I read my Bible to see what men ought to; 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).
1. The Chikungunya Virus, or Chik V, unleashed its full wrath on the Jamaican populace this week. What is man? Some may very well have asked themselves this transcendental question, as they went to bed, ‘hail and hearty’, only to awake in the middle of the night, with such severe pain that they could not reach the bathroom. Thus there were many ‘accidents’ across the nation this week. For this and other reasons – the terrible itching, the bad feelings – people became afraid, panicked, and very angry, and thus poured out their wrath on the Ministry of Health team which, from their early pronouncements about the numbers, apparently underestimated the virulence of this terrible illness. And some folks even wondered whether or not, such a tiny mosquito, which the Health Team quite correctly asserted as the agent which carried the disease, could cause grown men and women to be come virtual cripples so suddenly. This was the, ‘talk of the town’, in my country this week, as the Ministry of Health team, sought to allay fears about an, ‘air borne illness’, among other speculations, and also to ramp up activities to deal with conditions in which the offending mosquito could breed,
Yes, the offensive launched against ISIS by the US and its allies, and in particular the strategy of attacking the sources of income viz the mobile oil refineries, was noted. So too the ongoing discussion in the USA on domestic violence triggered by the ‘Rice’ incident. The ongoing Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which has spawned fears far and wide continues to be big news and potential danger for the entire world; even in the Caribbean where this week both the Jamaican and Bahamian authorities issued releases denying the the Virus had reached their shores. But in my mind Chik V trumped everything else in terms of its impact on a nation.
THE WORD OF GOD
So in the midst of the Chik V epidemic what did Word did the Lord lead me to read and what inspired word came to my attention. Two points! The need for prayer, and the need for constant communication with God. For what really is man! As in a flash, in a heartbeat, life can change dramatically and drastically. Whether you live in ‘gated communities’, with 24/7 security, or whether you live in the inner city exposed 24/7 to unhealthy conditions; whether you are ‘high and mighty’ in your country, or whether you are part of the ‘common folk’. Doesn’t matter really, as mosquitoes find their way into every ‘ nook and cranny’, and more importantly, so does sin – into every human heart. In fact, for whatever reason radio rjrfm94, did a re-broadcast of the interview with the former ‘selector’ which was aired last week, and about which I wrote, as I travelled to church. So again this morning I listened to ” Rondelle Positive” sharing His story about how he gave orders, incorrect orders, to the dance hall crowd; and how they carried out these instructions under his ‘authority’. In this context then his hit song, ” More than a Conqueror”, which according to him, has greatly influenced a lot of people, including even Rastafarians, had its genesis, and I had a chance to listen and to reflect on the powerful words.
THE FIRST MESSAGE – Captioned ‘ A Prayer I pray every morning’…One of three… sent to two persons for whom I pray constantly.
Rule over me this day, O God, leading me on the path of righteousness. Put your Word in my mind and your truth in my heart, that this day I neither think nor feel anything except what is good and honest. Protect me from all lies and falsehood, helping me to discern deception wherever I meet it. Let my eyes always look straight ahead on the road you wish me to tread, that I might not be tempted by any distraction. And make my eyes pure, that no false desires may be awakened within me.
THE SECOND MESSAGE – SEND TO THE SAME PERSONS
ON GOING TO WORK
Give me, dear Lord, a pure heart and a wise mind, so that I may carry out my work according to your will. Save me from all false desires, from pride, greed, envy and anger, and let me accept joyfully every task you set before me. Let me seek to serve the poor, the sad and those unable to work. Help me to discern honestly my own gifts that I may do the things of which I am capable, and happily and humbly leave the rest to others. Above all, remind me that I have nothing except what you give me, and can do nothing except what you enable me to do.
Please remember to pray for me as I pray for you.
THE THIRD MESSAGE
Living Lord, you have watched over me , and put your hand on my head during the long, dark hours of night. Your holy angels have protected me from all harm and pain. To you, Lord, I owe life itself. Continue to watch over me and bless me during the hours of day
Comment : one of the Psalm to which I turn, in particular, in times of trouble is Psalm 27. And the Psalmist prays that ” I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…….For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling”. The point which I believe the Lord is saying to all of us, is that we need to keep in constant communication with Him. For as the Chik V illness has shown us, very dramatically, and as I have often quoted Oswald Chambers, ” The basis of life is not reasonable, but wild and tragic”. And therefore only our belief in The Atonement of Christ on Calvary can bring us peace in the midst of this Life of uncertainty. And therefore these prayers keep us grounded in the Lord, so that when the Day of Trouble comes, in whatever form, we who believe, will not have to turn and search for the Lord, but rather, like the songwriter, admit and accept that, ” I must have my Savior with me, for I dare not walk alone”. Always!
THE OTHER MESSAGES – SENT TO MY CHURCH FAMILY
THE FIRST ONE – IS REALLY AN AFFIRMATION OF THE FACT THAT WE CANNOT MANAGE WITHOUT JESUS, AND THEREFORE OUGHT TO LAMENT WHEN WE ARE SO DISOBEDIENT. AS THIS IS WHAT THE CHIK V ILLNESS, PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD AND OTHER CALAMITIES HAVE TAUGHT US, IF WE WOULD JUST LISTEN CAREFULLY.
