Early morning instructions. Awoke with ” Saturated in His Love”, in my heart. Got up, gave thanks for sleep, and went and read what Hilary of Poitiers wrote centuries ago; and still relevant today.
Then read the very instructive, and if you read carefully, prophetic, passage from Acts associated with the meditation.
Finally, Oswald Chambers’ meditation last night’, finding yourself ( in relation to who God is and what He requires of us) in the midst of sorrow, as St. Paul did, and Hilary must have done also, places a bookend on this journey.
A journey which explains pretty much all we need to know about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, viz,
To be saturated with the love of Christ and for there to be no remedy.
To be filled with the desire to serve God by preaching the Good News.
All because God created us for Himself, and caused us hear the words of His Son Christ, in and through the power of the Holy Spirit who ‘ fills the sails of our lives’, inspiring us to be His ambassadors.
But only after we have been honed and proven in the fires of sorrow and trials. So that we may not be ‘ responsible for the blood ‘ of anyone we meet.
In this context then, we can make a difference, and be light in a world of darkness; and in this ‘ corrupt generation ‘, that produces #FleetStreetNightmare and #ManchesterBombing. And all the other evils let loose when Sin entered the world through Adam, the #DisobedientOne.
So on this day that the Lord hast made, we give thanks for Jesus the #CrucifiedOne through Whom has come the Salvation for all mankind.
For God so loved the world…..
Hillary of Poitiers ( 315 – 368 born into a prominent pagan family in France…..converted to Christianity in 350…..elected Bishop of Poitiers three years later….rallied the church to counter the Arian position…..defended the Divinity of Christ )
Verse : Acts 20:24
HOISTING MY SAILS
The chief service I owe you, O God, is that every thought and word of mine should speak of you. The power of speech which you have bestowed on me can give me no greater pleasure than to serve you by preaching your gospel.
But in saying this, I am merely expressing what I want to do. If I am actually to use this gift, I must ask you for your help – ask you to fill the the sails I have hoisted with the wind of your Holy Spirit, inspiring my mind and my voice.
I know that I am often heavy with stupor, so that I am too lazy to speak of you. And I do not spend enough time studying your Scriptures, to ensure that my words conform to your Word. Give me the energy and the courage to share the spirit of the Apostles, that like them I may truly be an ambassador of your grace.
SATURATED IN HIS LOVE
Although I am dust and ashes, Lord, I am tied to you by bonds of love. Therefore I feel I can speak freely to you. Before I came to know you, I was nothing. I did not know the meaning of life, and I had no understanding of myself. I have no doubt that You had a purpose in causing me to be born; yet you had no need of me, and on my own I was of no use to you.
But then you decided that I should hear the words of your Son, Jesus Christ. And that as I heard his words, you enabled his love to penetrate my heart. Now I am completely saturated in his love and faith, and there is no remedy. Now, Lord, I cannot change my attitude to my faith; I can only die for it.
THE WORD OF GOD
When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.
I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!
Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Acts 20:18-32 NIV
This morning as I prepared to speak at a Road Safety meeting, the voice of an old favorite of mine came to mind. This, as the murder rate spirals out of control with over 700 murders for the year so far! And the realization that Road Crashes is the second leading cause of violent death in my country; 161 to date.
Sam Cooke 1962: I am in sad mood tonight…..oh my baby done gone away and left me.
Gleaner Headlines today 2017: Highlights and captures the mood, the indescribable sad mood, of the country as another life is #gonetoosoon. Cut down in a hail of bullets!
Is this Independence? The journey of a now sovereign nation, since 1962 ! What the ‘ devil ‘ has gone wrong?
Why have we become so evil that not even women and children spared by marauding gunmen. Not even 80 and 90 year old grandmothers are beyond rape! Not even babies are beyond sexual abuse.
Not even the church is beyond attack by thieves.
Not even pastors are beyond committing acts of gross indecency in public or in private.
Not even your wife and baby mother or girlfriend is beyond murder most foul.
