Mexico beat worthy opponents Jamaica to win Gold Cup: Jesus dies to win the salvation of the entire world

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

Hot Jamaican underdogs face six-time winners Mexico in Gold Cup final

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Hot Jamaican underdogs face six-time winners Mexico in …
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania:Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz are on a mission. Today at 7:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. local time), the history-making senior men’s football…
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The only news in town this week was the Gold Cup finals which just ended. Score? Jamaica 1: Mexico 3. This after playing so well defensively for the entire tournament, only for our vaunted defenders to make two huge and costly mistakes, for which we paid dearly. It should have been 1-1. Extra time would have beckoned. And who knows what might have been. But despite the obvious disappointment, we played well as a team. Arguably even at a higher level of quality that when we qualified for the World Cup. So we give thanks to those who played out their hearts, and made us proud. Also to the coaching staff and all who played a role in allowing us to share the world stage – The Gold Cup is a big thing – for a brief moment.

THE WORD OF GOD

So in the midst of this excitement, hope, and now disappointment mixed with feelings of pride, what Word did the Lord send this week. Two messages! The first one issues a warning which is timely. Be careful that we do not install in our hearts any other ‘King’ but God. And although the Word speaks about idols, things our hands have made, our sporting heroes and heroines can, if we are not careful, ‘remove God’ from the throne of our hearts. A very bad idea, at best, and at worse a very dangerous thing. For in many countries, especially in the UK and other parts of Europe, Football – played by the likes of Chelsea, Man U, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool – has become their ” Religion”. And at which altar they worship every Saturday! Hopefully after his performance in London this week, Bolt is nearly back to his best form; hopefully Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce will cop the gold medal at the World Games in Beijing China, next month. But though we celebrate those who made us proud as a nation, we must be careful not to make them ‘idols’ and provoke the Living God. For these are indeed dangerous times in our nation – with one more police officer shot dead this week – and only complete obedience to a compassionate God will make a difference.

THE FIRST MESSAGE

GM: Recently, I have been spending quality time with the Prophets in the Bible. Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Amos and Hosea. And I have noted that time and time again, these men, appointed by The Living God to speak on His behalf, spoke about Israel turning to worship idols. Things they made with their own hands! Things that could not hear or talk or move on their own. And then turned around and worshipped that object. For the prophets of old, brought up on the stirring Word from Deuteronomy 6:4-5:
Hear ye O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength:
this apostasy must have sounded like madness.
But two experiences come to my mind which raise the question of whether or not, in this age, the prophets of old, would have challenged my nation to repent.
1. We were all seated in the Canadian Embassy waiting to have our various measurements done prior to receiving visa, when right beside me a young lady exclaimed: ” It is not fair “. How do they expect me to sit here with nothing to do, and won’t allow me to have my ( smart) phone?
2. Most of us would have seen the movie ” Home Alone”. The original and the sequel. Do you recall the young man’s answer to the question of whether or not he knew how to use the Television? ” I am a teenager: Television is my life”.
Compare this kind of lifestyle in the 21st with the instructions a good God gave to His people centuries ago:
These commands I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deut. 6:6
Smart phones, television and other kind of technological advances have become a way of life in the modern world. There is no turning back! But there is a legitimate question to be answered by all Christians. Have these very useful things become ” our life”? In the sense that, do we spend too much time with them rather than with the Word of God. And since I am one of the chief offenders, Twitter will go, Facebook occasionally. I will answer my phone from now on and use WhatsApp. That’s it. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. No, was never a TV person in the first place. More quality time for God’s Word and loved ones.
The challenge that we as children of the Light face, is that for many young men living in inner cities, at #WrongAddresses, is that for them their idol is the gun. And for Muslim extremists, their idol is #terror.
And unless we have the ” miracle working ” power of The Living God in us, we will be no match for this kind of unbridled evil.
In this context then, the readings appointed for my church for next Sunday, are of fundamental importance. From Psalm 114, where the ” earth trembled at the presence of the God of Jacob”, to the Gospel in Mark where Jesus walked on water, and when ” all who touched him” were healed “, we read of God’s miracle working power.
But the reality is that this power, in large part is not being demonstrated in today’s world. The question is why? Have we even made our Religion, our denomination, our understanding of the faith, even our time of devotion….nothing is to interrupt me…our idol, with no room for the Crucified Christ to enter.
These are dangerous times in the world. Jamaica is under siege from the gun. Increasingly America and other Western Societies #IamCharlie are under siege from terrorist groups.
God’s miracle power and mercy are available to those who trust in His Son’s Atonement on Calvary, and who live by His Spirit. But not to those who cling to worthless idols, and who disobey His Commands – to love Him with all our heart. And love our neighbor as ourselves.
I pray God, for the sake of our own souls, and for the wider good of all mankind – His mercy is available to the vilest offender, in #Jamaicalandwelove or in #ISIS – we will turn away from whatever is our idol and turn to Him, who makes the earth tremble at His Presence. And therefore all evil will tremble at His Presence and at the presence of His anointed ones.

