Winning State Power vs Finding Rest for our souls or the nation! Which is more important?

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing.

Because we know what it is to fear the Lord we try to convince men.

Lord renew thy Church beginning with me; Lord renew the Church that the Church may renew the nation(s)

NEWS

The news that three Taxi Drivers had been brutally murdered last week really shook me up. One of the dead men is a relative of someone I know. While another lived and worked in the same town where I work. And so lots of people were talking about his untimely death, as he was a good man. I had no connection with the third one, but just the sheer terror that the other passengers must have experienced when he was shot in the back of his head by a gunman sitting in a rear seat, makes one shiver
The Election Fever has really begun to rise in Jamaica. As is happening in the USA. We call it the ‘silly season’ when parties try to score points with the voting public -a steadily diminishing class in Jamaica – by either making the most grandiose of promises or by attacking the other side at every given opportunity. To put it midly, this kind of season does not lend itself to national unity. Neither in the USA, where Trump of all persons is claiming to be a ” Unifier”; nor in Jamaica where the need for reconciliation among all sections of the society is desperately needed. For while a country with almost 300 million people can survive a deeply polarized political culture, not so a country of Jamaica’s size – 2.5 million – as we need ‘all hands on deck’ to fight against the twin headed monster of Crime and Violence and other national ills. In this context, a ‘blow up’, in of all places, the Upper House in Jamaica, between Senators this week, resulting in one being suspended, was disappointing to say the least.
Frightening! Simply frightening was the reaction to the speed with which Hurricane Patricia developed, and the size and intensity – the biggest and most powerful ever recorded in this hemisphere. Thank God the damage it inflicted in Mexico was far less than expected. But it just goes to show how puny man is, and helpless, when compared to the forces of nature. And that force, God Almighty, who is in ultimate control. And so word from Psalm 46, to which I was drawn that day, became very real to me:

” God is our refuge and strength,
an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and he mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountain quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3 NIV

THE WORD OF GOD

So what other Word did the Lord send this week. Several which I sent out on Whatsapp.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – one of the shortest ones I’ve written. And a bit scary, as I would never dare to write something like that on my own. So it’s a warning to come out of the darkness – where Satan lives and is in control. Definitely not a good place to be. Especially when someone, God Himself died to rescue us from that place. And those who continue to murder and maim and act corruptly and immorally, and do not pursue peace but cause strive, will find one day, that the Lord’s patience, in waiting on them to repent, is not inexhaustible.

GN:
LIGHT AND DARKNESS
I am not trying to be dramatic, but this message, which just came into my head, as I prepared to go to bed, has no context. But of course, there is indeed a background to it. Only you and I, however, by ourselves, can discern it.
And it came with a great sadness!
One verse is well known. If fact it is the most popular and well known verse in the Bible.
The others, however, are just as important. I pray God that this message comes as a warning and not as a settled matter.
Clearly it is not something I would dare to write on my own, but I do not intend to be disobedient. So please read carefully, act, ( Psalm 51, which for years was part of my bedtime reading is a good place to start….and I intend to read it prayerfully tonight) and then share as you see fit.

THE WORD OF GOD

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.
Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Those who believe in him are not condemned, but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they did not believe in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the judgement, that the light had come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.
For all who do evil hate the light and do not come into the light, so that their deeds might be exposed. But they that do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.
John 3:16-21 NRSV
And by way of explanation, the following verse then came into my mind:
” If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin. But now they have no excuse for their sin.”
John 15:22

THE SECOND MESSAGE – does not constitute on the face of it , a warning. But let’s face it, where else, or to whom, are you going to turn to, in times of trouble, if not Jesus, who invites is to come to Him for ‘healing’. To the poets and griots and Heroes of the day – Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, Rex Nettleford et al. Can any of them offer lasting peace Did any of them die for you and I?

GM: COME UNTO ME ALL ARE WEARY – THE REAL HERO OF ALL MANKIND
As I spend time with the Lord before going off to the official celebrations for National Heroes Day in #Jamaicalandwelove, a conforting Word. A Word which is really a follow up from last night Word which ought to have challenged our souls. And so ‘ Jesus the lover of our souls’ sends a message through His Word, and the glorious hymn of one of the world’s best known hymn writers – Charles Wesley.
It began, strangely, with a hymn I always reflect on before participating in Holy Communion on a Sunday morning.

‘ Here O my Lord I see thee face to face……
And on thee all my weariness lean.’

Then one the most profound Words from Jesus entered my heart.

THE WORD OF GOD – from memory as it entered my heart.
‘ Come unto me all who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest’ . Matthew 11:28

A verse which inspired Augustine of Hippo ( 354-430…the Bishop of the early Church who is credited with establishing the doctrine of the Christian Church… made the Grace of God the theme of theology in the West, and whose Seminal Book The City Of God and other writings had a profound effect on the development of Western Democratic Societies) to pen these words.

‘ I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful, but I have never read in either one of them : Come to unto me all who ye that labor and are heavy laden’

And so I spent some time reflecting on the reality that status cannot give your heart weary with the Crime and Violence and the many trials of life in Jamaica and the world, the ‘rest’ it seeks. Nor Money! Nor sex! Only Jesus lover of my soul can.
Then I recalled that there was a hymn with those words.

JESUS LOVER OF MY SOUL

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity. Charles Wesley.

I pray God that, Jesus the lover of our souls, will empower us to ponder deeply on the fact that ‘ Plenteous Grace with Him is found’ ; and that, He alone can grant our weary souls rest in this troubled land. We just have to respond to His gracious invitation to Come unto Him who is The Light of the world.
Peace.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – clearly the answer to the question posed at the top of the last message will depend on who is your teacher. Who have you let into your mind to influence you. And this is the thrust of this message as Christian values recede in the face of other countercultural values. But with devastating consequences! And the answer is not to try to teach ‘ Christian values’, but to go what the song writer calls the ‘old time religion which was good enough for you’. The question, is how many are listening and willing to repent. In the parliament! In the media! In the corporate world! In civil society! And even in the Church.

GM: WHO IS YOUR TEACHER
In one of the wickedest acts that has happened in the town where I work in #Jamaicalandwelove, they shot and killed a beloved and highly respected taxi man a few days ago. A ‘ big man’! Not some careless young boy mixed up with them. And apparently not satisfied, they burnt his body. Rumour has it that he refused to be involved in the criminals’ ‘ wrong doings’. Who knows the truth? But God does.
That’s our hope, for even if the police or somebody else catches up with the murderers, it will not erase this dastardly act. Another blot on the good name of our country. Another cause for mourning. Another reason to wonder what has become of our once peaceful land.

Two days ago, I was led to read a mediation which asked a probing questions. ‘ Who is your teacher?’
A reflection to be undertaken against the background of the call from every quarter in Jamaica, for us to begin to care for, and even love, each other again. To respect and have high regard for the sanctify of Life. To champion the human rights of all. And for the church to become more involved in the fight against crime and violence and the protection of human rights. All noble ideals. But to whom do we look for guidance? And how seriously would we consider a quote I read recently:
“You can’t have Christian values without Christianity”.

The Reflection below is written for an American readership, but we, like them, with violence so pervasive in both countries, could do well to ‘ listen’ carefully.

A PERSONAL TEACHER – CHRIS TIEGREEN ( An abridged version)

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit. 1. Corinthians 2:13
In many homes, the television in on more than six hours a day. Statistics have shown that even in faithful, church -attending families, our children will have watched 24,000 hours of TV by the time they are eighteen. By contrast, they will probably have been in church less than 3,000 hours.
The statistics don’t change much for Christian adults, who by some accounts are saturated in media five times more than in Bible study, prayer, and fellowship. The subtle voices of the world have ample time to drown out the voice of the Spirit.