This week the sad mood continued.
11 shot one night with five dead. 5 another night with 3 dead.
And while the carnage continued, and blood and tears flow freely #FleetStreetNightmare, we are busy debating Crime Bills. And wondering how the Church can make a difference!
This week, from the depths of my soul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, I wrote on Facebook.
This week also, I pondered on one of the most profound, encouraging and instructive passages of Scripture:
” For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but about power.”
1 Cor. 4:20
And as I journeyed with the Lord in prayer for my country, and delved deep into Holy Scriptures and inspired writings, this one fact became clear.
This power, although manifest in many and different ways across the centuries, is fulfilled mainly in God’s design to rescue our minds from being controlled by the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of His Son Jesus Christ.
And that power comes by grace flowing from Christ’s great Act of Atonement for Sin on Calvary.
So the battle to rescue our nation from #FleetStreetNightmare is well and truly joined in the minds of our people.
For that reason I believe I was led to read and write that ” we fight not against flesh and blood……”.
And also that at centre of all evil causing #Jamaicableeding #ManchesterBombing and #ParisAttack is Sin.
June 23 ( last night before retiring to bed…..My Utmost for His Highest ….Devotional Guide )
ACQUAINTANCE WITH GRIEF
Verse: A Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Isaiah 53:3
We are not acquainted with grief in the way in which our Lord was acquainted with it; we endure it, we get through it, but we do not become intimate with it.
At the beginning of life we do not reconcile ourselves to the fact of sin. We take a rationale view of life and say that a man by controlling his instincts, and by educating himself, can produce a life which slowly evolve into the life of God.
But as we go on, we find the presence of something which we have not taken into consideration, viz, sin, and it upsets all our calculations.
Sin has made the basis of things wild and not rationale. We have to recognize that sin is a fact, not a defect ; sin is red-handed mutiny against God. Either God or Sin must die in my life.
The New Testament brings us right down to this one issue. If sin rules in me, God’s life in me will be killed; if God rules in me, sin in me will be killed. There is no possible ultimate but that.
The climax of sin is that it crucified Jesus Christ, and what was true in the history of God on earth will be true in your history and mine. In our mental outlook we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact of sin as the only explanation as to why Jesus Christ came, and tge explanation of the grief and sorrow in life.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not his benefits – who forgives all your iniquity and heals all your diseases”
Even death is healing. Healing from all the pain that cancer brings. And for those in Christ, death ushers us into the very Presence of the Living God. But for those without #Weddingclothes then death brings judgment. That’s what the Bible reveals. #Manyarecalledbutfewarechosen
Pray that we may live so that all whom we meet, may come to know the God who forgives all sins and heals all diseases. The God who knows that we are but dust and unto dust we shall return. A God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…..who does not deal with us according to our sins…..but who in Christ died on Calvary so that we may live a new and unending life.
Augustine ( 354- 430……became Bishop of Hippo, North Africa…..a figure of major importance in the Church.. ..He established the doctrine of the Church gave a clear statement concerning the person of Christ, and made the grace of God the theme of the Theology in the West……but committed himself to God late after much prayer by his Christian mother)
One of his most famous and penetratingly accurate observations, is still quoted often in the 21st Century:
“Thou hast made us for thyself O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee”.
– Lately have I loved thee. O Beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved thee; for behold thou wert within me, and I outside, and I sought thee outside and in my unloveliness fell upon those things that thou hast made.
Thou wert with me, and I was not with thee. I was kept from loving thee by those things, yet had they not been in thee, they would have been at all………
Part of the challenge in finding a solution to #Jamaicableeding #Gleanerheadlines #EdBartlett is that those things that we love, kill for, quarrel about, and are prepared to die for, all come from God. Including family. Including our ability to think and reason and reject God, or ignore Him. Including the concept of Freedom – the foundations of democracy, a free press and human rights. Read H. Orlando Patterson’s epic book on Freedom in the Making of Western Culture. And scholars argue that Augustine’s City of God heavily influenced the shaping of Western civilization.
