Elections come and go but Lent is a time for all Seasons

THE SEASON OF LENT CONTINUES:  THE SEASON OF ELECTION 2016 IS NOW HISTORY.

The increasingly popular New International Version ( NIV)  of the Bible says that:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for everything under  heaven…..Ecclesiastes 3:1

So following my understanding of another  very important verse in the Bible:

Also seek the  peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you in exile ( the Biblical understanding is that, for Christians, this earth is not our home).  Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. Jeremiah 29:7-8

I engaged my patients during this election season,  encouraging them to get involved in helping to decide, in a sense, the future of their country. ” Choose one”, I told them.
( Would you believe, and I am serious as a judge, that a long time patient whose sister shares the messages with her, just linked me, as I began writing, that I ‘ called the elections’ from May, when I used the verse in another context. I just had to respond…. lol.  For as far as she is concerned, and I know she was joking,  Prosperity is indeed found in the Bible. Have mercy!

The elections are all done now. But Lent, a time for serious introspection about our spiritual journey, in a sense, not only continues, but ought to be part of our life long journey with Jesus until we die.

And last night I posted the following quotation on my Facebook page. One which speaks to both ‘seasons’. Elections and our Christian journey.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools – Martin Luther King Jnr.   #JLPPNP

Then this morning a hymn for all seasons presented itself to me – I was looking for another one. Words which encourage us to  make God our Vision. Not our favourite political party, or Leader. And in this context,  there is no place for ‘ following Bustamante until I die’…or Portia, or Eddie, or Michael, or PJ, or Bruce, or now Andrew.

Words which speak about true ‘ Wisdom’, true ‘ Shelter’ for our souls as the battle rages around us,  and ‘ the emptiness of ‘ man’s praise’.

Words which caution us to ‘ beware of  going after riches’, advise us Who ought to be ‘ first in our heart’, and finally words which point us to ‘ victory’, the Judgement which awaits us all.

A Word definitely for all Seasons!

I pray God that this kind of Word will find much favor in the hearts of our people,  as like my patient, we,  with even greater enthusiasm than that which gripped many during the elections, share this message with others.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armor, be thou my true might;
be thou my soul’s shelter, be thou my strong tower:
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise:
be thou mine inheritance now and always;
be thou and thou only the first in my heart;
O Sovereign of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, thou heaven’s bright sun,
O grant me its joys after victory is won;
great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.
Words: Ancient Irish hymn;
trans. Mary Byrne, 1905,

Finally a word for all of us who live on this planet. For fear, disappointment, trials and even disaster, are universal experiences. Transcending political barriers, cultural differences and geographical boundaries. And the God of All Seasons knows the fears of all our hearts, beginning with mine, and sends a word for us in season. One which I happened on last night,  as I did my devotions before commiting myself and all ‘ under my tent’ to God’s grace and mercy during the long night.

BE STILL,  MY HEART

John Newton ( a former slave ship owner who encountered Christ, repented of his sins, and eventually became a priest)

Verse: Hebrews 10:22

Be still, my heart! these anxious cares
To  thee are burdens, thorns and snares;
They cast dishonor on the Lord,
And contradict his gracious word.

Brought safely by his hand thus far,
why wilt thou now give place to fear?
How canst thou want if he provide,
or lose thy way with such a guide?

When first before his mercy-seat
thou didst to him thine all commit;
he gave thee warrant from that hour
to trust his wisdom, love and power.

Did ever trouble yet befall,
and he refuse to hear thy call?
and has he not his promise passed,
that thou shalt overcome at last?

He who has helped me hitherto
will help me all my journey through,
and give me daily cause to raise
new hymns  ( new Ebenezers) of glory to his praise.

Though rough and thorny be the road,
it leads thee home apace to God:
then count thy present trials small,
for heaven will make amends for all.

I close with an understanding of Ebenezer which is used in some versions of this wonderful hymn/poem.
It’s a Word from the Prophet Samuel:
‘Thus far has the Lord carried us’

So thus far has the Lord carried us here in  Jamaica, and He who began a good thing many years ago with Sam Sharpe and others, and more importantly, He who began a good thing in Christ Jesus on the Cross of Calvary,  will one day bring everything to completion. Then will all Seasons will come to an  end, including Lent. Until then, let us strive to make God and His Son Christ our soon Coming King, our Vision.
Peace.

