Death of a young 14 year old girl in Jamaica, Lent and Christ The only Balm in Gilead

 

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 that the church may renew the nation(s)

THE NEWS

1. The big news  this week in my country was bed. Very bad! And the follow up even worse. For a family, a community and nation mourned this week when news broke of the gruesome murder of a 14 year old girl, who was hacked to death, in the early morning before daybreak, and near to her home. Days later we were informed that young Kayalecia Simpson had been pregnant at the time of her death.





2. The Lenten discipline continued, as we await the climax of Lent – Good Friday and Easter.

Yes there were other newsworthy stories, but none touched mu soul as those listed. Not even President Obama’s, widely hailed ” We ” speech on the anniversary of Selma. Nor the Israeli Prime Minister,  Benjamin Natenyahu’s, controversial speech to the US Senate. Nor the news of Boko Haran linking up with ISIS,  and yet more mayhem and murder in my country.

THE WORD OF GOD

So in the midst of the almost palpable pain coarsing through the nation;  and grief enveloping the family and community, what Word or inspired word did The Lord send as ‘ the devil was let loose in Lent’ in my country? A few sent out on WhatsApp, and an important one which I received during my lunch time reading this week, but which I did not have the time to share. In that context then, what is clear to me, despite the many recommendations, from ‘high and from low’, seeking better protection of the safety of our women and girls, that ‘ unless the Lord build the house, we labor in vain’. For my people, I don’t know about anywhere else, will never change unless they come to fear The Living God. And right now many of them neither fear God nor man! Neither the Priest or the house of God, or the Policeman! Here then is the passage I was led to read this week.

Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king and strengthened himself against Israel. He stationed troops in all the fortified cities of Judah and put garrisons in Judah and in the towns of Ephraim that his father Asa had captured. The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah. In the third year of his reign he sent his officials Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah to teach in the towns of Judah. With them were certain Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tob-Adonijah—and the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people. The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not go to war against Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought him flocks: seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred goats.
http://bible.com/111/2ch.17.1-11.niv

So what the Lord is saying here, my people, is use the opportunity of Lent to repent. And help to spread the Word of God, which is ‘ sharper than any two-edged sword’, and thus cause people to fear the Lord once again in this country. As they did in the early post emancipation days, when Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon and others helped to shape the lives of former slaves and their children, as inspired by The Word of God. For the reality is that people in high and exalted positions, and also within the ‘masses’, having forgotten their history, have ‘rebelled’ against The Living God; on radio, on Television, in our music and in our homes. With devastating consequences! Releasing the kind of evil which destroyed the life of young Kayalecia, and others before her also; and against which they have no idea how to fight, and ironically,  have turned their backs on the only Power which can overcome evil. Pray God that as Passion Week comes again once more this year, we might heed the Lord’s  call to repent of our collective madness.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – in it the Lord reminds us that He is a faithful God. Even when we are unfaithful.



Death in our communities. Death in our families. Sudden death on our roads. Disappointments in life. Trouble knocking on our doors. Challenges awaiting us today. And yet we serve a faithful God, ‘ there is no shadow of turning with Him’.

This morning I woke up with Luciano’s, ” Lord give me strength to face another day”. But just could not find the right video. Came across Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’s ‘ Nothing is impossible with God’. Good but not ‘ in my soul’  this morning. Then began my devotions with JACOB 

BOEHME’ s Morning Watch.

Living Lord, you have watched over me, and put your hand on my head through the long dark hours of night. Your holy angels have protected me from all harm and pain. Continue to watch over me and bless me during the hours of day.
And while thanking God for mercy, this song came into my heart. Praise God. 

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. 

CHO

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
2
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Chorus

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Chorus


THE SECOND MESSAGE – O, how I wish that this song from the Lord, could replace the slackness of the dance hall lyrics, and also those which are ‘trotted out’ at Carnival, and really get into the heads of our youngsters, and old ones too. Thus releasing the power of God to help spread abroad the ‘ holy fear of God’ in  our communities. And then enable us to see God’s Glory in Jesus Christ, as first revealed on the Cross of Calvary and validated by The Resurrection on Easter morning.


THE GLORY OF GOD

Sometimes trouble or the good life combine to make us forget The Glory of the God we serve. This morning as I began to praise God, just because He is worthy of praise, this song came into my heart. And then a powerful reminder of the image in the Bible of God and His Son who are both worthy. As you sing the song/prayer, remember the three songs which glorify The Father and The Son in heaven. Even as we battle with trials here on earth

THE SONG
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shinin’ in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy


THE WORD OF GOD – THREE SONGS IN HEAVEN

Revelation 4:2 NIV
At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.

Revelation 4:8 NIV

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’  who was, and is, and is to come.”

Revelation 5:8-9 NIV

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

Revelation 5:13 NIV

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”


Let us therefore sing a new song on earth, regardless of our circumstances, as our God is always worthy to be praised. ” Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you……..”

