The Unlikely Disciple Joseph of Arimathea John 19:38-42

In the Bible, there are at least 3 Josephs that we know of: a) Joseph, the son of Jacob in the Old Testament, b) Joseph, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus, c) Joseph of Arimathea. Also, I should mention there might be another Joseph that we do not know much of in the New Test. He is identified as Joseph or Joses the son of Mary, and the brother of James (Matt 27: 56, Mark 15:40). Remember, in Bible times Jewish people did not typically have last name. They were identified by where they were from and whose family they were born into. For example, Christ or Messiah is Jesus’ title and not his last name, or He is often identified in the N.T. as Jesus of Nazareth. How about Mary Magdalene, that was not her last name either – It is Mary of Magdala, which was a small fishing village on the western shore of Galilee. Joseph of Arimathea was a pharisee from the Judean town of Arimathea (Luke 23:51)
            Joseph of Arimathea is one of the unsung heroes of the Gospel story. He plays a major role in the burial of Jesus Christ and fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9). Also, Joseph’s story is mentioned in all 4 accounts of the Gospel (Matt 27:57, Mark 15:42-46, Luke 23:50-53, John 19:38-42). The Gospel writers describe Joseph as a respected member of the Sanhedrin council. The same council that condemned Jesus to death after having conducted a fraudulent trial in the home of Caiaphas, the high priest (Luke 22:66, John 18:13-14). Without having any evidence to corroborate their charges against Jesus, the Sanhedrin Council sent Jesus to Pilate to be tried under Roman law because Judea could not legally condemn someone to death without Rome’s approval (John 18:31). Joseph of Arimathea was a member of that Sanhedrin Council. However, he never approved of their decision to condemn Jesus because he was secretly a disciple of Christ.
            According to John 12:42-43, many religious leaders, including some of the Pharisees, believed in Jesus but they would never openly acknowledge their faith in Christ for two reasons: a) fear of getting kicked out of the council, and b) they loved human praise more than the praise of God. I believe Joseph had to keep his faith in Christ a secret because if he were kicked out of the council, he would not be able to make any demands of Pilate regarding Jesus’s body to bury Him. However, he was not afraid to let the council know that he did not consent to their unsubstantiated decision to condemn Jesus (Luke 23:51). It is my belief that God was at work in the background making sure that the body of Christ did not stay on the cross that day, because it was a Roman tradition to leave the corpse of criminals on the cross as an example to subdue the people. BUT GOD, through His divine power and foreknowledge, had blessed and prepared an unlikely disciple, Joseph of Arimathea a member of the Pharisees who were bitter enemies of Jesus Christ, to make sure that His purpose would be fulfilled.
            Beloved, it is amazing how God is able “to work all things together for the good of those who love [Him] and are called according to His purpose.” I wonder if Joseph of Arimathea knew the role He was playing in the Gospel story. I wonder if he knew he was fulfilling Messianic prophecy. Maybe He did not. However, what we do know for certain is that God was, is and will always be control.

I love you all
Donny Pierre

The Origin & Purpose of Angels

What comes to mind when you think of angels? Do you think of a human being with wings on their back and a halo above their head? Do you think of cute little babies flying around with a bow and arrow? Or do you think of something else. The study of angels or the doctrine of angelology has always been intriguing to believers and non-believers alike, and I believe there are many things we can learn about them from the Bible.
          Angels are spiritual and non-corporeal beings created by God (Col 1:16, Gen 3) to serve as his messengers, soldiers, and representatives. Angels are spiritual forces created to carry out God’s purpose and will in the universe. They played a major role in how God operated in the Bible, Old and New Testament alike, and they are still carrying out His purpose today
          Join us for another Q&A night on March 19th at 7:00 pm as we explore what the Bible has to say about the origin and purpose of angels.

