann below:

Watch Night: Position Yourself to Advance

Evangelist Joyce Rodgers, COGIC’s International Youth Department leader, delivered an exciting, encouraging, and always prophetic Word for 2017 at West Angeles Church of God In Christ’s Watch Night Celebration. 

Evangelist Joyce L. Rodgers’ Watch Night sermon titled, “Position Yourself to Advance” encouraged the saints to move forward in 2017 with confidence in Jesus, even in the midst of uncertainly in the next year.

“This is your year; this is your time to bust through some open doors! Somebody shout, ‘ADVANCE!’”

As the congregation erupted in thunderous praise, Evangelist Rodgers continued, “We are embarking upon a new era in life. As we transition into a new year, God said, ‘Get ready for new opportunities!’”

High praise filled the Cathedral as the congregation ushered in the New Year with corporate prayer lead by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. and classic gospel selections “Changed,” and “Praise the Name of Jesus” performed by none other than the magnificent Lady Tramaine Hawkins. Lady Tramaine was accompanied by the Cathedral Chorale and the mighty West Angeles Mass Choir, conducted by Dr. Judith Christie McAllister and David Daughtery.

After the service, the congregation moved to the North Campus’ beautiful Crystal Room for a new Watch Night tradition, The Afterglow Breakfast, where the congregation enjoyed chicken and waffles prepared by West Angeles’ Food services Department, and wonderful gospel jazz performed by the West Angeles band.

Order the entire 2016 Watch Night Service HERE, on West Angeles Gospel on Demand, or visit the West Angeles Christian Emporium to purchase on CD or DVD. Highlights from the service follow:

Position Yourself to Advance

“If our faith is in the political arena; if our hope lies in the economic arena, then we are destined to be discouraged.”

“Because our hope lies in the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is on our side; therefore, God says to you, ‘Position yourselves to advance.’”

“There are spiritual doors that God wants to open for you during this season of your life.”

“This is a time for…new doors in our lives; new doors in our families’ lives, new doors in our businesses, new doors in our church.”

“We are embarking upon a new era in life. As we transition into a new year, God said, ‘Get ready for new opportunities.’”

“There’s a door of new hope.” – Evangelist Joyce L. Rodgers

“What doors would the Lord have for your life during this time of transition? What opportunity could be in front of you, waiting for you to knock; waiting for you to enter?”

“God said, ‘I have set before you an open door, and no man can close it.’”

“The word set means, ‘I have placed before you; I have positioned, stabilized before you an open door,’ and not man, nor demon, can shut the door.”

“God has a plan and a strategy for our lives.”

“God really, really, really knows us!”

“God said, ‘I made you in secret…when you came out, you came out whole; complete, entire, wanting for nothing.’”

Lady Tramaine Hawkins performs, "Changed" at west Angeles COGIC, 12-31-2016.

Lady Tramaine Hawkins performs, “Changed” at West Angeles COGIC, 12-31-2016.

“God knows what lies ahead for the upcoming year, and He feels every minute of your life .”

“Now our prayers should be, ‘Lord, show me the door that you have set before me! Open my eyes! Give me insight and revelation.’”

“There is no such thing as an authentic ministry, an authentic calling, an authentic anointing without problems or opposition of some sort. Satan is going to see to it that oppositions will come.”

“If the door is great, the adversaries are many. If the door is little, then the adversary is little. Great doors denote great adversaries.”

“Every door that God has planned for you, there are opponents and adversaries that desire to shut the door and stop you from entering in: but the devil is a liar!”

“This is your year; this is your time, to bust through some open doors. Somebody say, ‘ADVANCE!’”

“Whoever you are, wherever you are: God says, ‘Behold, I have set before you an open door

“In your failure can be the seeds of the greatest mission in your life.” – Evangelist Joyce L. Rodgers

“Even when you don’t have the strength to put one foot in front of other, even if you’re too troubled and too weak, by the grace of God, just keep on walking until you can enter in.”

“God said, ‘Not only do I have an open door open for you, but I’ll hold it open!’”

“Unusual things are about to happen. I declare and decree that throughout the coming year…You’re about to be adventurous; to do some things you’ve never done, so you get some of the things you’ve never had. This is your year for adventurous new things!”

“I need some people to scream, ‘Boomerang!’ because what devil meant for evil, God’s going to turn it around!”

“You have to come out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to ask God to give you the faith the walk on water, but you don’t want to get out of the boat!”

