Of Usain Bolt and The Reggae Boyz; of Poverty and Injustice and of Christ and His call for Repentance

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).

NEWS

1. Sports – Basketball: rooting for #KingJames and #CavsvsGSW battle for the NBA title. Tight series so far. Curry and Lebron outstanding. Cricket: disappointment again as WI flatters against England only to deceive as they were trounced by the Aussies #stoppedwatchingcricket. Soccer – great game by the Reggae Boyz vs Uruguay without #Suarez. It’s a great thing to be able to run with the South American giants and compete #Inspiring Track and Field – watched Bolt ‘labouring’ to a win in the 200M in NY over the weekend. The big man is yet to strike his real form. But who would bet against him in any final #StayingwithBolt.

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/jun/13/usain-bolt-200m-new-york-icahn-adidas-grand-prix

2. Police issue a reward for a man accused of being involved in another #QuadrupleMurder as Jamaica continues to battle with this huge problem #CrimeandViolence

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Cops-offer-J-1-m-reward-for-wanted-man-in-quadruple-murder

3. Inspiring story a couple weeks ago of a young schoolgirl from Hampton, whose academic brilliance earned her a scholarship to Yale #InspirationinthemidstofPain

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/A-beacon-of-excellence_19086607

THE WORD OF GOD

So what Word or words of inspiration did the Lord send this week, as we contemplated the news of the day. News of inspiration, frustration, good fortune and of a national scourge! For me the most important and challenging one, and an issue which has been on my heart for some time as I have brought is before the Lord – the living conditions of a huge swathe of the populace of Kingston and lower St. Andrew who live in inner cities ( ghettoes). Also in the mix is a wake up call for those who ‘call down judgement on others’, together with a call for repentance for what we have done and left undone.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – all sent out on a Whatsapp Ministry which the Lord has blessed with more and more persons everyday. For His own purpose and glory.
So ‘to God be the glory’ indeed. In all that we do. Otherwise we are working for self and the evil one. Neither of which ‘projects’ are sustainable, and will be revealed for what they are on the last day. It is difficult to explain to unbelievers, but the reality is that every other pursuit that does not glorify God, despite its celebration and popularity in this age, is just an illusion. And the foundations will come crumbling down like that which has been the fate of so many civilizations over the centuries.

GM: This morning, as I began my devotions using the early morning prayers which I shared some time ago, a praise hymn came to mind.
” Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the King of Creation”. Then just on the other page was another hymn, the words of which triggered this message: To God be the glory! Great things he hath done

For as we reflect on, and pray deeply about, the state of our society #TeenMurder and #ChildAbuse and #HarshEconomicTimes and #MoralConfusion as noted in the Observer headlines today ( A push back on the topic of Same sex marriage by a local pastor) we must never forget that our God is a great God. And that nothing is impossible for Him.
For, as the song writer declares, even ‘ the vilest offender’ can receive the new life which Christ offers, if he truly believes that a loving God sent His Son to die for the sins of all mankind.And was raised from the dead, with Power, so that we may have life, and life more abundantly than what Lotto offers. Or what a salary increase, as important as that is, will mean for us. Or what a break from the classroom filled with ‘ young vipers’ who have no interest in learning might mean for a young teacher who is totally ‘ fed up’ with both financial challenges and behavioral problems. Ester Tyson’s column in the Sunday Gleaner yesterday ought to be a must read on that topic.

The challenge then for children of the Resurrection, is to be of good courage, and believe that God can rescue Jamaica. With the same Power that rescued the children of Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. And with the same Power that raised Jesus from the dead. Our role is to believe the prayers that Jesus offered on His ‘ death bed’; On the night before He died, as recorded in John 17. ” And which prayers I have been reflecting at bedtime for a couple of nights.
“That we may be one with Him, as He was one with His Father. So that the world will believe that He came from the Father “. And that ” I am not praying that you take them out of the world ( where homosexuality exists, or where bad behaving pickney live, or where bills often cannot be paid, or where gunmen live) but that you protect them from the evil one”. ” “Protect them by the Name you have given me”.

