Trouble in Baltimore, Disaster in Nepal, Teen Death in Jamaica, and Christ The 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 so that the church may renew the nation(s).

NEWS

1.The big news of the week came out of Nepal, where last Saturday another major disaster took place in the world. As I write, help is pouring in from major relief agencies and countries which specialize in search and rescue operation so badly needed in times likes these. In the meanwhile, people are sleeping outside on account of the many, many and severe after shocks. The problem the people in Nepal now face comes from another quarter – the wet season. They are therefore badly in need of prayers and help.

Relief efforts to find survivors intensify amid powerful aftershocks

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Relief efforts to find survivors intensify amid powerful…
The Katmandu area of Nepal was struck by a magnitude-6.7 aftershock Sunday, just a day after a massive earthquake in the region killed over 2,000 people a…
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2. The other story which grabbed my attention this week was #FreddieGray the death of a young black male, again, whilst in police custody in Baltimore USA; thus sparking major demonstrations last night. Some of which turned ugly, and riots and looting took place.

Baltimore Freddie Gray death protest turns violent – BBC News

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Baltimore Freddie Gray death protest turns violent – BBC…
A protest march in Baltimore a week after Freddie Gray, a black man, died in police custody, turns violent with at least a dozen arrests.
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3. Finally,the death of yet another pregnant teenager, sent shock waves across an already beleaguered nation, reeling from far too many similar cases in recent months. So the name Jamelia Johnsonage age 12, will soon become forever etched in our collective memories as one who has ‘gone too soon’. And scandalously so!

Murder of 12 year old girl Jamelia Johnson distressing : ChatyChaty.com

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Murder of 12 year old girl Jamelia Johnson distressing :…
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THE WORD OF GOD

So what Word or inspired word did the Lord send in the midst of yet another weekly reminder of the kind of ‘broken world’ in which we live. Where things are ‘wild and tragic’ and not calm and predictable as some would have us think. And so we are all need the ‘salvation’ which only Christ can give. Instructive and timeless Prayers from across the centuries; a reminder that God alone ‘restores’ our individual souls – one of the great messages from the most popular Psalm across the ages, ” The Lord is my Shepherd….” Psalm 23; an assurance of the Supernatural nature of the God whom we serve – in nthe face of desperation ; a feature on ‘ There is a balm in Gilead – a comforting word needed far and wide in this world, and finally just before the news of Jamellia’s death broke, a reminder that ‘nothing remains hidden forever’; but everything will be brought into the open one day.
So words of comfort for those suffering in Nepal, words to calm seething anger in Baltimore, and words to comfort us here in Jamaica where we are busy ‘slaughtering’ the future of our country, and marring the collective soul of the nation.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – Early morning prayers to set our day right. Triggering a prayer for ‘times of refreshing’ to come upon our land. As we cannot take any more tragedies, any more acts of vile wickedness like that which befell Jamellia, any longer. God knows! And as I write, Ian Boyne’s excellent article in the Daily Gleaner today, where he quotes our Prime Minister imploring parents to ‘send their children to church’, comes into my mind. And his scholarly defence of the social benefits to our society which has resulted from children being exposed to Christian values.

ALL ABOUT TRUSTING IN GOD

A GOOD WAY TO BEGIN EACH DAY – I USE THEM EVERY DAY

A MORNING WATCH

THREE PRAYERS FROM JACOB BOEHME ( 1575-1624 an influential Lutheran mystic in the early church) BASED ON 2 CHRONICLES 14:7 A WELL KNOWN PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE QUOTED BY A PASTOR WHO PREACHED AT A SERVICE TO COMMEMORATE THE MURDER VICTIMS IN JAMAICA YESTERDAY, ” IF MY PEOPLE WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME….. ”
AND GOD KNOWS THAT THIS COUNTRY IS IN NEED OF HEALING.
THEY ARE WRITTEN IN SECTIONS BUT I USE THEM ALL AT THE START OF MY DEVOTIONS EACH MORNING. AND SOMETIMES AFTER I AM LED TO SEND OUT A MESSAGE. AS THE LORD DIRECTS MY HEART.

ON WAKING

Living Lord, you have watched over me, and put your hand on my head during the long, dark hours of night. You 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.

ON RISING

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 be awakened in me.

ON GOING TO WORK.

Give me, dear Lord, a pure heart and a wise mind, 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 constantly that I have nothing except what you give me, and can do nothing except what you enable me to do.
Amen.

