Easter, President Obama’s Visit to Jamaica and Chaos and death in Kenya

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 across the western world, no matter where you live, is that today is Easter Sunday. A day when millions if not billions of Christians celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ some 2000 years ago. So Lent is not officially ended and it’s time to shift from a focus on repentance to one of celebrating the faithfulness, power and goodness of God.
Why Easter Is the Most Important Christian Holiday

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Why Easter Is the Most Important Christian Holiday
Easter is typically the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christian churches. Learn what Christians celebrate on Easter.
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2. The second big news, at least in my ‘neck of the woods’, is that ” Obama Cometh”. And Jamaicans are getting very excited and looking forward to seeing the first African- American President of the most powerful nation on earth. Security is expected to be tight, with hundreds of secret service personnel arriving to protect the President.
No room in the inn as Obama visits

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No room in the inn as Obama visits
AT LEAST five major Kingston hotels are fully booked between Monday, April 6 and Friday, April 10, days ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit. Eff…
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3. The third big news is a horrible story out of Kenya, as this week news broke of an awful massacre of 147 University students by a militant Sudanese group. The Kenyan government has responded by declaring that there will be retribution and the attackers have vowed to ‘let more blood run’. What a calamity as the western world continues to discuss strategies to deal with extremist Muslim groups including ISIS

5 arrested in attack on Kenyan college – CNN.com

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5 arrested in attack on Kenyan college – CNN.com
Kenyan police have arrested five suspects in connection with Thursday’s attack at Garissa University College that left 147 people dead, an official said.
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THE WORD OF GOD

So, in the midst of the excitement,of the author of ‘ Yes I can”, coming to Jamaica in the flesh; the suffering of fellow human beings in Kenya; and the author of ” It is finished…yes I have”, coming in the flesh, God Incarnate in Christ Jesus, who suffered and died for the sins of all mankind, including Obama and the militants and the victims, what Word, or inspired word, did the Lord send? Chiefly messages which help in a deeper understanding of Passion Week. The period which culminated in the death of our Lord, and the achievement of His Mission. And the relevance of this event which changes the history of the world forever, to recent events which confront us personally and as a nation, and indeed a global community.

THE FIRST MESSAGE -one of the many important things which a journey with Oswald Chambers, who is the author of the world famous and highly acclaimed devotional, ” My utmost for His Highest”, over the weekend included this statement which I send around to members of my church. All under the heading of ” Christian Thinking”.

Man as he is ;
…and were by nature children of wrath ( Ephesians 2:3)

The love of God, and the wrath of God are the obverse sides of the same thing, like two sides of a coin. The wrath of God is as positive as His love. God cannot be in agreement with sin. When a man is severed from God the basis of his moral life is chaos and wrath, not because God is angry like Moloch ( an Old Testament tyrannical power requiring sacrifice to be appeased) – maybe like the present day ISIS and the ‘required’ killing of the students in Kenya – , it is His constitution of things. The wrath of God abides all the time a man persists in the way that leads away from God; the second he turns, he is face with God’s love. Wrath is the dark line in God’s face, and is expressive of of His hatred of sin. Civilization is the gloss over chaos and wrath; we are so sheltered that we are blinded to our need for God, and when calamity comes there is nothing to hold on to. Over and over man has made life into chaos ( Hitler and Stalin and Pol Pot and the Slave Trade and 9/11, and now ISIS come to mind – on the world stage. Locally – he or she or they who introduced gun violence into my country.

The reality is that when Satan has his unfettered way with those who are not ‘ under the Blood of The Lamb’ chaos results. So Satan is very real. Which is what the first message deals with. And which is what confronts the world in Kenya, in the Middle East, and even in so called civilized America and Europe. Chaos breaks out from time to remind people that they do need God, even though they might not appreciate it.

Today on Palm Sunday we begin our journey, once again with Christ as He experienced His last days on earth. His Mission, in front of Him, viz., Good Friday. An event which opened the door to the reconciliation of sinful man with a loving, compassionate, holy and Almighty God – Redemption.

Last night, whilst still on a ‘ national high’ after one of the most exciting CHAMPS ever, I calmed my soul to read and pray, as usual at before going to sleep . And the following word from The Last Supper made for very sobering yet reassuring reading

THE WORD OF GOD
” Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when guy turn back strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31
Last night and also as I woke, the following thoughts came into my head. I pray that you will consider them carefully this week as we recall our Lord’s Redemptive Suffering, and death on , ‘ old wooden cross’.