I pray God, that as we pray about our personal situations – remember always that Satan does not like married people, so be warned – the workplace, our communities and nation, that we will believe and remember that the God we serve, is indeed a Great God. And greatly to be praised. And He will, if we believe, protect us from all evil. Within and without our souls where greed and pride and despair and fretting and innumerable other temptations lurk, with just as much power to destroy as the gunman.

THE HYMN

1. To God be the glory, great things he hath done!
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the lifegate that all may go in.

Refrain:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he hath done!

2. O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
to every believer the promise of God;
the vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
(Refrain)

3. Great things he hath taught us, great things he hath done,
and great our rejoicing thru Jesus the Son;
but purer, and higher, and greater will be
our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
(Refrain)

THE SECOND MESSAGE – is a very sobering one. At two levels. Dealing with ‘hot button issues’. And dealing with our own personal failings. Both are interconnected.

GN: As we continue our journey together in this land we love, populated with people of various faiths and beliefs, and worldviews, with whom we are called to live in peace and harmony, two reflections came into my mind.
One from Oswald Chambers which touched my soul, especially within the context of the current raging debate on lifestyles. I was led to first post it on FaceBook and in my view deserves serious attention.

OSWALD. CHAMBERS

Never look for other people to be holy; it is a cruel thing to do, it distorts your view of yourself and of others. Could anyone have had a sterner view of sin that Jesus had, and yet had anyone had a more loving tender patience with the worst of men than Jesus had. The difference in the attitude is that Jesus never expected men to be holy ; He knew they could not, He came to make them holy. All He asks of men is that they acknowledge that they are not right, then He will do the rest – Oswald Chambers.
The other I have been led to read on several occasions; and came into my mind as I reflected on Chambers’ meditation. The one above looks outward, at other folks and demands a rethink on how we treat with other people’s sins – leave it to Christ. The one below looks inward, at our own failures, and begs for forgiveness in and through Christ Jesus. Having both reflections in mind would serve us well as we live out our Mission as Ambassadors of Christ, calling everyone we meet to be reconciled with God.

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 pleasures 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 labour:
So soon at play, so late at 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 then:
So severe with my neighbors, so indulgent with myself ( ouch):
So eager to find fault ( have mercy), 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 to rejoice in the righteousness of Christ my Savior that, resting on his merits, rather than on my own, I may more become conformed to his likeness, my will becoming one with his in obedience to thine. All this I ask for his holy name’s sake. Amen.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – the Bible speaks about the issue of ‘sound doctrine’. And this message address the issue of what is means to pray. Because, for the Christian, prayer is life. And without a correct understanding individuals flounder, the church flounders, and a nation goes astray.

GN: Children and grandchildren on a short visit hence this delayed message.
As we continue to struggle together as a nation, buoyed by the inspiration of a young Hampton student whose academic brilliance earned her a scholarship to Yale, yet still dogged by the specter of violence in our land, for the Christian, and even those not yet Baptised, a biblical understanding of prayer is vital.
Recently I was led to read and share a perspective from a highly respected theologian. Thoughts which may disturb your understanding of prayer. However, remember that God is always ‘ doing a new thing’. So read with an open mind. Peace.

OSWALD CHAMBERS
WHAT’S THE GOOD OF PRAYER?

It is only when a man flounders beyond any grip of himself and cannot understand things that he really prays. It is not part of the natural life of a man to pray. By ” natural ” I mean the ordinary, sensible, healthy, worldly-minded life.
We hear it said that a man will suffer in life if he does not pray; I question it. Prayer is an interruption to personal ambition, and no man who is busy has time to pray.
What will suffer is the life of God in him, which is nourished, not by food, but by prayer. If we look at prayer as a means of developing ourselves, there is nothing in it at all, nor do we find that idea of prayer is in the bible. Prayer is other than meditation; it is that which develops the life of God in us.
When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God begins in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it. Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. Our Lord nourished the life of God in Him by prayer; He was continually in contact with his Father.
We generally look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves, whereas the Bible idea of prayer is that God’s holiness and God’s purpose and God’s wise order may be brought about, irrespective of who comes or who goes. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament ……..
The New Testament view of a Christian is one in whom the Son of God has been revealed, and prayer deals with the nourishment of that life. One way it is nourished is by refusing to worry over anything, for worry means there is something over which we cannot have our way, and is in fact personal irritation with God. Jesus Christ says, ” Don’t worry about your life, don’t fear them which will kill the body ; be afraid only of not doing what the Spirit of God indicates to you”.
” In everything give thanks”. Never let anything push you to your wit’s end, because you will get worried and worry makes you self-interested and disturbs the nourishment of the life of God….
It is not so true ” Prayer changes things”, as that prayer changes me, and I then change things…
The good of praying is that it gets us to know God and enables God to perform His order through us….
Comment : Wouldn’t it be a life changing, and indeed nation changing event, if we were to pray with the intention of getting to know God more and allow Him to perform His will through us, rather than focusing solely our personal needs. Regardless of how pressing and great are those needs. For such is the way that a nation will be rescued from #QuadrupleMurder and #ChildAbuse. By nourishing the life of the Son of God in all believers.