Donny Pierre

I AM PRAYING FOR YOU

As disciples of Christ, we have certain “Christian Clichés” that are part of our daily vocabulary: God bless you – God is good – thank you Jesus – Praise God – Amen, Hallelujah – Won’t He do it – I am praying for you – The list goes on. Now, allow me to remind you that the word “cliché” is defined as: “A phrase that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” There is nothing inherently wrong with these clichés, but I cannot help but wonder how genuine the intent behind these statements is. Are these clichés phrases that we simply say as part of our Christian culture, or do we really appreciate and grasp the spiritual power these statements.
          “I am praying for you” or “You are in my prayers” are phrases that we use all the time to express sympathy and a sense of Christ-like community, and it is spiritually uplifting to know other God-fearing Disciples are in fact praying on your behalf. However, how many times have some of us been guilty of telling people that we are praying for them and fail to follow through. We are busy people, and we tend to forget certain conversations at times. I genuinely believe that we do not mean to, but it happens to the best of us. I know I have been guilty of that. Therefore, I have been intentionally taking notes in my prayer journal or setting up reminders on my phone calendar, because I do not want this powerful and uplifting statement, “I am praying for you,” to be nothing but a cliché for me.
          Brothers and sisters let us continue to genuinely pray for each other and with each other whenever we have the opportunity. Prayer can help us connect on a deeper level with our Heavenly Father and strengthen our fellowship as a community of faithful believers. May we never take this statement lightly because there is power in prayer.

I am praying for you all, always
          Donny Pierre

Q&A Night is back!

I am so excited to host our first Q&A Night of 2021. I am looking forward to spending some time with you exploring different questions you may have about our faith in God and doctrinal teachings in the church. 
We will be meeting on zoom on February 19th at 7PM. Although I am planning on talking about Angels (their origin and purpose), please feel free to send out any questions you may have ahead of time to donaquerez@gmail.com.
I promise you, it will be a fun and uplifting Bible study. Mark your calendar and plan on joining us Friday night, February 19th at 7PM. 
Grace and Peace,Donny Pierre

THE BEST WAY TO LIVE LIFE

When I started to write this article, I had some specific ideas in mind. However, earlier I was reading this book about love, and I came across 1 Corinthians 13 where the writer was exploring the different characteristics of love. I thought to myself: “I have heard enough lessons on 1 Corinthians 13. I have studied that passage of scripture in French, Creole, English and Greek – I have preached on it several times, taught several Bible classes on it, and read it at several weddings and once at a funeral.” So, my “preacher-self” thought, “What could I possibly learn that I already didn’t know.”
            That was a spirit of arrogance in me, because the next few chapters I read humbled me. Sometimes, it is not about learning something new – it is about being reminded of what we already know but fail to put in practice every now and then. Beloved, I felt compelled to keep on reading, and I feel compelled to write about love and encourage you to spend some time with 1 Corinthians 13 – it will edify your soul. Those of you who are familiar with this passage of Scripture, I beg you not to think it is redundant nor allow the spirit of arrogance to stop you from reading it again and again. Because it is always the right time to talk about love – It is always the right time to love – It is always the right time to be reminded of God’s love.

            To fully appreciate Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13, we need to me mindful of the context and the reason why he wrote this letter (1 Corinthians). Paul was instrumental in the establishment of the Corinthian Church (3:5-17), and he genuinely loved that Church. Over time, people started to fight among themselves within the community, as they dealt with many issues that can be divisive (money, marriage, sex, law, judging people, worship, dress code, role of men and women, spiritual gifts, etc.). Paul spent 12 chapters teaching them on these matters, and at the end of chapter 12 he said, “Let me now show you a way of life that is best of all.” Then Paul introduced his audience to the answer to all their problems, LOVE. Paul started by saying “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
            Basically, Paul wanted them to understand – he wants all of us to understand that we are nothing without love. Whatever we do in life means nothing without love. Whatever we may accomplish in life means nothing without love. Whoever we become in life means nothing without love – unconditional, genuine love. Love is the best way to live life, because it is the one thing that can really binds us all together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3: 14). And the reason why love can bind us together in perfect harmony it is because “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, love does not boast, love is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, love is not selfish, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” These are qualities that we all need in life.

Beloved, the best way to live life, the best way to live together, is “LOVE.”  Everything must stem from our love for God and our love for one another.

I love you all,
Donny Pierre

A PRAYER FROM THE APOSTLE PAUL

After much thought and prayer, I simply selected one of my favorite passages of scripture from the Apostle Paul to share with everyone. It is my prayer lately, that we all can grasp how big and how important God’s love is for us and the world. 