“Tell the truth and shame the devil. There are areas in our lives where we feel comfortable moving in faith, but there are some areas in our lives that make us feel anxious.”

“How can you see a miracle happen if you don’t move out of your comfort zone?”

“This is the year for God to drop new opportunities into your lap.”

“What adversary will keep me from great opportunities?…What is the greatest enemy of great? Good! Many people have good marriages but not great ones. Good relationships but not great. Good prayer lives but not great. Why is this?”

“The enemy of great opportunity is learning to love the good to the place that it satisfies the soul, and there’s no need to desire to go any further.”

“Great is about to come out of you…I will not be satisfied with ‘Good’.”

”The enemy of great opportunity is learning to love the good to the place that it satisfies the soul, and there’s no need to desire to go any further.” Evangelist Joyce L. Rodgers

“Somebody scream, ‘SHIFT’! I need you to shift from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’!  It’s time for more intensity in your worship; it’s time to penetrate evangelism.”

watch-night-westa

Bishop Blake leads the West Angeles congregation in prayer. Watch Night, 2016.

“Are you the status quo, or are you about to walk into greatness?”

“Things, places, people can be adversaries, but I’m pressing on the upward way…new heights I’m gaining every day!”

“There’s a door of new hope.”

“What is the Valley of Achor? A place of sorrow, devastation, grief; yet even here, in  the place of death, God said, ‘I’m going to open a door.’”

“Sometimes when you’re down there, if you’re not careful, you can miss the door that has been set before you.”

“Even if you’ve failed at some things, you’re not a failure…and in your failure you can be rescued by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Failure can be the grace for your great success. What you didn’t achieve this day, God can give you grace to achieve it tomorrow.’”

“In your failure can be the seeds of the greatest mission in your life.”

“What you did not overcome today you can turn into a book, a song, an outline: so somebody will be able to say, ‘If it had not been for the Lord on my side, I wouldn’t have made it!’”

“ You can’t enter the new door until you shut the old door…Shut the door of old relationships, shut the door of bitterness; of unforgiveness, of resentment, of poverty, of bad habits, of old patterns, of crazy thinking, of negative people.”

“I don’t know what door has been trying to hold you back, but by the power of the Holy Ghost this is your night to shut the door!”

“You’re getting ready to walk through the door, not that man made, but that God made. God has a Blessing with your name on it!”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – Hosea 2:15, Revelation 3:8, Psalm 139:13-16, 1 Corinthians 16:9, Acts 14:27, Hosea 2:15.


Evangelist Joyce L. Rodgers is the founder and CEO of Primary Purpose Ministries, Inc., and serves COGIC on the international level, leading the Youth Department of the Church of God In Christ. The widely respected evangelist and speaker is also author of the book Fatal Distractions, which uncovers the roadblocks which can keep you from fulfilling your destiny. Born and raised in Gladewater, Texas, Evangelist Rodgers is a third generation daughter of the Church Of God In Christ. She is widely recognized as an unusually gifted communicator of the deep truths of God’s Word, which she blends with precision, humor and God’s anointing.

Follow Evangelist Joyce Rodgers on Twitter @MsJoyceLRodgers.

Please join us in prayer and fasting for the month of January: please CLICK HERE for the 2017 Consecration Calendar and Guidelines.

Hear the classic live 1994 performance of “Praise the Name of Jesus” by Tramaine Hawkins below:

Please Join Us: 11/40 Prayer & Consecration Guide

The need for prayer today is greater than ever. Our world faces wars, along with an epidemic of broken homes, poverty, violence, sexual immorality and social strife. Please join us as we pray over the next 40 days. Participate in the 11/40 Consecration.

It was the mission of Church of God In Christ’s founder, the late Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, to recapture and maintain the prayer traditions of the slaves[1]. Our Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. desires that we must again commit ourselves to seeking God through prayer, and to maintaining the COGIC legacy of being a church of prayer and fasting.

