Lord renew the church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s)
1. Here in the USA, news about Donald ‘Trumps’ everything. His decision, however, to take on the popular Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly, because she asked him some difficult questions about his treatment of women during the first Republican debate, has clearly backfired.
Folks are now waiting for the next poll to see how much the entire event has affected his chances. Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton appears to be the clear frontrunner.
2. Back home in Jamaica, politics seems to have taken a back seat during the recent Independence celebrations. Folks will now turn their attention to the performance of the Sunshine Girls in Australia, and our athletes in Beijing.
THE WORD OF GOD
So, in the midst of holidays, Donald ‘trumpeting’, his own cause, and holidaying with family, what Word or inspiring word did the Lord send this week.
The word from Bishop Gregory featured again this week, as the Lord continued to teach important lessons from the profound story about Caleb and Joshua and the ‘ bad report’ issued by the majority of those who went up to survey the promised land. The clear message is that there are two narratives at play in the world. One written by by men, and women at various times in the history of mankind, about life as they understand it. The other narrative is under the sovereign rule of God; which mankind can never comprehend, but which at all times, is the only one that matters. Regardless of how important or even ‘earth shattering’, it is: and anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this past week is one example. For although WW 11 ended soon after this cataclysmic event occurred, life on the planet, for all intent and purposes, continued. Without a pause! So, the media could focus on the antics of Trump, as long as the think it is newsworthy, in the grand sheme of things, under the sovereign rule of God, such reportage is no significance.
THE FIRST MESSAGE- sent out on whatsapp.
GM: Yesterday church our Bishop preached a wonderful Emancipation Day Sermon which I choose to entitle ‘ Whose report shall you believe’?
Which is also the title of a wonderful song by Ron Kenoly, and which question was raised by a patient who having had surgery found herself in my office with complications. So rather than feeling down and sad and overcome with negative feeling, she posed the question: ‘ Whose report shall I believe about my life’? Praise God!
As you read the text which inspired the Bishop’s sermon, ask yourself, as I have been doing since yesterday, whenever negative feelings threaten to overcome you, both on a personal and national level, ‘ whose report shall I believe’? My own imagination, the devil or the report of the Lord, who in Christ has empowered us by the Holy Spirit to overcome everything that is against us and is not of God.
THE WORD OF GOD
http://bible.com/111/num.13.26-33.niv They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.” Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
I would encourage you to read the climax of the story in Numbers chapter 14, as eventually Moses had to beg for the lives of those who refused to believe ‘ the report of the Lord’. In the same way Jesus died for us who, as sinners, were always rebelling against the Lord. So we sing ‘ More about Jesus, would I know’.
Finally, although we are surrounded by people of negative report, who do not believe that we can overcome the many challenges we face as a #QuadrupleMurder #TeenagePregnancy #CorruptOfficials #RebellionagaistGod country, read again about the power of prayer in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles to which I was led recently. And which story has been in my mind ever since.
” For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power”. 1 Cor.4:20 NIV.
THE WORD OF GOD
http://bible.com/111/act.13.6-12.niv They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
The point is that even though the Lord may not give us the power to smite agents of evil who oppose the Word of God ( a good thing as most of us would abuse such powers), what is undeniable, is that we have the power to rebuke such evil thoughts from our minds. And everything begins there.
So starting today, whose report about yourself, your family, your community, and your nation shall you believe? The devil’s or the Word of God.
If therefore, as children of the Resurrection, we are faithful, even though the vision of a better society, tarries, let us wait upon it, for He who promised the victory over evil is faithful.
And who knows, like Esther, we may have been appointed to be in #Jamaicalandwelove at a time like this.
THE SECOND MESSAGE – one of the things we who are, by virtue of our Baptisme, children of of God, is that an important part of the narrative that we need to appreciate, is that God is a good God. And therefore ‘ to grumbling and murmuring’ are signs that we really doy do not trust this God who has promised ‘ provide for all our needs”. Which is the exact opposite of the ‘bad report’ given by those who ent p to survey the ‘promised lan’. And which attitude is very prevalent among Christains today, when we perceive that things are not going according to our plans. A very dangerous thing to persist in doing.
GM: This story about Caleb and Joshua and the ‘bad report’, the grumbling, the murmuring, given by those sent up to ‘ explore the land’, is one that all of us should read very carefully in Numbers 13 & 14.