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Pope Francis and Donald Trump: Jesus and the Pharisees

GM: HAVE MERCY LORD, HAVE MERCY FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.

Lord Jesus have mercy on my soul!

This was one reaction as I, in obedience to The Spirit, having read the Gospel reading for this Sunday on my iPad,  during my devotions this morning,  opened my Bible, and read the passage which came before.

Two verses, struck me. One from the actual Reading for Sunday:

O,  Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and  stones those who are sent to it. How often  have desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing. Luke 13:34

The other from the passage above:

Jesus went through one town and village  after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him, ” Lord will only a few be saved “?
He said to them, ” Strive to enter through the narrow door; for I tell you, many will try and enter and not be able “. ….
There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the Prophets in the kingdom of God , and you yourself thrown out.
Luke 13: 22-28.

The other reaction was that the Devil is really a wicked ‘ somebody’. Lying, deceiving and deceptive!  As look how many people are  flocking in their thousands to Sting – a  popular stage show featuring dancehall music held on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas every year in Jamaica; how many millions tune in to the Superbowl to watch a great football game, or the World cup soccer finals; and how the massive crowds fill the public squares for a Political Rally; yet many Churches have empty pews.

A place where Jesus,  through His ‘ Prophets’, cry out daily, pleading with people to “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near”. But few listen and obey!

All because they have fallen for the existential ‘ three card trick’ ( if you think some politicians are good at it,  you ain’t seen nothing yet) that this world and it’s many pleasures and rewards is all there is to life. So, eat, drink and be merry, ‘ and be entertained by Beyonce’!

Lie! Big, bold, dirty and wicked lie. As those who ‘ kill the Lord’s prophets and stone those sent to them’, will face Reality one awful Day when The Lord Jesus returns as Judge.
Have mercy!

And yet, and yet, God who is so full of mercy, slow to anger and full of compassion  sends His Word, and His Prophets, The Church, The Body of Christ, to call those created in His likeness, the entire World, to Believe on His Only Son, Christ the Crucified One; so that they may not perish but have everlasting life. For Christ is ‘ The Narrow Way’ into the Kingdom.

There is however another warning for the complacent and presumptuous, both in the Church and those outside, who love to read about Jesus, love to say ‘ God Bless  America’, or God bless Jamaica’, but have no intention of ‘ taking up their Cross daily and following Him. No intention of  ‘ denying self’, no intention of ‘ submitting to the discipline of God! No intention of ‘ suffering for,  or with Christ! But like to attend Church, and be seen as ‘ Christian minded’, but intend to do all of that, but ‘ enjoy the pleasures of this world’.

Listen carefully, and I warn myself, ‘ Lord protect me from presumptuous Sin’,  even more so, and my family and  Church people:

” When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door ( have mercy!), and you begin to stand  outside and to knock at the door saying, Lord, open to us, then in reply  he will say to you, ‘ I don’t know where you come from ‘.
Then you will begin to say, ‘ We ate and drank  with you,  and you taught in our streets’ ( we watched Billy Graham on TV, or TD Jakes, we listened to Gospel  music a lot,  we have even read the Bible from cover to cover, we even went to Church and watched others ‘ going up for Holy Communion’ or Lord’s Supper, and every meeting we begin with prayer).

‘But he will say to you ( and  on cue …serious as a judge…the sanke :

Refrain
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb

came into my mind)

‘ I do not know where you come from; go away from me you evildoers’
Luke 13:25-27

Final Comment: I had no intention of writing a message this morning. In fact if truth be told, I was hurrying so that I could go and walk, as I have not done so all week. Further, the Lord makes it  very clear, ‘ Judgement is mine saith  the Lord’.

So, please let all of us pledge to be vigilant and rebuke the evil message that has served to lead our people astray; that there is no life after death. And that God does not exist. And that if He does, we can enter into His presence without any Mediator.  Foolishness!

For that’s not what John 3:16 the most popular verse in the Bible says.
Rather,  that unless we are’ washed with the precious blood of Christ’, unless we are born again,  we shall perish. That’s the Gospel Truth!

And to that end, God is still calling out ‘ O Jamaica, Jamaica…. O America, America.

I close with the wisdom of words shared with me by an 89 year old patient who will together with her husband, celebrate 6O years of peaceful and a blessed marriage in July.

Three things can never be retrieved.
The spoken word.
A spent arrow
A neglected opportunity.