We are in a spiritual war, trying to keep a straight path through a vast array of deceptions. If we’re having trouble doing so, we may want to look at the teachers we expose ourselves to. If we are being fed by the philosophies behind media news and programming – and yes, everything has a philosophy behind it – then it’s harder to be nourished by the Spirit. Like healthy plants we tend to grow towards the closest light.
We need to be careful which light shines on us most directly……

Comment: Wow! Have mercy. And if Christians who are following the One who died for them, Christ Jesus, are having such a difficult navigating through these spiritual landmines, how much more difficult it is for people who have rejected or ignored the faith, to live a civilized life. Especially when you add the influence of the gun and violence laden lyrics in the dancehall, and the ‘ show me your worst behavior’ lyrics of the Soca culture! Coming at you day after day!
A reality further compounded by the complexities and challenges of life in the #wrongaddress. #Liveintheghetto.
No wonder then, over time we have ‘produced’ these heartless killers. In America and in Jamaica!
And only Christian Values can make, and has in many cases made, a difference and rescue us from this madness. But are willing to accept Jesus as our only Teacher and Saviour. For like it or not, and believe it or not, we are engaged in spiritual warfare of one kind or another. Jesus on one side. Satan on the other. Choose well. As for me and my house, with God’s help, by His Grace, we will serve the Lord. What say you to Jesus who is still, to this day, in the midst of the horrific murders, calling to us:
“Come unto me all who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest “.
I pray God, that day by day, more and more people, will respond to this gracious call from God the Creator of Heaven and Earth, who loves, and loved and loves us. Regardless! And thus help to rescue my country.
Peace.

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – suffering can be a double edged sword. It can drive you away from the God who in Christ Jesus invites us to ‘ Come unto Him, all who are laden and are heavily burdened…’ Or in many cases it can draw you into a deeper relationship with the One suffered and died so that all of us might find ultimate Peace.
In our context then, more of our Parliamentarians ought to have found a deeper relationship with Christ. So too more of all sectors of our society. Except those who benefit, in the short term, from a life lived without reference to God’s commandments and mercy. Without any constraints in how they behave, and how they live, and how they relate to another person made in God’s image and in need of mercy. Pray God that suffering we are all experiencing will indeed touch more and more hearts, and cause persons to repent and help to rescue Jamaica. And then pray always that Their Savior will be with them at all times. Even Christ Jesus

GM: SUFFERING DRAWS YOU CLOSER TO GOD
With three taxi men brutally, and in two cases, publicly killed, within the past few days; the continued loss of lives on our roads; and the deaths of eighteen high-risk premature babies in a short time, you cannot escape the weight of suffering in our country.
And yet, New York Times Best Selling Author, and Pastor on Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church Rev. Timothy Keller, in his book ” Walking with God through Pain and Suffering”, tells us that suffering draws us closer to God.
I share with you excerpts from the first pages.
– I think that taking life seriously means something like this: that whatever man does on this planet has to be done in the lived truth of the terror of creation…..of the rumble of panic underneath everything. Otherwise it is false – Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death
– I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; Let the afflicted hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. ( Psalm 34: 1-3).
– Suffering is everywhere, unavoidable, and its scope often overwhelms.
-Tens of thousands of people die everyday in unexpected tragedies, and hundreds around them are crushed by grief and shock. The majority of them trigger no headlines because pain and misery is the norm in this world.
– Shakespeare understood this well when he wrote:
Each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry,
New sorrows strike heaven on the face.
– Interestingly Jamaica features, as an article written in the NYTimes magazine about the ‘ Beltway Sniper’ is referenced and used to make the point about the randomness of death. And therefore how difficult it is to protect yourself from it.
-Therefore, no matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friend and family…. something will inevitably ruin it. No amount of money, power, and planning can prevent bereavement, dire illness, relationship betrayal, financial disaster or a host of other troubles from entering into your life. Human life is fatally fragile and subject to forces beyond our power to manage.
Life is tragic.
– We all need support of we are not to succumb to despair. In this book we will argue that inevitably this support must be spiritual.
– But at the same time, I learned that just as many people find God through affliction and suffering.
– Suffering plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.
– Over the years, I also came to realize that adversity did not merely lead people to believe in God’s existence. It pulled those who already believed into a deeper experience of God’s reality, love and grace.
– As C. S. Lewis famously puts it , ” God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. ”
– As a man who seemed about to lose both his career and his family once said to me, ” I always knew, in principle, that ‘ Jesus is all you need’ to get through. But you don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.
Food for thought isn’t it! This matter of Spiritual support in and through Him, Christ Jesus, who suffered and died do that in Him we may find true and lasting Peace
I leave you with the haunting song by the BTC, ” Jesus is more than enough for all you need”.

I wrote this message last night, and early this in my deep sleep, this instruction/ hymn came into my mind. For very obvious reasons, as we indeed dare not walk without our God in this world of ‘ tragedy and suffering’.

I must have the Savior with me,
For I dare not go alone,
I must feel His presence near me,
And His arm around me thrown.

Refrain

Then my soul shall fear no ill, fear no ill,
Let Him lead me where He will, where He will,
I will go without a murmur,
And His footsteps follow still.
Refrain
I must have the Savior with me,
For my faith, at best, is weak;
He can whisper words of comfort,
That no other voice can speak.
Refrain
I must have the Savior with me,
In the onward march of life,
Thro’ the tempest and the sunshine,
Thro’ the battle and the strife.
Refrain
I must have the Savior with me,
And His eye the way must guide,
Till I reach the vale of Jordan,
Till I cross the rolling tide.
Refrain

Wanted! Another hero for Jamaica ( and America and the world). And Jehovah Rapha – God in Christ the Healer

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).

Because we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.

NEWS

1. The shock of hearing about the shooting death of six family
members, at one time, in one place, still lingered in my mind during
this week. In fact I don’t know when this image will ever leave my
mind. Perhaps we needed a national day of mourning, with the flags
flying at half mast to enable us to grieve properly. For, as in many
other instances, life ‘moves on’. In the same way that UK PM has
encouraged us to ‘move on’ from slavery. No! I cannot moved on. This
thing has been horrific and left an awful feeling deep in my soul. In
that sense, in a deeply spiritual way, hopefully some good will come
out of this evil, and help my country to regain its ‘lost soul’.

2. Yes, I watched, ( at least part of it and the inevitable ‘ talking
heads spinning) the first ‘debate’ between the contending Democratic
candidates, otherwise known as ” The Hillary Clinton Show”.

3. Yes, I’ve been following the events in Syria, in Israel, and now
this ‘killer typhoon’ in the Philippines. And more people have since
died by the gun in Jamaica.

4. But O my God ‘six at one time’ is just too much to bear. Maybe we
need another Hero in Jamaica. Like Nanny, or Sam Sharpe or Paul Bogle!

THE WORD OF GOD

In the midst of this deep searching, the angst, and the pathos of the
moment, the Lord reminds us that we in fact have a Hero. More than a
Hero in fact! A God who will ‘take care of us’. And has done so! By
defeating the forces of evil, against whom we ultimately contend, as a
nation and as a world, on the Cross of Calvary. That is the Theme
which runs throughout the messages sent out on WhatsApp to people like
me, searching for an answer to this madness.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – THAT GOD NEVER FORSAKES HIS PEOPLE. NEVER!

GN:
HOPE AT MIDNIGHT
Received and sent tonight as I have an early morning meeting. Praise
God indeed.

This note is a message of hope for those of us who care deeply. Who
have been crying out to God for mercy for #Jamaicalandwelove. Who have
felt the weight of ‘midnight’ on our souls as we suffered through
last week. And contemplate the weeks and months ahead! As we pray for
the families involved and the Communities near to them. Regardless of
whatever may turn out to be reason for their deaths!

I wish you could have been in my church this morning, as a young
pastor, drawing from the words of the Prophet Amos, ‘ Do not seek
evil, but seek good’, beseeched the nation to turn back to God. To
repent of our worship of idols, and to seek God in Christ. Or face
more Judgement! But assured us that God would not abandon us, if we
but accept the Atonement for our sins wrought on Calvary by Jesus.
Which is the same message shared centuries ago by arguably the most
crucial figure in modern church history – Martin Luther. The great
Reformer. And to which meditation I was led tonight, as I listened to
the haunting music of Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’s ‘ Order my steps in
your Word’. 
This, as I sent out the Sunday night email message
entitled:
Midnight in Jamaica: In times like these we need a Saviour.
Which is also published on WordPress
danielgodsurelywilldeliver.WordPress. com

Amazingly this morning, I spent some time in particular with the
second sentence, of my early morning prayers by Jacob Boheme.

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……

GOD NEVER FORGETS US
Martin Luther ( 1483-1546)

Verse: Deuteronomy 7:18
..do not be afraid of them . Just remember
what the Lord God did to Pharoah and to all Egypt.

