Practising to win the World Cup: Practising to win the Victory over Sin in Christ Jesus

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton ( former slave ship owner turned Anglican Priest)

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s).

NEWS

1. World Cup Football continues to dominate the news in my country. And if you are fan of Brazilian Football, like yours truly and many other Jamaicans, everything almost crashed yesterday when they barely managed to eke out a win over long time South American rivals, Chile. That last gasp effort continued today when The Dutch snatched a win over the almost giant killers Mexico, and  Costa managed to hold their nerve against a fast finishing Greek team. Meanwhile ‘the find of the tournament’, Colombia continued imperiously with an expected win a Uruguayan team that had no ‘bite’ left in them…sorry, I could not resist that, given recent on and off the field controversy.

Holland 2 Mexico 1
The Guardian ‎- 6 hours ago
This World Cup gets more dramatic by the day. … “If we had been knocked out by a great goal, fine, that’s football,” Herrera said. Now it is …

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/jun/29/holland-mexico-world-cup-2014-last-16-match-report

2. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/lead/


NO GAY RULE
A SENIOR member of the clergy and chief advocate for the recently established lobby group Jamaica Churches Action Uniting Society for Emancipation (CAUSE) has signalled that the church would not be shy in rallying massive support from its flock to use the ballot to punish any political organisation that rushes to repeal the buggery laws.

This story has,  in the language of the journalists, continued to ‘gather legs’, ever since the news broke about the firing of Professor Bain by the UWI following protest by groups including gay rights groups. And in recent times ‘more fire has been stoked’ by the recent attempts by some elements within the lobby group Jamaicans for Justice to ‘push the gay agenda’ in  homes for children run by private entities. And so the backlash is that some aspects of the church in Jamaica has decided that like former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, ‘ it will not happen in their cabinet”. There will be no tolerance of anyone who attempts to push the Gay Agenda in Jamaica – same sex marriage, and the equating anal sex with vaginal sex. So a massive meeting is planned for tonight in the heart of city Kingston.

THE WORD OF GOD

So what did The Lord say through His inspired word or by His Word this week, in the midst of ‘the best of times’, in sports, and the ‘ worse of times’  socially and morally.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent to members of my church features a discussion on a popular television show in Jamaica and a meditation from the writer of one the most popular book in all history, ” My Utmost for His Highest”, by Oswald Chambers. And the key point is the fact of Sin. What it has done to the human race, and how in Christ God has rescued everyone from the bondage of Sin. So if we are not careful, we can become easily distracted from having a focus on the Cross of Calvary – the event used by God in Christ to overcome Sin and Death. In that context then World Cup Football, and all other exciting sporting events, Serena Williams just crashed out of Wimbledon Tennis yesterday, can serve as a distraction. And even the desire to promote ‘human rights’ for all.

THE MESSAGE

Initially I thought it began this morning with a reflection on, ” O Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end”, as I began my devotions this morning. But then I remembered last night’s event. How when I came home from a Fellowship Group meeting, and searching for World Cup Football News, I ‘happened up’ on Ian Boyne’s ” Religious Hard-talk”. Now I am not a big fan of the show. Ian, who is a friend, knows how I feel. That it’s often pure hype. Unlike his other journalistic endeavors which are always of a very high quality- his regular columns in the In Focus section of the Daily Gleaner, and the award winning Television show. 
But despite the competition, I kept going back to the interview with the two ladies. And eventually stayed on TVJ and this amazing story of two women who once lived extraordinarily sinful lives and who had both given their lives to Christ. One, going on seven years now, and the other seven months. One, studying to advance her knowledge of the Word, and currently a  Minister in her church: the other a willing soul who goes anywhere with her Pastor to spread the Word. Both admitted to a dramatic change in their economic circumstances since being baptized – unable to pay the rent, hunger, the light ‘cut off’. But despite all of that and temptations to return to the life of sin, both have remained faithful and sexually pure. One for seven years, the other for the seven months. All of this ability to resist sin by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, for ‘ if you do not have any tests, you cannot have a testimony’. And ‘if you do not reach down so low that God delivers you, then you cannot know Him as a God who delivers”. Amazing testimony of ‘once being lost’….trafficking drugs, dance hall queen, ‘living with Dons’, multiple sexual partners, aggressive behaviors to the extreme, doing what they were big and bad enough to do, locked up in jail….’and now being found.

And then this morning, as I arrived at verse four of , ” O Jesus I have promised”,
my mind went to Colossians chapter 3.

O Jesus, thou hast promised
to all who follow thee,
that where thou art in glory
there shall thy servant be…..

THE WORD OF GOD

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:1-8 NIV)

And then Irecalled, perhaps one of the most important meditations i have read over the years of turning to Oswald Chambers as part of my night time readings, before retiring to bed.

«»
JUNE 24
Reconciling Yourself to the Fact of Sin

This is your hour, and the power of darkness -Luke 22:53

Not being reconciled to the fact of sin- not recognizing it and refusing to deal with it- produces all the disasters in life. You may talk about the lofty virtues of human nature, but there is something in human nature that will mockingly laugh in the face of every principle you have. If you refuse to agree with the fact that there is wickedness and selfishness, something downright hateful and wrong, in human beings, when it attacks your life, instead of reconciling yourself to it, you will compromise with it and say that it is of no use to battle against it. Have you taken this “hour, and the power of darkness” into account, or do you have a view of yourself which includes no recognition of sin whatsoever? In your human relationships and friendships, have you reconciled yourself to the fact of sin? If not, just around the next corner you will find yourself trapped and you will compromise with it. But if you will reconcile yourself to the fact of sin, you will realize the danger immediately and say, “Yes, I see what this sin would mean.” The recognition of sin does not destroy the basis of friendship- it simply establishes a mutual respect for the fact that the basis of sinful life is disastrous. Always beware of any assessment of life which does not recognize the fact that there is sin.
Jesus Christ never trusted human nature, yet He was never cynical, because He trusted absolutely in what He could do for human nature.  The pure man or woman is the one who is shielded from harm, not the innocent person. The so-called innocent man or woman is never safe. Men and women have no business trying to be innocent; God demands that they be pure and virtuous. Innocence is the characteristic of a child. Any person is deserving of blame if he is unwilling to reconcile himself to the fact of sin.