The 40 Days of Prayer was established by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., in 2011 to intercede on behalf of the Annual International Holy Convocation. For 2016, God has placed the following theme upon Presiding Bishop Blake’s heart:

FIGHTING FOR SALVATION AND RIGHTEOUSNESS IN A VIOLENT AND IMMORAL WORLD – 1 Timothy 6:12

cogic-theme-2016

It is the joy of the Presiding Bishop to call the people of the Lord to seek God during the 40 days leading up to and during the 109th Annual International Holy Convocation in Saint Louis, Missouri. Please join us as we pray over the next 40 days. Participate in the 11/40 Consecration: 40 Prayer requests/11 Minutes of our daily prayer time/40 Days –

 

SEPTEMBER 28, 2016 – NOVEMBER 6, 2016

We pray that this event impacts your life, and that praying for our nation moves us from a 40-day venture to a lifetime endeavor.

 

2016-prayer-11-402016-consecration-prayer-guide

Please DOWNLOAD your 2016 11/40 PRAYER GUIDE HERE (please click image on the left to download). 

Please DOWNLOAD your 109TH ANNUAL HOLY CONVOCATION 11/40 CONSECRATION GUIDEBOOK HERE (please click image on the right to download).


[1] – COGIC.org, “Church of God In Christ 109th Annual Holy Convocation 11/40 Guidebook”;http://www.cogic.org/hc2016/files/2013/09/11-11-40-l-Guidebook-2016.pdf. Accessed 10-1-2016.

Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake: The Prodigal Son

Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. shares a lesson on following the most important aspect of our being in his sermon from the book of Luke 15:11-24 title, “The Prodigal Son.” 

“The text implies, the Bible confirms, and experience reveals that most are a composite of many selves: rather than just one self.”

“This young man had to bring himself to himself to do the right thing.”

“It’s only when he came to himself that he got his life together.”

“One self was down in the dumps, while the other self, reached out to God.”

“Somebody out there needs a mighty deliverance…you need to be delivered from yourself. Ask your neighbor, ‘Do you need to be delivered from yourself?’”

“Has anybody out there ever been in a situation where one self was crying out, ‘Do it! Do it;’ while the other self was yelling out, ‘Don’t do it!’ and thebishop-quote-1 third self was in the middle of it all: not knowing what to do?”

“All of us have used phrases like, ‘Watch yourself’; ‘He never found himself;’ ‘I’m sorry, I have not been myself;’ ‘He’s trying to get himself together.’”

“Tell your neighbor, ‘Don’t you follow every self…follow the right self.’”

“Wisdom and practice in that day indicated that you did not give your money to your children until you died. At your death, they received their inheritance.”

“Immature saints today want to receive, rather than give…God does not have to give you anything.”

“That ought to be the spirit and attitude of every child of God: not, ‘God, what can you do for me?’ but ‘God, what can I do for you? How can I give your name glory and honor?’”

“So many, in their pride, have an erroneous sense of entitlement…but tell your neighbor, ‘You have no right to make withdrawals, if you’ve made no deposits.’”

“Tell your neighbor, ‘Don’t you follow every self…follow the right self.’” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

“The deceived self led to a lustful self.”

“Real respect and real commitment are the only foundations for a lasting relationship, and marriage is the only meaningful haven for sexual involvement.”

“If you know the Bible’s right, why don’t you say, ‘Amen!'”

“Marriage is the only meaningful haven for sexual involvement.”

“When the money was gone, the women were gone.”

“There is a friend…who will love you whether you have money or not; clap your hands and praise God for that friend.”

“Listen: God says, ‘Put me first, and I’ll take charge of your life.’”

“I don’t want anything to do with the devil. Give me Jesus!” Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

“You’ve got to stop and realize you are more than a physical man: you have a spirit and a soul.”

“You can’t depend on folk; the very person you leave the lord for will let you down.”

“The devil is opportunistic. He puts you in situations where you’re weak and feeble, and unable to really rise up for righteousness; then he brings the best arsenal he has, and releases all of his weapons onto you.”

“Today, I want to talk about the most important you.”

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anything to do with the devil.  Give me Jesus!”

 

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Luke 15:11-24, 1 Samuel 30:6, Romans 7:15-24, Mark 12:30-31, Matthew 20:28,  Proverbs 16:18, Galatians 6:3, Luke 15:30, 1 John 2:15, Romans 8:28, 1 Peter 5:8.


“The Prodigal Son” Bishop Charles E. Blake from West Angeles COGIC on Vimeo.

Please join us for Sunday Worship Services! Join us at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the beautiful West Angeles Cathedral, 3600 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016; and at 7 p.m. at our North Campus Sanctuary, 3045 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016.

Phone: (323) 733-8300 for more information.

 

 

 

Bishop Blake: Why We Need The Church

Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. shares with us why the church is of vital importance in today’s world.

