I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing.
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church so that the church may renew the nation(s).
1. The first non-American to be treated for the Ebola Virus happened in Texas this past week. Thus triggering all kinds of fears about this dreaded disease in the USA and in my home country Jamaica. It’s particularly worrying for Jamaicans now in the throes of a Chikungunya epidemic, as the fear is that if we could not handle an illness which so far is not known to kill many persons, how would we manage Ebola which has killed over three thousand people in Africa thus far.
More news for ebola deaths
2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa | Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever | CDC
The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries …. Total Case Count: 7470; Total Deaths: 3431; Laboratory Confirmed Cases: 4087 …
Outbreak Distribution Map – Virus Ecology Graphic – Ebola Outbreaks 2000-2014
2. Two very troubling things happened in my country this week. The first story was about a relatively young man, who sought medical attention at a local hospital. And after reportedly waiting over twelve hours for treatment, during which time, he was said to have experienced extreme abdominal pain, to the point where was rolling in agony on the floor, he died in the waiting room of the hospital. I heard his sister talking on radio http://www.nationwide 90FM, and onwww.televisionjamaica.com/ and it was heart rending to imagine that in this day and age someone could die like that in my country.
Death on hospital floor – News – JamaicaObserver.com
4 days ago – JASON Forbes seemingly foresaw his death while lying on the floor of the Spanish Town Hospital Tuesday night, complaining about a pain in …
The second story which grabbed my attention was that of a young girl who went missing after leaving her home for school and was later found dead. Always the question is why, why, despite the welcome decline in the murder rate in my country, our women and children are at such risk in a country not a war.
High school student found dead in Trelawny | Loop Jamaica
4 days ago – The dead body of a young girl was found on Wednesday along a roadway in the Stewart Castle community in Trelawny.
Yes we continue to monitor the ISIS group in Northern Iraq and its continued barbaric acts of publicly beheading its captives to make a point to the Western countries which are intent on degrading its capacity to do evil. yes we follow the strange viruses sweeping across the USA and causing so much illness in that part of the world where many of my people have relatives and friends. yes the outbreak of a haemorrhagic type illness in Venezuela which has caused several deaths came to my attention, but the ones above touched my heart deeply.
THE WORD OF GOD
So in the midst of so much pain and angst in the world, what did the Lord reveal through His Word or inspired word this week.
A Word from the prophet Isaiah which was the one of the readings appointed for my Anglican Church today really spoke to the second news item about the unfortunate death of that patient, and the dreadful killing of that young girl. A Word that ought to cause us to reflect deeply on what part we have played in the growth of crime and violence in my country. And across the entire world:….” I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard. My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside…..he dug it up..he built a watchtower over it…then he looked for grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit……The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice and saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress. Isaiah 5:1-7 NIV. The question is what is the role of the church, the body of Christ in the New Covenant, playing in a country where there is so much injustice and cries of distress.
Next up was a meditation written by Chris Tiegreen on September 8, for ‘times like these’, that caught my eye. And out of this came several messages to my children other family members, and some of those who have ‘grown up in my hand’.
Quiet! Be still !
IN WORD There is something profoundly comforting about the fact that Jesus can immediately quiet the winds and waves that besiege us. It doesn’t matter whether they are forces of of nature, forces of the underworld, forces of the circumstances that surround us, or forces of our own creation. Whatever is out of control, He can control it.
The unsettling part of this is that he often doesn’t. We, like the disciples on the boat, have fretted over threatening forces and said to Him: ” Don’t you care if we drown” ( vs 38). And while we can certainly assume that He cares, we cannot assume that the winds will die down right away. Sometimes he lets them rage. Perhaps it is to prolong the question of vs 40 – ” Do you still have no faith?” – or to cultivate in us the right answer to that question. Whatever the reason, it is alarming, and we cannot calm it down until we are able to join in the affirmation of vs 41 – ” Even the wind and the waves obey him!”. Only when we are there can we rest.
The assurance we have is that He will bring us there. it is a certainly, just as certain as the disciples’ safety in the boat that day. he was not going to let them drown, no matter how afraid they became. Even when it seemed all else was completely out of control, He wasn’t. There was a purpose in His silence, and there was good timing in His rebuke of the elements. He doesn’t miss a thing.
IN DEED What threatens you Are you feeling out of control? Perhaps the elements have frightened you out of your wits. Don’t worry. he is the absolute authority over everything in your life, if you will trust Him with it. There is perfect timing in His commands, and your storm will not linger a moment too long. recognize who he is – even join in His rest in the back of the boat. Learn that when you are with Him, every threat is a false one.
Comment: …’frightened out of your wits’….That’s what really arrested my attention, and I actually smiled at the thought, as it so accurately describes the state of the psyche in my ‘Ebola worried country”. And no doubt, other situations which are literally ‘ frightening people out of their wits’. To wit, a young lady told me this week that she is afraid to go to America – for medical reasons – just now, because Ebola is there. Seriously! I find this meditation then extremely comforting as it reminds us who is Sovereign in this world. God Almighty in Christ Jesus. No doubt it is this kind of faith that kept hope alive in the riveting story of a doctor in Nigeria who survived after being stricken with the Ebola Virus.
So inspired by this meditation the following messages flowed:
THE FIRST MESSAGE – captioned ” There is no need for two to care, for God and the creature too – Charles Spurgeon ( 1834-1892—a great English Baptist preacher and orator)
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern sleeping on a cushion. His disciples woke him up and said to him, ” Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ” Quiet! Be still. Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:37-38
Carry this powerful message in your heart today as you face the many storms in your personal life and with the many strange illnesses going around in the USA and other parts of the world.