THE SECOND MESSAGE – contains the same warning, but in a different context. The context is the ‘ Rock that makes men stumble’; Christ Jesus. For despite our disappointment that we did not win the Gold Cup, a far greater problem confronts us individually and as a nation. Did we ‘stumble’, did we lose our way with God, by ignoring the death, resurrection and Ascension of His Son Christ Jesus. Or have we placed our trust in Him, and found the assurance that, ” we will never be put to shame’, to be absolutely true? Whether as newly married couples, joyful grandparents, or football aficionados! For when the final whistle is blown, when the ‘ninety minutes of life’ are over, and we all come face to face with the Creator God, the discussion will not be about the Mexico Jamaica match in 2015, but rather all about our response to the shed Blood of Christ our Savior.
Disobedience my friends is not a good thing. And we are all guilty. But thank God for Jesus, mercy is available. Even after, one, or two, of three or countless mistakes and sins. But not forever. And no man knoweth when the Son of Man shall return to Judge the World.

THE SECOND MESSAGE

GM: Last night, in the dead of the night came this Word. First in Isaiah and in the St. Paul’s Epistle to the early church in Rome.
THE WORD OF GOD. ROMANS 9:33 NIV.
See, I lay in Zion a stone that makes men stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.

Then the following thoughts came into my mind. As a photographer I just love weddings. There something so special about capturing the magical moment of joy shared by the couple, now ‘one flesh’, as they leave the church. And my wife and I will share in that privilege this weekend.
As a father, having raised my two children, the joy of my life is now my grandchildren. Two of them, with their parents came to visit us recently, and the other set are here, and by God’s grace we will see them this weekend.
As a former (school boy)footballer, I joined with an entire nation in celebrating the performance of the #ReggaeBoyz at #CopaAmerica and now at #GoldCup, and wait with bated breath the finals this weekend.
But, but, life, according to this ‘ song in the night’ from St. Paul, and revealed to God’s chosen people, in the midst of their repeated rebellion against the Living God, life despite its many joys and trials is not about our personal experiences, but rather in the final analysis, whether or not we ‘ stumble’ over the rock who is Christ.

That’s all that matters after 20, 30, 40,50, 60, 70, or more of life on earth, if God so disposes. Regardless of whether or not you have children, or if your party is leading in the polls, or is in charge of the government. Regardless of where you live – in the quiet suburban North America, battle torn Iraq, or #quadrupleMurder Jamaica. Regardless of the success of your sports heroes: #Serena #Messi #UsainBolt.
The problem is that Israel ” stumbled” because they sought to serve God without the knowledge of the need for a mediator between God and man. By zeal and not by faith.

I fear the same thing is happening to many who claim Christ, zealously in #Jamaicalandwelove. For to have Christ living in our hearts by faith two things must take place.
One, we must need Him desperately – for the salvation of our sinful souls. For we can only sing and really praise God, when like those who penned the Sanke, sang:

Chorus:
Oh, I love that Man of Galilee
Who has done so very much for me.
He has forgiven all my sins, put the Holy Ghost within.
Oh, I love that Man of Galilee.
Oh, I love that Man of Galilee.

Two, God will not permit any other rival in our hearts. Not wife, not husband, not children or grandchildren, not…….
I close with a troubling Word from St. Paul as he ends the painful reflection on the status before God, of his fellow Jews. Troubling, nor for Him, as he is confident of the outcome. Chapters 9-11. But troubling for all of us who are not daily challenged by our status before a Holy God – Disobedience. For unless we understand that, like the children of Israel, we have indeed ‘ stumbled’ repeatedly, then we will not turn and ask God for mercy. The kind of mercy that only the Blood and Resurrection of Christ can provide. For us, for the church, and for this #QuadrupleMurder #WrongAddress nation.
And in that respect, all that I and so many are looking for to this weekend, is of no consequence whatsoever.

THE WORD OF GOD
For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them. Romans 11:32 NIV.
This weekend then, and everyday, pray for mercy.
” Lord have mercy on me a sinner”.
Peace.