– that even though evil forces are always attacking God’s people, The Crucified, Risen and Ascended Jesus, ever lives to intercede, to pray for His disciples.
– that God allows such ‘ searching’, such persecution to strengthen our faith. And when our faith has been tested, and strengthened, our role, is to help others to attain a strong faith.

The troubling question, for which there is no easy answer, is that, Satan may not have ask permission to attack those who are not ‘ under the Blood of Jesus’. Not an easy question as ‘ God makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust’. And bad things happen to Christians too. But definitely a troubling issue in the midst of the very real presence of evil in the world.
Good Friday, and Passion Week is a good time to think about these things.

THE SECOND MESSAGE is about that which ‘ sets our hearts on fire’. And right now President Obama’s visit is the ‘talk of the town’; as that is what Jamaicans who love him are doing. But if you really had an informed choice, who would you more likely invite into your home, and your heart. One who says, ” Yes I can”, and cannot do very much unless Congress allows him. Or The One who uttered the life changing words, ” It is finished”, and whose work in the work is complete. All mankind has been reconciled to God. All mankind has been set free from sin and death, and from enslavement to ‘chaos and wrath”. The only limiting factor is our belief and obedient acceptance of that ‘gift’. So let us become excited about Jesus. Far more than Obama, as we once again recall the events of Good Friday and the new life offered in and through the Resurrection of The Crucified One. Even Christ Jesus!

ALL ABOUT GOOD FRIDAY
There is nothing like sports and the ‘ old school tie’ which brings out the passion in all of us.
So this past week, cheers and screams and even tears of joy and disappointment ‘ Rocked’ for C’ Bar, Fortis, Fervet, Edwin Allen, Holmwood, Jago, Hydel, Vere and other schools.
How much more then ought we to be passionate about our Lord’s sacrificial death on the Cross of Calvary for all mankind. Regardless of where we went to school, which country we were born, where we live, uptown or downtown, our skin color, our status, and most importantly what kind of sins we have committed!
This morning then the Lord led my fingers to a hymn, two verses of which in particular, challenge us love the Lord Jesus even more than how we love our very selves. As this is the high calling that Passion Week and Good Friday beckons

Isaac Watts

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life my all.
I pray God that wherever we may be in the world Good Friday will always be a special time for us. Regardless of our school tie, or denomination. Amen

THE THIRD MESSAGE – the great problem that ‘moderate and civilized Muslims face’ , in the light of the revelation of ISIS and other militant Muslim groups, as is the case in Kenya, is that young impressionable men across the globe, has given their all, ” a God who they believe will reward them with virgins and a special place in heaven’, if they kill ‘infidels’…..read Christians. as I write ‘whispers of Bob Marley’s ” You think you are in heaven but you living in hell’, come into my mind. Contrast that with the ‘doctrine’ in the song which featured in this message:

ALL ABOUT GOOD FRIDAY CONTD
As read the Scripture passages appointed for Monday in Passion week, and began to pray, this song came flooding into my heart. Amazing!
I Surrender ALL
All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

Refrain:

I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – the one thing I am at pains to point out all the time, is that, under normal circumstances, I could not write this kind of stuff on my own, and have it linked up so powerfully. God must be in the midst of it, and also for the Ministry to last for well nigh over 8 years now. Week after week. So think about the following message after the one before. Muslims and indeed all mankind need to know Jesus. Otherwise chaos and wrath will always attend their actions. Whether moderate or extremists. Whether ‘civilized’ Europeans or ‘war torn’ Africans. Whether ‘cash rich’ Chinese, and Japanese or poverty stricken Pakistan and Afghanistan. Everybody needs to ‘enter through the narrow door’. And that door is Jesus. For one day the door will be closed. And chaos will last forever.

ALL ABOUT GOOD FRIDAY
Just finished listening to the story of a Muslim on YouTube and how he became a Christian.
To cut long story short, after being convinced, intellectually, he asked God for a dream. And then another. And another, as he tried desperately to hang on to his original beliefs. One of them that he shared, helped to lead him to ‘ the sinner’s prayer, and to confess that he believed that Christ died for his sins, and was resurrected from the dead to give all mankind new life.
The dream was about Luke 13:22-25. A very disturbing passage of scripture for anyone who knows the Truth, but is unwilling, or fearful, of giving up everything dear to him: as was the case for Nabeel Qureshi.
http://www.creed26.com
I pray God that the reenactment of the events of Good Friday, this year, will inspire someone to make the seemingly, and perhaps very really, difficult decision. to ‘ surrender all to Jesus’.