Comment: There is no doubt in my mind that the most important lesson we need to learn in life is that ” the basis of life is tragic”…as Chambers observes in a related meditation. Full of Sin!  And that’s the reason why we desperately need  Christ in our lives to transform us, as He did in the lives of those two young ladies who Ian Boyne featured last night on  Religious Hard Talk. 

The challenge for the church, about which we must be eternally mindful, and vigilant, lest we fall into error, is to to be constantly ‘brooding on the Cross of Christ”. Because the basis of life is tragic, and sinful. And it the failure to accept this fact about human nature, why many of us ‘compromise with it’. Which then undermines the witness of the church in this nation. So as the Word of God says, ” you have died”. If then we don’t accept  that we have died, for ‘we were once sinners’, then we cannot live a resurrected life.  If we don’t accept that, daily we have to ‘ put to death….the life we once lived’, then the ‘wrath of God’,  will still come up on us, and we will bring the Name of Jesus into disrepute.
Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy! For I promised Lord, to follow thee to the end. be thou forever near me now O Lord…O let me hear thee speaking…in accents clear and still…above the storms of passion…the murmurs of self-will…..O speak to reassure me…to hasten or control……O speak, and make me listen…..thou guardian of my soul.
Amen.

THE SECOND MESSAGE –  was originally a post of Facebook which gained some traction . The key point in this short message is the word practice. Having a focus on God in Christ Jesus, and the reality of Sin, and its consequences, and God’s rescue mission on Calvary is matter which requires practice. In the same way that in order to be the best in World Cup Football, or Tennis, or Golf, or Basketball, ( should I mention the word cricket), or in athletics, you have to practice. No doubt that was the reason for the focus placed on Sin at the ordination ceremony of three Anglican Priests an a Deacon this evening. And at the service of the celebration of the life of the mother of one of my staff members, yesterday. 

” If we keep practicing , what we practice becomes, our second nature, then in a crisis and in the details of life we shall find that not only will the grace of God stand by us, but also our own nature”  – Oswald Chambers

And it has a sequelae.
June 26

Always Now

……It is not a matter of praying and asking God to help you; it is taking the grace of God now. We make prayer the preparation for work, it is never that in the Bible. Prayer is the exercise of drawing on the grace of God.

One of things that believers have to practice, is to pray and draw down on God’s grace  whenever any kind of  trial, even the most insignificant one, comes into our lives.  Right now! For without God in Christ we cannot manage. Without the empowerment of the Holy Sprit, (” it is not by power nor my might , but by my Spirit” – came into my head last night) we cannot manage. Sin is like a roaring lion which will confront the believer each day. And unless as Jesus warns, we learn how to tie up the strongman”,  Sin and Death,  we will be overcome every time. Thank God for Jesus, that in Him we have the victory over evil. We, therefore need to practice to be in His presence minutely, hourly, all day long, without ceasing, lest we fall into temptation. Lest the Gay agenda takes hold in our country as it has in North America Europe. Lest  in pursuit of fun and relaxation, we allow sports to dominate our lives – and thoughts of Serena Williams or Federer, Neymar or Messi, Le Brun James or Tim Duncan ( respect due even  from a Heats fan), Tiger Woods or our own Shelly Ann and Usain Bolt.
So yes, let us enjoy the spectacle that occurs every four years, but be aware daily, that we have to take up our cross, if we wish to follow Jesus. And win the battle over Sin.  And if not Him who? Jamaicans for Justice! The IMF!  Our favorite Politician – local or International!
I close with a warning from an extended reading of the Old  Testament passage appointed for the worldwide Anglican Church today.

Stop trusting in man,
who has but a breath in
his nostrils.
Of what account is he?  Isaiah 2: 22 NIV

Brazil or Argentina, God or Sin? chose one as they both cannot co-exist!

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton..former slave ship owner, turned Pastor.

Lord renew thy church beginning  with me : Lord renew your church that the church may renew the nation – A prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

NEWS

1. World Cup Football – I don’t about you but can this beautiful game get any better in ‘ Samba ” Brazil? Can it get any more exciting than last minute Messi magic on Saturday, followed by last seconds Ronaldo magic on Sunday evening? Can it get more unpredictable than Ghana almost doing the unthinkable – beating the Germans, and Costa Rica, ‘Los Ticos’, winning against the mighty Azzuris – the Italians? What a World Cup indeed!  
http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/

2. The use of age inappropriate sex education material by the JFJ, among other more serious ‘sins’, including material which purports that vaginal and anal sex are ‘ pretty much  different nuts on the same bolt’,  to paraphrase a theme in an excellent satirical piece on the subject by Daniel Thwaites today, continues to be a major talking point in Jamaica. An issue also the subject of a  riveting column by  award winning journalist  Ian Boyne.
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140622/cleisure/cleisure4.html   -Thwaites

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140622/focus/focus1.html         – Boyne

THE WORD OF GOD

So in the midst of the World Cup fever, how much time did I spend concentrating on what The Lord was saying this week. Hopefully enough, as one of the things I am learning, through trials and challenges –  which cause us to depend more and more on The Lord – is that Jesus was never fazed by what was happening outwardly around Him . But was always connected inwardly to His Father. This is my goal – to be able to be involved in the fullness of life here on earth, without bringing my Lord’s name into disrepute, whilst being eternally connected inwardly to Him. Lord have mercy on me a sinner!

So there were only ( main ) two messages that I sent this week. One to leaders in my country and the other to the membership of my Anglican Church.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent to leaders in my country, And the essence of the message is captured by a word from Proverbs and which appears in the discussion.

For a man’s ways are in full view of The Lord , and he examines all his paths – 5:21
A Word validated by a tweet sent last night:

@lucienforJesus: There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. Matt.10:26 #JFJsexeducationmaterial.  

The context is that all that is going wrong in Jamaica will be soon be revealed and then ‘sorted out’. Day by day! For He who has ‘all authority’, is very much in charge of the affairs of this land, even though recent events might move us to believe otherwise. And His purpose through the church, is to call men all men to repentance and obedience. A Divine Will which was first revealed to the children of Israel, and Who set out to Redeem them, even when they rebelled against their Creator God, time and time again, as we have done in Jamaica. So we thank God now and forevermore for Christ Jesus.