When God….. delivered the children of Israel out of the long,
wearisome, and heavy captivity in Egypt, and led them into the land
of promise, he called Moses, to whom afterwards he gave his brother
Aaron as an assistant.
And though Pharaoh at first set himself hard
against them, and plagued the people more than before, yet he was
forced in the end to let Israel go. And when he hunted after them with
all his host, the Lord drowned Pharaoh with all his power in the Red
Sea.

Again in the time of Eli the priest, when matters stood very evil in
Israel, the Philistines pressing hard upon them, and taking away the
Ark of God into their land, and when Eli, in great sorrow of heart,
fell backwards from his chair and broke his neck, and it seemed as if
Israel were utterly undone. God raised up Samuel the prophet, and
through him restored Israel, and the Philistines were overthrown……
Hence we may see that God never forsakes his people, nor even the
wicked; though, by reason of their sins, he suffer them a long time
to be severely punished and plagued as also, in this time, he has
graciously delivered us…… God of his mercy grant that we may
thankfully acknowledge this.

There were more examples of God’s faithfulness to his people. But the
edited version above is sufficient for us to know the truth. That God
is indeed merciful! 
I must tell you that as I read this message of
hope a wave of joy, almost to the point of tears enveloped my soul.
For our God is indeed a Supernatural and a Faithful God.
And as we ponder the words of the writer of the Book of Hebrews, we
get a clear understanding of God’s ultimate manifestation of His
faithfulness to all mankind.

” Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the
Prophets, but in these last days he had spoken to us by a Son, whom
he appointed heir of all things. “.
Hebrews 1:1-2. NRSV.

And then the writer continued with these fateful words which I hope we
will all heed. Regardless of where we are in our journey with Christ.
Baptised or not baptised. Faithful or disobedient. Full of courage or
fearful.

” Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the
rebellion.”
Hebrews 3:15

For this is precisely what the young pastor was warning about this
morning. For the children of Israel were punished severely, and many
perished on account of disobedience.
And so too will Jamaica suffer if we continue on our wicked ways of
murder and corruption and denying the poor Justice. But God will
always be there calling a nation back to Himself in Christ Jesus –
softly and tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling for you and for me. Come
home, all ye who are weary. Come home.

I pray God that will all become weary of living in a country of
#QuadrupleMurder and turn back to God in and through Christ Jesus. The
only mediator between God and man.
Peace.

THE SECOND MESSAGE – THAT WE REALLY HAVE TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER. DEEPLY!
LIKE JESUS DID. IF WE WISH TO SEE THE DAWN OF A NEW DAY IN OUR
TROUBLED LAND.

GM:
THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE
I met a Pastor yesterday who also sings well. We got talking about
Amazing Grace. And that one of the great challenges that we face as
Evangelists, is to convince ‘ good’ people that they are ‘ wretches’
before a Holy God. 
Then this morning the Lord reminded me how He
rescued me from the pit and placed ‘ a new song’ in my heart’
(Psalm 40) after, what I considered to be, the darkest period in my
life.
What song came to mind?
A verse from ‘ Hark my Soul, it is The Lord’:

I delivered thee when bound,
and when bleeding, healed thy wounds;
sought the wandering, set the right,
turned thy darkness into light.

But as I reflected on the entire hymn, in the context of ‘ Amazing
Grace that saved a wretch like me’, I was reminded, that the darkest
hour of anyone’s life, is to be held captive to Sin.
And thus the
words of the final verse, a prayer for grace to love this wonderful
God, who in Christ Jesus, while ‘ we were still sinners’, rescued me
with His precious Blood, ministered to my soul:

‘ Lord it is my chief complaint
that my love is weak and faint;
yet I
love thee, and adore;
O for grace to love thee more’.

And the Old Testament reading for my church this Sunday, describes
the Rescue Mission, this ‘ Unchanging Love ( verse 4), in very
graphic terms.

” But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our
iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by
his wounds we are healed’.
Isaiah 53:4 O Jesus lover of my soul.

All this then provided a proper understanding of one of the most
important passages in Holy Scripture. And where I have arrived in my
bedtime reading! 1 Cor. 13. A chapter usually read at weddings, which
speaks about one kind of love: but which explains so much about the
very heart of the God, ‘ who so loved the world, that he sent his only
begotten Son. To suffer and die! For the sins of all mankind. So that
we may not perish.
Therefore if God sent His Son, in love, we who follow Christ are also
sent in love, to spread, and to be, the Good News, that Jesus Saves.

So we must love: the wicked and the ungrateful, the scammers and the
gunmen; the prostitutes and the corrupt politicians; the police who
take a bribe to deny the poor Justice and to ‘ line their pockets’
and provide ‘ escort service for the druggists’; the teenage mothers
and teenage fathers; the unruly schoolers in the bus parks across the
island; the dance hall singers who sing ‘ underclothes songs’; the
pastors who prey on the sisters in church – to name but a few of those
whom Jesus loves, and for whom, along with all who have sinned,
everyone of us, suffered and died.

Love must really be Kind. Must be Patient and await upon a faithful
God to act and to dispense Justice as He sees fit. Love really must
not be easily angered and seek destruction for the ‘ wicked’ or those
who constantly provoke or even persecute us. Love cannot boast that we
are good Christians living in an evil society ‘ ripe for Judgement’ .
For Love always hope and perseveres that ‘ out of evil God can, and
will bring forth good’.

There really is no point in sending out WhatsApp messages every
morning, or on a weekend, if we do not love as Christ did. There is no
point in aspiring to, or providing leadership in this country, if we
do not love like Jesus did. And for God sake, there is no point in
being a Pastor or a Shepherd of the Flock, unless you love like Jesus
did. Sacrificially and unconditionally! Those who live in
#WrongAddresses: those ‘ living in sin’; and those captured by Satan
and locked up in Prison.
For leaders will come and go, so too those
with a ‘ Prophetic Word’ and with a strong Faith, but in the end
Love will always remain. For He who died on the Cross, first Loved.
And so must we, who follow Him, if #Jamaicalandwelove is to be
rescued from the madness and see ‘ the dawn’ of peace once again. A
peace wrought by the ‘ wounds of a suffering Christ’.
O for grace to love Christ more, and those for whom He died.
Peace.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – THAT OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD. AND THEREFORE VERY
ABLE TO ‘MOVE MOUNTAINS’.

GM: OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD.
Part one. Part two, as I was led to read Malachi this morning, having
been inspired to write last night, will be more challenging, as this
Awesome God poses some serious questions to His people. And offers
another perspective in the words of a beautiful hymn, ‘ My God how
wonderful thou art’. But more of that anon. And back to today’s
message.
In the aftermath of the horrific events which unfolded in Jamaica
last week, things look pretty bleak indeed for our homeland. As it
does for the Syrian people living in a war zone, and hence the recent
Exodus of thousands to Europe and North America. So too does the
future looks grave for millions of people living in poverty in some
areas on the African continent.
Thus the willingness to face the life
threatening, and often deadly trip across the Mediterranean Sea
seeking a ‘ better life ‘ in Europe.
Since I was led to share with you the meditation from Martin Luther
about the historical reality, that God does not forsake or abandon
His people, as inspired by Deuteronomy 7:18, I’ve been deeply
immersed in that chapter. And the others that follow. In this extended
reading, a quote from a Saint of yure that:
The primary declaration of
Christianity is not ” this do ” but “this happened” -
Evelyn
Underhill:
resonated well with me, as I arrived at the following conclusion
having delved into the Scriptures.
That the essence of the Judeo-Christian Religion, is that two major
events happened in our journey with God, and both, one the precursor
to the other, changed our lives, and our understanding of Who God Is,
forever.

1. God’s Rescue of the Children of Israel, with an ‘ outstretched arms
‘ from the bondage of slavery in Egypt.

2. God’s rescue of the entire human race on the Cross of Calvary,
with an ‘ outstretched arm, ‘ from our bondage to Sin and Death.