Murder most foul in Jamaica and elsewhere. Incomprehensible forgiveness by God. That’s why we love that man from Galillee

GM: One of my spiritual mentors, the late Bishop Herman Spence once said to me that ‘ sleep is a little death’. And as I spent some time in my devotions this morning in a hymn, whose words popped up into my mind, I understood why he was of that view. Each one of will find a glorious and reassuring, and even instructive Word from this wonderful hymn. But for me, verse two, which highlights the newness of each….new sins forgiven… new mercies hovering… new thoughts of God, and verse three which encourages us to ” hallow ” everything we find…. see God in the midst of it.. were my favourites.
New every morning is the love
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.
Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be,
as more of heaven in each we see;
some softening gleam of love and prayer
shall dawn on every cross and care.
The trivial round, the common task,
will furnish all we ought to ask:
room to deny ourselves; a road
to bring us daily nearer God.
Only, O Lord, in thy dear love,
fit us for perfect rest above;
and help us, this and every day,
to live more nearly as we pray.
Words: John Keble, 1822
Then we move from giving thanks in songs, to giving thanks in prayer; the first of my early morning prayers, this picture of sleep being a ‘ little death’, becomes complete. And so we spend the rest of the day in thanksgiving, regardless of what happens.
A MORNING WATCH
Jacob Boheme
Verse: 2 Chronicles 7:14
ON WAKING
Living Lord, you have watched over me, and put your hand on my head, during the long, dark hours of night.
Your Holy angels 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.
This past week we have seen and heard of people, Jamaica people who have experienced more than a ‘ little death’. Their lives have been brutally snuffed out and the families and a nation mourn.
But this is no simple matter that can be fixed with more police flooding the place, together with welcomed offers of assistance from the US.
Last night, in the dead of night, from which I would rise, thank God, to experience anew the love of God, I was led to a challenging Word from Ezekiel. Again!
A Word for the entire nation, for most of us are God-fearing people who know the Bible, to a certain extent. And know what the Lord requires of us. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
For bloodshed follows bloodshed in this land because we have turned away from the Living God, inside and outside the church. In how we obey God and love our neighbors.
And so the Lord calls us back, through His Word to Repent, and experience with Him in and through Christ Jesus and His Atoning death on Calvary.
Otherwise more than a ‘ little death’ will rule to rule this country and from which tragedy there is no other remedy but repentance.
http://bible.com/111/ezk.2.1-10.niv He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.

Of Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Rejoicing in Jamaica, and wanting to know Jesus

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 very public unravelling of the life of Bill Cosby has left me with a great sense of disappointment. Not sure why, as all men ‘are like grass”. But Cosby was such an icon, such a example of what was good about America, and the heights that a black man could attain in a racially troubled society. So this week I mourned the ‘loss of innocence’ about Cosby.

Bill Cosby Scandal – NBC News

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Bill Cosby Scandal – NBC News
Continuing coverage of sexual assault allegations against the legendary comedian
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2. Donald Trump a long shot for the President of the USA, was a big news item this week on CNN.

Thus triggering the question: Would America really vote in this man with such extreme and right wing irrational views and risk another world war? Would they really be that crazy! The world waits with baited breath.

Trump’s Latest Anti-Immigrant Remarks Are More Irrational Than Ever

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Trump’s Latest Anti-Immigrant Remarks Are More Irratio…
Presidential candidate Donald Trump painted himself further into a corner Wednesday by spewing another batch of anti-immigrant rhetoric on CNN. In …
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3. Despite the high profile nature of the above items of news, the best news for me this week, was the rejoicing of a community in the southern part of the island over the capture of a notorious gunman who had reported killed four people in that area. Including two brothers! it made the news last night on Television, but there is no report in the print media so I can’t send a link. But the video clips in TVJNews showed people rejoicing that this wicked man was no behind bars.

THE WORD OF GOD

So what Word or inspired word did the Lord send this week, as we contemplated both the local and international news. One very dramatic word was that, ” temptation is going to be with us forever”. And temptation both for the believer and the unbeliever! The manifestation of which were very much in evidence this week. Another message reminded us that ” the dawn will come’, one day. So in the midst of the madness of the possibility of Donald ” trumping”, good sense…could not resist that… and people suffering immeasurably from murder most foul, the Lord reminds us that he is still Sovereign over all the earth. And the full expression of this Sovereignty was revealed in the Life, Death and Insurrection of Jesus. And therefore our principal goal in life is to ‘get to know Jesus’. Nobody else, no matter how rich and how famous and how wicked!

THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent out on whatsapp.And speaks to the faithfulness of a loving God. A Theme which used by a preacher at my church today. My friend Ian Boyne is concerned about ‘reverse discriminating’, and the possibility of the loss of religious freedom in America, as a direct spin off of the Supreme Courts decision. And pens a excellent article in today’s Gleaner. But he worries too much, as ‘this is indeed my Father’s world”, and He is still Sovereign.

Jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20150712/ian-boyne-religious-liberty-vs-gay-rights

GM: This morning as I began my devotions, the hymn, ” This is my Father’s World “, came into my head.
Having read the words, of this instructive hymn, the words of one the all time great hymns of the church, which has, and continues to provide much comfort to all mankind, came into my heart.