Simply, very simply put, the call of the Church is then to embrace God, and not the things and gifts that He alone gives. As otherwise our hearts become restless and all sorts of evil emerge. Including #Hanoverbleeding. But it is better late than never. And a merciful God is always calling. Individuals and nations! For we just cannot manage on our own. No matter how bright we think we are. Which is what I was led to reflect on this morning. And share. There was more. But more anon. Peace. NB. Philosophy matters #IanBoyne #InFocus
Last night on #CVMTV. ” Crime has nothing to do with poverty” – A pastor with an inner city ministry. He was ridiculed on and off TV. By the religious and the irreligious.
Last night on #TVJAllangles A New Crime Bill was ‘ taken to the cleaners ‘ by a lawyer. Scrap it!
Yesterday in the Parliament the Attorney General and members of the Opposition Party ‘ locked horns’ over the same Bill which was advanced as part of government’s response to #Jamaicableeding
This morning in my #Earlymorningdevotions :
THE SPIRITUAL WAR
Three reflections by Chris Tiegreen ( randomly found….September) based on :
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against……powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
I’ll share some of the key points God willing, another time. But for now, on this day, when the #Gleaner Headlines agree with Earl Moxam and Emily Shields #BeyondPolicing #BeyondTheHealines ” Deal with the social issues”, the following quote says it all:
The devil wrestles with God, and the field of battle is the human heart – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Maybe the ‘ lowly and ignorant ‘ and unschooled pastor was not so foolish after all.
All of this is pure coincidence or a Word from the Lord! The choice is yours, but ‘ as for me and my house ‘, the words of this hymn came into my mind:
O Jesus I have promised
To serve thee to the end.
Be thou forever near me
My Master and my friend.
I shall not fear the battle
As long as thou art by my side
Nor wander from the pathway
If thou wilt be my guide
Facebook Four ….this morning
Poverty and Crime contd. #Earlymorningdevotions
Randomly I opened my Classics Devotional Bible this morning and found this:
THE ENDS ARE SWALLOWED BY THE MEANS
Martin Luther king Jr
Verse: Amos 8: 4 ” Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring the poor to ruin…..”
Only an irrelevant religion fails to be concerned about man’s economic well being. Religion at its best realized that the soul is crushed as long the body is tortured with hunger pangs and narrowed with the need for shelter.
Jesus realized that we need food, clothing, shelter and economic security. He said in clear and concise : ” Your Father knows what you need”. Matthew 6:8.
But Jesus knew that a man was more than a dig to be satisfied by a few economic bones. He realized that the internal of a man’s life is as significant as the external. So he added, ” Strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. vs 33 .
The tragedy of the rich man was that he sought the means first, and in the process the ends were swallowed in the means.
Comment: The tragedy which is manifest on the #Gleanerheadlines #morethanathousandwords #EdBartlett #Jamaicableeding is that successive political leaders have paid attention to one, the economy, and largely ignored the other, the kingdom of God. And if truth be told it is a story writ large in the rising popularity of the #ProsperiryGospel.
For no New International Economic Order, no sloganeering of ” It takes cash to care”, can deal with the kind of evil which has been let loose in Jamaica ” land we love”. No #progress no #prosperity can replace the need for us to ” seek ye first the kingdom of God”, if we wish to remove crime. Not just from #Gleanerheadlines but from the depths of the human experience in #Jamaicableeding.
A message the Bible believing church has been preaching for years! But sadly men and women of influence have closed their collective ears to the truth. And so the land mourns. And we wonder why and spend our times ” debating the issues”.
Will someone please tell the PM. And the Opposition Leader! That Jamaica is in ‘spiritually naked’, in serious danger, and needs to repent.
It’s 4:00 am as I write. The rain has started again. It’s been raining on and off since yesterday. Not with the same intensity like what happened a couple weeks ago, when torrential rains caused flooding, and great damage to our land. An national catastrophy, which, together with drought last year, according to the IMF, has affected our projection for economic growth this year.
