Jamaica’s Emancipation and Independence, a word from Bishop Gregory and ‘whose report shall you believe’. The Lord’s or that of men!

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. Jamaica’s ‘Emancipendence’ celebrations, a marriage of Emancipation and Independence, began yesterday on August 1. And this celebration has dominated the news in my country. Yes, news about the ‘ lost’ Malaysian Plane was welcome. Yes, an analysis shared by the Minister of National Security, which revealed that gang on gang violence accounted for much of the 70% year on year increase in murder, was very newsworthy. So too other happenings in the world, but at age 53, and celebrating, celebrating, this trumped everything else in my mind.

Emancipation Day Celebration – Emancipation Park Jamaica

Emancipation Day Celebration – Emancipation Park Jamaica
HOW WE CELEBRATE EMANCIPATION DAY
View on http://www.emancipationpark.org.jm
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Further,the Anglican Diocesan Bishop of Jamaica, the Rt. Reverend Howard Gregory delivered a sermon that ought to be a must read, for all who are seeking solutions for Jamaica’s many social, economic and moral ills; and are willing to experience a different perspective and a different narrative from what we see and hear in the media day by day. Having had that experience today, I blogged the sermon and circulated it on Twitter and other social media sites. Hopefully it will gain the attention that such a sermon on such an important day in the life of the country deserves.

Sermon on the celebration of Jamaica’s Emancipation by Bishop Howard Gregory

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Sermon on the celebration of Jamaica’s Emancipation by B…
This sermon was preached at St. Andrew ( Anglican) Parish Church in Kingston Jamaica by the Rt. Reverend Howard Gregory, The Anglican Diocesan Bisho…
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THE WORD OF GOD

So, apart from Bishop Gregory’s sermon what other Word or inspired word did the lord send this week? Four messages were received and sent out on WhatsApp. And they feature the words of a hymn which touched my heart at church last week. More about Jesus would I know….a song which I have decided to make my anthem and would recommend it strongly to everyone. For the knowledge of Jesus, and a life committed to Him, despite the media attention that Donald Trump, is receiving, and what President #Whatagwann Obama attracts every time he open his mouth, Jamaica’s salvation rests squarely on the advice of The Psalmist – Except the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. 127:1

The First message – When you read the Bishop’s sermon, we will find out that despite our best efforts, no one can obey the commands of a holy God. And the quote from Matthew below, brings everything into very sharp focus. That is why we need not just #Emancipationfrommentalslavery as sung by Bob Marley, but ‘salvation’ by the Blood of Jesus, for our many, many sins. hence the importance of both hymns!.

GM: For those of us who have ‘ good opinion’ about ourselves, this is going to be a rough ride. At least initially! For those of us who cry out night and day for mercy, as sinners before a compassionate God, this message will be comforting.
It all began last night when my heart had settled after the brave #ReggaeBoyz lost the match. And as I read the meditation below from Oswald Chambers, I realized how important this passage of Scripture is in our need for Salvation in Christ Jesus. And to foster and create this desire for Jesus, is the only goal of this WhatsApp ministry.
Actually it might even have began at church yesterday when we sang, to a very lively tune, the words of the hymn:

More about Jesus would I know,
more if his grace to others show;
more of his saving fullness see,
more of his love who died for me.

Chorus

More, more about Jesus,
more, more about Jesus;
more of his saving fullness see,
more of his love, who died for me……

So now to the reason why we have #quadrupleMurder and #Teendeath and #KillingofPolice in our country. For these things can happen to anyone of us, and for which reason Christ died. This reality, like it or not, believe it or not, forms the foundation of a very ‘ disturbing’ mediation by Chambers.

The Way to Purity

Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart . . . . For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man . . . -Matthew 15:18-20