THE MESSAGE




The story about  JFJ (Jamaican for Justice) has been ‘gathering legs’ for a few days now. And news broke yesterday about an apology. Followed  this morning by an announcement of the resignation of Dr. Carolyn Gomes, the former Executive Director, from the Board of Directors of the the JFJ, in  a story carried by the Daily Gleaner.
As I pondered all of this, especially in the light of the Professor Bain vs. The UWI, into my heart this morning , out of nowhere,  came  words of a song which I have neither heard nor sang  for a long time. But I know it well, and can recall it being sung at my church by one of my favorite artistes,  trumpeter and singer Dwight Richards

Lyrics of the song – On Eagles Wing

Michael Joncas Wrote the hymn On Eagle’s Wings.

You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
Who abide in His shadow for life,
Say to the Lord, “My Refuge,
My Rock in Whom I trust.” 

Refrain:

And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.

The snare of the fowler will never capture you,
And famine will bring you no fear;
Under His Wings your refuge,
His faithfulness your shield.

Refrain

You need not fear the terror of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day,
Though thousands fall about you,
Near you it shall not come.

Refrain

For to His angels He’s given a command,
To guard you in all of your ways,
Upon their hands they will bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

The fact I realized that this song came from Psalm 91, and one which I reflect on every night before going to bed, was of interest. But what really  triggered the inspiration to write this morning, was a recollection of one of the great ‘laments’ in the Bible. And one which comes directly from the heart of God, rather that which has occupied our minds in recent times; that  coming from the heart of man, former PM P.J Patterson, and most if not all Jamaicans.
In my New International Version, the lament is captioned ” The Song of Moses”, and features a section which no doubt inspired the song writer of  ” On Eagles Wings”.

THE WORD OF GOD

In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him. (Deuteronomy 32:10-12 NIV)

The context of this chapter of lament was the rebellion, the repeated disobedience, of the children of Israel, to a loving God who had ‘formed them’.
And so Moses, the servant of God, began by reminded them of the goodness and the greatness of God.

THE WORD CONTD.
Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. They are corrupt and not his children; to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation. Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the Lord ’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance. (Deuteronomy 32:1-9 NIV)

And having reminded the children of Israel of the nature of the God who they serve, including the fact that, it was the Holy One of Israel who carried them, as it were ” on  eagle’s wings’, they abandoned this God. and then ‘offered sacrifices to gods who recently appeared, gods who their fathers did not fear’. Amazing stuff!
And so The Lord acted, and they suffered immeasurably. Thus triggering the recording of a verse which I have for a long time felt speaks directly to our situation in Jamaica in respect of gunmen and murder. But first the continued abandonment.

THE WORD CONTD.

Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. They are corrupt and not his children; to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation. Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; filled with food, they became heavy and sleek. They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock their Savior. They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear. You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. The Lord saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding. (Deuteronomy 32:1-5, 15-21 NIV)

…..and then the  consequence:

THE WORD…
How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the Lord had given them up? (Deuteronomy 32:1-5, 15, 16, 30 NIV)

There is more to the story, including a promise of Redemption, despite the repeated rebellion of God’s children, but the message this morning is clear.
That which is being played out in the JFJ story, is not just about Dr. Carolyn Gomes and whatever sins she may or may not have committed -we await further and better particulars. It’s certainly not about what took place under Minister Hanna’s watch. And it is not even ultimately about an attempt to, or the reality of,  inappropriate sex education material being ‘foisted’ on unsuspecting minors. Not at all. The deeper lesson we have to grapple with as a society is the consequences of  ” Jeshurun growing fat and kicking…becoming heavy and sleek and rejecting the God who made us”. Of a nation which over time, has witnessed the growth of a significant section of our people who believe that  there are smarter than the God who made us. That unlike the God of Proverbs 5:21, who declares that:

For a man’s ways are in full view of The Lord , and he examines all his paths:

a whole group of Jamaicans, foolishly, very foolishly,  believe that what they do in secret, and in the dark, will never come to light.  What madness, when the Scriptures warn us, and history validates the reality that,  in due course, everything comes into the harsh glare of public scrutiny.

Praise God that at then end of  the lament of Moses, God, through His servant promised to ‘make atonement for his land and his people. A clear prophetic Word about Christ and Him crucified. I pray God we will read and understand the gravity of the true nature of what we have done – rebelled against the Only One who, in Christ Jesus,  can carry this nation on Eagle’s Wings, and make us shine like the sun once again. Instead of suffering disgrace, after disgrace. And embarrassment after embarrassment. And bloodshed continuing to follow bloodshed.  And therefore the appropriate response, for all age groups in this nation,  is not just to lament, but rather to repent  of our foolish ways and trust and obey the Only One who can save us from the growing madness – Christ Jesus.
Peace
LWJ


THE SECOND MESSAGE – the first part of which, with the songs, was sent to our leaders. But then another message came which was sent to my church, as ultimately as children of He who has ” All Authority”, we the church have been given the role to call men to be ‘reconciled’ to God. Whether they are homosexuals, heterosexuals,  supporters of either group, leaders or ordinary citizens. Everybody!

THE MESSAGE

Last night, once again it hit me most forcibly. Jamaica is never going to be rescued from our current moral and social woes, unless Christians live the  ’empowered life’, that Jesus through His Spirit has given us. Former leaders may lament,  and may offer ‘wisdom’, but that in and by itself will make no difference. God has placed His children in ‘enemy territory’, and given us the message and ministry of reconciliation, with the Authority of the Holy Spirit Who indwells every baptized child of God. Bishop Howard gave a useful analogy recently of working out our salvation  in and through the Spirit – we need to so order our lives and minds, by faith in Christ Jesus, by concentrating on Him and Him crucified  first and then  on ‘suffering humanity’, and not the reverse, and so cause the Holy Spirit to ‘raise up like a fire in our lives’. There is no plan B my friends. We are it. And if we bear no fruit, then God will cause even the ‘rocks’ to praise Him, and to do His work. As He will not be left without a witness, but will always bring into being  a remnant, that will accomplish His good perfect and Almighty will. I pray then after we have turned up the volume in our hearts and praised The Lord in song, we will read carefully a most profound and very timely message from one of His Saints that He has raised up to speak a word to us in times like these.    

THE MESSAGE – written from yesterday, the songs. And completed today with the meditation which is dated June 20th 2008

No doubt because I went to bed after reading:

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. (John 17:11, 12 NIV)

……why this morning as I was about to start my devotions, these two sanke’s came into my heart. So I enjoin you to turn up the volume in your heart and sing, as something good is going to happen to someone to day. Praise God.

