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!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s