For, repeatedly, in both the Old and New Testament narratives, the
dramatic story of the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, to the
Glory of God, is told. And the ‘ called out’ people of God, reminded
never to forget!
This is the main point made by Moses in Deuteronomy
7, when the previously enslaved people were about to enter the
promised land and became afraid of ‘ the strong nations’.
So God, through Moses told them:
‘ Do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord did to Pharoah
and all Egypt. You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the
miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arms,
with which the Lord brought you out……Do not be terrified by them,
for the Lord your God who is among you is a great and awesome God’.
Deut. 7: 18-21 NIV.
Then this morning I read the New Testament reading appointed for
Sunday in my church and spent some time on two particular sections –
one in the reading and the other right after – prayerfully. And
pondered on the collective power deeply!
‘ 
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into
heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we
profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize
with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every
way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s
throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find
grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and
petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him
from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son
though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once
made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who
obey him
5:7-10
For, repeatedly, in the New Testament, we are reminded never to
forget that the same God of the Children of Israel, in Christ Jesus,
with an ‘ outstretched arm’ , rescued us from Sin and Death unto
Everlasting Life. Thus St. Paul declared that he would preach only
Christ and Him Crucified. For in that act of Atonement, the
Christian derives all power to spread the Gospel in Word and in deed,
the Good News, that Jesus Saves.

So my friends, what of Scammers and vicious gunmen who would terrorize
us and cause us to fear, as if our God is not an Awesome God! What of
the attacks of the forces of evil on our family, our marriage, our
health, our finances our emotions, as if our God is not an Awesome
God! What of the temptation to fret and worry and become anxious
about the economic state of our nation, the nature of our politics,
the level of wantonness and immorality among schoolers and adults
alike, and the social ills of our time – poor living conditions, as if
our God is not an Awesome God!

As the present ‘ called out ‘ people of God, the Church, we need to
remind ourselves, and others, constantly, that the God we serve, is
the same God who, with Power, rescued His people in Egypt. And with
even greater Power, rescued the world from bondage to Satan. And thus
we can approach with confidence, this same God in heaven, 
and offer
up prayers, with loud cries and tears, seeking Mercy in this time of
trouble.
Mercy for those held captive to the Sin of greed and the love of
money. Mercy for those held captive by the lust for sex, power and
the benefits of corruption. Mercy for those held captive by hate,
injustice and disrespect and disregard for the Poor, the Vulnerable
and the Stranger. And Mercy for all our sins – what we have done and
left undone.
For we Jamaicans were once enslaved, and just like the Jews in Egypt,
we too were rescued by God with an ‘ outstretched arm’. And we too
were taught by Sam Sharpe and others, about God’s mighty Rescue Act
on Calvary. And hence the peaceful, loving, humble God-fearing
nature of a previous era of Jamaican life. A time of Christian
charity, Christian homes, schools, communities and manners.

So let us not be afraid of the ‘ strongman’, the wickedness, the
immorality and the outrageous behaviour of our people. For Jesus is
the same Yesterday, Today and Forevermore. As the same Awesome God who
told His people not to be afraid, is the same Awesome God who is with
us now helping us to wage war against murder, crime, injustice and
immorality, in our community. And the many temptations and trials
which beset us personally.
Let us then persevere, and not ‘ throw up our hands’ in despair. But
rather, approach the ‘ throne of grace’, with the confidence, that
we serve an Awesome God.
O Jesus, we need thee, every hour we need. O
Bless us our Saviour as we come to thee. For Mercy.

And if you don’t believe, just maybe this video by Charles Jenkins
might help you to know the One who ‘ hides us from the rain’ and ‘
keeps us safe in the valley. A Provider and a Deliverer. 
Christ the
Son of the Living God.

‘ For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘ Yes’ in
Christ. And so through him the ‘ Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of
God’
2. Cor. 1:20 NIV

THE FINAL MESSSAGE – THAT GOD TAKES OF US SO THAT WE MAY SERVE OTHERS

GM:
 GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU ; SO THAT YOU MAY SERVE OTHERS
I did not plan to write this morning. But what else can you do, but
share, when the Lord leads you to open your hymnbook, searching for
one hymn, and another glorious one, full promises ‘ presents itself’.
For we serve, in the midst of our many and varied personal trials, a
God who promises not to forsake or abandon us. In small things, and in
big things! Regardless! He will take care of us. I can give a personal
testimony who God has taken care of me in a major and possibly life
threatening incident, and in a small but significant matter in the
past few days. Praise God. And the hymn writer captures the essence
of his promises.

So whatever danger, or stressful situation, or personal trial you are
going through, allow the words of this hymn to minister to you.
But
remember also the revelation from the Gospel reading in Mark appointed
for my church on Sunday.
That just as the Son of Man, Jesus Christ
came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for
many, we who follow Him, are called to a life of service to others.
Mark 10:45.
So God takes care of us so that we may take care of
others, on His behalf. And the greatest example of that principle is
found in 2. Cor. 5:17-20.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old
has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to
himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting
people’s sins against them. 
And he has committed to us the message of
reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God
were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf:
Be reconciled to God.

And therefore, let us remember, as we receive this assurance from God,
to cry out day and night, with tears and loud cries to God ; for
others who are distressed for one reason or another; those who are
denied Justice at the workplace or in the Courts; for those held
captive by Satan to unrighteousness and immoral behaviour, to anger
and bitterness, to greed and pride; for communities literally ‘
under the gun’; and for our blessed nation which, in large part –
thank God for the remnant which has remained faithful – has turned
away from the Lord, and therefore suffering so much. But most of all
for those who we meet and who have not yet committed their lives to
Christ and sought to have a personal relationship with the Incarnate
God of all Creation. 
Peace.

1. Be not dismayed whate’er betide, 
God will take care of you;
beneath his wings of love abide, 
God will take care of you.
Refrain: 
God will take care of you, 
through every day, o’er all the
way; 
he will take care of you, 
God will take care of you.

2. Through days of toil when heart doth fail, 
God will take care of
you; 
when dangers fierce your path assail, 
God will take care of
you. 
(Refrain)

3. All you may need he will provide, 
God will take care of you;
nothing you ask will be denied, 
God will take care of you. 
(Refrain)
4. No matter what may be the test, 
God will take care of you; 
lean,
weary one, upon his breast, 
God will take care of you. 
(Refrain)

Midnight in Jamaica as six persons in one family are brutally murdered; In times like these we need a savior

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).

Because we know what it is to fear the Lord we try to persuade men

THE NEWS

Only one issue occupied my mind this week ; ” Murder most Foul”. As two sets of sisters, followed by a grade 11 student stabbing another to death grabbed our attention early in the week. And when it seemed that things could get no worse, six, I repeat, six persons were brutally murdered. All in one terrible orgy of violence that made this week one of the worse ever, in this respect, in my blessed country. So we mourned! We agonized! We cried out for help and mercy from God! And He sent words of comfort, as only He can. In song in through His Word, and inspired word. Praise God.
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Massacre-_19232887

THE WORD OF GOD

THE FIRST MESSAGE – heralded the start of the madness, and contains, in context, one of the most profound prayers in all of history. ” Lord teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”.

GM: Last night on Facebook a teacher alerted us about the murder of a young man: a sixth former at her school. And earlier that day we heard about the death of a lady; thrown from her car during a road crash. Last night a faithful daughter called to tell me of her mother’s passing after a long illness. And I know of many persons, mostly women, but some men, who are still grieving long after the death of a loved one. Even on radio yesterday on the way to church, on #rjrfm94, I heard a story from a well known gospel artiste, Patricia Levy who lost her son in a crash, and how badly it affected her.
Death can be so sudden, so painful and always so final. Therefore in the midst of the raging debate about whether God exists, whether or not He is Merciful, and whether or not the concept of hell is consistent with a Gospel about which not all have heard, Psalm 99 speaks a word to us.
It’s the Psalm appointed for next Sunday and to which I was led this morning on ‘ my devotions’.
It begins with a comforting Word of the Sovereign nature of God: over both life and death. And therefore warns, in addition to comforting the grieving, those who have ears to hear, about any thoughts of pride or arrogance or boasting before this Sovereign God who rules over life and death, whether we understand it or not, or love Him or not.
For as the young people on the streets in their wisdom advise: Is so de ting set’
” Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn men back to dust
saying, ‘ Return to dust, O sons of men’.
For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that had just gone by.
You sweep away men in the sleep of death;
they are like the new grass in the morning –
or like a watch in the night”
Then prophecies as only the Creator can, the average age of life on this earth. And if that unchanging reality, does not give us pause, as we read the Bible, to trust in this Sovereign God. then I suggest that we are guilty of ‘ hiding our heads in the proverbial sand’.