But if the rains continues, devastation could happen again. And we are now officially in the hurricane season! A time of potential trouble.
A 4:00 am wake up call, always for me, means that there is a Word from the Lord. So I opened my Bible, randomly, and read. Read about Hoshea King of Israel who , “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”
” They did wicked things provoking the Lord to anger; they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, ‘ You shall not do this’…..”
But Israel, the Northern Kingdom, Judah was in the South, was captured by the King of Assyria and placed in exile.
“ This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them out if the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharoah king of Egypt. They had worshiped other gods and walked in the customs of the nation’s whom the Lord drive out before the people of Israel.”
But the story with Judah was different; even though, ” Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God….”.
Because Hezekiah, King of Judah, ” did what was right in the sight of the Lord just as his ancestor David had done”.
So when the King of Assyria came against Judah, “ he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord”.
Then he sent for the prophet Isaiah to inquire of the Living God what to do.
Then came the message from God to Hezekiah then, and now to we who trust in God in this age:
“Thus says the Lord……..”
The rain has stopped for a while now! It’s minutes to 5. Daylight may take a longer time to come up in this weather. And shine on this troubled land where ” Thus says the Lord” has largely been ignored. Except when it is perceived that the Church may vote en bloc against a particular issue and occasion a change in government. #Rape and a changing definition, is the current fear as expressed by a Cabinet Minister.
Otherwise it is ” Thus says the Editorial “. Or ” Thus says the UN”. Or #Thussays the Talk Show Host. Or #BigBusiness. Or #TheAmericans. Or #CivilSociety. Or the #HumanRights groups.
Therefore the land mourns. In Jamaica. In the UK. In America. In Syria. For the only reason why God decided to covenant with Israel, rather than any other people on earth, all of whom He created in His own image and likeness, was to reveal Himself through them. So mankind could know Who to worship! The story of Israel then , as the Word of God reveals to us, is captured thus :
” These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings to us on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.”
The question, the existential question, which arises for all leaders, especially political leaders who claim Christ, therefore is, to whom will you turn in times of trouble.
Will, ” Thus says the Lord”, be the final decision? Or have we grown so sophisticated and pluralistic that the Word of God is only one of several options to be considered.
But there is another dilemma! Who or where is the Prophet Isaiah in Jamaica, to whom shall the leader look for an answer from the Living God to #Jamaicableeding ? Is he the same one in the UK, and in the USA.
The answer may not be located in the #TimFarron experience alone. But clearly there are lessons to be learnt, viz, ” Do they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ ?”
” How is that relationship manifested ?”
” What sacrifices are they prepared to make, #DenySelf as a disciple of Christ?”
And clearly these are not a questions for our leaders alone. But for all of us who claim Christ. Are we going to be obedient when Jesus calls, or warns, or sends us. For if we ‘ walk with Him and talk with Him along the lonely way ‘, by the power of the Holy Spirit, He will live in us ‘, as promised. And teach us, and empower us, to live in this troubled world.
And so I wrote last night before the Lord intervened and led me to read 2 Kings 17 – 19.
This has not been a good week. As events occurring locally and abroad have shocked us to the core. And left many of us deeply disturbed by man’s inhumanity to man.
First, a desperate cry from children about to die, among others images, haunted my very soul this past week.
“Please don’t kill wi”, screamed the headlines of The Jamaica Observer, as the newspaper reported on four persons shot dead by marauding gunmen in the once peaceful parish of #Hanoverbleeding . Two adults and two children prematurely ushered out of this life by wicked men with no heart! No mercy! No regard for the sanctity of human life!
Then the carnage continued. This time in #Clarendonbleeding ! In the center of the island. Far to the south east of Hanover. And left in the wake three dead; reprisals for another murder a few days before.
Then today, in ‘ broad ‘ daylight, yet another murder in #StJamesbleeding. And so the land mourns #Jamaicableeding, as over 600 persons have been murdered in less than six months.