All The Way To Calvary
(written by Alfred Ackley)
(recorded by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir & Isaac Odeniran)



All the way to Calvary, He went for me
He went for me, He went for me
All the way to Calvary, He went for me
He died to set me free

Although I had so many many sins
Jesus took them all away
And He pardoned me

Although I had so many many sins
Jesus took them all away
And He pardoned me    



In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, 
We have the victory. Hallelujah! 
In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, 
Satan will have to flee.

When we stand in the name of Jesus, 
Tell me who can stand against us. 
In the mighty name of Jesus, 
We have the victory. 
Who can tell what God can do. 
Who can tell his love for you. 
When we stand in the name of Jesus, 
We have the victory.

In the name of Jesus, 
In the name of Jesus 
We have the victory, 
In the name of Jesus, 
In the name of Jesus 
Demons will have to flee, 
When we stand on the name of Jesus 
Tell me who can stand before, 
In the mighty name of Jesus, 
We have the victory. 

CHILDREN OF  ‘ALL AUTHORITY’

Chris Tigreen

” All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. Matthew 28:18

IN WORD  There is no greater authority, not in this world or in any other. Our universe is governed by the Son of God, the Ancient of Days incarnate, the Alpha and the Omega. If being in the presence of rulers and celebrities gives us a thrill, how much more wonderful to know  Immanuel -God with us. Whatever impresses us, frightens us, threatens us, embitters us, or thrills us – all that we can imagine and more – is under His reign. He is the ultimate power.

That’s great, we might think. But what does it have to do with us The answer is glorious. This infinite power, ultimate authority, and King above all kings, is the very same One who intercedes for us. He is on our side. And if the ultimate Authority intercedes for us, who will overturn His intercession What request of His will be overruled? The greatest power in all the universe – over all the universe, in fact – is already inclined towards us, dedicated to working out our good, and available through our prayers. We might not notice the support if we are bent on our own agenda, but if we are bent on His, there is no obstacle that can obscure it.

IN DEED  Sounds too good to be true? Yes, it does. And it often appears that way. While the ultimate Authority reigns benevolently over us, we have trials and tribulations. Our children may have life-threatening illnesses. Our finances may come to ruin. Our security might be in danger. Our relationships might suffer irreparable conflict. It doesn’t always look as if He’s exercising His power.

But He is. The world He has placed us in is enemy territory, and we will not pass through it uncontested. When we focus on it, we will be discouraged and depressed . When we absorb it’s values and goals, we will be disappointed. And that’s why Jesus comes to His disciples and says all authority is His. We need to know that – and live as if we know it.

Peace
LWJ


THE THIRD MESSAGE – is really an add-on, as it was written to a friend and a few others with whom I have been having a beyond the headlines discussion on a topical matter. And so The Lord placed it into my heart to share with them with a view to educating ourselves about the Christian journey – all about making choices. Serious choices! Life therefore is not all about Brazil or Germany! Argentina or Holland. Or Columbia or Ghana. No life has some more difficult, and yet in some sense, ultimately, easy choices; that is if we wish to have life eternally. And not just settle for what this life has to offer – temporary fame or riches or pleasures!


THE MESSAGE 
I really had  no intention of writing tonight. Both of us were talking tonight about sports. My wife is a huge basketball fan. That basketball is done, Tiger Woods is recovering and Wimbledon is about to start.  All of this in the middle of talking about England facing the likelihood off going back home early from Brazil. So were watching – I call her ‘powder puff’ – Wozniacki play in one of the  tournaments in the UK that precede the British Open. After which  I began reading Chamber’s Complete Works and found this searching reflection on the Christian life entitled simply  ” Which”. Excerpts of which  I share with you in the hope that all of us may be better educated about the Christian Life


1. God or Sin

But God forbid thatI should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me,  and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14

God or sin must die in me. The one elementary truth we are in danger of of forgetting is that the Gospel of God is addressed to men as sinners, and nothing else…………

2. Christ or Barabbas

And they crucified Him. Matthew 27_35

Christ versus Barabbas – we have to choose. For a long while we can ignore the sin and dwell on not the fact that God is our Father, but if we mean by that, that he forgives sins because He is loving, we make the Atonement  huge blunder and Calvary a mistake. What does Barabbas represent? The expedient  to Jesus Christ, something less less radical, less emphatic, less against what we want. What is the ‘Barabbas’ in your life and mine.

3. Christ or the Old Man.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him………Romans 6:6

What is our ‘old man”? The disposition of sin in us discovered by the incoming Spirit of God when we are born from above. A Christian experiencing the first work of God’s regenerating grace begins to discern this disposition, and the issue is  very clear that the old disposition must be crucified or the Spirit of God must be crucified, the two cannot remain long together……..

4. Christ or I

I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I but Christ liveth in me. Galatians 2:20 RV.

Christ or I? I means the religious I, the spiritual I, the pride of spiritual possession. Have we learned the glorious unmistakable privilege of being crucified with Christ until all that bis left is Christ’s flesh and Christ’s blood in our flesh and in our blood where once the world the flesh and the devil had their way?…..

5. Christ or the World

,,,by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14

What is the world? The set of people with the ambitions, religious or otherwise, that are not identified with The Lord Jesus Christ……When the world comes before us with its fascination and its power, it finds us dead to it, if we have agreed with God on His judgment about sin and the world.

I pray God that the ‘myths’ that you might have harbored in your mind about the Christian Life have been dispelled. And further, that with ‘more and better particulars’,  your eyes might be opened to see and understand in a new way, many of the issues with which as a society, and indeed  as a world community, we are grappling today. For to view God as compassionate and merciful without understanding what led to the suffering and death of His only Son on Calvary – Sin- is indeed to mis-educated. Fatally!
LWJ

 

In times like these World Cup Football is king: In times like these we need a Savior – Jesus

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – A prayer for the Decade of Evangelism.

