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

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s