#Judgmennt #LastDays #Goingtogetworse #Prayer #JamaicaneedsJesus say some!
#Moremoney ##SocialInterventions #LimitedStateofEmergency #MorePolicePresence #Moreinformatiomfromcitizens say others
Then in the midst of this madness #GrenfellTowerFire ! Again with desperate pleas for help, as lives were snuffed out by smoke and fire. Firefighters fought bravely, sweating, and who knows, perhaps a few tears too. But many died. And many are missing!
All of this followed by cries of injustice because it was a poor neighborhood! Thus explaining why basic warning signals were not in place.
Finally, a seemingly unrelated matter. Brought to my attention by a friend on Twitter who is an atheist. Not rabidly so, but very firm in her convictions
#TimFarron resigned as head of the #Libdems, one of the smaller yet well known parties in the UK. Why! Because his view as a Christian that homosexuality is a sin, was at odds with the party’s position and the general sentiment in what is now a thoroughly secular state. Despite John Wesley’ s legacy of ‘ restoring to Britain its soul’!
As I listened and read and pondered, the Lord provided inspiration to tweet:
He did the correct thing… surprised that as a practising Bible believing Christian he got so far in such a liberal and secular state. https://t.co/pwmPfpUeGz
@Petchary it is going to get worse. Not just if you believe that homosexuality is a sin. Regardless of how you treat all people with respect https://t.co/DlrPBLpHWM
@Petchary #OswaldChanbers on #Discipleship #DenySelf. If I do become a disciple my career may have to be ruined https://t.co/pwmPfpUeGz
If means that you don’t need to ( give up the right to yourself) unless you like, but you won’t be of any Account to me …. unless you do https://t.co/pwmPfpUeGz
Best choice: Forgiveness or Same-sex marriage? #TimFarron Party leader or lose your soul! @Petchary @dennisgjones @emily many are called but https://t.co/dFVYjrKYSZ
You alone are my strength my shield. To You alone may my spirit yield. You alone are my heart’s desire. And I long to worship you #TimFarron
And to write on Facebook:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 2. Cor. 8-9. NIV
The most important lesson that any nation #Jamaicableeding or any individual can learn in our journey with the Living God. Ultimately manifest in Christ’s death and ressurection! But in so many other aspects of life’s journey. In simple and complex matters. The mundane and the profound; relationship issues even to the point of divorce, cancer or other life threatening issue, coping with Alzheimer’s disease or drug addiction, racial abuse wherever, financial challenges, growing up children in a challenging world, managing a business or a nation, teaching children who don’t wish to learn, coping with the death or disappearance of a loved one, pastoring a church, seeking justice for others, ministering to unbelievers or to other religious groups….God and God alone.
Last night the Lord led me through another 4:00 am message. Opened my Bible, randomly, in obedience, and read:
A short history of Israel’s repeated apostasy despite the goodness of the Lord; The Holy One of Israel who rescued them time and time again.
And the verse which stuck in my heart, and on which we in #Jamaicableeding ought to reflect, deeply, was:
” They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass”. Verse 20.
This reminder ( I was led to read 1 Cor. 10……these things occurred as examples for us, so that we may not desire evil as they did……) comes at time when Sports has almost become the new religion; as it now in the UK and Europe. #Fulldisclosure a #gunners fan. But not fanatic. A #Cavs fan. But not distraught. A #Bolt fan and I was there at #onelastbolt. Grateful but he is not my #idol.
Would to God that the 35, 000 vuveleza tooting, screaming, adoring fans, would also find themselves in church praising the Lord for His repeated goodness to this land of former slaves. Now free! And to this world all formerly under the wrath of God because of Sin.
But now a door has been opened for Salvation by the shed Blood of Christ.
A land, now where ” because there is no vision, no obedience to the Word of the God of Creation, the people have cast off restraints”.