Initially we trust in our ignorance, calling it innocence, and next we trust our innocence, calling it purity. Then when we hear these strong statements from our Lord, we shrink back, saying, “But I never felt any of those awful things in my heart.” We resent what He reveals. Either Jesus Christ is the supreme authority on the human heart, or He is not worth paying any attention to. Am I prepared to trust the penetration of His Word into my heart, or would I prefer to trust my own “innocent ignorance”? If I will take an honest look at myself, becoming fully aware of my so-called innocence and putting it to the test, I am very likely to have a rude awakening that what Jesus Christ said is true, and I will be appalled at the possibilities of the evil and the wrong within me. But as long as I remain under the false security of my own “innocence,” I am living in a fool’s paradise. If I have never been an openly rude and abusive person, the only reason is my own cowardice coupled with the sense of protection I receive from living a civilized life. But when I am open and completely exposed before God, I find that Jesus Christ is right in His diagnosis of me.
The only thing that truly provides protection is the redemption of Jesus Christ. If I will simply hand myself over to Him, I will never have to experience the terrible possibilities that lie within my heart. Purity is something far too deep for me to arrive at naturally. But when the Holy Spirit comes into me, He brings into the center of my personal life the very Spirit that was exhibited in the life of Jesus Christ, namely, the Holy Spirit, which is absolute unblemished purity.

Comment: This morning I was arrested by one of my favourite hymns. A hymn which speaks to many of the issues raised in the meditation above. And most specifically of our tendency to be ‘ prone to wander’ from the God I love. Vs 3. The hymn begins with a prayer for a song of praise. For ‘ streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise’. Vs 1.

And in verse two, the reason why we ought to sing loudly forever is revealed: ‘ Jesus sought me when a stranger….
I pray God we will also learn to sing praises to a compassionate God who in Christ has rescued us from the ‘ evil which resides in all of us’.
And which evil if not cast out by #Jesus will continue to wreak havoc in high places and in low places in my country. In #RightAddresses and in #WrongAddrresses.

1. Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

2. Here I find my greatest treasure;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Peace.

THE SECOND MESSAGE – one of the biggest challenges we face as nation, is how to free the minds of our young people, in particular, from enslavement to lusts of the flesh. So the Lord sends a message in this respect. Again, more about Jesus would I know….

GM: Yesterday the word from the Lord placed a focus on the evil within us, and then why we ought to sing praises to Him who ‘ interposed His precious Blood’ to rescue us.
This morning as I began my devotions, expecting to be guided by one of the readings for Sunday, into my mind came a Word from Colossians. A difficult Word for some, who have been led astray by human regulations, and fanciful preoccupations with Angels, and have lost touch with the Head, who is Christ alone.
Very disturbingly, and a clear warning to those who get too excited about anything else in their Christian walk, apart from Christ, is that the Word ends like this:

” But they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence”.

Now sensuality is not all about sexuality, but it certainly includes it. And the temptation to engage in premarital sex, and extra marital sex and pornography is a very serious matter in the Church. And without a doubt an even greater problem outside the Church. And which part of the ‘ lack of restraint in sensual indulgence’, including our music genres ‘ tempted to touch, tempted to touch’, constitutes one the major problems in our #TeenMurder #ChildAbuse #Sexatanearlyage #BreakdowninFamilyLife #TeenagePregnancy #STD #HIV #Rape #FourBurner country.

The call then is to focus on Christ and Christ alone, to rescue us as individuals, and collectively as a nation.

THE WORD OF GOD – Colossians 2:6-23 NIV

http://bible.com/111/col.2.6-23.niv So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

More, more, about Jesus
More, more about Jesus
More of his saving fullness see
More of his love who died for me.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – one of the ‘lost’ features of a well developed life is the appreciation of how trials and troubles serve to strengthen us. A lesson our enslaved forebears learnt well. And which life skills honed in the fires of ‘troubles’ helped to forge a society which knew how to ‘wait upon the Lord’. Compare this with the ‘wisdom’ of the present age, which encourages us to ‘forget about God’ and seek your own salvation.

GM: I was very pleasantly surprised by the reaction to the hymn, ‘ More about Jesus would I know’. So many folks responded, and before we sang it in church last Sunday, I had never heard it before. Praise God!
In fact, one day this week, having read the meditation in which it featured, my nurse and two other patients, presented themselves in my office, and sang the first verse for me. And of course I duly recorded the event.
So we want to know more about Jesus. Last night, and validated by another mediation which I was led to read this morning during my meditations, the Lord sent a clear message to us who would know more about Jesus.