EPHESIANS 3: 7 – 21

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

A Message for the New Year

I remember how excited I was to wish people a “Happy New Year” last year (January 1st, 2020). I remember How many people I talked to, how many people I prayed with and prayed for God’s grace and favor to shower upon them for the new year. However, 2020 did not turn out as most of us expected. Some of us lost loved ones – Some of us were impacted financially – Our fellowship and corporate worship were impacted – We lost our means of compassion and love (no hugs, no handshakes, and no smile).
            However, we remain faithful, hopeful, and more united than ever before, because God still blessed us tremendously as a Church. Yes, all of us have not been able to worship in person due to the pandemic but our fellowship remains strong. From meeting on zoom to phone calls, texts, and facetime, we managed to find a way to stay connected. Yes, we have not been able to see each other and be together physically, but the blood of Jesus keeps bringing us closer together as one Church. Yes, Church seems somewhat different right now, but we literally have families (House Church) worshipping together in their own home every Sunday. We have been blessed to have several people visiting with us online and in-person. Many families in the Waterbury community were blessed because of our wonderful generosity as a Church. More importantly, God blessed us with several new additions to the family: Brianna Montoyo, Tricia Bonenfant, Joe Medford, Brai Williams, Juan Montanaz and Mike Zijeski. Continue to pray for God’s work to be done in the Waterbury Church, “that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ” (Col. 4:3).
            Church, we are a resilient Congregation because of the Grace of God that continuously showers upon us. We cannot stop, we will not stop praising the mighty name of Jesus until the day of His return or when we depart from this life. We may not know what the future holds in 2021, but we know who holds the future in His hands. Therefore, I can confidently wish you again a “Happy New Year” because our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness. Brothers and sisters let us get to work because we are victorious soldiers of Christ.

I love you all,
Donny Pierre

Do Not Be Afraid

“Do not be afraid” is an extremely popular command in the Bible – it is mentioned well over one hundred times. It is more popular than the command to “love one another.” Maybe, it is because God knows we have such a high propensity for fear: fear of the unknown – fear of change – fear of death – fear of inadequacy – fear of disappointment – fear of disapproval – fear of losing control. The list goes on. The pandemic, the economy and the political climate have exponentially exposed some of our deepest fears. Frankly, how can many of us not be afraid when a lot of things seem uncertain right now.
               In Matthew 8: 23 – 27, Jesus was travelling with his disciples on a boat across the sea of Galilee when a sudden tempest arose. Jesus was asleep while his disciples were freaking out and they were afraid they were going to die. They woke up Jesus, saying “Lord save us, we are perishing.” Several of these men were experienced fishermen (Matt. 4: 18 – 22); so, they were most likely remarkably familiar with rough seas and storms. For these experienced fishermen to be so afraid that they had to wake up Jesus screaming for help, it must have been one awfully bad storm that was beyond their expertise and ability to handle. When Jesus got up, He responded, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith.” Every time I read this story, I cannot help but think: “Duh, do you not see this tempest our here Jesus? Can you not see what is going on?” The disciples had valid, compelling, and immediate reasons to be afraid, and so do many of us today. Many of us are in these dreadful and unforeseen circumstances that are beyond our ability to handle. And just like the disciples on the boat, we might be asking Jesus “Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing?” Lord, don’t you care that I might lose my home? Lord, don’t you care about my kids not being in school? Lord, don’t you care about my “loved one” being terminally ill? Lord, don’t you care that I am so depressed? Lord, don’t you care that I lost this person that I loved so much? Lord, don’t you care ____________________ (feel free to fill in the blank whatever your frustration, pain, worry or fear might be). We should never be afraid to bring our questions, frustration, pain, and fear to God. Read the book of Job and see for yourselves how many questions Job had for God. However, are we ready for the answer. I believe the answer to this question, Lord, don’t you care, would be: “Why are you afraid?”
                Jesus wanted his disciples to lean into their faith instead of their fear. Also, the disciples have seen with their own eyes all the miracles Jesus had done so far. Therefore, the presence of Jesus Christ in the boat with them was all they needed to weather the storm. Brothers and sisters, when you are afraid, put your trust in God (Psalm 56: 3). When you are afraid, remember God is in the boat with you weathering the storm.