And so blood flows freely because of revenge, whether on account of praedial larceny or scamming or a drug deal gone sour. Women have to pick up their girlchildren and run from Rape. The Gleaner Editorial, unconstrained by Christian Morality, recommends that we ‘low’ the prostitutes; as they are not troubling anyone, and in so doing we can reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS.
And so while we ignore the Word of God and concentrate on #TheresaMay running through wheat fields and #DonaldTrump and #Comey #Clarendonbleeding #Trelawnybleeding #Hanoverbleeding #StJamesbleeding confronts us. And to whom do we turn?
Last night the Lord provided an answer:
” Hear my cry O Lord
Attend unto my prayer.
From the ends of the earth
Will I cry out to thee.
And when my heart is overwhelmed
Lead me to to the rock
That is higher than I……from memory. Psalm 61
As I write another song comes:
This rock is Jesus. The only one.
Be very sure, be very sure.
Your anchors holds, and grips the solid rock.
The Lord does not need a lot of people, or powerful people #Quallo, #Holness, #Phillips, #Montague, #Bunting, to rescue #Jamaicableeding. Just a few good men and women who trust God and are obedient. #DavidandGoliath, #Gideon #Deborah #Judges. So that we may learn not ” rely ourselves but on Him who raises the dead”. #2Corinthians
For just as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead by the mighty Power of God #Resurrection so too are all who are in Christ, raised to a new life, by the same mighty Power. And then sent to do mighty works!
For thine is the Kingdom the Power and the Glory. Forever and ever Amen.
#earlymorningdevotions No Scripture, but still guided by Scripture. But #Revelation.
Yesterday as I was led to read again, the story of Gideon …..not to rely on self but on God….I rediscovered this profound message.
One which speaks a word in season as we grapple with the spiralling numbers of murders. And confidently assert that ” we shall prevail “.
A message also for the UK, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Israel, the Palestinians, Afghanistan and the Americans also. #ManchesterBombing #ParisAttack #Hanoverbleeding
FOR GOD’S GRACE IN OUR HELPLESSNESS
Peter Marshall ( 1902-1949….Scottish emigrant to the USA served as Chaplain to the United States Senate….powerful preacher. Life made into a movie ” A man called Peter”. And a book.)
Verse: Judges 7:2
Context – World War Two
We know, our Father, that at this desperate hour in world affairs, we need thee. We need thy strength, thy guidance, thy wisdom.
May thy wisdom and thy power come upon the President of of these United States, the Senators and Congressmen ( Prime Minister of Jamaica the Cabinet and Parliament) to whom we have entrusted leadership.
May the responsibility lie heavily on their hearts, until they are ready to acknowledge their helplessness and turn to thee.
Give to them the honesty, the courage, and the moral integrity to confess that they don’t know what to do. Only then can they lead us as a nation beyond human wisdom to thee, who alone hast the answer.
Lead us to this high adventure. Remind us that a ” mighty fortress is our God” – not a hiding place where we can escape for an easy life, but rather an arsenal of courage and strength – the mightiest of all, who will march beside us into the battle for righteousness and world brotherhood.
O our God, may we never recover from our feeling of hopelessness and our need of thee !
In the strong name of Jesus, we pray. Amen
O Mighty God hear our prayer, your prayer, for this nation today. Amen.
I don’t join in much, at least of late, as I grow to appreciate Gods mercy more and more, in the ongoing and inevitably bitter, debate on homosexuality and Sin.
But #TimFarron the Political Leader in the UK, #LibDems who chose allegiance to Christ, over party, in the ongoing debate in the UK, of whether or not homosexuality is a Sin, has been on my mind.
Exchanged tweets about him. Then I was led to read this. Only God!
For the challenge, existential challenge even, that both Christians, divided over this issue, and non Christians alike, is that we were all under the wrath of God; Gay and Straight, Black and White, British or Yard. For all have sinned! And only in Christ do we find peace with God – The essence of the message of the Good News, the Gospel. So in a sense, to reduce the argument about Sin to either sexual sins in general or Homosexuality in particular, would be to miss the point entirely.