I pray that you may find these prayers written hundreds of years ago, as timely as I have. Day by day. And night by night. As he has night time prayers also. I will send them one day, in obedience, as I am directed this morning. And who knows, that if like a mighty army, together we, with regularity, approach the Throne of Grace, in this manner, perhaps God will send ” times of refreshing ” on our land.
Peace.

THE SECOND MESSAGE – which features to core doctrine of the Christian Community, religion and Doctrine viz That Jesus Christ is enough for all the needs of any human being.Why? Because ultimately, he is The Only one Who can forgive us our sins, protect us from evil and restore our souls.

After sending out the message yesterday, I was led to read one of the two Psalms appointed for reading in my church this Sunday; Psalm 23. And the verse which remained with me was, ‘He restoreth my soul’. And the revelation that this is what Jesus came to do: restore our souls.

So all the way to work, I found myself singing, ‘ O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world have mercy on my soul. And thus I prayed for the restoration of my own soul, through the indwelling of The Holy Spirit, the souls of my family and friends, the church and the nation. For as recent events have shown, we are becoming a nation which has lost its very soul.

Then drama last night! In the dead of night, almost four o’clock, I awoke with a forbidding sense of evil. Somewhere! Near to me, family or in the nation. And I was led to read the Psalm which has sustained me over the years in the presence of evil. Psalm 27. ” When evil men advance against me…… they will stumble and fall “, remained with me. But then, I don’t know if you have noticed, the ‘ surrounding’ Psalms all offer comfort in challenging times. eg. ” In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge, let me never be out to shame – Ps. 31.

But having read them all, I was reminded that ‘ every promise that God made is answered Yes in Christ Jesus. And then we say the Amen”.
And then led to read Jesus’ prayer, on the night before He died, as recorded in John 17, where He prayed that those who believe in Him, ‘ may be protected by the Name His Father gave Him.
The central message in all of this is that believing on the Name of, and Person of, Jesus Christ, The Crucified. Resurrected, Ascended, and Ever Interceding One, is ( more than) enough to restore the soul of this nation. Individually and Collectively. And protect us from all evil. Whether it rears its ugly head in Vere, in Tivoli, in our homes, in our Police Force, in our Politics, in our Schools, at the work place, in the Media, in our Popular Music Forms, in well dressed men and women, in our street people, in the very Church, or within our hearts.

O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on my soul – in and through Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
I leave you with a wonderful video which I shared with my church on Sunday, after writing a report on the sermon entitled, my words, Jesus is Enough. And the haunting song ( you can watch it later) by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir declares that Jesus in more than enough for all our needs.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – in case we have forgotten this message reminds us of what Jesus did for all mankind, even for the vilest offender who destroyed the life of Jamellia – at least on this side of eternity. But we have a blessed hope that all who have been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, and forgiven by God, will meet up in heaven one day. That’s the hope that keeps us alive in the midst of the madness; in Baltimore, in Nepal and in Jamaica. For the God who we serve is God of Power and mercy

ALL ABOUT JESUS

Two experiences. Two messages

First: Found myself singing yesterday at work, in response to a discussion on the Christian Faith with a patient;
“All the way to Calvary, he went for me…”. And this morning it is in my heart again.

All The Way To Calvary Lyrics

[Chorus:]
All the way to Calvary,
He went for me,
He went for me,
He went for me.

All the way to Calvary,
He went for me,
He died to set me free
[Verse:]
Although I had so many, many sins,
Jesus took them all away
and He pardoned me.

Although I had so many, many sins,
Jesus took them all away,
and He pardoned me.

Second : One of the readings appointed for Sunday in my church features an assurance of the Power and might of the Supernatural God whom we serve.
Acts 4:23-30 NIV

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one. ’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

The two interrelated messages are first that, as disciples of Christ, living in a ‘ strange land’, where our faith, our values, and what, and Who we believe in, is under attack from powerful forces outside, and inside the church, we must always remain faithful and never forget, that Jesus died, not only, for our many, many sins, but for the sins of those who oppose us. Wherever! Whether those who make laws in the Parliament, the Editorial of newspapers, leaders of powerful nations, nations whose culture is different from ours, a ‘ gospel’ which ignores the suffering of Christ, States that pursue and behead Christians, people who produce and promote Music which encourage people to ,’ bruk out’, evil men who cannot make life, but filled with murderous intent destroy lives. Whoever! And pray for them as Jesus did. ” Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. As we continue to confess and pray for our own sins.

But equally we must never forget, as the passage from Acts reminds us, that we serve a Supernatural God, and
‘ nations and individuals rage against Him in vain’. And that He knows and hears about those who threaten and are opposed to those who remain faithful to Him. He will, if we trust Him, enable us to continue to speak boldly, regardless of the circumstances, and He will in the Name of Jesus, continue perform miraculous healings in this ‘ strange land’. For His own Glory.
Peace.