And as I reflected on the profound reality, revealed in the third verse, that God’s presence is available each day , ‘ to cheer and to guide’, words of another hymn came to mind.
I don’t know how often you take Holy Communion, or Lord’s Supper in your Tradition, but in my Anglican Church, every Sunday is Communion Sunday. And I look forward to that experience with great anticipation, using the words of the final hymn below, as a guide.
For in that Blessed Sacrament, ” I see my Lord face to face “.

I pray God that as we continue to journey with Christ, each day more and more, His Presence will indeed be with us, and we will ‘ see Him face to face’.
And who knows, that because of our faithfulness, a faithful God will cause ‘ showers of refreshing ‘ to fall on our dry and thirsty land. Spiritually, Morally, Socially, Economically and Physically. #DivineIntervention
Peace.

THE FIRST HYMN
1
“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.

Refrain
“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.
3
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

THE SECOND HYMN
Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face to face;
Here would I touch and handle things unseen;
Here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace,
And all my weariness upon Thee lean.

Here would I feed upon the bread of God,
Here drink with Thee the royal wine of Heaven;
Here would I lay aside each earthly load,
Here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiven.

I have no help but Thine; nor do I need
Another arm save Thine to lean upon;
It is enough, my Lord, enough indeed;
My strength is in Thy might, Thy might

THE SECOND MESSAGE – the effects of a prolonged drought is a major issue in my country. This week, the Lord sent ‘showers of encouragement’. And other messages. Including one about praying for a revival in our land – a fresh outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. Of far greater long term benefit than rain!

GM: Last night as we were preparing for bed, “Rain, Rain”, my wife exclaimed joyfully as ‘ showers of refreshing’, about which we hoped for, yesterday, fell without any warning, and blessed a dry and thirsty land. Praise God!

Yesterday, I spent some time, again, in one if my favourite Psalms, and the one appointed for reading in my church this Sunday. Why? As a Chalice Bearer in my church, one who serves with the Priest in the Sanctuary, participating in the sharing of Holy Communion, our prayers, on a Sunday morning, in preparation for worship, before the service begins, includes verse 6:

‘ Will thou not turn again and quicken us O Lord, that thy people may rejoice in thee’.

Which is clearly a prelude, and a promise of The Messiah, Jesus the Christ, for Whose coming the early disciples awaited: and with great joy, received. And sadly, the present day Jews are still waiting for Him who has already come. But as we read the verses, and we can locate the trials of our ‘ dry and thirsty land’ ( Physically, Morally, Spiritually, Socially and Economically) in the midst of Israel’s lament. All because, as our Rector pointed on Sunday, we, like the Israelites, have made bad choices – turned away from the ways of the Lord – and are suffering the consequences. But we know and pray to a God who is full of compassion and Mercy: and which Mercy was fully expressed on the Cross of Calvary in the Atoning death – for the sins, the rebellion against God, of all mankind – of our Savior, Jesus Christ

Therefore, in the same way, we prayed for ‘ showers of refreshing’ and received it last night, and who knows how much more will come, let us give thanks, and pray fervently, not for The Christ, for He has come already, but pray instead for a Revival, a fresh outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. And who knows, what a mighty Work God will carry out in this #GetTheGuns #StagnantEconomy #GascylinderPressingDance #AbsentBabyFather #Prosperitygospel #BlueMovies #WaterEveryOtherDay country.
THE WORD OF GOD: PSALM 85:1-7 NIV

You, Lord , showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins.
You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.
Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, Lord , and grant us your salvation.
Prayer: ‘O God, wilt thou not turn and quicken is again, that thy people may rejoice in thee’.
…..Shekinah, is all I hope for. Peace

THE THIRD MESSAGE – specifically for those of us who ‘breasts are troubled’ about world events and local ones too.

GM: I woke up this morning with just a few words of this blessed hymn/poem in mind….unworthy though I be. But enough to jog my memory and for me to find it in my hymnbook. And then to wonder what the Lord was saying this morning.
And it did not take long for a famous quote from of the most influential Bishops of the early church, Augustine of Hippo ( 354-430….one who is credited with making the grace of God, the theme of theology in the West) to come into my mind. #ObamastrugglingwithGrace.