NEWS

1. Every four years,  the ‘greatest show on earth, World Cup Football finals, trumps  everything else taking place on planet earth. The Jihadist surge in parts of Iraq, with the imposition of Sharia law, and the plight and flight of Christians; the continuing war in Syria; the loss of life in Ukraine – government troops died in a fireball as an aircraft was shot down; the ongoing vicious attacks by  Boko haram in Nigeria. All such news was almost forgotten as arguably the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, in a moment of sheer magic, sent  his adoring fans into a frenzy, when he scored his first goal against a plucky Bosnian team late Sunday evening. And this after  the Brazilian star  Neymar, and the Flying Dutchman Van Persie had created headlines all across the world after each one had scored a double in their respective opening games. Such is the power of the ‘ beautiful game’.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/worldcup/news/Neymar-lights-up-Cup-opener_16881788

2. Meanwhile back home anger is rising, tongues are wagging, and people are lamenting the state of the nation even more than before,  as a male jogger was reportedly raped by a gang of  men this week.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/male-jogger-gang-raped_16858870

3. And another story which had been playing out in the media for a few weeks, took a another turn this week.  As news broke that the embattled Professor Brendan Bain had been reinstated in his job by the Supreme Court after he filed an injunction claiming that he had been wrongly dismissed from his post as the Head of the CHART programme, and asked the court to bar his dismissal until the case is tried. He was successful and a date is to be set for the trial

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=53531

THE WORD OF GOD

So in the midst of the excitement f World Cup and other happenings in my country what inspired word did The Lord send this week.

THE FIRST MESSAGE  – SENT TO LEADERS IN MY COUNTRY. AND FEATURED  A LITTLE  KNOWN  STORY IN THE BIBLE WHICH I CANNOT RECALL EVER HAVING READ. BUT TO WHICH I WAS LED THIS WEEK. AND FOR GOOD REASONS AS ALL OF US AND FORMER PM PJ PATTERSON CONTINUE TO LAMENT THE STATE OF AFFAIRS  OF OUR COUNTRY AND PONDER ON THE SOLUTIONS.

THE CAPTION – Leadership does matter, but blessed is the nation whose God is The Lord . Ps. 33:12

It’s a long story about a King, a leader of one section of God’s ‘chosen’ people. Chosen, only  in the sense that  God, in His wisdom, decided  to reveal Himself to them in a special way.  But not special…”for God so loved the world”.

I had  no intention of reading this story of apostasy and rebellion and the attendant and prophesied consequences. But as I opened my Bible this morning there it was.
And the chilling words which caught my attention : ” You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken The Lord he has forsaken you”.
Left to me I would not be so presumptuous to declare in the middle of Half-Way-Tree, that ‘God has forsaken Jamaica”. Never!  But stop and think about our country for a moment in the light of the challenging words which were preceded ..you will not prosper :

” Then the Spirit of The Lord came up on  Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before he people and said: 
This is what God says: Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will  not prosper. Because you have forsaken The Lord, he has forsaken you” 2 Chronicles 20. NIV.

This puts a different spin on this Word from The Lord this morning. Has the church, those filled with the Spirit of God, and who have not ‘bowed down and kissed Baal’,  been warning this nation, for years, about turning away from the God of Sam Sharpe, the God of George William Gordon and the God of Paul Bogle? All leaders who believed in – committed to –  the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who with a mighty hand rescued the nation from slavery!
Is that the reason, or is there another, why for so long we have not prospered as a nation? Was it really just ( IMF)  Michael Manley’s Fault?  Or can we lay the blame at the feet of one Edward George Phillip Seaga; or the long serving  PJ. What role in the current state affairs of our nation did Bruce play, or ‘bitter medicine’ Andrew. And now, no doubt some are asking the same questions about Sister P.

Is it then just the fault of our political leaders why Jamaica’s economy, surrounded by others in the Caribbean, has performed so poorly over such a long period of time resulting in so much poverty and privation?  Can we also blame them for PJ’s lament – carrying us to the brink morally?  The headlines of yesterday’s Observer may move some to believe that we might very well be at the point of no return. No doubt, our political and other leaders – in business, in academia, the professional class, the working class – have contributed to the  sad state in which we find ourselves as a nation.
But the Word of God reveals that there is another reason. One which we ought to consider seriously. As if God is against us, who can help us!  We like King Joash have done wrong. An egregious wrong!  Like him, rooted in history of God being kind to us, we have turned away to ‘false gods’, and to Jeremiah’s ‘broken cistens, that can hold no water”. And thus we flounder as a nation from one crisis to another, and wonder why?
I would beg you to read, as I was led to read this morning – out of the blue – an abridged  version of King Joash’s apostasy. And the consequences thereof. But also with the knowledge that, in Christ, God through the church, is still calling this nation back to Himself. Even as we lament rape, and murder and so many lost opportunities – in the middle of the World Cup fever.

THE WORD OF GOD

Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest. Jehoiada chose two wives for him, and he had sons and daughters. ………………….

Now Jehoiada was old and full of years, and he died at the age of a hundred and thirty. He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple. After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. They abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. 

Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen. 

Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the Lord ’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.’ ” But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the Lord ’s temple. King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, “May the Lord see this and call you to account.” At the turn of the year, the army of Aram marched against Joash; it invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the leaders of the people. They sent all the plunder to their king in Damascus. Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, the Lord delivered into their hands a much larger army. Because Judah had forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, judgment was executed on Joash. When the Arameans withdrew, they left Joash severely wounded. His officials conspired against him for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest, and they killed him in his bed. So he died and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. (2 Chronicles 24:1-3, 15-25 NIV)

THE SECOND MESSAGE IS REALLY A PART 11 OF THE FORST ONE. SENT TO THE SAME LEADERS WITH THE HOPE THAT THEY WOULD ACT DECISIVELY IN THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR NATION. SO WE CONTINUE TO PRAY.

So Professor Bain and his supporters have  been vindicated by the Supreme Court! Is this the final word on this highly emotive and widely publicized case? No doubt there will be legal, institutional and administrative challenges ahead, so we’ll see what  happens.  This Word from The Lord then,  is not all about Professor Bain vs UWI, but all about a God who redeems; and a God who ‘covers’ sins.

The other Word this week featured a story of a King and a people who had been ‘forsaken’ by God, because they forsook Him. But a careful reading of Holy Scriptures, and which character of God is perfectly manifested on the Cross of Calvary, will reveal that God is a God of compassion and mercy,  who does not abandon people forever, but rather is  anxious to redeem people; if they would but fear Him and obey all His commands.