“I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’ (Psalm 122:1)
 …not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” (Hebrews 10:25) 

 

Imagine a world without the church.  Can you conceive of how bad things would be? Conditions are already bad on the earth in which we live. The moral standards of our nation have gone into the sewer; mankind today is doing every conceivable thing – and even some things that have not yet been conceived!

Why do we need the church?

The work of the church is important because:

  1. The church points men to their Creator.
  2. The church defines the meaning of life.
  3. The church prepares men for eternity.
  4. The church talks about morality.
  5. The church gathers people together to hear the Word of God and the will of God.

If the church were not here, who would tell men about Jesus?

If the church were not here, who would point men to God?

If the church were not here, who would stand for morals; calling right ‘right’, and wrong ‘wrong?’

“The work of the church is more important than any institution in the world because it makes the spirit of man its central focus.” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

Every endeavor has a place. Every pursuit has a place, and we go to that place to pursue what it stands for. The church is that place which stands for God. We ought to make sure that we have a house where we can worship Him; to lift our hands and praise Him! When we fail to provide a place of worship, it indicates a lack of sincerity and commitment to God.

We also need to make the church as great as we possibly can. God gave us His best when He gave us Jesus Christ; therefore, we ought to give God our best. God’s house ought to reflect the beauty and majesty of God; a beautiful, a spacious place which accommodates the people of the Lord.

David said in Psalm 122, “I glad was when they said unto me, let us go into house of the Lord.”  The work of the church is more important than that of any institution in the world because no other institution makes the spirit of man its central focus.

We need the church to tell men about God’s Will, and to push him higher than he’s ever gone before.  God has a plan for mankind and for this world, and the world needs to turn to God.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV) – If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Adapted from the sermon, “Of Your Own, We Have Given You”; July 26, 2015, by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. at West Angeles Church Of God In Christ.  PHOTO – W. E. B. DuBois, 1899. “Photographs of African Americans in Georgia exhibited at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900.” Courtesy, Library of Congress.


West Angeles Family: Our online broadcasts are not designed to encourage our members to avoid being physically present for worship. They are available for those who cannot attend church.  If it is possible for you to attend, please make every effort to do so as much as you can. – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

Elder Richard Brooks Imparts Practical Christian Wisdom

In this edition of “The Elders’ Corner,” Elder Richard Brooks shares pearls of wisdom on purpose, understanding enemies, and allowing God to use our lives to Bless others.

Every strong faith, culture or society makes room for the impartation of wisdom from its Elders, and the Church of God in Christ is no exception. The Bible provides us with such wisdom, and the Elders of the church are among those who teach and pass on that wisdom to others.

Elder Richard L. Brooks was raised in the church, and has been infused with Biblical wisdom and COGIC tradition through his grandmother, through YPWW (COGIC’s Youth Training Union), and through Prayer & Bible Band, the oldest organized auxiliary in the Church of God in Christ. A quiet, humble man, Elder Brooks has always had a fascination with education and Christianity, and is always seeking words of wisdom in the Bible.

He now passes on generations of tradition and wisdom through his Sunday School classes, during New Members’ Orientation, and as Program Coordinator of West Angeles’ School of Practical Christian Living.

In this edition of The Elders’ Corner, we’re blessed to have Elder Richard L. Brooks share some pearls of wisdom with us.

ON PURPOSE

“A lot of people talk about having an experience with God, but they don’t have any experience because they don’t listen. They know what they want to do and they go after that…That’s the biggest mistake we make. We are taught to make that mistake.”

“You’d be surprised at how many people have no idea what they are called to do. And it’s simply because they have not sought the Lord.”

“We ask our children from the time they’re little, what do you want to be? What are you going to be when you get grown? We tell our children to decide what they want to be. We don’t teach our children to seek the Lord. We don’t do that…we do not do that.”

“Children…they don’t know what they’re capable of…only God knows.”

“There’s a difference between a good idea and a GOD idea. A good idea, anybody can do it. But a God idea…only the person God gives it to can do it, because He only gives you a part of it at a time.”

“God will say, ‘Do this,’ and you do it, then it comes to a standstill. You can’t go further because you don’t know what to do. Then sometimes you say, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll try to do this over here’ – but it don’t work. God does not give you the whole program.”