For, but for the grace of God, ultimately manifest in Christ’s death and Ressurection, we would have all perished in our sins.
REVELATION ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF SIN AND GOD’S MERCY
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive in with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved….
For it is by by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God. Ephesians 2: 1-9.
So #TimFarron has opened up space for a greater and more useful debate. Sin and God’s mercy!
Was also led to tweet this. In context!
” If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared”. Ps. 139:3-4
I read my Bible to see what men ought to do, and read my newspapers to see what men ate doing – a Saint of yore.
Lord renew they church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – A Prayer.
Because we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men – Holy Scriptures.
This week four issues touched my soul or struck a chord with me.
1. Usain St. Leo Bolt’s ‘ send off party.
I was there in midst of one the largest crowds ever to assemble at the National Stadium. Wearing yellow! Cheering! Grateful for the special memories. But ever mindful that ‘ I owe allegiance only to the Lamb’.
2. The death of football icon Captain Burrell
3. The Pepita Little Story
4. The continued high level of murder in Jamaica
Two of which issues, inspired, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the sending of three messages to my church and the wider secular and Christian community, by email.
All four of which were part of a sermon I preached at a Contemporary today.
First the ( notes ) of the sermon.
Which amazingly is close to the thoughts, at least the initial part, of a column written by the award winning journalist Ian Boyne in the In focus section of the Sunday Gleaner today.
SERMON FOR JUNE 11TH ST. ANDREW PARISH CHURCH
What is man that You are mindful of him…..Psalm 8
One famous…larger than life….almost a national icon….france ’98….restored to a nation its soul( according to the Jamaica Observer Editorial..my response Twitter..well done but not quite …..searched for help in fight against cancer
The other struggling Christian young lady beset with many many sins…ganja smoker, pastors son….along with a gangster….crying out for help
Suggest that these two life experiences demonstrate how much we all need the grace of God. Regardless of our circumstances. For what is man really in comparison with the Living and Almighty and Holy God.
This week…..Pepita Little…..sinful woman and Jesus.
Pharisee, who was very self righteous invited Jesus.. perhaps like Herod…who was intrigued by John the Baptist and liked to listen to him…..until he John the Baptist confronted him about his egregious sin
She invited herself…..stood behind Jesus crying ….deeply distressed by her sinful life….
Don’t know the Captain well nor do I intend to pass any judgment on him in terms of his relationship with God, but listening to the commentators you hear that he was a haughty man…..and that self-esteem was definitely not his problem.
Suggest that this kind of pride, this kind of belief in one’s abilities, if not attended by thanksgiving to a mighty God who gives gifts to all humankind, will be a death knell to the Christian life.
For the essence of relationship our a Holy God to sinful mankind is captured by Peter’s frightened reaction when Jesus told them to let down the net on the other side after they, experienced fishermen, had been labouring all night…..caught no fish……nets full of fish…..”get away from me Lord for I am a sinful man”.
For this understanding of life, this worldview, is what the story of the sinful woman and her encounter with the Living God, is all about.
For like her, like Pepita, whether we are acolyte, youth leader, regular member the 10:30 congregation, street boy begging, pastors preaching, Bishop presiding, Captain Burrell giving orders and shaping a vision for football, whether embattled Donald Trump or confused Theresa May, whether I am legend Usain Bolt, we have all sinned and fallen short if the glory of God.
And are in need of God’s mercy and grace. Thank God for Jesus’ death on Calvary
Basketball….this is why we play….this why we love God…..why we worship….this is why we share the Gospel…..go ye and make disciples of all mankind….the reading for today.
For what really is man that God should be mindful of us.
Hilary of Poitiers
Although I am just and ashes, Lord I am tied to you by bonds of love. Therefore I feel I can speak to you . Before I came to know you, I was nothing. I did not know the meaning of life, and I had no understanding of myself. I have no doubt that You had a purpose in causing me to be born; yet you had no need of me, and on my own I was on no use to you.