THE SECOND MESSAGE
A Companion verse to the Mark reading yesterday came as I began my devotions:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. James 1:2-4 NIV
Comment: Perseverance really must be allowed to finish its work, for the at the end comes Christian maturity. Which essentially is to know Christ…not lacking in anything.
This brings to mind John’s profound statement in the Book of Revelations:
….I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus…..1:9.
I pray God that He who began a good work in us, will grant us the grace to bear up under the trials of life, so that we will become mature and complete in Christ Jesus. To delight in His Presence and allow ‘streams of living water’ to flow through us, the promised Holy Spirit, in this world where as recorded in Isaiah – the reading for this Sunday – ” God had a vineyard on a fertile hillside…..he looked for a crop of good grapes and it yielded only bad fruit…….And he looked for justice, but saw only bloodshed, for righteousness, but heard cries of distress” 5:1-7 NIV
Then as the Spirit reminded me from my bedtime reading last night with Oswald Chambers:
THE SPHERE OF MINISTRATION
” This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29
Why could we not cast him out? The answer lies in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. This kind can come forth by nothing but by concentration and redoubled concentration on Him. We can ever remain powerless, as were the disciples, by trying to do God’s work not in concentration in His power, but by ideas drawn from our own temperament. We slander God by our own eagerness to work for Him without knowing Him……
Final Comment: Do we now fully understand why we are called to deny self and take up our cross daily, if we wish to follow Him. And to allow His supernatural Power ( Who is this? He commands even the wind and the water,and they obey him…..as recorded in the Luke version of the story featured yesterday) to flow through us. Yesterday at work, whilst mulling over the Mark version of the story, and in the midst of examining a Church of God Pastor, I was moved to observe that, the great challenge of today’s church, compared with the faith of the early church ( silver and gold have I not, but in the name of Jesus get up and walk), is that we really don’t know this Jesus about Whom we profess…” who is this?”. Which is precisely what this meditation I believe, as guided by the Holy Spirit ( I had no intention of reading the book of James this morning, and only arrived there via the words of a hymn; and I resisted at first, as I was determined to start with adoration…but adoration begins with obedience) is revealing to us this morning. We have to know God in Christ before we can seek the ‘righteousness and justice’ , about which Isaiah prophesied; and which desire of God, is so desperately needed today in our nation and across the world. And the only way to really get to know Christ, is by patient endurance in our suffering brought on by our desire to follow Him. There is just no other way! So the world and Christ, await disciples who are willing, and indeed ‘consider it pure joy’, to undergo suffering and patient endurance, so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything, and having thus, ‘shared in His cup”, bring Light to a world in darkness. What a great privilege!
Comment: I cannot stress too much the importance of this foundational understanding of the Christian faith. That without suffering you cannot get to really know the Lord. Blessing may help you to know about Him, but only by ‘taking up one’s Cross can we truly follow Christ”. Especially in these times of ‘ prosperity gospel and ‘ comfortable Christianity’.
THE FINAL MESSAGE – IN THIS SERIES
As I gave thanks for obedience, from the hymn ‘ Hark my soul it is the Lord’, came these words into my mind:
Lord it is my chief complaint
That my love for thee is weak and faint,
But I love thee and adore,
O for grace to love thee more.
ANOTHER MESSAGE – ENTITLED : THE REAL LESSON BEHIND THE CHIK V AND EBOLA VIRUS. SENT TO MEMBERS MY CHURCH FAMILY AND OTHERS
Just being obedient. The first link…somebody ought to praise His Holy Name. The second and third links provide a reason – contextualized in the crisis which which we are currently experiencing with Chik V and the possibility of Ebola. The first message came this morning as I worshiped. The other two came last night as I read Oswald Chambers ‘ Complete Works”.
Peace….I hope someone will really praise His Holy Name, Christ The Deliverer.
FINALLY A MESSAGE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WORD
In the midst of bedtime prayers, this: As the gentle beams of the moon and stars remind us that you word is alive and active even when we can see only dimly…..
And then my mind went to: ‘ you are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you’….
and, ‘ The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing; these words which I have given to you are spirit and they are life…
and, ” For the word of God is living and active. sharper than a double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitude of the heart”.
Isn’t this all marvellous! That, even as we sleep, and even when we do not fully comprehend things and situations, the Word of God is still active in our lives, changing, judging and making all things new. Praise God indeed, for this further explains in a sense, that ‘ the battle is not ours but the Lord’s. Although clearly we have a huge part to play in being obedient, persistent, and in faith seek to live a holy life.
Take home message: Spending time in the Word is like placing money in the bank – the benefits accrue and multiply more and more with each passing day. All to the glory of God. No wonder the enemy tries to use so many things to distract us from that which is the key to life as a disciple – The Word of God
So the take home message is that we need to learn to ” be quiet and be still”, in the presence of a Sovereign God. In the presence of a God who can do ‘abundantly more than we can ask or imagine”, in the face of Chik V, Ebola or any other crisis in our lives. All because this same God, in love and in Christ Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary, and with mighty Power, was raised from the dead, so that in Him we may have new and supernatural life, and have it more abundantly. So fear not this week, and be of good courage, once you have decided to follow Jesus, and allow Psalm 91 to become as real to you, as it did to that doctor who survived the Ebola Virus. But also be minded that those who dwell in the secret place of the most High God, as the Psalmist promises, will not only be enabled to live a life free of fear, but equally so, God expects us to be part of solution wherever there is injustice or unrighteousness. Whether in a hospital in Jamaica or in the desert fighting against the evil of ISIS, or comforting and caring for those caught up with Ebola or Chik V.