” All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
The length of our days is seventy years –
or eighty, if we have the strength”

And for me, the eternal and existential prayer, which appears towards the end, captures the essence of the nature of the relationship which ought to exist between a Sovereign God and His Creation.
” Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom “.

For ultimately, it does not matter really how long we live, or how much power we have, or how much money and things we acquire, but how wise we are, and how much we fear God, in living on the earth that a Sovereign God has created.
Why? We need to ponder long on hard on an uncomfortable theological truth.
As right beside the love of God, is His wrath. ” For your wrath is as great as the fear that us due to you”. The preceding verse.
Many of us can recall the verse that warns:
” Kiss the Son less he be angry, for his wrath can flare up in a moment “.
One of the things, therefore, that we have to guard ourselves against in this life, resides in the wisdom of folks in the country where I grew up, and from whom I learnt this aphorism.
“Familiarity breeds contempt”
In that respect, we as human beings, at least on this age, have grown too ‘ familiar’ with the Sacred. There is no mystery anymore. There is no fear anymore. Everybody knows everything, and a Sovereign God is now being held in contempt by many. Or just ignored. So criminals attack churches, rob and steal with impunity.
And the Intelligentsia make ‘ mocking God a sport’, and a way of promoting themselves. This same Sovereign God who holds their lives in His hands! And their eternal future! What madness!
And yet, this same God, died for our many sins, on the Cross of Calvary in Christ Jesus. Who then is the merciful One?
O God, we pray thee to ‘ teach us to number our days aright, so that we may indeed gain a heart of wisdom.’

THE SECOND MESSAGE – the full extent of the horror of the night before unfolds. Along with a full explanation of Sin which ultimately is responsible for the death of the two, not one, young ladies.

GM: Yesterday, I highlighted the death of a young sixth former, as reported, with much grief, by a teacher on Facebook. Sadly when I went work, I was greeted with the sad news that not just one, but two young girls, had been brutally murdered in an orgy of violence, which took place in the parish where I work. And God knows that, increasingly, this kind of wickedness becomes very hard to deal with, and understand. So my soul wept for my country. God have mercy. Christ have mercy!
Then last night, the meditation for the day, from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest, which I read at bedtime, explained, comprehensively, the nature of Sin. And consequently that which triggers the kind of wickedness which plunges a nation into despair, repeatedly. Thank God for Jesus, there is hope. For the family of those two sisters who died, for the community, and for a nation.

OSWALD CHAMBERS
OCTOBER 5

The Nature of Degeneration
Just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned . . . -Romans 5:12
The Bible does not say that God punished the human race for one man’s sin, but that the nature of sin, namely, my claim to my right to myself, entered into the human race through one man. But it also says that another Man took upon Himself the sin of the human race and put it away- an infinitely more profound revelation (see Hebrews 9:26).
The nature of sin is not immorality and wrongdoing, but the nature of self-realization which leads us to say, “I am my own god.” This nature may exhibit itself in proper morality or in improper immorality, but it always has a common basis- my claim to my right to myself.
When our Lord faced either people with all the forces of evil in them, or people who were clean-living, moral, and upright, He paid no attention to the moral degradation of one, nor any attention to the moral attainment of the other. He looked at something we do not see, namely, the nature of man (see John 2:25).
Sin is something I am born with and cannot touch- only God touches sin through redemption. It is through the Cross of Christ that God redeemed the entire human race from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin. God nowhere holds a person responsible for having the heredity of sin, and does not condemn anyone because of it. Condemnation comes when I realize that Jesus Christ came to deliver me from this heredity of sin, and yet I refuse to let Him do so.
From that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation. “This is the condemnation [and the critical moment], that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light . . . ” (John 3:19).

Then last night, as a validation of all of this, my ‘ song in the night ‘, was the first few lines of a glorious hymn we sing in church; although for me, sadly, there is new version.
” Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for He had visited and redeemed his people;
And has raised up a mighty salvation for us: in the house of his servant David.” Luke 1:68 KJV.
And as I got up singing the lines of The Benedictus, the words the Lord spoke when Jesus was baptised, came into my head:
“This is my beloved Son of whom I am well pleased. Listen to him”.
Finally, words from the Old Testament reading appointed for this Sunday arrested me this morning.
” Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.
Hate evil, love good;
maintain Justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.”. Amos 5:14.

I close with a thought. One of the challenges we face as a Church, a Christian Community and as a nation, is that in the Bible, Righteousness and Justice are never separated. For you cannot have one without the other. And what God has joined together let no man separate. And both ultimately came together on the Cross of Calvary.
So if we wish to have Justice for our young girl children, or young men, the kind of Righteousness which exalteth a nation, and for which Sin is a reproach, will have to be on display more and more. And who knows that God will have mercy on the remnant in #Jamaicalandwelove, if we accept the Light Who is Jesus and reject the Darkness which is Sin.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – Martin Luther King Jnr could not have said it any better. It’s Midnight in Jamaica. And worse was still to come at 5 minutes past midnight.

GM:
MIDNIGHT IN JAMAICA
Yesterday during my lunchtime, I opened my Bible looking for the Amos passage, about which I wrote in the morning’s message, and found beside it, a wonderful contextually relevant meditation by Martin Luther King Jnr.
Have a look at it below, and realize that, in a week, when not just one but two pairs of sisters were brutally murdered, it is indeed ‘ midnight’ in #Jamaicalandwelove.
However, thank God, that one day the ‘ dawn will come’, as we trust in a good and merciful God. A God who will one day put a stop to this madness. In the meanwhile let us pray without ceasing. For the mothers and family members of the two sets of sisters.
O God we pray for the mothers as they hold onto their ‘belly bottoms’, and groan at a time when not even tears can flow. And for whom it is ‘ way past midnight’.
For the communities in which the sisters lived – Raymonds in Clarendon and Comfort District in Manchester. For Vere Technical High School where young Janiel Howell was a sixth former. And for a grieving nation.
For comfort!

HE WHO TURNS BLACKNESS INTO DAWN
Martin Luther King Jr.

Verse: Amos 5:8 ” He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns blackness into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the earth – the Lord is his name “.

Midnight is a confusing hour when it is difficult to be faithful. The most inspiring word that the church may speak is that no midnight long remains. The weary traveler by midnight who asks for bread is really seeking the dawn.
Our eternal message of hope is that the dawn will come. Our slave foreparents realized this. They were never unmindful of the fact of midnight, for always there was the rawhide whip of the overseer and the auction block where families were torn asunder to remind them of its reality. When they thought of the agonizing darkness of midnight, they sang:
Oh, nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen,
Glory hallelujah!
Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Oh, yes Lord,
Sometimes I’m almost to de groun’,
Oh, yes Lord,
Oh, nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen,
Glory hallelujah!.
Encompassed by a staggering midnight but believing that morning would come, they sang:

I’m so glad trouble don’t last alway.
O my Lord, O my Lord, what shall I do?

The positive belief in the dawn was the growing edge of hope that kept the slaves faithful amid the most barren and tragic circumstances.
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 convictions that all things work together for good for those who love God. ( A verse from Romans 8 which provoked a lot of discussion at Bible Study last night. Amazing! ) Even the most starless midnight may herald the dawn of some greater fulfilment.

Comment: The question then arises of how much do we truly love God; and trust that He is good and just God. Whether it be midnight or just twilight! These are indeed hard questions to answer, especially when we have never truly experienced unimaginable grief. But some have, and trusted in God for their ‘ recovery’. And thank God, today they are in a better place. Not fully healed. And perhaps never. But , in Christ, they are recovering. Without that kind of grace and mercy, how would we have managed to cope. From the days of slavery right up to today’s madness in Manchester!
So we thank God for Jesus, even in the darkness hours, ‘midnight’ of our lives. For in Him ‘ the dawn ‘ has truly come.
Peace.

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – Perhaps the most important message for the week; that people absolutely need the Lord. And O God, how true this declaration was to prove in less than 24 hours when truly a great darkness descended on the land. For throughout history this is the reality. That without God we cannot manage! That’s why Jesus came. As mediator between god and man!

