Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – a prayer
Whilst spending time with family in the USA, one story that grabbed my attention was the reinstatement of the Duck Dynasty reality show on the television network AE. Some of the pundits were surprised at the speed of the ‘kiss and make up’, but were however fully aware that eventually, 14 million viewers who supported the show would force the network to capitulate; or what we term ‘bow’ in Jamaica. As in this case ‘money, not just spoke, but shouted loudly’.
Many of us recalled how the leader of the group quoted the Bible, in fact the Book of Romans, as he inveighed heavily against the immoral behavior of homosexual; and used pretty graphic language to make his point. It was in that context that I sent out a text musing about the fate of our local International DJ’s, Buju Banton and Beenie Man, occasioned by their anti-homosexual stance; and wondered if on account of the promotion of violence why their stance met with prolonged and resolute resistance. What also struck me was the unusually fairly common recognition, that ” Christians too”, were entitled to freedom of speech, and thus the Duck Dynasty leader was well within his rights to express his views as part of the community of believers.
The other story which struck me was the unfortunate and horrific death of that young girl visiting from New York, and who was brutally slain, the day after she arrived in Jamaica, along with her cousin. This coupled with news coming from my church, that a female Anglican Priest. and a friend who served at my church in Kingston Jamaica, was, for reasons yet to be confirmed, severely beaten and left for dead. From all reports, when found she was pulseless, and but for the mercy of God, wold have become yet another statistic in my country. So, in the midst of a time of peace and goodwill to all men, and women, many Jamaicans mourned privately, and collectively, for our beloved country; one that is virtually under siege because of so many egregious acts of violence, perpetrated by men who have apparently lost their souls, and are willing and able to take another person’s life without any regret whatsoever.
THE WORD OF GOD
So what did The Lord God of Israel, the Creator of heaven and earth, who sent His Son Jesus, ” to save us from our sins”, on the first Christmas, lead me to read at this time. As you journey with me, note the message of God’s mercy and grace coursing through the entire week’s leading by The Lord . As this issue of God’s unfathomable compassion, given full expression in the life, death and resurrection of ” The Christ child”, is what I was led to understand in a very profound way this Christmas. And our response as ‘sinful persons’ before a righteous God is to repent and turn and accept Christ is Lord and Savior.
THE FIRST MESSAGE – SENT TO THE PERSONS AS NOTED BELOW AND SPEAKS TO THE COMMAND FROM GOD THAT ALL MEN NEED TO REPENT AND TURN TO HIM AND AWAY FROM WORTHLESS IDOLS. AND GOD’S MERCY. ALSO NOTE THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH, ESTABLISHED BY ‘THE CHRIST CHILD’, IN THIS GREAT ACT OF RECONCILIATION BETWEEN LOST AND SINFUL MANKIND AND A MERCIFUL GOD.
I just sent this message to journalists politicians and other members of civil society as part of an ongoing discussion of ” the correct faith”, and was told to send it to my church also. With the same warning. ” Share the gift with others, otherwise remember the fate of Jonah”.
Between yesterday and this morning, The Lord led me through two completely different readings of His Word, in order to reveal the full extent of His compassion and mercy. Attributes of God which are manifest in the Birth, Death and Resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, whose birth we will celebrate tomorrow.
The first one is from the book of Jonah. Which is not really all about Jonah, but about God’s mercy towards the ” great city of Nineveh”, which had ‘more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well’.
There are two passages in the book that stood out in my mind. One, when Jonah was in the belly of the fish, with his life ebbing away, he cried out to God in prayer:
” Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs”. 2:8
For Jonah as a Hebrew, knew the Living God, Yahweh, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. He knew that God was a God of grace and mercy and that idols were worthless, regardless of how impressive they may look, or how people worshiped them.
The good thing is that, the pagan city of Nineveh, which did not serve the Living God of the Jews, had heard about Him. And so when the call to repentance came, the King, the leader, by decree, called his people to repentance through fasting and prayer.
” Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat and drink……Let everyone call urgently upon God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn fro his fierce anger so that we will not perish”
And when God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion on them, and did not bring upon the city, the destruction He had threatened.
Jonah 3: 7-10 NIV
The question is, who in Jamaica will call our people to repentance? Who in this great city of Miami, in this great country of America, where the “Duck Dynasty” controversy has revealed, among other things, that many people ” don’t know their right hand from their left”; have no understanding of Sin, and of God’s Sovereign will for mankind, of God’s compassion and mercy in Christ Jesus; who will call this people to repentance?