Two reflections, one very short, the other a bit longer, give us some insight . And both of which I found nestled in the pages of my Devotional Bible in and around where the story is located.
The first one:
‘ He that complains or murmurs is not perfect, nor is he even a good Christian’ – John of the Cross…. One of the early Church Fathers.
The second one:
THOSE WHO MURMUR
Charles H. Sthsnkn 1834-1892….A great English Baptist preacher who preached to a congregation of 6000 for years until he died.
Verse: Numbers. 12:1-2
There are Murmurers among Christians now, as there were in the camp of Israel. There are those who, when the rod falls, cry out against the afflictive dispensation. They ask, ” Why am I so afflicted? What have I done to be chastened like this?
Allow me a word with you who murmur. Why should you murmur against the dispensations of your heavenly Father? Can He treat you more harshly than you deserve? Consider what a rebel you once were, but he pardoned you! Surely, if He in his wisdom sees fit to chasten you, you should not complain.
Does not that proud, rebellious spirit of yours prove that your heart is not yet sanctified? Those murmuring words are contrary to the holy, submissive nature of God’s children. Is not the correction needed? But if you murmur against the chastening, take heed, for it will go hard with murmurers.
But know one thing – ” He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men”. ( Lamentations 3:33, KJV)
All his corrections are sent in love, to purify you, and to draw you into himself. Surely it must help you bear the chastening if you are able to recognize your Father’s hand. For, ‘ whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons’. Hebrews 12:6-7. ‘ Neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured and were destroyed of the destroyer. 1 Cor. 10:10.
Two things we need to learn from this story. One is to look back, and forward also, and recognize God’s love and mercy in the midst of the trials, the chastenings of life. And to give thanks, as individuals, and as a nation for the times when a merciful and wise Father has been, and will continue, to ‘ draw us until Himself’. Ultimately, in and through Christ Jesus, who suffered more than any man ever did, so that in Him we might find Peace with God.
The second point is more sobering. Don’t play with God’s mercy, love and authority. Don’t keep on rebelling, and rejecting the shed Blood of His Son. Note that all of those who ‘ gave a bad report’, died of the plague. Every single one except Caleb and Joshua. Further, none of the ‘ murmuring children of Israel’, who God rescued with a mighty hand from Pharoah, reached the promised land. They all perished in the desert. Every single one. Only their children were allowed to enter the promised land.
So, my friends:
‘ Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the desert’….Hebrews 3: 8 NIV.
A word to the Baptized and equally so to the Unbaptized. Amen.
Lucien W. Jones
THE THIRD LESSON – Towards the end of his seminal lecture/sermon, Bishop Gregory reminds us to engage the future within the framework of God’s covenant relationship with His people. In that context then, it is imperative that as a nation, we begin to understand and relate to the different narrative than what the ‘daily diet of negativity’ being trotted out to our nation daily by folks with another agenda, and serving up a different narrative. So ‘whose report shall we believe’ ought to become a national debate. That of the media, and our own appreciation of life. Or that of the Lord.
GM: On this Independence Day, ‘ whose report shall we believe’? That the new powerhouse in Media, the Gleaner and RJR combination, along with the music industry, will continue to alert us, in subtle and overt means that :
Crime and violence is the # 1 problem; that ‘ young girl business mash up Jamaica’ in many and varied ways: that there is no end to the ‘ warring by the two political tribes’ ; that growing the economy should be our main priority in the coming years; that ‘ the church has a limited role in forging national unity and planning for national development’; that the church ought to ‘ stay out of people’s bedrooms; that education is more about preparing a people to compete effectively in the global market place than about learning to live in peace with one another; that we will see very little change in people having ‘ wrong addresses’ in our lifetime; and that having a just and moral society is just a ‘ pipedream’.
But there is a different ‘ report’ carried in the Book of Ephesians to which I was led this morning. A Report that tells us about our Creator God’s plan for mankind in and through Christ Jesus. For in the Creator’s unfathomable mind, the single greatest problem mankind faces is to be reconciled to God and with each other.
Yes we must ‘ pray for the city, for if it prospers, we too will prosper’, according to Jeremiah. In the sense that all of us are called to live in community in one form or another. But, as the ‘ exiled people of Israel’, on this earth, to whom the words of Jeremiah inspired by God, we mankind, are only passing through this world. This is the perspective we need to keep in mind as we celebrate Independence today.