GM: PEOPLE NEED THE LORD
I was on my way to work yesterday when this message came into my heart. That the most important thing that all human being need to learn, is that we desperately need God in our lives. And that the Lord has so ‘ arranged things’ that we will always have this need for him. A complex matter which is beyond human understanding, but very real indeed.
It came as I continued to think about the mothers who lost their daughters in such brutal and tragic circumstances recently. And many others who have suffered grief in this #QuadrupleMurder country. But it is not just crime and violence that awakens in us this need for God, life itself in its many and varied challenges ought to drive us into the arms of a loving and forgiving God.
And therefore in addition to the words of a very instructive hymn, ‘ I need thee every hour’, which came into my heart, so also did the memory of an important meditation by Blaise Pascal. One of the all time great scientists and a Christian apologetic.
I need Thee every hour,
Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine
Can peace afford.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
I come to Thee.
2
I need Thee every hour,
Stay Thou near by;
Temptations lose their power
When Thou art nigh.
3
I need Thee every hour,
In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
Or life is vain.
4
I need Thee every hour,
Teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises
In me fulfill.
5
I need Thee every hour,
Most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed,
Thou blessed Son.

JESUS CHRIST – THE MIDDLE WAY. EDITED.

Blaise Pascal ( 1623-1662…one of the great minds in western intellectual history, an eminent mathematician and physicist who was at the same time was one of the greatest mystical writers in Christian literature. At age 12 he worked out the equivalent of many of Euclid’s geometrical theorems. At 19 he invented the first practical calculating machine….

Verse: Psalm 51:1. Have mercy on me , O God, according to your steadfast love…..

The God of Christians…. is not merely a God who providentially disposes the life and fortunes of men, to crown his worshipers with length of happy years. Such was the portion of the Jews. But the God of Abraham, the God of Issac…. the God of Christians, is a God of Love and consolation, a God who fills the soul and hearts of his own, a God who makes them feel their inward wretchedness and his infinite mercy, who united himself to their inmost Spirit, filling it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, referring them incapable of any end other than himself.
All who seek God apart from Christ, either find no light to satisfy them, or form for themselves a means of knowing God and serving him without a mediator. Thus they fall either into atheism or into deism, two things which the Christian religion almost equally abhors.
The God of Christians is a God who makes the soul perceive that he is her only good, that her only rest is in Him, her only joy in loving him; ……
The knowledge of God without that of our wretchedness created pride. The knowledge of our wretchedness without that of God creates despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the middle way, because in Him we find both God and our wretchedness.

And, amazingly, as I walked to my study to begin my devotions, into my head came this song which I have not heard nor sung for years.
” People need the Lord”.
Why, because not only are ‘ wretched people’ snuffing out the lives of our young girls, but deep down in our souls, we are all ‘ wretches ‘ before a Holy God. The same One in Jesus Christ on the Cross who ‘ saved a wretch like me’. You and I, who ‘once was blind but now I see ; was lost but now I am found’.
That is why we sing, ” I need thee every hour”. Because we really do need the Lord.

THE FIFTH MESSAGE – triggered by a dark night in the history of our country. And redeemed only by an assurance that ‘ in times like these we have a Savior’. To carry us safely to the ‘dawn’, once again. As long as we trust in Him. Christ the Deliverer.

GM
SLAUGHTERED -THE HEADLINES OF THE DAILY GLEANER
How do you do devotions on a morning when awake to and read that kind of headlines. News which spread like wildfire yesterday! Six human beings made in the image and likeness of God, gunned down in one home; and four left battling for life in hospital. What do you say to a God who ‘ knew them from they were in their mother’s womb and saw their informed body’ according to the Psalmist.
All of this happening during a week when two pairs of sisters were also brutally murdered. I did not know where to start for Hezekiah Walker’s ,’ Every praise to our God did not come into my heart’.
So I began as I do each morning with Jacob Boheme’s prayers: ON WAKING: ON RISING: ON GOING TO WORK.
And as I cried to the Lord for a Word, the familiar words KJV of Psalm 61 came into my heart.

“Hear my cry, O God, attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth, will I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.”

As I contemplated how much Jesus was my Rock, these words, ‘ this rock is Jesus’, of that wonderful hymn, came into my mind, and my spirit ‘ soared’ and silent tears of joy mixed with sadness entered my heart. As if we had only listened to the One who died for the sins of all mankind, Christ Jesus, this madness would never have taken place in my country.
So the Lord answered my cry, and the pain that so many others, in #Jamaicalandwelove and those in the diaspora, and all who wish us well, feel this morning. And the same message goes put to the folks in Oregon who are grieving because ‘ madness’ took place also. And all over the world.

THE SONG

In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Chorus
This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He’s the One;
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible,
In times like these O be not idle;
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Chorus
This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He’s the One;
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these I have a Savior,
In times like these I have an anchor;
I’m very sure, I’m very sure
My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Chorus
This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He’s the One;
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Last night as I thought about this latest act of savagery which has sadly become commonplace in my country, a verse of Scripture, which I read recently in my bedtime reading, came to mind. And in this context, my understanding is that, God is saying that we have to care about others. Deeply! Regardless of whether or not they are scammers, or did something illegal or foolish, and therefore ‘ got what they deserved’. For God’s sake no! For they, like all of us ‘ have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Viz. His image and likeness. And therefore Jesus died for them too. And the men with the ‘ trailer load ‘ of girls; the ‘ unavailable fathers’; those in high society addicted to pornography; those who prey on young women in the corporate world ; those who prey on young girls in the ghetto; those who do not pay their fair share of taxes; those in the Church with ‘ hidden and unrepentant sins; those battling with with their own sins; those who don’t care about people living in #WrongAddrresses; those who deny the poor Justice; the homosexual offenders who don’t care what God thinks about their lifestyle, and a nation which has turned away from the Living God and turned to idols. Idols which can offer no help in ‘ times like these. Jesus died for all.

And so St. Paul declares in 1 Cor. 22 NIV
” I have become all things to all men that by all possible means I might save some”.
Whatever the ‘ correct handling ‘ of that profound Word is, what we cannot continue to do as Children of The Resurrection of Christ and Him Crucified, is to remain on the sidelines, and wonder, like the rest, ‘ what is going to happen to Jamaica’.
For in times like these, if we really ‘ have a Saviour’, we need as a Church, the body of that Saviour, who died for all mankind, to commit ourselves, like St. Paul, to care, to really love, to become ‘ our brothers keeper’ and in the Power of God ‘ spend ‘ our lives to rescue this nation. And to restore its soul as the Lord directs, as we cry out to Him this sad morning.
Hear our cry O Lord. Attend on to this prayer from your people whose hearts are overwhelmed. And lead us to love those for whom Christ died. And had mercy. The wicked and the ungrateful.
All mankind!

From UK’s PM David Cameron comes bearing gifts to Jamaica to Hezekiah Walker’s ‘ Every praise to our God’

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do: and read my newspapers to see what men are doing.

Because we know what it is to fear the Lord we try to persuade men.

Lord renew thy church beginning with me: Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s).

NEWS

The news this week in my country was dominated by the controversy surrounding the offer from UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who came visiting. Within a package of grant funding to further the ties between the Caribbean and the UK, was an offer to assist in the building of a modern prison which would meet international human rights standards. The catch was that Jamaica would have to agree to house up to 300 Jamaicans who are currently serving time in prisons in the UK. This did not go down well with the Jamaican populace, as they were expecting an apology for the enslavement of our forebears, accompanied by a significant ‘ reparations’ for this egregious act against humanity. And neither of the expectations was fulfilled!