So Jamaica, even when wicked gunmen, ‘turn back and under instructions’, shoot a defenseless and harmless and non-threatening woman in her head, has not been abandoned by the God who :

This is what God the Lord says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: (Isaiah 42:5 NIV)

This is the lesson we learn from the history of the children of Israel; a rebellious and unruly people who God punished repeatedly, even though, and no doubt, especially because they were his ‘children’. But also a history of a people who God redeemed time and time again.

How did I get to this historical, and yet very contemporary,  truth in Isaiah?
By reflecting on the words of a hymn which has been in mind my mind all of this week.
1.    Be not dismayed whate’er betide, 
  God will take care of you; 
  beneath his wings of love abide, 
  God will take care of you.

Refrain:
  God will take care of you, 
  through every day, o’er all the way; 
  he will take care of you, 
  God will take care of you.

2.    Through days of toil when heart doth fail, 
  God will take care of you; 
  when dangers fierce your path assail, 
  God will take care of you.
  (Refrain)

3.    All you may need he will provide, 
  God will take care of you; 
  nothing you ask will be denied, 
  God will take care of you.
  (Refrain)

4.    No matter what may be the test, 
  God will take care of you;
  lean, weary one, upon his breast, 
  God will take care of you.
  (Refrain)

These are trying times for our nation. We have real and profound and intractable problems. Unlike Spain whose drubbing yesterday by the ‘ Flying Dutchmen’ will soon be but a distant memory! And in times like these we definitely need an anchor; we definitely need a Savior.

And so The Lord sends a Word to us this morning. A Word about a rebellious people who once trusted in God, but who had gone astray and suffered immeasurably. But who God redeemed and restored and blessed. So can we too in Jamaica, be rescued from evil men raping our women and children, and now even our ‘jogging’ men. Rescued from being a nation of so many ganja smokers, and where so many of our young people have literally ‘lost their mind’.  This according to Consultant Psychiatrist Winston De la  Haye speaking on Beyond The Headlines in response to what I consider to be a genuine attempt by Minister Golding to  begin a process to address an issue about which many Jamaicans feel very strongly ; the recreational, religious and medical use of cannabis. Rescued from murder most foul, from music with lyrics that would make a sailor blush, and from the general coarsening of our society.

The same Lord who the song writer promises will takes of us, and who no doubt was inspired by a Word from Isaiah or from another part of Holy Scriptures now  says at at the start:

“For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant. I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. But those who trust in idols, who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame. You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen.” It pleased the Lord for the sake of his righteousness to make his law great and glorious. But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, “Send them back.” Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come? Who handed Jacob over to become loot, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned? For they would not follow his ways; they did not obey his law. So he poured out on them his burning anger, the violence of war. It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand; it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart. (Isaiah 42:14-17, 20-25 NIV)

and then gives this promise to ‘take care of Israel’, and Jamaica, and any nation that fears Him and turns back to Him:

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1-7 NIV)

So although we can discern a message to Professor Bain, that ‘when you pass through the fire you will not be burned’, there is a wider, much wider application of this message from The Lord for our nation.
I pray God, then,  that we as a nation would ‘hear and obey’, and  that our people would not continue to suffer and lament over the state of our nation. And, in this context, there is no doubt that if our political, academic, business and leaders in the media were to  set the example, this nation would be blessed by God.  For this is a God who is willing and more than able to take care of us – as He showed on the Cross of Calvary.  All to His glory and praise. Amen
LWJ

So as the Italian star player, Mario Balotelli broke the hearts of the vastly improved English Lions, on and off the field, and as our CONCACAF sister nation Costa Rica drove fear into the hearts of the most optimistic Uruguayan fans with their surprise victory over the weekend, this word from The Lord serves as a reality check. As after all the parties are done when the finals shall have taken place at the giant and iconic Maracana Stadium, in Brazil, people will still need The Lord. Will still need an anchor at all times. Will forever be in need of a Redeemer, for though for the moment there is magic in the feet of Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, we know also,  from the Word of God, that  ‘out of the hearts of men come all kinds of evil’. All the time! Until ‘thy kingdom come”. That’s why there is  renewed strife in Iraq of great concern to President Obama, and even more to the Christians worldwide. That’s the reason why gangs rape men and women all over the world. That’s the reason why murder most foul was committed in my country this week, as wicked gunmen cynically and without mercy put a bullet in the head of a defenceless woman. No, God has not ‘given up’ on my people. But many have ‘forgotten about God’. And we are paying a dear price for this apostasy.
I pray God that all of us will repent of this madness, as to whom then will we turn for help? Certainly not to Messi or Neymar. Nor to PJ Patterson!  As they,  like all of us are like dust, and to dust shall we return. But in Christ Jesus, crucified and resurrected, in Him alone we are assured of God’s unfailing love and great compassion. And life eternal!

 

Reality check for Butch Stewart; A Word for PJ, Advice for ‘put some clothes on’ Rihanna, and Jesus the very thought of Thee