THE FINAL MESSAGE – is perhaps the most challenging one. At least for me, as I reflected on my role, individually and collectively with others, in the reasons why so many of our people have been ‘forced’ to eke out a living in subhuman conditions. The end of which, even as we ‘submit’ to the dictates of the IMF, and for our own good, does not appear to be even on the horizon much less in clear sight. Forgive us Lord for we have sinned. For though we celebrate our sports heroes and heroines and make much of our music, we have failed as a people to address the needs of the mass of our people from whose ‘belly’ have emerged many of our stars. Although I appreciate the message of Carlene Davis, the haunting sound of both Etana’s and Candi Staton messages about ‘life in the ghetto’ ring in my ears and in my heart. So thank God for Jesus, but right now the Lord is not pleased with how we have treated ‘ the least of His people’. Forgive us Lord.
GM: This morning I awoke, much earlier than usual, with this song in my heart.

1 I am weak but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

Refrain:
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

2 Thro’ this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee. [Refrain]

3 When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore. [Refrain]

Then I recalled how a verse from Psalm 93 strengthened my soul in the midst of recent trials
” Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
Mightier than breakers of the sea – the Lord on high is mighty” . PS 93:4
And as I write a verse of one the great repentance Psalms ( 32) comes into my mind.
” Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise,
they will not reach him”. vs 6 of Psalm which opens with the grand promise:
” Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered”
( with the blood of Jesus – my words)

Where is all of this leading? To a message with a difference. Watch and listen to the three videos below on YouTube. Serious music by Candi Staton – In the ghetto; Etana – Wrong address; and Carlene Davis – This island needs Jesus. Music which disturbed my soul after reading words from Jeremiah yesterday. Part of which lament I posted of FaceBook last night.
Words which were spoken prophetically to God’s ‘ chosen’ people. ( chosen not to breed a culture of entitlement, which is where Zionism went wrong, but rather chosen by God, through whom He decided to reveal Himself to the whole world, including Jamaica. So these words apply equally to us). And to all who rebel against the God of all creation. ‘Listen’ carefully then to God’s Word, and hear the call for repentance to nation which has ignored the plight of a huge mass of people and consigned them to a life of poverty and injustice. And for too many, a life of ‘ hell’ in the ghetto. Primarily because of greed and lack of compassion. Yes, there is the need to identify some personal responsibility. But that is not the primary cause of this intolerable national disgrace and an affront to human dignity. And from which situation has flowed all kinds of social moral and political evil.

THE WORD OF GOD

” From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike all practice deceit.
They dress the wounds of my people as though it were not serious.
Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all, they do not even know how to blush…….
Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn and horror grips me. Is there no Balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? Jeremiah 8: 10-12 &21-22

No doubt others may interpret this passage of Scripture in a different way. But listen to the challenging, very challenging messages in the three songs, and see if you do not find a validation of this message.
Finally ask yourself, as I have been pondering ever since the following question came into my mind as I wrote this message. Who has benefited from the huge debt that this country owes, and for which ‘ sins’ the entire country is being forced to drink ‘ bitter medicine’. The people in the ghetto! Or those who live elsewhere!Now you understand, why for this and many other reasons, this island needs Jesus. And walking close with Him means looking out for the interest of the ‘ least of these’. Peace.
MESSAGE MUSIC

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