I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men a 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.
1. As a reminder of the nature of the broken world we live in, news broke, and broke our hearts in Jamaica, of a young woman, eight months pregnant who was brutally murdered by a gunman.
2. As another reminder of the broken universe in which we lie, news broke this evening of a massive earthquake in Ecuador which so far has claimed the lives of 233 persons.
THE WORD OF GOD
It is in the context the of personal and national tragedy, a common story across the world, that I am persuaded that the Lord sent a reminder about ” war in heaven’, and the what we would call ‘ behind the scenes’ war between God and Satan. A contest which has resonance for the universe; and which battle is finished, but not completed. This together with reminders about what it mean to experience The Lord, and also the widespread influence of Narcissus – he who spent too much time looking at himself.
THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent out on WhatsApp features an article on Narcissism by a colleague and meditation by an evangelist of yure, on the opposite, viz focusing on God. Perhaps the most important struggle for all human beings in this age. An age of brokenness and pain and grief. Because who refuse to live under the Cross of Calvary.
GN: From self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness
I read something last night, and plan to share soon, about the book of Revelation, which helped me to understand, very profoundly, that there are two different conversations taking place in this world.
One dominated by our absorption with self, and what man is doing; and greatly facilitated by the media and the entertainment industry. Which in a collective sense, is what narcissism is all about. A topic, at least in respect of individuals, which engaged the mind, and wit, of a colleague, Dr. Michael Abrahams, who in addition to being a well respected Consultant in his field, is also an entertainer, a blogger of some note, and a social media star.
And a deeper understanding of which human tendency, presented itself to me last night in this soliloquy, of sorts, , as I continued reading John Stott’s classic ‘ The Cross of Christ’.
” There was once a nymph named Narcissus,
Who though himself very delicious;
So he stated like a fool
At his face in a pool,
And his folly today is still with us”.
The point is that @Mikeyabrahams while making an interesting observation about individuals, and their behavior on social media, is apparently completely oblivious to a more profound issue. That a significant part of the human race, and worse, elements within God’s Church, are far too absorbed with self, and not with Jesus.
The other conversation is dedicated entirely to lifting up the precious Name of Jesus. And seeking Him and Him alone. Again a profound understanding of which desire, presented itself to me during my lunchtime devotions today, in this fashion.
EXPERIENCING THE LORD
A.B. SIMPSON ( 1844 – 1919…founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada…. built a congregation in New York City…wrote seventy books
Verse: Matthew 17:8
Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, now it is his word;
Once his gift I wanted, now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, now himself alone.
Once t’was painful trying, now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half of salvation, now the uttermost;
Once t’was ceaseless holding, now he holds me fast;
Once t’was constant drifting, now my anchor’s cast.
Once t’was busy planning, now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once t’was anxious caring, now he has the cares;
Once t’was what I wanted, now what Jesus says;
Once t’was constant asking, now tis ceaseless praise.
Once I hoped in Jesus, now I know he is mine;
Once my lamps were dying, now I know he’s mine;
Once for death I waited, now his coming hail;
And all my hopes are anchored safe within the veil.
All in all forever,
Only in Christ I’ll sing;
Ev’rything is in Christ,
And Christ is ev’rything.
For unless our minds are entirely focused on Christ and Him Crucified, we will never appreciate life beyond Justin Spieth – who aside from his stumble yesterday is set to take over from Tiger Woods as the latest golf star. Life in the wider world outside the USA and Donald Trump. Life beyond waiting for the windfall of $Ja 18000 or less, as promised as part of tax reforms measures and to stimulate growth in the economy, as promised by the new administration. Life beyond the revelations about the alteration in the lineage of The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Justin Welby. And life beyond the final episode of American Idol, and the reality of the fact that the Gunners, Arsenal, my team, are unlikely to win the BPL this year after being favourites.
So yes, there is absolutely much more to life that what CNN presents.
As the story behind The Book of The Revelation which I read in John Stott’s The Cross of Calvary, explains so much about our contemporary society and its values. And seriously challenges the Church not to conform to the zeitgeist, the spirit of this age, which is leading masses of people away from The Truth. By distraction and other methods. For Christ is the only Truth. All of which in an attempt to prevent people from truly ‘ Experiencing The Lord’, and fall prey to the temptation to be absorbed, like Narcissus, with what man ( and Angelina Jolie) looks like, and can achieve and experience.