My Spirit Longs For Thee
My spirit longs for thee
Within my troubled breast
Though I unworthy be
Of so divine a guest:

Of so divine a guest
Unworthy though I be,
Yet has my heart no rest,
Unless it come from Thee:

Unless it come from Thee,
In vain I look around:
In all that I can see
No rest is to be found:

No rest is to be found,
But in thy blessed love:
O let my wish be crowned,
And send it from above!
by John Byrom

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless unless it rests in you”….Augustine of Hippo.
Then I read the Gospel appointed for reading in our church for this Sunday, . and found this passage, which is further on in Mark 6, than the actual reading.
http://bible.com/111/mrk.6.30-34.niv The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Finally some words from a meditation by Martin Luther King Jr, which I found nestled in the Book of Amos, a chapter of which forms part of the four sets of readings for this Sunday.
A reflection which speaks a word to all whose ‘ breasts are troubled’ in this #10outof10Commissioner #BruceJenner #GodisdeadAtheist #BillCosbydisappoints #ChildrenwithTwo’Mothers’ #DonaldTrumpIllegalMigrantsareRapists #Cancerstrikesagain #HumanTrafficking painful and confusing world

HE WHO TURNS BLACKNESS INTO DAWN
Verse: Amos 5:8

Midnight is a confiding hour when it is difficult to be faithful. The most inspiring word that the church may speak is that no midnight long remains. ….Our eternal message of hope is that dawn will come. Our slave foreparents realized this. They were never unmindful of the fact of midnight…..
Faith in the dawn arises from the faith that God is good and just. When one believes this, he knows that the contradictions of life are neither final nor ultimate. He can walk through the dark night and the radiant conviction that all things work together for good for those that love God. Even the most starless midnight may herald the dawn of some great fulfilment.
Comment: So whatever is causing our ‘ breast to be troubled’, although we ‘ unworthy be’, invite Christ into your heart, and be assured, that one, one glorious day, we will all find rest in Him. For as the Psalmist declared, and as the rain came the night before,
http://bible.com/1/psa.121.1-2.kjv I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord , which made heaven and earth.
So in the midst of our troubles in life, let us remain faithful to a God who has proved Himself faithful in sending His Son to die for our sins, so that in Him we may find Rest.
Peace.

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – powerful one which will provide a lot of encouragement for anyone going through a period of trial and temptation.

GM: I already had in mind that which I was going write this morning. But the Gospel reading for this Sunday at my church confirmed it. And so too a Word from the Acts of this Apostles, to which I was led this week.

It all has to do with the reality of evil in the world; around us and within us.
And the fact that ‘ sophisticated’, and enlightenment 21st century people deny that reality. But Jesus and the early church faced evil, ‘ head-on’. And so too must we who bear His Name and likeness! But only in His strength.

THE WORD OF GOD.

TOMORROW’S GOSPEL Mark 6:7-13
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits……
They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

FROM ACTS 5:12-16
The Apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people……
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
One day this week, as my wife and I watched the the very public unraveling of the life of one of our favorite actors, Bill Cosby, on CNN, a deep sense of sadness overcame me. And I exclaimed. 24 women! To what end? Without missing a beat, beside me, came the answer. Power!
Last night, just by ‘ chance’, I watched a BBC documentary on the horror of the War in Serbia: and the genocide and other acts of atrocities which were carried out on former neighbors, The Bosnian Muslims. Have mercy! The title : Srebrenica Revisited. Again why, in the name of God, why perform such evil again another human being.
Power? No, Satan. The Living devil.
This week I shared a part of this meditation with someone who was under attack from evil, and needed to ‘ listen to it’. I promised to send the entire reflection. But the Spirit of God led me to share it with everyone. And also provided context. For Satan is indeed like a roaring lion seeking whom he will. But thank God for Jesus, in whom and through whom alone, we can be protected from the evil desires which have destroyed the reputation of Bill Cosby, and brought untold pain and grief to families across the world, through murder and rape. And we in #QuadrupleMurder #TeenDeath #ChildAbuse Jamaica are very familiar with both manifestations of this kind of evil. Let us then turn to Jesus and find protection from evil. For the devil uses the unsuspecting and the unprotected to do extreme evil. But it is his main desire to wound Christ by temping the children of God.

A TIME OF TEMPTATION

F.B. Myers ( 1608-1674…an English Pastor who, among other things, published a number of Devotional Books on Biblical characters)

Verse: Lamentations 3:19

You will be tempted to the end of your life, and the nearer you live to Christ the more you will be tempted…..
The one who sees the heavenly vision is the one whom the devil will tempt to the uttermost.
God will permit it because temptation does for us what the storms do for the oaks – it roots us – and what the fire does for the painting on porcelain – it makes us permanent.
You never know that you have a grip on Christ , or that He has a grip on you so well as when the devil is using all his forces to attract you from Him; then you feel the pull of Christ’s right hand.
As long as the soldier slinks outside the battle ( O Jesus I have promised…. I shall not fear the battle, if thou be by my side… comes into my mind), he faces little danger, but let him plunge in and follow his captain and he will soon have the bullets flying about him. Some of us have had a good time because there was no use the devil wasting powder and shot on us ; we have not been doing him any harm. But once we begin to wake up and set to work for God, the devil will set a thousand evils to worry us…..
The nearer you get to Christ the more you have to do with temptation. The closer you get to the heart of the fight the more the devil will torment you…..But the virulence of the temptation means not that you are declining into Sin, but that you are advancing in holiness; and that the devil is afraid of you and only hopes to wound Christ by hurting you.
Peace

Same-Sex Marriage, Violence in Jamaica, and God’s grace and Mercy in and through Jesus Christ and Him Crucified

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 thy church that the church may renew the nation(s).

