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 thy church that the church may renew the nation(s) – A prayer for the Decade of Evangelism
1. WORLD CUP FOOTBALL – so it’s all done. Germany who, as I posted today on FB during the game, played with the flair, creativity and purposefulness which was once the hallmark of the Brazilian style soccer, beat a plucky but clearly out of class Argentina – regardless of Messi-ed opportunities. Will the real Brazil come to the party next time? As the very unusually refreshing commentator, from a Christian perspective, said, as the camera zoomed in on the Statue of the Redeemer Christ, only He knows. But then he was referring to the outcome of the game in the dying moments before Goetze scored that spectacular goal. But for now let us celebrate with the Germans, and offer commiserations to Argentina…one wit wondered why the coach did not bring on Messi…and Lionel Messi, as the greatest show on earth, and one of the most competitive World Cups, comes to a close.
Germany claim football World Cup glory
Stuff.co.nz - 5 hours ago
Germany has won the football World Cup after Mario Goetze broke a 112 minute goal-less deadlock with a volley late in extra time.
2. Was there any other news this week…..Yes. A great Jamaican Patriot and former Governor General, and a man who trusted God, died.
Former Governor General Sir Howard Cooke is dead – News – Latest …
2 days ago … Former Governor General Sir Howard Cooke is dead. Sir Howard would have been 99 in October. He died this afternoon.
THE WORD OF GOD
So in the midst of the Messi madness and magic – for me however the Dutch player Robben was more deserving of the title of best player of the tournament – the exposure of the brittleness of the Brazilian defence by the ruthless Germans, the rising star of the Colombian player James Rodriquez, what Word or inspired word came from The Lord this week? A Word which made me consider deeply the goodness and mercy of God, the continued rebellion of mankind, aided and abetted by the enemy, and how much we need to thank God for Jesus. Daily, if not minutely.
THE FIRST MESSAGE – SENT TO LEADERS IN MY COUNTRY BROUGHT US RIGHT TO THE HEART OF THE NATURE OF SIN – REBELLION AGAINST GOD. AND AN APPEAL FOR MERCY….
For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:32-36 NIV)
No, not this time, as the inspiration to send this to you did not come during my devotions. It may have started there, but as I was about to leave for work, it came into my mind. So as we contemplate the issues of the day, let us ask for mercy, for our own sins and for those of others, for God’s ‘paths are indeed beyond tracing out’.
For whatever sins former Commissioner Owen Ellington may have committed, the sins of adulterers and the homosexual offenders, the unforgiving and judgemental sins and sin of pride of many of us in the church, the refusal of many of our leaders to accept Christ as the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, those who commit murder and other vicious crimes, those who are guilty of ‘talking down the dollar’, if that is possible, those who ignore the plight of God’s people who live below Cross Roads, – almost prayed for mercy on the Brazilian fans, including yours truly, but this is serious business, although I am sure my Lord has a sense of humour – those who manipulate the lives of others for their own gain and perverted sense of pleasure and think that The Lord is not watching; for all these and for many others sins we pray for mercy on ourselves and on our country. I pray God that all of us will cry out for mercy today. For self and for nation. Then who knows what a merciful God may do! Send rain upon a dry and thirsty land. Send more workers into His vineyard. Even pour out His Spirit on a rebellious people, and cause them to turn back to Him, so that we may enjoy the kind of peace that passeth all human understanding. Who knows what can happens when people humble themselves before The Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in it! Who knows indeed!
FOLLOWED BY AN APPEAL TO REASON BY TWO PROFOUND QUOTES FROM TWO IMPORTANT AGENTS OF GOD
THE SECOND MESSAGE – TO THE SAME GROUP
‘All unbelief is the belief of a lie” – Horatio Bonar
In case you were wondered what does the phrase ” bound over ” mean, The Lord provides an answer this morning. From a quote attributed to Horatio Bonar…author of the famous Good Friday hymn…” When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died…. which appeared beside a meditation on ” Responding with Faith” by Chris Tigreen, July 12, 2008. And which featured a verse about ‘doubting Thomas’……Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed…John 20:29
My understanding, by inspiration, is that God has given to all mankind, to each one of us, who He, ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, according to the Psalmist, the gift of freewill. And each one of us has used it to rebel against Him, ever since Adam first did so. All because we believed a lie, of one sort or another, according to Bonar. And so God has had mercy on us in Christ Jesus on the Cross of Calvary.
This may sound preposterous to the modern ear. But consider well a quote from another Saint, who needs no introduction, who God sent to guide us into truth – C. S. Lewis. And which quote appears right beside the passage about ‘doubting Thomas’ in my Classics Devotional Bible. Coincidence? Seriously!
“Christianity if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
The question then arises, what is Christianity? I offer you a simple but profound explanation – one which is an affirmation we make in the Anglican Church every Sunday Morning. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. So if Christ did die for your sin and mine – that cannot be of moderate importance. If Christ is Risen from the dead, so that all of us who believe, may live by the Power of the Holy Spirit, a victorious life over sin and death, that cannot be of moderate importance. If Christ will indeed come again, with glory to judge the living and the dead, have mercy, that cannot be of moderate importance.
So back to Horatio Bonar. If then you do not believe in Christianity, or do not believe that it is of infinite, and eternal importance, someone has lied to you. And you have believed it! If you wish to find out who has lied to you, read again, if you will, the Parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:34–30.