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – Features one of the all time great African-American Negro spirituals, the like of which kept our forebears, slaves out of Africa, sane in the midst of their kind of madness.

I awoke this morning with, New every morning is the love’. And as I began my devotions with this wonderful hymn:

New every morning is the love
our wakening and uprising prove;
through sleep and darkness safely brought,
restored to life and power and thought.

New mercies, each returning day,
hover around us while we pray;
new perils past, new sins forgiven,
new thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.

If on our daily course our mind
be set to hallow all we find,
new treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice…

when I reflected on the third verse in particular, that even while doing the most menial or routine task, day after day, if we ‘ hallow it’, i.e. give glory to God in whatever we do, then such an attitude, will in fact ‘ bring us daily nearer God – the last line of the fourth verse. And which intention, to draw daily nearer to God, should be the goal of everyone.
As I thought this ‘ revelation’, that there are two narratives, two stories, being played out every day in our lives.
One, we hear about, listen to and watch on the news. Most of which is very discouraging and even frightening.
The other, taught to us by the slaves who sang Negro Spirituals as they worked in the most oppressive circumstances, with their minds and heart fixed on the hope that God was at work in their lives. Teaching them. Encouraging them. Protecting them. And would one day grant them freedom. Whether in this world or in heaven.
And so I went looking in my Bible and found this. May it be a blessing to our souls, as we listen to ‘ another story’, and sing while we work, giving God the Glory, even as RJR and CNN, and life’s circumstances, tell us a different story.

A BALM IN GILEAD
African-American Spiritual

Verse: Jeremiah 8:22

Jeremiah 8:22 NIV

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole,
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my work again.

If you can’t preach like Peter,
If you can’t pray like Paul,
Just tell the love of Jesus,
And say he died for all.

Have mercy! As I began typing, my spirit soared, as ‘ something good is going happen this day’. Something good dear Jesus. Something good. For in the midst of the tears, and the pain and the fears, God knows, there is indeed a Balm in Gilead. For Jamaica. For our downcast souls. And His Name is Jesus. O Blessed Redeemer God, we thank You that there is another story to be told to our children and grandchildren and suffering humanity.

THE FINAL MESSAGE – send out on the same day that news broke about Jamellia’s death in the ‘ dark of night’. With an assurance that one day, one day, all evil will be exposed. And Christ shall reign, and all who depended on their own ‘strength and wisdom’ will be amazed and astounded. Will it be too late? Only God knows!

ALL ABOUT JESUS

There are some burning issues that as a people living, ‘ under the gun’, both literally and metaphorically, we would love to have resolved. Who first brought guns into this country; and let loose the ‘ angels of death,’ which are now wreaking havoc in every nook and cranny if this land?
Who continues to import them, and can we put an end to this madness?
How come we have one of the worse performing economies in the world, this consigning a huge section of our people to live in grinding poverty? Who is responsible? And what is the solution? Who, or which group of persons are responsible for the corruption of the morals of a once mannerly, gentle, loving, neighborly, respectful of the elderly, parents, teachers, people in authority, and God- fearing people? And Who is the solution? Since when have Christians began to, take such ‘ liberties with a Holy God’, to the extent that we are so brazen and unrepentant with our sins?
These are the thoughts which coursed through my mind as I was led to read the edited meditation below during my devotions this morning. O God have mercy on our country. O Christ have mercy on your Church.

TOWARDS TRANSPARENCY
CHRIS TIEGREEN

There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed. Luke 12:2

Most of us have a well-cultivated private side. There are things we don’t want others to know about us. Some of those things would perhaps reflect badly on us; others are simply personal and private. While some people are more open than others, none of us is a completely open book.

Or are we? The book may be closed now, but it will eventually be opened. God already sees all. He sees into our hearts even more clearly than we do. The private things we think as we’re lying down to sleep at night are not hidden from Him; He even knows the motives and causes behind them. And one day, all sin will be exposed. That’s frightening.
We can take comfort in the fact that…..Sin that has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus is cleansed indeed, removed from the mind of God…..
This is a problem for minds trained by our culture. We’ve been taught to think that our personal behavior is….well personal. As long as it is not harming anyone. We’ve heard it far too often. But sin always has corporate ramifications. It affects our society, and for Christians, it affects the body of Christ….

Jesus speaks of hypocrisy more harshly than any other sin. The cost of hiding our secrets is higher than the cost of confessing them…..We might as well be transparent now; one day, whether we like it or not, we will be.

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