THE SECOND MESSAGE – sent out on WhatsApp and features an introduction to the war between God and Satan. And the seductiveness of the world in which we live today. Al geared to distract us ( with a great reminder from a glorious hymn) from looking at God, and instead, like Narcissus, looking at self. With disastrous consequences for this world!
GN : Satan the persecutor, the deceiver and the seducer. Thank God for Jesus in whom we have the Victory
So as I listened to the news this morning, and tweeted about a pregnant woman who was shot to death last night, I was once again, rudely reminded, of the reality of evil in the world.
And so we turn to John Stott’s classic book on The Cross of Christ, as promised. Edited of course! Remember also the Chapter : The conquest of Evil.
” No book of the New Testament bears a clearer testimony to Christ’s victory than the Christian apocalypse which we know as ‘ the book of Revelation….
Written almost certainly during the reign of Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96), its background is the growth both of the persecution of the church ( now systematic rather than spasmodic) and the practice of Emperor worship, the refusal of which by Christians, often sparked off fresh outbreaks of persecution.
What the book of Revelation does, in keeping with apocalyptic genre, is lift the curtain which hides the unseen world of spiritual reality and to show us what is going on behind the scenes…..
My concern, however, is to reach the vision of Chapter 12, which in some ways seems to be the centre of the book. John saw a pregnant woman…who was about to give birth to a Son whose destiny was to ‘ rule all the nations’ ( chapter 5). He is evidently the Messiah, and she the Old Testament Church out of whom the Messiah came.
An enormous and grotesque red dragon, identified in verse 9 as the devil or Satan, stood in front of the woman, ready to ‘ devour her child the moment it was born’. But the child was ‘ snatched up to God and to his throne…..
War in heaven followed in which the dragon and his angels’ were defeated….
This, then, is the situation. The devil had been defeated and dethroned. Far from bringing his activities to an end, however, the rage he feels in the knowledge of his approaching doom leads him to redouble them. Victory over him has been won, but painful conflict with him continues. And in this conflict he relies on three allies who now appear in John’s vision in the guise of two ugly monsters and a lewd and gaudy prostitute. It becomes evident that all three are symbols of the Roman empire, although in three different aspects, namely Rome the persecutor, Rome the deceiver and Rome the seducer…..
Then in the last three chapters are described the final destruction of Satan and death, the new heaven and new earth, and the New Jerusalem, in which there will be no tears, death, pain or night, as God establishes his perfect rule.
The devil had not changed his strategy. Although the Roman Empire has long since passed away, other persecuting, deceiving and corrupting structures have arisen in place.
– Some Hindu and Muslim countries…. to propagate the Gospel and profess conversion are offences punishable by imprisonment and even death. #PakistanAttack
– In most Marxist countries ( written in 1986) restrictions are placed on the teaching of the young and on all religious activities specially registered buildings.
– As for the ‘ beast from the earth’ and the ‘ false prophet’ , he is active through other religions, new cults and secular ideologies.
– As for the ‘ great prostitute’ the assault on traditional ( i.e. Biblical) Christian morality has now penetrated the defences of the church itself. On the sanctity of human life ( e.g. in relation to abortion and experimentation with embryos) the church tends to be equivocal.
There is no united witness against the immorality of indiscriminate weapons. #WMD
Divorce is increasingly tolerated, even among Christian leaders.
Sexual lifestyles other than strict heterosexual monogamy are not always condemned ( to put it very mildly…. my words). And we continue to enjoy in the West a level of affluence which is insensitive to the plight of the desperate millions.
The message of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Chris has defeated Satan and will one day destroy him altogether. It is in the light if these certainties that we are to confront his continuing malicious activity, whether physical ( through persecution), intellectual ( through deception), or moral ( through corruption). How?
1. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
2. Proclaim Jesus Christ.. proclaim the Cross. ..still the Power of God to turn people ‘ from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God’.
Both in our own lives, and in the mission of the church it is only the Cross by which Satan had been defeated, which can prevail against him.”