…..The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and and sowed weeds among the wheat….
And this enemy, is like a roaring lion seeking whom he will. In a nutshell then, the work of the church, empowered by God, through His Holy Spirit, is to rescue mankind, lovingly created by God, but who with the gift of freewill, has been led by the enemy, (lied to) to rebel against this same Creator. The good news then, is that in Christ Jesus, because of of His great love for us, God in His mercy and by grace – unmerited love – has opened a new way back to Him – reconciliation.
I would suggest, that this is the proper view, the kind of prism, through which the society should
view the work of the church. Not just as a part of civil society working together for a better Jamaica. But rather, as God’s agents, if we act in love and with mercy and live according to the Spirit and not by the flesh, calling a rebellious people back to the God who will judge all of us one day. And that my friends is of infinite importance.
P. S. As we celebrate the life of one who believed that Christ died for him, Howard Felix Hanlon Cooke, at whose feet I had the privilege to sit from time to time, may His soul rest in peace as he goes to be with His Father in heaven, and ours.
THE THIRD MESSAGE – SENT TO MEMBERS OF MY CHURCH IS A LINK TO A WONDERFUL VIDEO ON YOUTUBE WHICH REVEALS HOW MUCH GOD LOVES US – DESPITE OUR REBELLION
A few days ago I awoke with Jesus loves me yes I know…..and now this morning comes another message of love on awakening. I can identify with everything in this wonderful video. I am sure you can too. And we all give thanks, ask God forgiveness for not trusting Him enough, and the whole church say Amen.
Peace, as we continue to trust Him and pray for rain. Not because, as Daniel prayed, we are righteous, but because God is a merciful God.
THE FINAL MESSAGE -SENT TO THE MEMBERS OF MY CHURCH IS A SUMMARY OF A POWERFUL GOODBYE SERMON PREACHED BY A PASTOR AND THEOLOGIAN WHO TAUGHT AT THE UNITED THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE AND WAS A PART TIME PRIEST AT OUR CHURCH FOR THE PAST TWENTY THREE YEARS. AND ONE WHICH SPEAKS TO THE ‘CRAZY GENEROSITY ‘ OF A LOVING GOD
Today was a very special day at STAPC, as we said goodbye to Rev. David Kuck and his wife Mary after twenty three years of wonderful service to our church.
Fittingly David shared the Word.
Based on the gospel reading about the Sower of the Seed, he made two great points. Firstly – Focus not only on what happened to the seed, but more so on the Sower. ON a God who is ‘crazy generous’ to sow seed so that everyone has a opportunity to have their hearts touched by the Gospel. And this was the essence of the life of our Savior. He sought after the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the ‘dregs of Jewish society’, the Lepers. And ultimately He gave His life on the Cross so that all mankind could have a chance to enter the Kingdom of God.
Secondly – this generosity presumes that some will not respond. Some will be so affected by things of this world and by trials, that they will ignore the gospel. Some will not be touched by the gospel. Only one out of three ‘soil’ bore fruit. But God is prepared to ‘waste ‘ the gospel on all so that some may respond. And ultimately this is what Jesus did on the Cross, ‘ wasted ‘ so to speak His life for all, and only some have responded to the free gift of the Atonement for sin. But such is the nature of the generosity of God. So too we in the church must accept that, not all our programs and projects will bear fruit. Not all our evangelistic…attempts to spread the gospel…. efforts will succeed. People will drift, the congregation may decline, but our job is to be faithful and press on, as God’s Word, will always achieve the purpose for which it is sent..a message from the OT reading.
All in all a wonderful note on which to end. Trust God, and continue to ‘sow the seed’, regardless of whatever success of failure may happen. As in the final analysis, we serve a God who is ‘crazy generous with His love’, perhaps in the same way that David and Mary were ‘crazy generous’ to stay so long with us. And so we thanked them in so many ways – as the pictures will attempt to capture.
Father Larius – sang for us, and led us in singing. We’re together again, something good is going to happen….during the peace, along with other songs. And then for post communion he sang ‘It is Jesus…..in my soul”. Great inspiring stuff, and people responded with lots of Amens…to the glory of God. And sang for the Kuck’s also…which was very special.
Challenge – the third verse of the Gradual…Spirit of God, descend on my heart
Teach me to feel that thou art always nigh;
teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
to check the rising doubt, the rebel sign;
teach me the patience of unanswered prayer
FINAL COMMENT – So as the World Cup ends, many will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, while others will, from now, begin to plan to go to Moscow in four years time, and others will keep the memories fresh in their minds. We, however, as children of God, who, while free to enjoy the spectacle of sport in its various forms, must remain focused on the mandate our Savior gave to us – to be agents of reconciliation in the world. And to sow the seed of the good news of the mercy and goodness of a ‘crazy generous’ God , as seen in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Christ Jesus. Whether we are at the top of our game as Governor General, or the winner of the of the World Cup. And whether God brings into our way, Brazilians, Germans, or Argentinians. All are in need of the Gospel of Jesus. Inside or outside the iconic Maracana Stadium! On the beach in Rio or on the top of the hill beside the statue of the Redeemer Christ; about which icon bathed in the beauty of the setting sun, the same commentator , about whom we spoke earlier, said, ‘ if this sight does not move you, then part of your humanity is gone.
I pray God then that the memory and the reality of the Cross of Calvary will move some hearts, so that the entire world may come to know the Savior of the world.