So Today if you hear the his voice do not harden your hearts. Hebrews 3:7

A word to the wise.
Peace.

Elections in the USA, and Jamaica and the Christian Season of Lent

GM: LENT AND ELECTIONS

Donald Trump has one message – he wants to make America great again. So does Bernie Sanders – Wall Street, which represents the super rich and the greedy, is responsible for most of the trials of the ordinary middle working class Americans.

Locally, the ruling  People’s National Party has one message – Step up the Progress. While the Opposition’s Jamaica Labour Party’s single message is that they are only party than can bring  Prosperity to the ordinary Jamaican.

But more importantly,  Christians have one central message; The Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all Sin and grants us New and Unending Life. And is the full manifestation of the Love of God, that is beyond all human understanding,  for ‘Adam’s Helplessness Race, viz,  all humanity

A message for Advent; for  Christmas, for Pentecost; for all the seasons of the Church. But especially for Lent which leads us into our Lord’s Passion on Good Friday. And His Glorious Resurrection on Easter; the Climax of the Liturgical Calendar.

A message which supersedes by far, the debate about the Debates in Jamaica, and the debate about how we should conduct ourselves in a political campaign. But which central message is deeply relevant to all debates about human behaviour! For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.

A message which is more important that warnings about Zik V, the dreaded H1N1 Virus, and other potentially dangerous illnesses. But which central message is a ‘ refuge’ for all mankind,  in times of danger.

A message which is more important than ‘ making America great again’; or  ‘ Prosperity’, or ‘ Progress’ in any nation. But which understanding of the central message,  ‘ that man shall not live by bread alone’, is of deep relevance to any call for Prosperity, Progress or Greatness. And the ‘Overthrow of Greed’!

A message which calls for
perseverance in times of persecution, temptation and trials, all of  which, in varying degrees, according to God’s will and purpose, will, not might, attend the journey of all who believe in Jesus.

A message which began last night as I read the Word of God before retiring to bed, on a particularly cold night #hugupweather in my country.

http://bible.com/111/heb.10.19-39.niv

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ……

  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”    And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”   

But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

And continues this morning as I, looking for another hymn, ‘happened’, upon one of the all time great, in my view, teaching hymns of the Church.

Words which are emblazoned on my heart after years of receiving, Sunday after Sunday,  the Blessed Sacrament of Our Lord’s ‘Blood and Body’, in Holy Communion.

Words which point to the Blood of Jesus, set as a shield ‘ Between our Sins and their reward ‘ ( Death).
Words which lament our ‘ dim faith’ and ‘ languid prayers’.
Words which appeal for mercy, through the Blood of Jesus,  for ‘ our dearest and our best’; which should not only be our relatives and friends, but all who meet and are in need of God’s mercy. And words which pray for ‘ strength to persevere’, and grace to  ‘ never more  live part from  God’

So as we persevere my friends, let us fulfill our democratic rights, and national responsibilities and get involved in the elections in our respective countries. But let us not become distracted from observing a Holy Lent, and engaging in well needed spiritual disciplines.

For whichever Party wins, whether Portia or Andrew, Trump or Clinton ( not calling it, just  speculating) at the end of the day, for true prosperity, true progress, and true greatness to become a reality, The Light of God in and through Jesus Christ will have to reign in the hearts of mankind.
A message for all times. And in all countries!
Peace

THE HYMN

And now, O Father, mindful of the love

And now, O Father, mindful of the love
that bought us, once for all, on Calvary’s Tree,
and having with us him that pleads above,
we here present, we spread forth to thee
that only Offering perfect in thine eyes,
the one, true, pure, immortal Sacrifice.

Look, Father, look on his anointed face,
and only look on us as found in him;
look not on our misusings of thy grace,
our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim:
for lo, between our sins and their reward
we set the Passion of thy Son our Lord.

And then for those, our dearest and our best,
by this prevailing Presence we appeal:
O fold them closer to thy mercy’s breast,
O do thine utmost for their souls’ true weal;
from tainting mischief keep them white and clear,
and crown thy gifts with strength to persevere.

And so we come: O draw us to thy feet,
most patient Savior, who canst love us still;
and by this food, so aweful and so sweet,
deliver us from every touch of ill:
in thine own service make us glad and free,
and grant us never more to part with thee.
Words: William Bright, 1874