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do;and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – A Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism
NEWS
1. What at least one prominent  lawyer for the defense, is  calling a victory over power and evil, characterized the results of a high profile case which came to a conclusion past this week in my country. This case has attracted national attention as the plaintiff in question, Mr. Butch Stewart is one of, if not the most powerful business tycoon in Jamaica. Someone who made his fortune in the hotel industry with the Sandals Brand now an Internationally well known name. And one who on at least one occasion made the Fortune list of billionaires. So this was no small  matter when he took three of his former employees to court over an alleged pension fund breech. After a year of court room drama, the judge ruled against Mr. Stewart and the three accused were free to resume their lives unencumbered and unrestricted by prison walls. And so the lawyers for the accused were incensed, as it was their considered opinion that the might and power of Mr. Stewart had  had undue influence on the state, and thus a case which had no merit, and which ought never have been allowed to proceed, was allowed to  go to court. We will ‘watch this space’  for further developments 
Stewart unhappy but accepts magistrate’s decision to free accused
BY DESMOND ALLEN Executive editor – special assignment allend@jamaicaobserver.com
2. The pronouncements and laments of former Prime Minister again came under the spotlight this week. He, having lamented the state of the Jamaican state after having held the reins  of power for an unprecedented three terms. And so the questions
One columnist raises questions,  in a piece I read tonight,  that many are asking and considering deeply. Is Mr.  Patterson for real, and we all agree with him about the fact that morally we are at the very brink of the precipice, or is there reason for cynicism?
The third story featuring ” put some clothes on” Rihanna, needs very little comment. Except to point out that this kind of restlessness, and attention seeking malady, masquerading as high fashion and a free spirit, is precisely the kind of issue which Bishop of Augustine describes so accurately in his famous quote featured in this reflection.
( God) …”You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”
THE WORD OF GOD
So in the midst of this conundrum of whether or not there is justice for all, and the Mr. Patterson’s lament about our society, and about which we all agree, but how useful is this intervention so late on the day, in the midst of al of this, was there a Word from The Lord . In fact three messages. The first one sent off on the morning after the judgment against Mr. Stewart was announced. And sent to persons who can make a difference in my country, including the former PM. The essence of the message being the cry  of everybody’s favorite Psalm: ” My help cometh from The Lord”.  Psalm 121:1  Words immortalized in song by the peerless Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir….
THE FIRST MESSAGE
I was not going to write this morning, as I am determined that I am not going to be a social commentator. Again! In my opinion was a long time ago. That’s how I met Cliff, and Sandrea and others. Then in my devotions I came up on this quote from perhaps the most widely read theologian, both within and without the church, C. S. Lewis:
” Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important”.
Therein l believe lies the dilemma that former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson and others face. As he, and many, many others, are all  in agreement, and lament the declining morals of the Jamaican society; and we can all,  in our sleep, recite the litany of problems. Crime and violence, dysfunctional families, increasing abuse of our children, corruption in high places, rampant immorality, an increasingly ill mannered and indisciplined society – at all levels. And the list goes on.  The problem is that he, like other political leaders, before and after him, and if truth be told, a significant part of the leadership in business, academia, professionals  and other segments of civil society, all believe, and act accordingly, that Christianity is of moderate importance. So we have a situation which another wise person advises is not possible: ” You cannot have Christian morals without Christianity”.
And whether you like or not, and whether you believe it or not, the main reason why the moral fabric of the Jamaican society is vastly different from the ‘good old days’, when a single murder was big news, is that many of us, in high and low places, no longer place all our trust in ” Puppa Jesus and Massa God”. The God of Abraham in whom our parents and grandparents trusted. And so fashioned an ethic and ethos which brought families to their knees at nights. Which guaranteed the ‘saying of grace’,  before a  meal. Which ensured their attendance at the worship service on a Sunday. Which encouraged them to leave back something on the dinner table in case someone came to visit and was hungry. Which made sure that you did not pass someone on the street without saying good morning. Which promoted an ethic of hard work in the fields, at school…no skylarking…Which encouraged fidelity and  marriage or at least a stable common law ‘marriage’. Which make sure that you left home  looking ‘spick and span’, even if had no shoes, or did not wear ‘briefs’ until you were going to high school…no, absolutely no, don’t even think about it… panties were absolutely  de rigueur.
So what provoked this reflection this morning. Mr. Patterson’s conundrum! No. Mr. Butch Stewart’s reality check…Thank God for Jesus, as Patrick Lynch is a member of my church…No, not even that ‘big news’. Simply the powerful words of a hymn I came upon in my devotions this morning. And which praise and adoration, because He died to forgive us of our many, many sins, and thus set us free from sin and death unto everlasting life, was the glue which kept our society civilized. Until, in our ‘wisdom’,  we became disobedient to the God of our parents and grandparents. And now we lament, and cry tears and wonder why, when the answer is staring us in the face. Literally!
Jesu, the very thought of thee
with sweetness fills the breast;
but sweeter far thy face to see,
and in thy presence rest.
No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
nor can the memory find,
a sweeter sound than Jesu’s name,
the savior of mankind.
O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek
to those who ask how kind thou art,
how good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah this
nor tongue nor pen can show;
the love of Jesus, what it is
none but his loved ones know.
Jesu, our only joy be thou,
as thou our prize wilt be;
in thee be all our glory now,
and through eternity.
The wonderful news, is that there is hope for our society. As we were encouraged during the Healing Conference over the weekend. Jesus is still calling.
Come to me all who are heavily laden, and I will give you Rest.
Mr. Patterson is a burdened man. And so too many others. He and all of us ought to return to the God of our parents, and then a society will find Rest from our restlessness as manifested in so many, many ills. As Christ and Him crucified, for our sins,  is of infinite importance. For the power and influence of Butch Stewart, the might of the editorial pen of the Gleaner, and the received wisdom of the academics at UWI, and:
” All men, are all like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord stands forever.”
Peace.
LWJ
THE SECOND MESSAGE – SENT TO MEMBERS OF MY CHURCH
 And features the reality of the Glory and Power to do good, being available to those who trust in God. Regardless of the circumstances. Whether opposed by men of power or fighting against evil of all form. As Our God is awesome indeed. So let us fear not, and proceed with the assurance that the God of Abraham is with us. Forever!
Be still for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here
Come bow before Him now
With reverence and fear
In Him no sin is found
We stand on holy ground
Be still for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here
Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around
He burns with holy fire
With splendor He is crowned
How awesome is the sight
Our radiant King of Light
Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around
Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal
To minister His grace
No work too hard for Him
In faith receive from Him
Be still for the power of The Lord
Is moving in this place