NEWS

1. The issue of same- sex marriage continued to be a big news item, and the subject of much discussion in my country. And for me especially, as The House of Bishops my /Anglican Episcopalian church , meeting in Salt Lake City, against the wishes of the Archbishop of Canterbury, voted to support same-sex marriage. With the caveat however, that no priest would be forced against his or her wishes to do so.

Justin Welby expresses ‘deep concern’ after Episcopal Church bishops vote for same sex marriage | Christian News on Christian Today

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Justin Welby expresses ‘deep concern’ after Episcopal Ch…
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And as I mulled over, and prayed about this development, I had the privilege of attending, and taking pictures of one of my many ‘daughters’ who got married to a member of the opposite sex, this weekend. At a time when Yahoo has just introduced a prompt, much like WordPress and other Blog platforms to allow for the insertion of pictures,and other material. Coincidence! Who knows, but I believe it is a useful addition to the Yahoo service.

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Also, a useful contribution to this debate appeared in the Daily Gleaner today – from one of Jamaica’s most respected journalists.

Ian Boyne: Holy war over gay marriage

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Ian Boyne: Holy war over gay marriage
An intense, bitter and deepening war of words has erupted since the US Supreme Court’s decision to allow gay marriage in America. Reason is the biggest cas…
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2. Violence in my country, with just over 600 murders, as reported on the news tonight, continues to be a major problem.

Western News – News from Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Negril & More – Jamaica Observer – Western News – JamaicaObserver.com

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Western News – News from Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Negr…
From Montego Bay, Negril, Mandeville, Ocho Rios & St. Elizabeth, news and local information about Western Jamaica from the Jamaica Observer.
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What is to be done about it? To be fair,the Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting has been doing a good job, and last year’s significant decrease, just above the 1000, mark, the best in many years, can be attributed to he and him team in the Police Force. However, this year, we are again heading in the wrong direction. The Minister’s cry for “Divine Intervention”, sparked much controversy and debate last year. Perhaps he needs to revisit that option, with more commitment and faith and obedience. And who knows, perhaps the Lord will send ‘showers of refreshing’ on our land.

THE WORD OF GOD

So what Word or inspired word did the Lord send this week, in the midst of the continuing saga of Violence and Crime, and controversy in the Church in the America.
Sent on WhatApp, the central message was God’s Grace and Mercy. Available to all in and through the Atoning death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on a Cross on Calvary. And that this Grace, this sacrifice for Sin, is sufficient for all our needs. A message which has been unchanged over two millennia!

THE FIRST MESSAGE – CALLS US TO HOLD TWO THINGS IN BALANCE. oNE TO PREACH THE WORD WITHOUT FEAR. THE OTHER, TO REGARD OTHER PEOPLE, AS WE REGARD OURSELVES, ‘SINNERS IN NEED OF GRACE’. A VERY CHANGING BALANCING ACT TO FOLLOW. THAT’S WHY WE ALL NEED GRACE – WHICH COMES IN AND THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD

GM: https://danielgodsurelywilldeliver.wordpress.com/
Last night, after writing the Sunday night Blog, inspired by God’s grace for many years now, entitled, ‘ #RevPresident in Charleston vs. POTUS AND SCOTUS; Justice in America vs Sin in the Bible’, and which was emailed to others, this was part of my bedtime reading from Oswald Chambers’ Devotional Book.

” …What you are to preach is determined by God, not by your own natural inclinations. Keep your soul steadfastly related to God, and remember that you are called not to bear testimony only, but to preach the gospel…….. Never water down the word of God: preach it in its undiluted sternness. There must be unflinching loyalty to the word of God; but when you come to personal dealing with your fellow men, remember who you are – not a special being made up in Heaven, but a sinner saved by grace.”

You can open the link and read the blog at your leisure as it is not short. But the central point made as we continue to grapple with the hugely important judgement – for man, not for God’s and His faithful people – handed down by the Supreme Court in America, is that the pursuit of justice cannot become more urgent that than the need to repent of Sin. Which is the very point Chambers makes; ‘ preach the word in its undiluted sterness viz. Homosexuality is one of many Sins.

However, and this is an important caveat, which we all need to remember carefully, for the balance is key, ‘ in your dealings with your fellow men, viz homosexuals, remember who you are – a fellow sinner, a fellow wretch, but now saved by grace……I once was blind, but now I see.
Therefore even though we hold firmly to the undiluted Word, we are called to treat other sinners with compassion and mercy and not with judgement.