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/30/slavery-reparations-call-overshadows-david-camerons-visit-to-jamaica

The other matter which received some attention was a recent rally by sections of the Jamaican Church Community, organized to highlight the need for the preservation of the Biblical understanding of The Family, in the face of mounting pressure from abroad for us to accept ‘same sex marriage’.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Government-warned-_19231117

THE WORD OF GOD

So, in the midst of all of this controversy what Word or inspired word did the Lord send this week.
As usual message that were received were sent out on WhatsApp. I was particularly struck, and would recommended it highly to all, by the Prayer used by the South Africans as they celebrated freedom from the evil system of Apartheid. ‘Amazing Grace’, in the context in which I received it also touched my heart ; and would recommend it to one of my favorite journalists, Ian Boyne, who in his column in the Daily Gleaner today assumed the literary equivalent of an ‘agent provocateur’ as he appeared to be arguing the case for the ‘removal of hell’ from the Word of God.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20151004/one-hell-problem

Also instructive, in this context, was a quote from a famous preacher:

” Prayer that slavishly follows the day-by-day development of the world news may be quite easily wasted. Most world events are like ping pong balls being batted back and forth. They are lively enough, they make a great deal of attention getting racket, but they lack significance”.
Finally, in terms of what really stayed with me, was the constant reminder, that ” God has a preference for suffering humanity’. In all their various manifestations. Some of which might give us much pause! Eventually.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – addresses up front and very person the issue of God’s preference for ” Suffering Humanity”.

GM: I began ‘ my devotions’ this morning – I’ve added the parenthesis, as it’s not really our devotions, but God speaking to us if we listen carefully – with Be Thou My Vision.
And as I arrived at ‘Be Thou my best thought both day and by night, ‘ suffering humanity’ came into my mind. Then I realized that, to think about, or to invite Jesus into our hearts, is to place an emphasis on the ‘ wretched of the earth’ about whom the Algerian author, Franz Fanon famously wrote many years ago during the struggle for Independence from France.
Then my mind went to Jesus’ famous revelation that:
“….for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me…”
Matthew 25:42-43. NRSV

All of us who journeyed with #ThePopeintheUSA, cannot have missed the agenda of this holy man of God. Skipping lunch with the movers and shakers of the world to have a meal with the poor. Visiting those in prison – the first for a Pope in America. Calling on the United Nations to place a priority on poverty reduction and listing the ills of unbridled capitalism – read greed.
Time and time again speaking about that institution under attack in America viz. The Family – he did not say it explicitly but just think about it, ” from which attack by the evil one in addition to other forces, has come; divorce, abortion by demand, teenage pregnancy, crime and violence and all kinds of social ills. All of which are very familiar to us here in Jamaica.
Original authentic Christianity placed an emphasis on following Christ and taking care of the widows and the orphans. Read carefully James’ definition on the kind of religion God approves:
” Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, to keep oneself unstained by the world “. James 1:27.
We could easily add to this list, ageing parents, grandparents, and suffering children and adults. For all around us ” suffering humanity”; hurting wives and girlfriends; grieving families; communities living in abject poverty and ‘forgotten’ by society; people filled with remorse and aching with pain over unresolved ‘ sins of the past’; people suffering from life threatening and sometimes terminal illnesses; folks with serious mental illnesses; all are crying out for help. For them Jesus came with a message of hope and an offer of eternal life. But just as important, a heart filled with compassion and Mercy.

This is the essence of the faith. Not just to complain about ‘ being tired of the fussing and fighting and desiring to go to heaven’. Not ‘ ruling over others’. Not ‘ seeking to be the first in the kingdom’. Not being satisfied with an assurance of personal salvation.
Perhaps we, all of us, and me first, need to take a second look at the Jesus who we claim to love. And invite into our hearts! For this Jesus came to die. For the sick, and the ‘ wretched of the earth’. The chief one of which is all mankind, held captive by Sin and death. And to make Him Lord – their only desire. ” Be Thou my Vision “.
Therefore He and other desires, no matter how noble they may appear to be, cannot live in peace with each other. One must die. I wonder which one we will choose. Forever!

THE SECOND MESSAGE – poses an existential question. Actually two! ‘ What has brought you thus far in life And what is it about man why God is so interested in Him? I would suggest to all that the answers to both begin with Love, Grace and Mercy, and end with the Great Act of Atonement on the Cross of Calvary by God Incarnate, Christ Jesus.

GM: I was searching for another hymn at the beginning of ‘ my devotions’ this morning, but ended up reading and singing – in my heart – ” Amazing Grace”. And:
” ’tis grace hath brought me safe this far,
and grace will lead me home”…. in particular, ministered to my soul. In the same way Samuel’s naming of the place where had arrived ” Ebenezer”…thus far has the Lord brought me….has also touched my heart on so many occasions.
Then I read the Psalm appointed for reading in my church on Sunday, and just spent time worshiping an awesome and loving God. What is man, indeed, that this God is so mindful of us? And loved us, even to death on a Cross. We who were once so ‘ wretched’ in the presence of a Holy God! Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus. O Bless your Holy Name! Alleluia!
Message: Sometimes we just need to
remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle of life, and spent time quietly, worshiping the Lord. And give thanks, that ‘ thus far, with amazing grace, has the Lord brought ‘ me’.
AMAZING GRACE
1
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
2
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
3
The Lord hath promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
4
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

THE WORD OF GOD. Psalm 8 NIV

O Lord , our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned them with glory and honor.

You made him rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds,
and beasts of the field,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
O Lord , our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

THE THIRD MESSAGE – is probably the most important message for the week for within it is the South African Prayer. Offered after a winter of despair, which is precisely what is current in Jamaica, in so many ways, the words ” Let us agree to disagree with out being enemies”, resonated deep in my soul. For, how much could such a philosopy, an approach to internal and inter party conflicts, to conflicts at home, within the community, between elements of civil society, and even within the Church, could results in deep and lasting peace in my country!

GM: Usually during my lunchtime devotions, I like to delve a bit more into the Word which I read for my early morning devotions.
So yesterday, I went back to Psalm 8. And in my Classics Devotional Bible, discovered a treasure of a mediation inspired by Psalm 9.
The context is the liberation of South Africa from the evil of Apartheid. And a prayer from a Thanksgiving Service is the treasure.
Why? Because it speaks about the possibility, the real possibility, that one day, one fine day, my country Jamaica, beset with some of the very same ills that plagued SA, with the help of God, can experience renewal and healing.
So many of our people, especially the young, and sadly very cynical, will tell you, that there is no hope for Jamaica. And that things are going to get progressively worse. No matter which party is in power! The reasons are all there for those of us who have eyes to see, and ears to hear.

The Crime and Violence fostering a feeling and reality of insecurity; the outrageous behaviour of those who drive on our roads; the growing phenomenon of ,’ unavailable fathers’; the uncouth, coarse and ill mannered behavior of far too many young and old people – uptown and downtown, and who fear neither God nor man; the way we abuse our women and disrespect the elderly; the growth, like ‘ weed’, of extortionists terrorizing trying small business people; the ‘ tun up’ economy ( even if we understand the reason, the reality is very challenging) in which ‘ no dollars nah run’; very few jobs for qualified university graduates; the vulgarity of some of our entertainers and music genres; the corruption in high places in both the public and the private sector, and the perceived lack of compassion for the Poor by those ‘ well off ‘ in the society, have all combined to create an atmosphere of hopelessness and apathy unprecedented in our nation’s history.

Yes, I dare say most Jamaicans are ‘ putting up resistance’ and continue to be gracious, hard working, God fearing, kind, thus making this country in many respects, a joy, and a place that we long to return. But, a growing minority has made us a pariah in the eyes of many outsiders. And we can’t place all the blame on slavery, and what that terrible period of our history did to our psche and our economy. Thus talks of reparation of some form or another are quite in order.

But as Jeremiah warned we cannot:
‘ dress up the wounds my people
as though it were not serious’ ( 8:11)
and expect to have peace, prosperity and happiness one day.
No, for without acceptance of personal and collective responsibility, that at times , recklessness has attended public policy decisions, that wickedness has entered into our hearts – that we no longer even know how to blush – and that Injustice has denied the poor and the voiceless a rightful share in the nation’s growth and development, we will never turn to God, repent, and ask for mercy.

So what shall we do, and to Whom do we turn for Hope? I was greatly inspired and comforted by the words of the prayer of thanksgiving. For it meant that throughout the struggle against the wickedness of Apartheid, the South African people never lost their hope, that Almighty God, would rescue them from evil.
This too, is my hope and prayer: that my people will also call upon the Name of the Lord, without ceasing; and in a sure faith, that one day, one fine day, Jamaica, under God will be rescued. From the evils of Murder, Political Tribalism, Economic Stagnation, Corruption, Wide Spread Immorality in our Schools, Homes and Music and the Consignment of so many of our people to Wrong Addresses, from which so much evil emerges, even with the remarkable good that attends the lives of many others.

A PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
South Africa, National Service of Thanksgiving. Edited.

Verse: Psalm 9:1
” I will give thanks to the Lord with my
while heart;
I will tell of your wonderful deeds”.

O God our loving eternal Parent, we praise you with a shout of joy! Your ruling power has provided victorious!
For centuries our land seemed too dark for sunrise, too bloody for healing, too sick for recovery, too hateful for reconciliation.
But you have brought us into the daylight of liberation; you have healed us with new hope; you have stirred us to believe our nation can be reborn; we see the eyes of our sisters and brothers shinning with resolve to build a new South Africa ( Jamaica). Accept our prayers of praise and thanksgiving……
We thank you for the spiritual power which gives us new birth. You have given us the courage to change our minds, to open our hearts, to those who we despised, and to discover we can disagree without being enemies.
We are not winners and losers, but citizens who push and pull together to move the nation forward.
We thank you for the good news that you will always be with us, and will always overcome: that love will conquer hatred; that tolerance will conquer antagonism; that cooperation will conquer conflict; that your Holy Spirit can empower our spirits; through Jesus Christ our Lord

COMMENT: I pray that you will all join me in beseeching the Lord to : ‘ stir us to believe that our nation can be reborn…..and to discover that we can disagree without being enemies’.
In Jesus Name. Amen

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – brings us back to the news. And makes me wonder about the significance, in the context of The Love, Mercy, and Grace of an Amazing God, of these two news items; which continue to make us so ‘not and bothered’.

GM: Two issues have occupied my thoughts, a lot, in the past 24 hours.
And then I was led to read this quote in particular, and have been pondering on Its significance ever since.
“Prayer that slavishly follows the day-by-day development of world news may be quite easily wasted. Most works events are like ping pong balls being batted back and forth”.
So which two issues?
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron’s, controversial, in the midst of a serious national debate on Reparations for Slavery, offer to assist Jamaica in building a Modern Prison which meets International Human Rights standards.
And a local Television station’s, TVJ Current Affairs Program, All Angles, a couple nights ago, which placed a focus on Same Sex Marriage, and another mass rallly by Church Groups in defense, and importance, of, the Biblical understanding of Family.
One is a response to the growing number of countries which have embraced, and in the case of some, pledged to ‘ export’ , same sex marriage. A complex issue clouded , in one sense, and also aggravated in another sense, by ‘ political action ‘ on both sides. With each side claiming to react to the ‘ uncaring, unreasonable and intolerant’ behavior on the one hand; and the ‘ calculating and socially and morally destructive and disobedient to God’, behavior on the other hand.
At the same time, however, many Christians are quite satisfied just to love and pray for the ‘ sinner’ while acknowledging the Sin, along with the many sins that we all have committed before a Holy God. And that’s why we love Jesus so much. And are anxious to tell everybody about the Gospel of Salvation. But which Good News can easily get lost in the ‘ political action and debate’, and serve to frustrate the command to minister to ‘ these the least of my children’.
The other is presumably an attempt by a former colonial power, to ‘ pressure’ or provide an inducement to one of it’s former colonies, to assist with Britain’s prison problems. While ignoring the call for an apology and Reparations for the gross injustice carried out against huge numbers of our ancestors. An act against humanity which helped to enrich the coffers of Britain and thus made it a Industrialized Country. But which unconscionable action served to ‘ underdevelop Africa and the Caribbean’ . And which history was the subject of highly acclaimed scholarly writing by the late Walter Rodney. Sadly, and the devil is a master at deception and distraction, a noble and just cause, Reparations, could easily get lost in the controversy provoked by a scion of a former slave owner ‘ bearing a gift’ of a Prison. Which, on the face of it, for those who seek to minister to the ‘ least of these my children’, would be a good thing, were it not attended by , in more ways than one, the ‘ political considerations’.
Neither issue will be resolved any time soon. As both require no less than the Wisdom of Solomon to arrive at an amicable solution. And therefore a good and wise God led me last night to reflect on wisdom offered by a famous preacher, inspired by a Word written by Solomon as inspired by God. To reflect on these words in the context of these current issues, and the misuse and misunderstanding of prayer, and to pray alright accordingly.

TOUCHING HEAVEN IN PRAYER
A. W. Tozer ( 1897-1963…A lifelong Pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance ….and author of many books…)
Verse: Proverbs 15:8
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
Too many praying persons seek to use prayer to ends that are not wholly pure. Prayer is often conceived to be no more than a technique for self-advancement, a heavenly method of achieving earthly success…..
The Scriptures are very clear about the place of prayer in the economy of God….. ” The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective “, wrote the inspired James…..James 5:16
The same Apostle who affirmed the effectiveness of prayer also admitted that prayer is sometime ineffective. ” You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures”. James 4:3.
Prayer that slavishly follows the day-by-day development of world news may be quite easily wasted. Most world events are like ping pong balls being batted back and forth – Obama must be feeling the same way after today’s once again mass murder involving the use of guns. They are lively enough, they make a great an attention getting racket, but they lack significance.
Surely the God who presided over history knows how few things matter. But he knows also that what things do matter; and if we are spiritual enough to hear his voice he will lead us to engage in the kind of praying that will be effective.
Comment: Let those who have ears to hear and listen. And take heed. As what really matters, and this ought to be the subject of much prayer, is not our campaigns, of one sort or another, but our desire to grow more and more like Christ; and to represent Christ in our sufferings, and in our dealings with ‘ suffering humanity’.
For God will, one fine day, manifestly delight in the prayers and actions of the righteous, and compassionate, and those who minister to the least of His children; but reject the offerings of the wicked, the uncaring, those who ignore the suffering of His children, the unrepentant, and those who reject the forgiveness offered by the sacrifice of His only Son, Christ Jesus. Lord grant us the grace to know the difference between the two sides of the coin, in all situations.

THE FIFTH AND FINAL MESSAGE – features a wonderful praise Song. Which is what we are called to do at all times. Give God the Glory and Honor and Praise, for He is worthy. As He died for us and for the entire human race on Calvary as Christ Jesus. A great mystery!

The reality is that after worshiping God in this High and Mighty way, as I just did, we have to leave the clouds, the transfiguration with Jesus, and descend with Him from ‘ Heaven’ into the ‘ demon possessed valley’. For in the midst of murder caused by scammimg, in Hanover and the West; in the midst of the debate about same sex marriage; in the midst of the extortionists; in the midst of hand foot and mouth disease ; in the midst of the election madness; in the midst of teaching ‘ bad pickney’ at school, we are called to live and share the Good News that ‘ Jesus Saves. With Power, and Mercy and Compassion! Regardless of whether we can see the way forward clearly or not, down in the valley of Crime and Violence, down in the valley of Spice and Lady Saw……
Which is the mandate the Lord reminded me about last night in two ways. One which I tweeted:
Since then we know what it is to fear the Lord we try to persuade men. #2Cor511 #SameSexMarriage #Adultery #AbsentBabyFather @mikeyabrahams
The other I read and pondered. Greatly!

OSWALD CHAMBERS

MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST
OCT 2
Verse: If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us and help us. Mark 9:22.
After every time of exaltation we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they are, where it is neither beautiful nor poetic nor thrilling.
The height of the mountain top is measured by the drab drudgery of the valley; but it is in the valley that we have to live for the Glory of God.
We see his glory on the Mount, but we never live for his glory there. It is in the sphere of humiliation that we find our true worth to God, that is where our our faithfulness is revealed.
Most of us can do things if we are always at the heroic pitch because of the natural selfishness of our hearts, but God wants us at the drab commonplace pitch, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with him.
Peter thought it would be a fine thing for them to remain on the Mount, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the Mount into the valley – the place where the meaning of the visions is explained.
“If Thou canst do any thing…..’ It takes the valley of humiliation to root the scepticism out of us. Look back on your experience, and you will find that until you learned Who Jesus was, you were a cunning sceptic about His Power.
When you were on the Mount, you could believe anything, but what about when you were up against the facts in the valley?
You may be able to give a testimony to sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you just now?
The last time you were on the Mount with God you saw all that power in heaven and earth belonged to Jesus – will you be sceptical now in the valley of humiliation?
Peace, as we give thanks for the rain. All to the Glory , the Shekinah, of a Loving and faithful God.