Ever since I came back from Healing Conference this year, ” My God is awesome”, has been in my head. In my prayers, has me singing on the road, at office, at home, everywhere. Then this morning in my devotions, having spoken about it yesterday in particular at the church office, and elsewhere too, Grace’s rendition of, ” It is well with my soul”, and  that which transpired – the tears, the dancing, the ‘getting in the spirit’, the bawling, the felling of the awesome presence of God – was placed in
context by the words of this hymn.
As all weekend the Presence of The Lord had been with us. In the presentations, the singing, the discussions, the testimonies, the prayers, the fellowship. All of this we ‘offered ‘ up to Him in whom no sin was found. Then at the Healing  Service, the Glory of The Lord  manifested Himself in different ways. One of which being the singing and the reaction which we all experienced and witnessed.
The key thing here now, is not only to ‘bask’ in the goodness of The Lord, but to Be Still and know that the Power of The Lord is with us, even when the Glory is no longer powerfully manifest, as the two disciples who ‘attended’ the Transfiguration were to find out. And He is here with us with Power to Cleanse, to Heal, and to Minister His Grace. Our role is to receive Him in Faith and ‘ streams of living waters, the Holy Spirit will flow from us”. Whether at Pentecost, or on ‘low Sunday’. Whether in church, or in the trenches! Whether in good times are in difficult circumstances. We can rest assured that He is here with us. Which was also the message from Oswald Chambers last night.
God’s Assurance June 5
He Himself has said . . . . So we may boldly say . . . -Hebrews 13:5-6
My assurance is to be built upon God’s assurance to me. God says, “I will never leave you,” so that then I “may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6). In other words, I will not be obsessed with apprehension. This does not mean that I will not be tempted to fear, but I will remember God’s words of assurance. I will be full of courage, like a child who strives to reach the standard his father has set for him. The faith of many people begins to falter when apprehensions enter their thinking, and they forget the meaning of God’s assurance- they forget to take a deep spiritual breath. The only way to remove the fear from our lives is to listen to God’s assurance to us.
What are you fearing? Whatever it may be, you are not a coward about it- you are determined to face it, yet you still have a feeling of fear. When it seems that there is nothing and no one to help you, say to yourself, “But ‘The Lord is my helper’ this very moment, even in my present circumstance.” Are you learning to listen to God before you speak, or are you saying things and then trying to make God’s Word fit what you have said? Take hold of the Father’s assurance, and then say with strong courage, “I will not fear.” It does not matter what evil or wrong may be in our way, because “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you . . . .’ “
Human frailty is another thing that gets between God’s words of assurance and our own words and thoughts. When we realize how feeble we are in facing difficulties, the difficulties become like giants, we become like grasshoppers, and God seems to be nonexistent. But remember God’s assurance to us- “I will never. . . forsake you.” Have we learned to sing after hearing God’s keynote? Are we continually filled with enough courage to say, “The Lord is my helper,” or are we yielding to fear?
I pray God that we will all learn to receive Him in faith, and so have our minds renewed so that we may know and test God’s  holy and perfect will. And so, as church, the body of Christ,  manifest God’s Power and mercy and love in this restless nation, and in the wider Caribbean and to the ends of the earth.
So with gladness in our hearts we remember Healing Conference 2014, and all others where the Presence of The Lord has been with us. But more than that, with an assurance of His Power we go forth to do His will, day by day.
Peace.
LWJ
THE FINAL MESSAGE – AGAIN SENT TO MR. PATTERSON ET AL…ON THE EVE OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE POURING OUT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AT PENTECOST.
TWO QUESTIONS AND A WARNING WHICH SHOULD CAUSE ALL OF US TO PAUSE CLOSE THIS WEEKS MESSAGE. I PRAY GOD WE WILL ALL LISTEN WELL AND BE OBEDIENT. AS THERE IS NO SHADOW OF TURNING WITH GOD.
SO THE QUESTION REALLY , IS,  WHAT IS MAN, THAT WE THINK SO MUCH OF OURSELVES?  WHEN COMPARED TO A MIGHTY GOD!  AND SO A SOCIETY IS WITHOUT REST UNTIL WE UNDERSTAND WHO WE ARE, FOR WHOM WE WERE MADE, AND IN WHOM WE FIND TRUE REST.  WHY DID RIHANNA ” PUT SOME CLOTHES ON”, JUST COME INTO MY MIND!
As I awoke this morning two messages came into my heart. Very clearly. One  I sent out to my church…this little light of mine I gonna make it shine…and a question posed by a visitor to the website on which the song was posted ……when last have you shared the Light of Jesus, and the love of Jesus with some one else.
The other one I almost forgot. But as I searched for one of the readings for Pentecost Sunday tomorrow, in the book of Acts,…yes you are all  invited;  St Andrew Parish Church…8:00am…..I was reminded. And then a companion passage of Scripture came into my head….My God is awesome… from the book of Hebrews. The challenge for those who are leaders in this country as we read the passage from Acts, is to consider whether or not we are reading about a ‘foreign god’, or a familiar story. Then if we are indeed reading about a familiar story, the passage from the book of Hebrews poses an age old problem! Why do we not believe? And even further, the consequences of an unbelieving heart. Of not allowing God’s  love and power to flow through us in and through Christ Jesus. And then we lament the decline of moral standards in Jamaica!
But whose fault is that? That’s one of the questions the two passages, when combined pose. But ultimately there is a third question, and not really a question but a warning,  which is revealed at the end of the 17th chapter of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. We may all wish to consider it well.
THE FIRST QUESTION
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. (Acts 17:16-18 NIV)
THE SECOND QUESTION AND AN EXPLANATION FOR THE RESTLESSNESS OF THE JAMAICAN SOCIETY AT THIS TIME
So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:7-13, 15-19 NIV)
THE WARNING
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:24-29, 31 NIV)
As I was about to press the send button…My God is awesome…a famous quote from one whose writings greatly influenced the Western world’s understanding and practice of Christianity, came into my mind. And then I not only found the actual quote but the context. All of which helps us to appreciate even better the ‘restlessness’ of Mr. Patterson’s Jamaica in 2014.
“You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you”.  Augustine of Hippo.
by Dan Graves
“Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”
Augustine of Hippo (354–430), in Confessions.
Augustine by Sandro Boticelli
OUR HEARTS ARE RESTLESS
Behind Augustine are a succession of desperate searches for fulfillment: excessive pleasures, false religions, philosophy, dissipation and distractions—futilities that left him so weary of himself he could only cry out, “How long, O Lord, how long?” At the very moment when he uttered that cry, circumstances led his eyes to a passage in Romans that showed him he could be freed from sin. Shortly afterward, he was baptized.
Now, a decade since his baptism, after long musing upon the transformation that took place in him when he finally believed, he begins a unique autobiographical and philosophical prayer to God, a book which will become one of the most original and famous works in all of literature, the world’s first psychological “autobiography.” The Confessions will be his testimony of God’s interaction with a soul that has found rest in its Creator.
Heart bursting with the reality of God, he addresses his manuscript directly to the Lord as one long prayer and meditation—a prayer and meditation that will take him five years to complete. He dips his quill and begins, “Great are you, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is your power, and your wisdom is infinite.”
In contrast to God, he muses, what is man? Yet there is a connection between the two. Humans, such a small part of creation and short-lived as they are, still find a need to praise God. In spite of sin, each feels the longing to reach out to his Creator. Why is this? He realizes it is the doing of God. “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”
That line summarizes the theme of Augustine’s life and will not be bettered in all the writings that lie ahead of him, in which he will wrestle with the deepest issues of theology.
Peace
LWJ