Then this morning I read the OT reading appointed for next Sunday and found this prophetic Word.

http://bible.com/111/ezk.2.3-8.niv He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

So my friends, with the Prophetic Word of God in our hearts, let us not fear either POTUS or SCOTUS, nor anyone who opposes God’s Word, but preach the word in season and out of season. But always pray for, and have compassion, and love all our fellow sinners, for ‘ there goest I but for the mercy and grace of God in Christ Jesus. Amen

THE SECOND MESSAGE – offers some deeper thoughts on Grace and Mercy. Especially the revelation that , God has bound over all men to disobedience, so that he may have mercy on them. An issue which deserves much thought and reflection. In the same way that President Obama, found himself struggling with question of Grace.

GM: In recent days the first verse and the refrain of ” Just a Closer Walk with Thee”, have become almost like an anthem for me. I wake up with it in my heart. We sang it at church on Sunday, and I posted part of it on Facebook.

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.

Why? Two things! First: This #38deadinTunisia, and #doublemurderinHanover, and #SameSexMarriage and #GascylinderPressingDance is a very confusing world to live in. And to make sense of!
Second: Ever since the Fall, when Adam and Eve, representing the potential that is in all mankind – free will to disobey our Creator – choose to listen to Satan rather than obey God, ‘ all hell has literally broken loose’.

The lesson we learn from God’s ‘ chosen people’ – chosen, but not exceptional, through whom God revealed Himself in a special way to all mankind – is that despite the knowledge of God’s commands, despite the knowledge of the Bible, we cannot manage, we can never be ‘ good’ or ‘ perfect’ before a Holy God.
Which is precisely what God created this world and mankind to be. ” Good”.
That’s why we all need to have a Closer Walk with Jesus. Otherwise all the manifestations of Fallen Mankind will ” flow out of our hearts “. Thus resulting in #38deadinTunisia……

So what is the practical solution to ” sexual immorality, greed, anger, rage, malice, filthy language, lust, slander”….Colossians 3……?
Last night this passage, which has often challenged my soul, came into my mind. And I posted it on Facebook.

” For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them”. Romans 11: 32. And as you read the preceding verse, the context is precisely what we are discussing. The behavior of God’s Chosen people and His plans for them. And us ” Children of The New Covenant “.
What is that plan? Mercy in and through the shed Blood of Christ.

So as I wrote on Facebook last night, this is not a time for seeking Justice, but for begging for Mercy. For having sex before and even ‘ on the outside’ during marriage! For not being there as a father, to our children! For not being merciful and compassionate to the poor and people of #WrongAddress! For being greedy and unmindful of the needs of others! For being blatantly disobedient to God! For not going to church anymore on a Sunday or on a Sabbath. For an unforgiving heart. For gossiping and slandering our neighbor. For throwing scandal bags through our car windows and affecting the environment which God created to be Good. For thinking and acting as if we are more compassionate than Who God reveals Himself to be in The Living Word, Christ the Crucified One.

And so Romans 11 ends with these challenging words.
” Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out.”.

A final short, but very relevant Word, for those who would interpret God’s Word and seek justice over mercy. I am now reading ,the Book of Acts before going to bed. Having just finished John. And this Word last night touched my heart.

” They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the breaking of bread and to fellowship”. Acts 2:42.

The question is then, in our desire to Walk Closer with Jesus, whose teaching are we following? The Apostles’ , or our own imagination, or understanding of justice. Or who God is!

I close with words of a song which ‘ lifted my soul’ in thanksgiving, after one of the darkest periods of my life.
Your grace and mercy, brought me through. Oh Jesus, I’m living this day because of you….. I want to thank you, and praise your name. Your grace and mercy, Oh Jesus, brought me through. Amen.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – speaks to the Supernatural Intervention of the Lord in my life this week. And the Word of Isaiah, puts into very clear perspective, who man is and who is God! That’s why we are all in need of His Grace and Mercy. In Jamaica, and in America, and in Greece also, as they struggle with different trials in their national life

GM: At one time in my church, during a kind of ‘ musical revival ‘, inspired by the youth choir, this song was very popular. Not having heard it for a while, a few weeks ago they sang it, and ever since this song has been in my soul. The tune is haunting, but more importantly, Shekinah means the presence of the Glory of God.

Into the chamber
Be free Holy Spirit
Speak thru me gently
As I close the door
Heavenly Lover
Let Thy presence cover
Shekinah unending
Is all I long for

So think about God’s Glory as I recall what happened last night. Actually there is history that precedes last night’s drama.
A few night’s ago, while journeying with the Lord before retiring to bed, in the Book of the Acts of The Apostles, I came across another verse a follow up to the one I mentioned yesterday,
which left a great impression on my soul.
” By faith in the name of Jesus, this man who you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus name and the faith that comes through him that has given the complete healing ” Acts 3: 16. NIV
So back to last night drama, after pondering on The Presence of God’s glory, Shekinah, and the Supernatural Power of The Almighty God as manifested in and through faith in Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.
False alarm. Literally! At 2:00 am, the alarm at my house went off. To cut a long story short, after all the checks were done, nothing amiss was found. But in the midst of the F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real a small voice in my head, reminded to do what much trials in the dead of night has taught me – open my Bible, randomly. Read and pray. So I forgot about the alarm and was obedient and found this profoundly intriguing and contextually important Word.