ON OBEYING GOD

“The Lord is ‘hinkty!’ If He tells you something, and you don’t appreciate it enough to get up and write it down, He’ll let you forget it, and all you’ll have is the knowledge that ‘The Lord told me something…and I can’t remember what it was!’ You know that it’s something that you need, because every now and then, way down the line, you’ll hear it again.”

“God is telling you, ‘When I give you something, write it down!’ When He said (in Habakkuk 2:2), ‘Write the vision; make it plain, so that those who read it may run…,’ the Lord’s not in the business of telling us things just so we can forget it. God has something He is trying to tell us.”

“There’s a difference between a good idea and a GOD idea.” – Elder Richard L. Brooks

“You have to stay in harmony with what God’s doing, because if you get out of harmony with what He’s doing, He’ll quit, and you’ve got nothing, because it all came from Him.”

“It’s important that we remember what the Lord tells us because God knows that the devil is waiting…just waiting…”

ON ENEMIES

“You’ll run into people who look at your success, and they’ll think it’s you, and they don’t realize it’s God. They want to tap into it. ‘Oh, I want to do that.’ But you can’t give them what you’ve got because it was given to you.”

“You’d be surprised at the enemies you’ll make while you’re busy working, trying to do what the Lord says. But somebody over there is plotting, setting you up to stab you in the back. It puts you in a position where you’re totally dependent on God.”

“When you get involved with the work of the Lord…you’re not going to be happy a lot of times. Folk will make you unhappy. They’re gonna see to it that you’re unhappy, because they’re unhappy. You’ve got to be able to throw that off and keep on going.”

ON HEAVEN

“People think when they get to Heaven, they’re gonna see the Holy Ghost. No, you ain’t gonna see the Holy Ghost…It’s a Spirit.”

“When Jesus said ‘I’m going to prepare a place for you’ – He said ‘a place,’ but it’s a body…’In my Father’s House there are many a mansions’… John said, ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth coming down out of heaven.’ God don’t need Earth. He’s Spirit. Earth is natural. Christ is telling us…the people who need earth will have a body.”

“Paul talks about, ‘The mortal must put on the immortal’ bodies. You won’t be floatin’ around, eatin’ milk and honey!”

“Peter said, ‘Nevertheless, we, according to His promise, look for a new heaven and new earth wherein righteousness dwelleth.’ There’s something coming, but God doesn’t tell us. Paul said, ‘I saw it, but I can’t tell you. He won’t let me tell you.”

“Nothing that we can imagine approaches what God has prepared for them that love Him. It’s beyond our human imagination. If people are already jumping off bridges and taking poison trying to get there, imagine if we had an idea of what it would be like!”

“There are people who just want to end it all. But they don’t realize, you don’t end nothing. You’re gonna live forever. It’s where you’re gonna live that’s the thing.”

ON LIVING A CHRISTIAN LIFE

“Most of us don’t read the Bible because we don’t understand it. We read Psalms, but the Psalms don’t tell us a lot of things.”

“We’ve got to learn that just because we’re saved, we’re speaking in tongues, we love the Lord and so forth, it does not mean that we know what we need to do. We don’t know.”

“Don’t tell God what you want to do. Listen to God to find out what HE wants you to do.” – Elder Richard L. Brooks

“Our will is not God’s Will. What we want to do 99.9% of the time is different than from what God wants us to do. Now, God will show us and tell us, and our reaction? ‘Ooooo, that’s going to hurt. I don’t know if I can do that!’”

“When you get in His Will, that’s when your life takes off. This is why Jesus said, ‘I do always those things to please My Father.’ It’s not our will, it’s God’s Will.”

“If you want the Lord to lead you, find out from Him what He wants you to do and you’ll be way up the line.”

“We must ask, ‘What does God want me to be? What does it take for me to be what the Lord wants me to be? How am I supposed to live and be a Christian?’ Don’t tell God what you want to do. Listen to God to find out what HE wants you to do. That’s Practical Christian Living.”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – 1 Chronicles 16:10-12, Isaiah 55:6-7, Habakkuk 2:2, John 8:29, 2 Peter 3, Revelation 21:1-2; John 14:1-4, 1 Corinthians 2:9, 15:53; John 5:30.