THE WORD OF GOD

Luke 13:22-25 NIV

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
#HolyWeek is a good time to think on these things.

THE FIFTH MESSAGE – asks the question really what have we learned about Lent. And therefore what state of mind do we carry into Good Friday and Easter. Thoughts about the trials of this life. or a repentant hearts which allows the Creator of Heaven and Earth to come into our hearts, our homes and our nation and rescue us from the ‘trials of life’. There is a big difference between two. One allows you to celebrate Easter, the other mindset finds no peace of joy anywhere except through his or her power. or Sista P, or Obama!

ALL ABOUT LENT – FINAL THOUGHTS

So we have journeyed during Lent together. Some were there from the start on Ash Wednesday. Others have joined along the way. But now we must part company and face Good Friday alone before the suffering and Crucified Christ. However, not before tonight’s Maunday Thursday service – featuring ,’ the washing of feet by the priest’. After which we leave in silence. Return on Good Friday in silence. Keep vigil with our Lord on Holy Saturday, and then, O my God, and then, the glorious celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection on The Blessed Easter Service on Sunday.

But whether you share in the tradition of my church or not, the reality is, that like Peter, you cannot truly celebrate Easter unless you have been through the pain and agony, introspection and repentance that Lent and Good Friday demands. And ultimately we must all stand before the unwavering eye of the suffering Christ, as Peter did. When I read the story, again, last night, it touched my very soul.

THE WORD OF GOD – Luke 22:54-62. NIV

“……About an hour later another asserted, Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.
Peter replied, Man I don’t know what you are talking about. Just as he was speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him. Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times. And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

The question is, what thoughts are occupying our minds as we approach the suffering Christ this Good Friday? Obama’s visit! Financial woes! Health concerns! Relationship issues! The brutal killing of our children! All important issues. But there is a more profound and existential issue raised in Psalm 78, appointed to be read today in my church. It is a long Psalm and when you find the time, have a read. It chronicles the story of how God’s people, time and time again, rebelled against Him. Even after He performed many miracles and rescued them from trial after trial.
So too Peter who had seen Jesus perform many miracles. So too’ all of us who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
After the Resurrection Peter was restored to grace. So too we who are offered the gift of grace and mercy on Good Friday.
But first, ‘ we must weep bitterly’. For all of us have ‘ denied’ Christ, repeatedly, in what we have done, and what we have left undone. In the choices we have made!
I pray God, that after the agony of the Crucifixion, which we must all face alone, we can, together, celebrate with Mary, ‘ He is Risen’, on Easter morning.
Until then, may the Peace of the Crucified, Risen, Ascended, and Coming again Christ be with us all. Amen

FINAL MESSAGE – this morning. A simple yet powerful understanding of Easter. That in Jesus we have a friend, who alone has the Power to make a permanent and eternal difference in our lives. Wishing for you all then, and for President Obama, and even for the people of Kenya, a Peaceful and Holy Easter.

ALL ABOUT EASTER

GM, a Holy and Blessed Easter to all of my WhatsApp friends who have journeyed with Christ through Lent. And we celebrate the Blessed Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I awoke with:

1. a song in my heart. Words which express the essence of the gift of The Resurrection of our Savior.
What a friend we have in Jesus….so let us not suffer unnecessarily because we forget to ‘ take it to the Lord in prayer’.

2. thoughts of a sermon preached on Good Friday. It is finished. So it’s all done. And we can therefore claim victory over every situation and circumstance in our lives. Regardless of how challenging it might seem.

3. God has done His bit. It is now time for us to do ours. To work out our salvation…… To crucify all thoughts and habits in our lives which do not please Him, and which affect the honor of the Christ who lives in us. To ask continually for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and not just for blessings, so that we may truly have, ‘ the mind of Christ’, and apply His thinking to every situation we face.

So let us go forth in confidence and thanksgiving, and sing Hallelujah to the Risen Lord
May His Peace rest and abide with all of us now and forevermore. And let us remember those in hospital, those who are alone, and those who face many challenges even as we give thanks for the Risen Christ. Amen

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