PS. Read Psalm 91 and Pray for God’s providence and protection over your home and the Church family,

I love you all
Grace and Peace
Donny Pierre

BE THANKFUL LIKE A CHILD

My wife and I have been attempting to teach our 3-year-old how to pray. I believe Andre is far ahead in his overall cognitive development, but his vocabulary is somewhat limited when it comes to verbally expressing all his thoughts and desires. Therefore, his prayers are short and sweet. He would usually interlace his fingers, bow his head, sometimes close his eyes, and whisper a few words of gratitude. I can hear both innocence and shyness in his voice, but when I listen attentively, I can also hear brevity. Yeah, that is my son and I am a proud dad, but the short content of his prayers always amazes me.
            We intentionally seek not to put words in his mouth, but we want him to freely express himself by verbalizing whatever his thoughts could be. Andre always expresses nothing but gratitude: gratitude for his parents, his brother, his godparents, grandparents, friends, the ability to play and so on. I know this prayer may sound typical for a 3-year-old, but I cannot help but think how the words spoken in his prayers stem from the content of his little heart – a heart filled with joy, contentment, and gratitude. I am reminded of how Jesus taught his disciples to have a child-like attitude if they want to inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-5). I want to encourage all of you, despite the pandemic, politics, and whatever hardship you may have been going through, to develop a joyful, content, and grateful heart.
            Paul reminded us that God’s will for us is to be grateful in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:16-18). It is also worth noting there are clinical studies proving that gratitude and kindness can help increase positive emotions and reduce anxiety while fostering a peaceful environment. Being thankful is not only a biblical mandate for disciple of Christ, but it also helps improve our health and overall quality of life. This thanksgiving season, which is going to be unlike previous thanksgivings due to the pandemic, let us improve our relationships and fellowship by showing genuine, child-like gratitude for each other.

I thank God every time I think of all of you (Phil 1:3)
God bless you, and I Love you all
Donny Pierre

YOUR SOUL WILL LIVE ON

In the last 3 months, I have spoken at 5 different funeral services. Each service was different from the other, but the pain and the tears were all the same. Families and friends mourning and attempting to comfort each other over the loss of their loved ones. Although we are all aware of the inevitability of death, it is never easy losing someone you love and care about – no matter when, no matter where, and no matter how that person departs this world. However, most people believe their loved ones are in a “Better Place” after death. People use the term “R.I.P” (rest in peace or power) quite often as they celebrate the life of someone they have lost and mourn their departure from this world. That belief is filled with hope as it empowers people to grieve better, knowing that their deceased loved ones are at peace and in a better place.
            Even among non-believers, there is a fundamental belief that death is not final. Although there maybe sharp disagreements regarding what lies beyond death, phrases like “They are in a better place,” or “Rest in Peace” denotes the idea of some type of belief in the afterlife – a life beyond this metaphysical one, and that is because the soul will live on. We are more than just flesh and blood. In the Bible, Job asked this poignant question: “If someone dies, will they live again?” (Job 14:14). A question that science and logical human reasoning cannot answer. Please, allow me to offer a brief biblical perspective. According to scripture, death happens when the soul departs from the body (Genesis 35:18). The soul is the very essence of man, it is the breath of life that God places inside of us as living beings (Genesis 2:7). When all biological function that sustains human organism permanently cease, the soul returns to its creator (Ecclesiastes 12: 6-7). Everyone understands the human body is nothing but dust and eventually will turn to dust after death, whether through cremation or burial. However, the soul lives on because no one and nothing can destroy it except for God who created it (Matthew 10:28).
            Now, one must ask: “Where does the soul live on?” It saddens me to say, not everyone who dies will be in a “Better Place” or “Resting in Peace.” The soul will live on either in Heaven or in hell. In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus talked about two men who died and were buried but their souls lived on in two different places. One of them was not resting in peace, he was in torments and in agony. Jesus sacrificially offers himself as the only way to know for sure that our soul will rest in peace (John 14:6, Matthew 11: 28-29). Your soul will live on, but where?