” Stop trusting in man,
who has but a breath in his nostrils.
Of what account is he? “. Isaiah 2:22
NIV.

And so having had my soul ‘jogged’ to remember that we serve a Supernatural God, before going to sleep I prayed. And prayed.
Prayed for my own situation, and my family, that The Supernatural God would intervene powerfully, especially in any situation provoked by False Evidence Appearing Real.

Prayed for the renewal of Righteousness in The Church, and for us to stop being so concerned about the decision of the Supreme Court in America, supported by a mere man, #RevPresident, and latterly The House of Bishops of The Episcopalian Church in America.
Prayed for The Presence of the Supernatural Power of God to fight against evil men who are killing and causing mayhem in my #QuadrupleMurder and #Scamming country.
Prayed for The Presence of The Supernatural God to protect our people from the ‘ roaring lion ‘ of Pornography which is wreaking havoc in the minds, and behavior of young and old; badly affecting relationships, family life and performance at school. To the extent that, coupled with other socially damaging issues, many of the young teachers are ‘ dying ‘ to get out of the classroom and away from these young ‘ vipers’.
The challenge for us as children of the greatest miracle performed by an Almighty God, the Resurrection from the dead of His Son Christ Jesus, so that in Him we may have forgiveness of our sins, and life eternal, is to remember that we serve a miracle working God. A God who as Lazarus knew, is a God who ‘ raises people and situations from the dead’.

It is in this context then, that I believe the Lord, very dramatically, reminded me, and through me, all of us, especially, but not exclusively believers, that the pronouncements or actions, or fears, or unbelief, of ‘ mere man’, who has but ‘ breath in his nostrils’, is of no account in The Presence of The Glory of God as manifested in the Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Let us then, all the more, remember to stop trusting in our own efforts, or place our trust and hope in ‘ wise men and women’, and ” fix our minds on the author and perfecter of our faith ” , Christ and Him Crucified, in all situations. No matter how powerful ‘ mere man ‘ may appear to be. Or how dreadful a F. E. A. R. situation may be. Whether armed with ‘ Legislative Power’: weapons of destruction; or weapons which lead to immoral behavior and social disintegration; or potentially bad news. For our God is a miracle working God. Amen

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – calls us to spread the Word about God’s Grace and Mercy in all situations. For as we have had mercy from God, so are we called to be witnesses, to be Ambassadors of the Gospel of Peace and Love and Mercy. That’s how a nation is changed! That’s how a world is changed! That’s the reason why Christianity has played such an important role in the history of mankind over the centuries. Because, in obedience, faithful members of the church, have committed themselves to be witnesses of Christ’s Love and Mercy. That’s the Vision that the church has for Jamaica. And without a Vision of Hope, the people perish

GM: Havergal is a famous all girls high school in Toronto, Canada. Perhaps at the same level of our own Immaculate High School for Girls or St. Andrew High. This morning, in preparation for a preaching assignment at my church on Sunday, at the 10:30 am service, I ‘ happened’, again, on a mediation written by its founder Francis Ridley Havergal ( 1836-1879….an English woman who wrote many remarkable religious poems and hymns…..one of which is ” Take my life and let it be”).
I recommend it you, especially since the verse which accompanies the song/poem, is one which all Christians, and even those not yet baptised, but fear the Lord, should take seriously. In this #ISIS, #MiddleEastConflict, #Atheist, #Pornographic, #Abortion, #QuadrupleMurder, #SelfLove, #Prosperitygospel, #PeopleWhoHaveTurnedAwayFromTheLivingGodtoIdols, #PeopleWhoHaveNotYetHeardTheGospel, world!

LORD, SPEAK TO ME, THAT I MAY SPEAK
Francis Ridley Havergal
Verse: Isaiah 6:8 ” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘ Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’. And I said, ‘ Here am I. Send me!’ “.

Lord, speak to me, that I may speak
In living echoes of thy tone
As thou hast sought, so let me seek
Thy erring children lost and lone.

O teach me Lord, that I may teach
The previous things thou dost impart;
And wing my words, that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.

O fill me with thy fullness, Lord,
Until my very heart overflow
In kindling though and glowing word,
Thy love to tell, thy praise to show.

O use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as thou wilt, and when and where;
Until thy blessed face I see,
Thy rest, thy joy, thy glory share.

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