THE THIRD MESSAGE – One of the ‘popular’ ways of gaining attention in my country now, is to write unvarnished rubbish that ” God is dead”. Or ‘God is something or someone who Christians made up’. And so many ‘fools have tread where angels do not dare to go’! Thus, my God, The Living God, sends a reminder in song, that He is very real indeed. Further, that one day, there will be a ‘verdict’ passed against those who refuse to come into The Light of Christ, The Incarnate Word of God. No wonder then that  wickedness often flourishes in the ‘dark”.


GOD  IS VERY REAL

God is made very real in the Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. And so I awoke with song in my heart this morning. One which I had not sung for a long time. Amazing !
Then at the end of my Bible readings for this Sunday, came a Verdict for those who do not believe that God is real.

THE WORD OF GOD

John 3:19-21 NIV

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

THE SONG
There are some things
I may not know
There are some places
Oh Lord, I cannot go
But I am sure
Of this one thing
That God is real
For I can feel
Him in my soul

Yes, God is real
Oh, He’s real in my soul
Yes, God is real
For He has a washed
And made me whole

His love for me
Is just like pure gold, oh Lord
My God is real
For I can feel
Him in my soul
Yes, God is real

Oh yes, God is real in my soul
Yes, God is real
For He has washed
And made me whole


Please do not make, ‘ ghost fool you’, as we say in Jamaica. For God is very real. That’s why Lent climaxes in Good Friday and the Blessed Resurrection – Easter. 
Lent is a good time to escape from the darkness, and avoid the ‘ Verdict’.

THE FOURTH MESSAGE –  of all the messages this one, more than any other touched the hearts of those who are on my WhatsApp contact list. I hope it gets deep in your soul also, as it has been in mine over the years, every time I read it. For herein lies a great truth. We have not really loved The Living God as much as we should. Whether within or without the church! And so our land mourns.For God requires all  our love and worship. Not just in times of trouble, or for ceremonial purposes!


Many years ago, my spiritual father, the late Bishop Herman Spence,  of blessed memory, who was then my Rector, invited a priest to conduct a mission in the church. I think it was for the period of Lent. The lasting memory of that mission,  is a prayer he shared with us. One which has ‘ haunted’ my soul over the years. I have been led by the Lord to  share it with you. That it may ‘ haunt’ your soul also. And move all of us to seek the Lord more diligently. As Lent is a time to think on these things.

THE PRAYER

O God, we have loved thee but not enough;
We have sought thee but not diligently. 
We have seen but not perceived. We have heard but not understood. 
We have hoped for things heavenly but we have clung to the things of this earth and our hearts are far from thee the Holy One. 
Draw us now in thy mercy, unto thyself, O God, that the time to come my not be as the past, but that seeing, perceiving,  understanding and loving Thee, Thy Kingdom may come, and we may find joy in thy service; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Perhaps a Word which  has ‘ haunted’ my soul this week, will help us understand better the message in the prayer. With God, ‘it’s all or nothing’. Which in a very real sense is the Good Friday message – the beginning of the climax of Lent.

THE WORD
” In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”. Luke 14:33 NIV

THE FINAL MESSAGE – this one offers the simplest and yet most profound understanding of the Gospel message. That unless we are in Christ, terror awaits us. Eternally!  On the day of Judgment. And God so loves us, that He sent His Son, His only Son to die on an old wooden Cross, so that we may not be eternally separated from Him – which is the correct interpretation of hell. Further, no one can ‘cross over’ to come and help when that happens. So the time to listen is now. To the words in the Old Testament, and even better, to the Incarnate Word, who with Power, rose from the dead, on that first Easter morning, over two thousand years ago. For if we fail to listen, there is no remedy. And life here is but a short period of time, despite the bling and the hype and the trappings of power;  only a fleeting moment when compared to eternity



ALL ABOUT LENT

I had already turned off the phone when I read the story of  The Rich Man ( Dives) and Lazarus as my bedtime reading last night. That’s the only reason why I did not share it at that time. But then I would not have known that the 14 year young lady Kayalecia, who so brutally murdered, was four months pregnant. But does it really matter as murder is still wickedness regardless of the motive? True! But now there are two messages. Thou shalt not kill. And thou shalt not ‘ interfere with people’s girl children’. No doubt there are other messages to be considered – the wider context of the consequences of immorality. And ‘ greed’ and lust. But we shall not dwell on those more difficult ones at a time like this when a family is mourning, and indeed a community and an entire nation. The question which arises though, which Easter and Good Friday, the climax of Lent, poses, and the Word of God, is ‘ will we listen when God speaks’?
THE WORD OF GOD

Luke 16:27-31 NIV

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,  for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’     “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’     “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’     “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

And what is the essential message that ‘ the God-man Jesus who rose from the dead’ brought to us. Two Words. John 3:16 the most widely Bible verse 
” For God so loved the world….. .”

And another : ” All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23. And: The wages of sin is death but the  gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:23

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