It is in this context then I believe I was led to read prayerfully, and reflect on deeply, the words of this profound hymn. For the challenge in this Stephen Curry GSW #multiplerecordbreaking, Netflix – getting more expensive – Bernie Sanders vs Hillary Clinton #Demdebate, Warmington now a Minister #Dontyoudarecross, #MissFluffyDiva, we are very prone to wander from the Cross of Calvary.
And the Satan the persecutor, Satan the deceiver and Satan the seducer will breech our defenses and lead to the #Chibocgirls and #Killingmotherandchild.
Peace, as we patiently endure and ‘ dwell in the secret place of The Most High’. Night and day. Without ceasing lest we perish. Or be corrupted. Or be deceived and become distracted.
Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I’ll praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above
THE THIRD MESSAGE – again sent out on WhatsApp reminds me of Sir Winston Churchill famous statement which he made after Britain had defeated the Nazis in The Battle of Britain. ” Its’ not the end of the war. it’s not even the beginning of the end; but it is the end of the beginning.” And so Satan has been defeated in heaven. By The Blood of The Lamb. But the war is not yet over! But the end is in sight. And so we just have to endure the persecution, the deception and the seduction of the veil one until Christ comes again. Until then there will be wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, murders, disobedient children, people running after other gods, which are no gods at all, but idols. Until Christ comes again, in glory, to judge the living and the dead. So we know how the story will end. Regardless of how it appears now. Praise God!
GM: THE REAL STORY ABOUT HEAVEN AND EARTH AS WE CONSIDER #MOTHERANDCHILDDEAD
Last night I arrived in my nighttime devotions at John Stott’s famous Revelation chap 12. The first section! And just now, inspired by the words of a wonderful hymn:
Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
When thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room
For thy Holy nativity:
O come to my heart Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for Thee:
I was led to read the section, which began thus:
“War broke out in heaven…”
And as I read the following thoughts came to mind. That we haven’t even begun to understand how ‘ de ting set’. How the universe operates! Growing up as a young man listening to Bob Marley, our great reggae music icon, we got a glimpse of the extent of evil operating in #TribalWarinnaBabylon and #Mantomanissounjust. And when we consider the influence of #TaylorSwift and #JustinBieber in #TedCruzChildreninAmerica and #VybesKartel in Jamaica perhaps we don’t need to wonder why people have no concept of what’s really happening in the Universe. And have become so distracted. Or that the #WorldSeries baseball is really ‘ the world’ or just that America for some is ‘ the world’. In the same way that we have been seduced ( reduced too, as spell check tried to write) to think that what CNN reports on as happening on earth is the only reality.
For when we read chapter 12 of the book of Revelation, we get a clear picture of why a gunman, in an act of egregious evil, would kill a pregnant mother. A crime which shocked our nation just this week. And the treatment of which news item triggered a lively discussion on Twitter last night between Twitter personalities Emma Lewis and Yaneek Page last night #waypassmybedtime.
These two of many give the gist of the discussion
Check out @yaneekpage’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/yaneekpage/status/721176646733012992?s=09
Check out @Petchary’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/Petchary/status/721196140876664832?s=09
And why there is tribal war in Syria, why genocide occurred in Rwanda, as I read years ago in “Left to Tell ” by
Immaculee Llibagiza, and why the only hope for this world is Christ The Victor.
For as I tweeted at the same time, but outside the conversation,
” When they call to me, I will answer them “. Ps. 91:15 whenever. In the quietness of their homes or publicly in church, wherever.
That’s why, armed with the knowledge of how ‘ de ting set’, how The Universe is affected by ” The Blood of the Lamb “, we need to submit to Christ and cry out, bawl out to God in and through Christ Jesus, every hour. And that’s why Christians can experience Joy, and celebrate with thanksgiving, even in the midst of evil, for we know that in Christ Jesus, there is Victory over Sin, Death and Satan.
That’s the good news about which the hymn writer wrote in the fourth verse of that instructive hymn.
Thou camest, O Lord, with the Living Word
That should set thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart Lord Jesus !
There is room in my heart for Thee.
And now to ( beginning of ) the culmination of all history as revealed by The Word of God:
http://bible.com/111/rev.12.7-17.niv Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”