Here’s the sequence of how this message developed. First in preparation for Bible Study on Tuesday night, I read, early this week, the four lessons appointed for Sunday. They are all about obedience. Then yesterday this:
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
Then last night I tweeted:
@lucienforJesus: Belief is a wholesale committal. It means making things inevitable cutting off every possible retreat. Belief is as irrevocable as death-OC
@lucienforJesus: Belief is the abandonment of all claims to merit. That’s why it is so difficult to believe #OswaldChambers
…..after reading Oswald Chambers’ Complete Works on the subject of Belief and other issues.
Then this morning the following excerpts from a passage of Scripture, which in my mind, is perhaps unrivaled ( strong words) in its teaching on the need for the Christian disciple to focus on Jesus, and that He alone is sufficient – I am the Bread of Life as recorded in John 6:25-39. And which passage is followed by the powerful declaration that:
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing…..
THE BREAD OF LIFE – CHRIS TIEGREEN
I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty – John 6:35
……Perhaps we hunger for the wrong kind of bread. Jesus says,’ He who comes to me will never go hungry’. Many of us appeal to jesus for the goods of this world, the fulfillment of our own agendas, or the circumstances we would like to have. To us, Jesus is a means to another end – our goals. If this is our story, Jesus is never satisfying.
Perhaps we hunger for the right kind of bread, but don’t meet Jesus’ conditions for receiving it. Jesus says, ‘ He who comes….he who believes’. Both of these conditons imply that we meet Him on His terms, not ours. We try to come with part of ourselves, but not all. We want the benefits of the Son of God without abandoning ourselves to Him. ….@lucienforJesus: Belief is the abandonment of all claims to merit. That’s why it is so difficult to believe #OswaldChambers….
If this is our story, Jesus is never satisfying us either.
But to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and who come to Him without reservation, trusting in Him as the source of all righteousness and strength, He satisfies. Those whose whole life is reoriented around Him and who desire nothing else will never want for anything. He is not our means to get bread; He is the Bread.
Finally, perhaps for us to gain a deeper perspective on the depths of our predicament as we hunger and thirst for Christ and Christ alone, and Him Crucified, a meditation on Disobedience. One which I have been led to read, time and time again. And I am sure many of us can identify with some, if not all, these profound and insightful prayers.
Perhaps the words of John of the Cross, a saint of yure, which I found nestled in the passage from John, in my devotional Bible, could shed some light on the reasons for our continued lament about our proneness to disobey God.
” My spirit has become dry because it forgets to feed on you” ( The Bread of Life – my words)
A PERSONAL PRAYER FOR OBEDIENCE – JOHN BAILLE
Verse: Judges 2:17
Holy God, to whose service I long ago dedicated my soul and life, I grieve and lament before thee that I am still so prone to sin and so little inclined to obedience:
So much attached to the pleasure of sense, so negligent of things spiritual:
So prompt to gratify my body, so slow to nourish my soul:
So greedy for present delight, so indifferent to lasting blessedness:
So fond of idleness, so indisposed for labor:
So soon at play, so late in prayer:
So brisk in the service of self, so slack in the service of others:
So eager to get, so reluctant to give:
So lofty in my profession, so low in my practice:
So full of good intentions, so backward to fulfill them:
So severe with my neighbor, so indulgent with myself:
So eager to find fault, so resentful at being found fault with:
So little able for great tasks, so discontented with small ones:
So weak in adversity, so swollen and self-satisfied in prosperity:
So helpless apart from thee, and yet so little willing to be bound to thee.
O merciful heart of God, grant me yet again thy forgiveness. Hear my sorrowful tale and in thy great mercy blot it out from the book of thy remembrance. Give me faith so to lay hold of thine own holiness and so rejoice in the righteousness of Christ my Savior that, resting on his merits rather than my own, I may more and more become conformed to his likeness, my will becoming one with his in obedience to thine. All this I ask for his holy name sake. Amen
THE SECOND – SPEAKS TO THE FACT THAT CHRISTIANS OUGHT TO LIVE A SUPERNATURAL LIFE, AS WE SERVE A SUPERNATURAL GOD. AND THE FAILURE TO DO SO, AND BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN OUR WITNESS, COMES ABOUT WHEN WE
FORGET TO BE IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH GOD – ON ACCOUNT OF DISTRACTIONS.
I have long since stopped wondering about these things and just concentrate on being obedient.
So this morning, as I began my devotions thanking God for mercy and how He has been with me – Jehovah Shamma, I was led to the Psalm which reports on how God is always with us, searching us, ‘even if we settle on the far side of the sea’. Psalm 139:9 NIV.
Then immediately, my mind went to the Acts passage where Paul reveals how God made the entire human race and settled them in different places, so that they may seek Him, and even find Him, for in Him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:16-34.