OSWALD CHAMBERS

Do You See Jesus in Your Clouds?
Behold, He is coming with clouds . . . -Revelation 1:7
In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith. “The clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3). They are a sign that God is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow, bereavement, and suffering are actually the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near us without clouds- He does not come in clear-shining brightness.
It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn. something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child- a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows. Until other people become shadows to us, clouds and darkness will be ours every once in a while. Is our relationship with God becoming more simple than it has ever been?
There is a connection between the strange providential circumstances allowed by God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.
“. . . they were fearful as they entered the cloud” (Luke 9:34). Is there anyone except Jesus in your cloud? If so, it will only get darker until you get to the place where there is “no one anymore, but only Jesus . . .” (Mark 9:8 ; also see Mark 2-7).
COMMENT: Not much comment is needed after such a clear message. But during my lunchtime devotions yesterday, I was led to ponder briefly on an important Word from Peter. And it came into my head last night as I slept.

” All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the
flowers if the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord stands forever. “. 1 Peter 1:24-25 NIV

There are many possible reasons why the Lord wished me, and all of us to focus on this Word. And each of will no doubt come to different conclusions. However, in this context of ‘ until other people become shadows to us’, especially our religious leaders and ‘ stars’ like T. D. Jake’s, Osten and others, there is a clear warning for us to ‘ use the clouds of life’, to learn to depend on God, and God alone to direct our thoughts so that we may indeed ‘ know more about Jesus’.
This is therefore not a call to abandon our relationship with those who have been, and continue to be, the leaders of the flock, nor to undermine the important role they play in discipling the flock. But rather a warning not to depend on man alone to lead us into a lasting relationship with God, but only Christ and Him Crucified – The Living Word of God.
The other point which we need not belabor, but which we dare not forget, is that there are ‘ no clouds’ associated with the ‘ Prosperitygospel’. I say no more.
Finally, if we, as children of the Resurrection, have been foolish enough, to place our faith and future in the hands of our favorite political leader, whether local or international, this Word calls us back to our ‘ right senses’.
Pray God that as we wait, in faith, for the rain to fall, and the economy to turn around, and the Crime and Violence to decline, and our personal troubles to recede, we may indeed come ‘ know more about Jesus’ in the clouds of life. Peace.

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – again the hymn is featured. Along with a popular Word with lots of relevance for our present day situation.

GM: I have decided to make ‘ More about Jesus would I know’, my daily anthem. My daily prayer! My goal in life! My anthem to be sung regularly!
So this morning as I reflected on the entire hymn, but with a focus on the first verse, I was blessed once again.
Further, as I remembered to hunger and thirst for a deeper knowledge of ‘ the love of Him who died for me’, my regular early morning prayers, which those who are a new to this ministry may not know, became more alive.
Especially, as I read again the context in which they were written, or presented to us.

A MORNING WATCH
Jacob Boheme ( 1575-1624.. an influential German Lutheran mystic whose writings were based on ‘ Divine Revelations’, and spiritual experience…. )

Verse: 2 Chronicles 7:14. NIV.

A very well known and often quoted passage of Scripture. But what may not be appreciated is the context in which those verses were given to Israel. Listen carefully and see how the Word applies to us here in #Jamaicalandwelove.

The Word of God

http://bible.com/111/2ch.7.11-15.niv When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, the Lord appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal the land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
So my friends, has the Lord ‘ shut up the heavens that there is no rain’? Has the Lord ‘ sent modern day plagues’ among us, in the form of Chik V and HIV?. Has the Lord sent ‘ locusts’ in the form of wicked gunmen to ‘ devour the land?
These are serious questions for a Nation, whose forefathers were set free from slavery by the mighty hand of the Lord, and which children have now turned away from the Living God to ‘ idols’, who cannot help us in times of trials.
So now when Jamaica is ‘ covered by many clouds’, God, a merciful God, is calling us, in the midst of the clouds, to ‘ know, and to return, to the love of Him who died for us’.
For to know and to love #JesusismyLordandSavior is the proper response to :
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
So as we pray for relief from the drought, from the modern day plagues, and from the ‘ locusts’ let us sing:

More about Jesus, would I know,
more of his grace to others show;
more of his saving fullness see,
more of his love who died for me….

And let us pray the prayers written centuries ago by a man of God. Jacob Boheme.

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.

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 may 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, anger, and let me accept joyfully every task you set before me.
Let me seek to serve the poor, the sad, and those who 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.
Peace.

THE FINAL MESSAGE – is suitable an Emancipation message. One of the things which distinguishes Christianity from all other movements and religions, is the verse which reveals that ” The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power”. 1 Cor. 4:20 NIV. How else can we explain the similarity between the text in the Bishop’s sermon and the one below, other than the power of the Holy Spirit at work.. Which is precisely why we should ‘believe the report of the Lord’, the minority report given by Caleb and Joshua, in Bishop Gregory’s sermon, and not the report of those who would spew negativity, and prevent Jamaica, from under God, realizing its full potential as a freed people.