The second reading gives a clear answer and more. As The Lord led me through the Book of Ephesians this morning, the following revelations jumped out at me.
1. That we cannot fully understand Christmas, Sin and God’s mercy unless we appreciate the history of Salvation. A History that began with the Jews.
“…..remember that at that time, you were separate from Christ, excluded from the citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ”. Ephesians 2: 12-13
I have read this passage many times, but never with this understanding, and in the context of Christmas. We really need to remember our history and give thanks to God in Christ Jesus, as at one time, all persons apart from the Jews, were without hope and without God. And more profoundly, before God in His mercy revealed Himself to the Jews, for His own reasons, which did not have anything to do with them – contrary to the belief of some Zionists – the entire human race was ” in Adam’ without hope and without God. Have mercy!
2. ” This mystery is that through the gospel the gentiles are heirs together with Israel…..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 God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make it plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which was for ages past was kept hidden in God who created all things. 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 realms, according to the his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through him we may approach God in confidence.” 3: -12
Now, if anyone who any doubts about the role of the church in any society, this message from The Lord should disabuse the ignorant and doubters of any foolish notions; and more importantly reinforce in the minds of believer the high calling in Jesus Christ to which they have, and dare not shirk from it. For then who else will call the great country of Jamaica to repentance, and the great country of America to repentance! Otherwise, what will we say to The Lord on the day of Judgment when He certainly will ask, as Jesus in the parable did, ” what have you done with the gifts I gave you”. And more specifically, the gift of the Christ child at Christmas.
There is more anon. But until then Merry Christmas to you all.
From the great city of Miami.
THE SECOND MESSAGE – ADDRESSES THE NEED FOR PRAYER WITHOUT CEASING, AND OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD, BY THOSE WHO CHRIST HAS APPOINTED A WATCHMEN IN ANY SOCIETY.
As I read an extended version of the OT lesson appointed for Sunday in the online Lectionary this morning, a verse early in Isaiah 61, jumped out at me; and I thought about my country and the mourning and grieving that many are experiencing on account of murder, and road crashes. Of course I also thought about Viviette, who I gather by God’s wonderful grace and mercy, is improving and recognizing people:
…to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion. 2b-3a.
Then my mind went back to my night time journey with Matthew, and last night’s question posed by John the Baptist to Jesus ( about which young Rev. Larius preached recently. ” Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect another?” ( Matt.11:3) And the answer which Jesus gave originated from the prophetic Word from the opening verses of chap 61. Amazing!
The Spirit of The Sovereign Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor……”
The perspective which came into my mind on Christmas night, concerns us, the body of Christ, who have been ” anointed” to call people to repentance. Are we demonstrating by our lives, to the powers and authorities, and evil forces who keep people captive, and according to the Word, ” lead them astray”, that we are the ones sent by God, or are they others to come? Are we the ones to bring comfort to those who mourn in Jamaica today?
Then on reading further on in chapter 62: 6 -7, the kind of lives we who have been anointed to bring good news to the poor, ….proclaim freedom for the captives…bind up the broken hearted…is revealed.
” I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call upon The Lord ,
give yourselves no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of his glory”.
No doubt Simeon, the righteous and devout man in Jerusalem ( Luke 2: 25) and others who waited patiently for the coming of the Messiah, who was to fulfill these and other prophesies, ‘ called upon The Lord day and night”; and therefore was able to exult when he took Jesus in his arms:
“Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:28-32 KJV)
As I write, I recall my experiences with my Pentecostal patients, some of whom have told me about all night praying services in their church, waiting upon The Lord. They have a special name for it, but I have forgotten. That however, is not our tradition, but I mention it to make the point, to which the Scriptures have led me this morning, and coming from last night:
That the rescuing of my country depends on the prayer life, the fervent prayer life of those whose righteousness is in Christ and Him crucified. And which prayers will avail much, if we ” give The Lord no rest” , until He establishes peace in our land. Whether in our time or not! For once it was the time of the prophets, and then the early church. Now it’s our turn to be faithful in prayer according to the Word in Isaiah, and then to be obedient according to the Word in James.
” Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” 4:22. A verse which invaded my soul a few days ago.