An interesting passage of Scripture filled with all kinds of challenges for Christians living in this world where they are so many ‘idols’. But more importantly, as the message develops, was that on the other side of my Devotional Bible was a meditation from Francis Schaffer. In which she lamented the fact that we live in such a naturalistic age ( 19912-1984). And even though we are ‘Biblical Christians’, and therefore supernaturalists, we run the danger of the spirit of the age infiltrating our thinking, and perhaps even without recognizing its coming…like a fog creeping through a window open half an inch…
Then I recalled another meditation which has left an indelible mark on my soul. Hitherto I have refrained from sending it out to the general congregation because of the ‘mischief’ it may start. But today I am led to share a further thought on the whole issue of the supernatural life with you who are leaders in the church, as I believe, that though, clearly not gospel, Evelyn Underhill wrote under the power of The Holy Spirit. And such a unapologetic and determined focus on achieving this ‘temper of spirit’, will lead our church, and indeed our Communion, more and more to the One who Paul spoke about in Acts viz. ” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. i.e Christ and Him crucified, in Whom and from Whom, all power and supernatural might flows, and to Whom we give all the glory and praise. Amen.
THE ONLY TRUE APOSTOLIC LIFE
Verse; 1 Samuel 12: 19
What then is a real man of prayer? He is one who deliberately wills and steadily desires that his intercourse with God and other souls shall be controlled and actuated at every point by God himself, one who has so far developed and educated his spiritual sense, that his supernatural environment iis more real to him than his natural environment. A man of prayer is not necessarily a person who says a number of offices, or abounds in detailed intercessions, but he is a child of God, who is and knows himself to be in the deeps of his soul, attached to God, and is wholly and entirely guided by the creative Spirit in his prayer and work.
This is not merely a bit of pious language. It is a description, as real and as concrete as II can make it, of the only really apostolic life. Every Christian starts with a chance of it, but only a few develop it. The laity distinguish in a moment the clergy who have it from the clergy who have it not: there is nothing that you can do for God or for the souls of men, which exceeds in importance the achievement of that spiritual temper and attitude.
It is only through adoration and attention that we make our personal discoveries about him……….I think that if you have only as little as half an hour to to give each morning to your private prayer, it is not too much to make up your minds to spend at least half that time in such adorations. For it is the central service asked by God of human souls, and its neglect is responsible for much lack of spiritual depth and power.
In the flood tide of such adoring prayer, the soul is released from the strife and confusions of temporal life; it is lifted far above all petty controversies, petty worries and vanities – and none of us escapes these things. It is carried into God, hidden in him.
THE FINAL MESSAGE – POSES THE SAME QUESTION WITH WHICH WE STARTED. WHAT IS MAN, AND WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE. ESPECIALLY AS WE ARE CONFRONTED WITH A TERRIBLE DISEASE. IN THE END THE ANSWER IS THAT WE ARE MADE CHILDREN OF GOD IN CHRIST SO THAT WE MAY BECOME AGENTS OF HIS LOVE AND MERCY AND CALL TO ALL MANKIND TO BE RECONCILED WITH GOD. FOR WE CANNOT MANAGE WITHOUT HIM. REGARDLESS OF HOW SAFE WE MAY THINK WE ARE ON OUR OWN, OR BY WHAT WE CONSIDER TO BE OUR ‘STRONG TOWERS’. AS, LITERALLY OVERNIGHT, THEY CAN DISAPPEAR.
Who am I? What is my purpose on earth. Two questions that perhaps many have pondered on deeply from time time. Especially in the midst of perplexing situations, What is man, as we consider the suddenness and severity of the Chikungunya virus and other illnesses, is perhaps a more frequent response.?
This morning while praising the Lord, I was led to John for an answer. In fact two answers.
The first lines of John’s gospel paint such a majestic picture, that even many non-believers cannot help but commit them to memory. ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ……….”. All of which lead us to the profound revelation that, ‘all who receive Jesus and all who believe in his name”, He gave the right to , ‘ become children of God’. Not to be called, but to become! There’s a huge difference between the two statement. That’s the first point – in Christ we have become children of God. – with all the attendant blessings and responsibilities.
But there is a second, related, and perhaps insufficiently discussed point. That ” John came as a witness to the light.”…and that, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. After John!
As I pondered these things, two passages of Scripture came into my mind. “But I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men to myself”. John 12: 32
” All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. 2 Cor. 2:18-20.
It is also very instructive that these verses are preceded by”
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Cor. 2:16-17
In fact the caption in the NIV – The Ministry of Reconciliation – heralds the onset of very clear instructions why we are ‘the ambassadors of Christ’. In the same way that John was ( is). viz…..” Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men”………” For Christ’s love compel us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again”.
Final Comment: Food for thought isn’t it, as we spend so much of our time worrying about other matters. Important matters! But how do they compare with, or even affect, our central mission, which is subject only to our will to be obedience – to lift up the name of Jesus in all we do, and to ‘try and persuade men’. And God in Christ will do the rest…draw all men to Himself.