GM: Happy Emancipation day to everybody. As I awake, and go to prepare coffee for her, and hot ( Swiss already prepackaged…smile) chocolate for me, my wife turns on the radio and strains of Third World’s hit song, ” Now that you have found love, what are you going to do with it”?
And so while I am thinking, what have we as a country, done with this precious gift of freedom, secured by the blood, sweat and tears, of our forebears, the Lord led me to a very profound meditation.
But first last night’s experience with Oswald Chambers.

TILL YOU ARE ENTIRELY HIS
Verse: ” Let your endurance be a finished product, so that you may be finished and complete, with never a defect. James 1: 4 (Moffatt)
What CHAMBERS wrote, as inspired by this verse, was interesting, and I’ll share it one day, by God’s will. But remember the verse as we contemplate a serious challenge from the Lord on this Emancipation Day. A Day that Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle, and the Clapham Sect led by William Wilberforce, all inspired by the Word of God, played an important role, enduring to the end, in securing our Freedom.

THE CONCLUSION OF THE TASK Chris Tiegreen
Verse: Joshua 18:3

Joshua rebuked the inertness of the people. He said to the children of Israel, ” How long are ye slack to go in to possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you?” 18:3 KJV.
At that point the twenty-one commissioners arose to walk through the land and surveyed it……It may be that the account of what they had seen was the means under God of arousing the people from the apathy into which they had sunk.
Too long have we been slack to go in and possess that fullness of the Holy Spirit that might be on us as a living spring, making us perfectly satisfied..
There is a knowledge of Jesus, a participation in His victory, a realization of blessedness, which are as much beyond the ordinary experience of Christians as Canaan was better than the wilderness. But how sad, that of all this we know do little.
How much we miss! The nomad life could not afford those seven tribes so much lasting enjoyment as their own freehold in Canaan. But the comparison is utterly inadequate to portray the loss to which we subject ourselves in refusing to appropriate and and enjoy the blessedness that is laid up for us in Jesus.
Let us come to Joshua at Shiloh, and ask him to lead us into each of these.

Comments:
1. I am constantly amazed how the Lord leads us, and provides material, at the right time, to reflect on. And more importantly to be obedient.
2. During my lunchtime yesterday, I was led to read Solomon’s prayer as he dedicated the Temple to God. Which then led to the famous quote: If my people…..
And the thing that struck me was that, as he listed the many ways in which Israel had sinned against the Living God, kneeling on the ground in humble submission before God, and leading the Intercessionary prayers, he cried out: ” Hear and forgive “.
I pray God that as individuals and as children of the Resurrection, we, contemplating how we have ‘ lacked the endurance to become a finished product’; and how we have ‘ slack to possess the fullness of the Holy Spirit’, we like Solomon may cry out to God, ‘ hear and forgive’.
For the reality is that we have far too satisfied with a ‘ superficial Christian life’, which poses little or no threat to the evil forces, ‘ the locusts’, about which we read in 2 Chronicles, yesterday, which have captured our country. And the kind of superficial Christianity which blends into the life of the world, and the unredeemed, so that people often cannot tell the difference.
3. This kind of ‘ superficial witness’ which has no power to effect change, is not what Sam Sharpe and others gave their lives for; and more importantly not what the shed Blood of Christ was given for.
For the reality is that ‘ unless the watchman builds the house they labour in vain’. And the only watchman which God had appointed is the Church of Jesus Christ. For unredeemed people cannot successfully and sustainably fight against the evil of #quadrupleMurder.
So the answer to the question of ‘ now that we have gained Emancipation what are we going to do with it’, lies squarely in the hands and hearts of the Christian community.
Therefore if our anthem is not ‘ more about Jesus would I know’, but more about the world would I experience, then Jamaica will continue to suffer under the hands of evil men.
4. Our role this Emancipation then, is to humble ourselves, kneeling on the ground before a merciful God, and cry out for ourselves and our Nation, ‘ O God, hear and forgive.
Then, and only then can we go out wearing our bandana and denim, and celebrate, celebrate, celebrate, 53 next week.
Peace.

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