For ultimately, our Freedom, in the eyes of our Creator, has been won by Christ on Calvary. And so St. Paul writes, and then prays a wonderful prayer. The end result of all of this ought be a desire to :
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.
For the Eternal Reality is that all of mankind’s problems, all of our National problems are rooted in Sin. Sin which produces injustice, murder, sexual immorality, greed, envy: all of which are at the heart of Jamaica’s problems in 2015.
http://bible.com/111/eph.1.3-10.niv Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
THE PRAYER – for all of us to, reflect on deeply, and to use regularly. For the reality is that God had appointed, and anointed, the Church to rescue Jamaica. And not the Commissioner of Police, nor the Prime Minister, nor the PSOJ, nor the IMF, nor the self-appointed gurus in the Media.
http://bible.com/111/eph.1.15-23.niv For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Comment: So as we celebrate our Independence this remember that in life perspective is everything. Especially when revealed by He who Created everything, and gave us breath so that we might live. And then gave us ‘ new life’ in Christ Jesus. God Almighty. To Him be all honor and glory and power, this day and forevermore. Amen
THE FOURTH MESSAGE – OF THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGES ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE THAT I’VE BEEN LED TO WRITE. WHICH SOBERINGLY ENDS WITH JUDGEMENT
GM: Deep in the bosom of family, and inundated by the American media’s reportage of Donald Trump madness, some clear instructions/reminders from the Lord.
Most importantly, last night, all through the night, on and off, with our eldest grandson nestled between us:
Christ has Died;
Christ is Risen;
Christ will Come again…..a Doctrine we repeat every Sunday at Church.
And with an explanation:
The first Revelation, Christ has died is beyond our understanding. We can neither touch nor comprehend what happened on the Cross of Calvary. We can only accept this amazing Gift of God’s grace and mercy. An Atonement for Sin, whose plans were hatched long before Creation. And long before The Fall in the Garden of Eden.
The Second Revelation is where mankind lives, and where we make our choices. Where we ‘ pray for the city, for if the city prospers, we too will proper. Where we grow up either in the fear of the Lord, or without Him, and without hope in the world. Where we marry, or ‘shack up’, have children, bring them up in the fear of the Lord, or leave them open to ‘ wolves on sheep clothing’. Where we go to the movies, to the beach, hang with friends, or just stay home and watch XBox.
Where we cheer on the Fins, or Man U or Liverpool or The Gunners and stay away from ‘ the special one’. Where we root for the Sunshine Girls, the ReggaeBoyz #GoldCupruunerup, and Bolt and #RealShellyAnn.
Where our children grow up in #Jamaicalandwelove or in the #USA or #Canada or #TheUk. And they have children, and the cycle begins all over again.
The challenge is that if we don’t Rise with Christ, if we don’t become Children of the Resurrection, if we do not become ‘ a new creation in Christ’, then the Third Revelation will be a Terror for us, and life, despite it’s many joys and sorrows would have been pointless.
For the reason why Christ will come again, the Second Time around, is not to Save the world, but to Judge it.
As Scripture reveals that: It is appointed for all men once to die, and then the Judgement.
So the time to make a choice is now. And not when we are unable to choose!
So what’s it going to be. Making money, seeking Power, enjoying all the pleasures of this world, without any regard to the death of Christ on the Cross of Calvary? Or accepting the revelation that ‘ all have sinned’ and fallen short of the Glory of God’; and therefore gratefully accepting the free Gift of Salvation wrought on Calvary?
That’s the only choice that really matters in life. Much more so that who you marry, how many children you choose to have, which country you choose to live, or which politician you elect to run your country.
Furthermore choosing to truly and humbly live ‘ in Christ’, makes us better citizens. More compassionate. Gives us greater wisdom. Makes us kinder and gentler. More willing to sacrifice self and our desires for the good of others. In this life! And grants us entry into Eternal Life with our Creator God. All by the power of The Holy Spirit Who comes to live with us at Baptism. And whose life in us grows more and more as we live a life of Prayer, regular Worship, participate regularly in Holy Communion or Lord’s Supper, serve the Poor and Testify to everybody the Gospel of Jesus.
Joshua famously chose to serve the Lord. Along with his family. What choice will we make today, as ‘ no man or woman knoweth when the Son of Man, Christ the Judge, will come again? #Judgement.