Elder Richard Brooks is Program Coordinator for West Angeles’ Christian Education Department and its School of Practical Christian Living. A product of the Church of God in Christ, Elder Brooks acknowledged his call to ministry in 1953, preaching his first sermon that same year at Lockett Temple COGIC in Detroit, MI. He was ordained in 1967, and has served in various capacities within the Church of God in Christ, including District President of the Young People’s Willing Workers Department (YPWW), Pastor, and Sunday School Teacher, which he continues to do to this day. Elder Brooks encourages believers to practice Biblical concepts through daily application of its principles. He continues to direct, guide and serve the people of God through preaching, teaching, and living the Word.


REGISTRATION IS OPEN NOW for THE SCHOOL OF PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN LIVING –  Do you want a more enriched life for you and your family? Are you new to Christ, and you want to know more about how to live from a Christian perspective? The School Of Practical Christian Living (PCL) offers classes such as Integration of Faith, Community and Service, What Am I Called Of God To Do and more. Learn to be the best Christian you can be by applying biblical principles and practices to your everyday life.

REGISTER NOW through Sunday, September 11th.  For more information or to register, please visit table 9A on the Cathedral concourse following each morning worship service.  You can also register in the lobby of the North Campus Sanctuary on Wednesday Nights from 6:00- 8:00PM.  Call (323) 733-8300, Extension 2366. Join us for the next session!

The Christian Life: Developing Humility

 

Hu·mil·i·ty – noun;  a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

Jesus has a great deal to say about humility, and no wonder, since it was pride that first caused man’s downfall. As “The New Adam,” Jesus exemplified this aspect of righteous living. Man fell because he presumed his own way above God’s will and way. True God-given exaltation and recognition will come to those who least expect it, and who least seek it.

5 Steps in Developing Humility

Jesus is a living example of humility. He performed miracles. He is the embodiment of God, yet, He walked, dressed, and lived humbly, and did not define Himself by superficial titles or trappings. Even with unspeakable suffering His future, He humbled Himself before God, and maintained peace in the presence of His enemies. He lived to help others understand the nobility of Kingdom living, as we all are meant to do, and the power found within God’s purpose for our lives.

Here are 5 steps to developing Christ-like humility:

  1. Love – Love by choice, not by circumstance. Let mistreatment by others remind you to overcome their evil through love (Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 6:27-28; 32-36).
  2. Forgive – Forgive daily those who have sinned against you. Allow God’s forgiving nature to guide you in forgiving others (Matthew 18-21-35; Luke 17:3-4).
  3. No vengeance – Renounce any form of retaliation. Leave all vengeance to God (Matthew 5:38-42, Luke 6:29-30).
  4. Humble yourself – Be wary of the serious danger of pride and arrogance. Avoid striving for public recognition and promoting yourself or your ministry (Luke 14:7-11).
  5. Repent – Recognize and confess before God any sin in your life. Do not seek to justify yourself by comparing yourself with other sinners (Luke 18:9-14).

The Kingdom Within You

The Kingdom of God is a spiritual reality that is in one’s life, over one’s affairs, and expressed through one’s life, love and service. Humility is how we show others the human face of God.

Adapted from Truth-in-action through the Synoptic Gospels, Spirit Filled Life Study Bible. Jack Hayford, General Editor; Dennis Corrigan, Senior Pastor, The Carpenter’s Company.


Purchase the Spirit Filled Life Study Bible at the WEST ANGELES CHRISTIAN EMPORIUM3021 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016. Phone:(323) 731-3012.

Bishop Blake: The Archer’s Bow

Sometimes affliction in your life is like an archer’s bow. The archer pulls the bow back; he pulls it further back, and further back. The archer seems as if he’s about to break it, but just before it reaches its breaking point, the archer releases the arrow, and the arrow soars farther and higher than imagination can conceive because of the stress on the bow.

The reason God is stressing you, pulling you beyond your limit, and it seems He about to break you is because, after a while, the arrow of your destiny is going to be released, and God is going to take you higher than you’ve ever gone before.

When the devil strikes you, keep on praising Him.

When the way is rough, keep on praising Him.

When the burden is heavy, keep on praising Him.

Jesus the Son of God is our example. Because he humbled Himself, God took Him higher than He’d ever gone before.

Life might crush you down, but I see you coming up! Be a “Hallelujah anyhow” person when the Lord stresses you.

Just start praising God!

 

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – Philippians 2:5-11, 4:13.

 

Adapted from the sermon, “Greater Blessings for Greater Afflictions” at West Angeles Church of God In Christ, 7/12/2015.  The entire sermon is available HERE, at West Angeles Gospel on Demand.