All of us are guilty of not ” calling upon The Lord and giving Him no rest”, and I am one of the chief offenders with all the distractions and trials of life around us. So we pray God for the grace for His anointed ones, so that we may be able to get pass merely listening to the Word, and be obedient. it is in this way that the captives will be set free, people will no longer mourn, and Viviette and others will be protected from evil. Amen
P.S. Hope you all had a wonderful day of peace and joy with family yesterday, as we did here in rainy, but thank God, not freezing cold, Miami, as is the unfortunate experience of those further north.
THE THIRD MESSAGE – SENT TO TWO PERSONS IN PARTICULAR, BUT OTHERS TOO, WHO HAVE THE POWER TO POINT PERSONS IN MY COUNTRY IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.
This morning I sent the message below, as the latest episode of a conversation with my church family on prayer. As this time is a down time for both journalists and politicians, I figured you would have some time for reflection on transcendental issues. And therefore I thought about you and the need for a better understanding of the faith. The victim mentioned is a friend and an Anglican female Priest who was savagely beaten and left for dead early Christmas morning. But thank God, by grace she is recovering. May the Lord’s grace and mercy attend you and your family and this nation as you read and hopefully accept the prayer for you to be enabled by God to know Jesus. As there is no other way to know the Savior and help with the rescue mission as part of #TeamJamaica.
Friday, December 27, 2013 9:04 AM, Lucien Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Last night as I read the meditation set out below by Chambers, my mind went immediately, praise God, to the words highlighted in one of my favourite hymns. This morning on awakening, I began my devotions with a reflection on the many glorious truths and challenges…misusings of thy grace…. of that hymn. And wondered how can we really escape the trap of languid prayers and dim faith…and wondered about those who really do not understand what Sin is all about, as according to Chambers and the Word….no one really knows what sin is until he is born again.
In this context then, in my night time journey with Matthew, I came upon this intriguing Word last night.
” No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whose the Son choses to reveal him” Matt. 11:27. Which is the same revelation found in John. ” ” No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him………” It is written in the Prophets: They will all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me”…..’For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. he went on to say, This is why I told you that no one can come to the me unless the Father has enabled him. verses found in John 6.
What do I make of all of this? That we have to give God no rest in prayer! For ourselves….for the misusings of his grace; for our dearest and our best……from tainting mischief keep them white and clean; and perhaps more importantly, for all unbelievers, all who ‘ the god of this age has blinded their minds ( 2 Cor. 4:4), that ” the Father may enable them to come to know Jesus”. Those who murder, those who steal, those who the evil one moves them to beat helpless women to death. That the same grace that rescued Viviette, may rescue them too, and all of us who misuse this grace. That one day all of us may stand in the Light and because of the Blood of Jesus, nothing may be found in us for God to censure.
“Walk in the Light”
If we walk in the light as He is in the light . . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin -1 John 1:7
To mistake freedom from sin only on the conscious level of our lives for complete deliverance from sin by the atonement through the Cross of Christ is a great error. No one fully knows what sin is until he is born again. Sin is what Jesus Christ faced at Calvary. The evidence that I have been delivered from sin is that I know the real nature of sin in me. For a person to really know what sin is requires the full work and deep touch of the atonement of Jesus Christ, that is, the imparting of His absolute perfection.
The Holy Spirit applies or administers the work of the atonement to us in the deep unconscious realm as well as in the conscious realm. And it is not until we truly perceive the unrivaled power of the Spirit in us that we understand the meaning of 1 John 1:7 , which says, “. . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” This verse does not refer only to conscious sin, but also to the tremendously profound understanding of sin which only the Holy Spirit in me can accomplish.
I must “walk in the light as He is in the light . . .”- not in the light of my own conscience, but in God’s light. If I will walk there, with nothing held back or hidden, then this amazing truth is revealed to me: “. . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses [me] from all sin” so that God Almighty can see nothing to rebuke in me.
On the conscious level it produces a keen, sorrowful knowledge of what sin really is. The love of God working in me causes me to hate, with the Holy Spirit’s hatred for sin, anything that is not in keeping with God’s holiness. To “walk in the light” means that everything that is of the darkness actually drives me closer to the center of the light.
1 And now, O Father, mindful of the love
That bought us, once for all, on Calvary’s tree,
And having with us Him that pleads above,
We here present, we here spread forth to Thee,
That only offering perfect in Thine eyes,
The one true, pure, immortal sacrifice.
2 Look, Father, look on His anointed face,
And only look on us as found in Him;
Look not on our misusings of Thy grace
Our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim;
For lo! between our sins and their reward,
We set the Passion of Thy Son our Lord.
3 And then for those, our dearest and our best,
By this prevailing presence we appeal;
Oh, fold them closer to Thy mercy’s breast!
Oh, do Thine utmost for their souls’ true weal!
From tainting mischief keep them white and clear,
And crown Thy gifts with strength to persevere.
4 And so we come; Oh, draw us to Thy feet,
Most patient Savior, Who canst love us still!
And by this Food, so awful and so sweet,
Deliver us from every touch of ill:
In Thine own service make us glad and free,
And grant us nevermore to part with Thee.
The Hymnal: revised and enlarged as adopted by the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America in the year of our Lord 1892 Amen.
THE FINAL TWO MESSAGES- SENT AGAIN TO PERSONS OF INFLUENCE WHO NEEED TO HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTAND OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH AND SHARES A PROFOUND WORD ABOUT THE MERCY OF GOD
My night time journey with Matthew continues….” If you had known what these words mean, I desire mercy, not sacrifice you would have not condemned the innocent”. Matthew 12:7-8
As I read these words tonight, just now, my mind went to the James passage about mercy.
” Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment”. James 2:12-13 NIV
Later on James, in my Bible is a reference to mercy by Alexander Pope…
” Teach me to feel another’s woe,
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
that mercy shown to me”.
The context in both passages of Scripture has to do with The Sabbath and The Law. One, a part of the other, and which consideration/debate still continues to divide the church family until this day, The most visible manifestation of which is the “keeping of the Sabbath”, by the SDA church and others. And they, hopefully will come to a deeper understanding of grace and mercy one day.
We can, however, learn much about mercy from this passage, as was revealed to me tonight.
1. That the promotion , and sanction, of violence towards any group of persons, whether or not they are disobedient to God’s Word, is not of God, but of the devil. In this context then, Buju Banton and Beenie Man, or any other artiste, are to be condemned to the extent that they are guilty of any such practice. And this may explain, in part, the rapid reinstatement of the Duck Dynasty show on AE; although many concede that money played a huge role in that situation.
2. That Bishop Tutu’s assertion that he could never believe in a God who hated homosexuals, must be understood in this context. As the God we serve is a merciful and forgiving God, who is full of compassion towards all He has created in His own image, And therefore, as His Word says, vengeance, or the ” bringing down of His wrath” on anyone, is His decision alone. As who are we therefore, as grateful recipients of God’s mercy towards all mankind, in and through Christ Jesus, to judge others.
3. Which is what I hear Pope Francis trying to say, in the midst of the ‘noise’ that accompanies the discussion of ” hot button ” issues. Not that he is condoning wrong, but his understanding of mercy is at the forefront of his utterances. The very point that was made in the message sent yesterday.
May the Lord’s peace with you all, as we continue to learn more about the Word of God, and apply it to life in Jamaica and beyond, as part of #TeamJamaica; on a mission to rescue our beloved and beleaguered country from crime and violence, immorality and ignorance about God’s truth.
THE FINAL WORD – ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF REJECTING CHRIST THE STONE THAT CAUSES MEN TO STUMBLE
Early this morning, we have been sleeping late the entire time, as the mornings are dark in Miami, The Lord woke me up to read 1 Peter. And to share with you this Word; in this context that, ultimately, ” God judges each man’s work impartially”. Therefore, we should be careful how we focus on ” the rescuing of Jamaica”, and more on our own souls. As Jamaica will not be judged, but each one of us before God, when He comes again. Clearly, however, the more we believe and obey the Word as individuals, ‘Be holy, because I am holy”, and “love our neighbour as we love ourselves”, with Justice and Mercy, the more we will receive from God, the peace and the prosperity that has eluded us thus far. Unfortunately, the converse is also true; the more we continue, individually to ” reject the living stone”, to that extent, collectively, as a nation, we will continue to ” stumble”. Which is what the death of that young 19 year old visitor from NY, along with her relative, is teaching us. I pray God we be more discerning and obedient in 2014.
As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and, ‘A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:4-12 NIVUK
I pray that we who have been appointed by God to bear witness to the Light who is Christ and Him crucified will ‘step up to the plate’ and be obedient to the Word in 2014.