Bit then you decided that I should hear the words of your Son, Jesus Christ. And that as I heard his words, you enables his love to penetrate my heart.
Now I am completely saturated in his love and faith, and there is no remedy. Now, Lord, I cannot change my attitude to my faith, I can only die for it.
We can’t tell people about our Savior unless we tell them we need to be saved and why – Chris Tiegreen
……but I hold this against you…..you have lost your first love….
Without love…we are nothing…… If I speak in tongues of mortalsand if angels, but do not have love, I an noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
1 Cor. 13.
Jesus did not come for the righteous but to call sinners to repentance…..set the captives free,
Problem of the church….lost its first love…..trying to change the world or exist in this world by its own power and organizational strength……lift up the name of Jesus and he will call all men to himself.
Honest people like #Pepita…..like the sinful woman…..loved much and therefore her many sins were forgiven.
This week I was led to share thoughts with first my church, Anglicans, mainly the leaders, and then the wider Christian and secular leadership about the danger of pride and self-love. Two human characteristics which are a danger to a soul which was bought by the price of the blood of Jesus.
For we must never ever forget that we are no longer our own, that we have committed in baptism to die to the old sinful man. For out of hearts of men cone all kinds if wickedness…..have you ever experienced this….wicked thoughts that sometimes plague your soul.
And thoughts of envy and anger and greed and perhaps even sometimes even if we are truthful wishing for the death of someone.
All because of self-love and a determination to have our own way. Rather than submit to the guidance if the Holy Spirit.
Self-love has to be rooted out and replaced by the love of God.
Which can only happen when we ‘ become new in Christ ‘ at Baptism.
For ” no one cometh unto the Father except through me ” – Jesus then provides access to the Father and to the Holy Spirit. For what is man or woman indeed without Christ. Nothing. Even if you are Usan Bolt!
I watched most of the video.
Been thinking about it. A lot. Then read this on Hebrews this morning:
” See to it that no one becomes like Esau, an immoral and godless person who sold his birthright for a single meal…..he was rejected for he found no chance to repent, even though he sought the blessing with tears.” 12:16-17
Then I recalled my favourite Bible story. The one where the sinful woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped then with her hair. And our wonderfully Compassionate Lord sent her away on peace as her many sins were wiped away because she ‘ loved much’.
That’s the impression I formed about this troubled young lady. Though tormented by her failings, she is not ‘ godless ‘, in the way Esau was described, or declared. But rather someone who loves Jesus much and needs our prayers.
Pretty much in the same way all of us need prayers for we have done and thought much wrong. Not the same, but all in need of grace.
Then Cece Winans ” Alabaster box ‘, which accompanied me to Healing Conference 2017 came into my mind:
Always recall though that this same Compassionate Jesus who told the woman caught in adultery that he did not condemn her, also emphatically told her to ” go ye and sin no more “. A command which is only possible when the Holy Spirit lives in us in response to our belief in this same Jesus who died on Calvary for our sins. And was raised from the dead so that we too may have ‘ new life ‘ in Him.
Which is what the celebration yesterday of Pentecost was all about: The fulfillment of prophesy that ” God’s Spirit would be poured out on all flesh”. And enable us to ‘ sin no more’.
And which Gospel story is the only lasting solution for #LondonTerrorAttacks and #Hanoverbleeding
That was yesterday! Posted on my Facebook page.
Then this morning as I woke up the story of the ‘ sinful woman’ came to mind. So for my #earlymorningdevotions I read the story in Luke again. And these thoughts came mind after:
– The Pharisee invited Jesus to his house.
– The sinful woman invited herself.
– Both had debts which were canceled. But the one with the bigger debt ‘ loved Jesus more’.
– Because ‘ she loved much’, her many sins were forgiven. But ‘ he who has been forgiven loves little’.
Comment: Herein, I believe the Spirit of God, led me to the problem( perhaps among others) we have in our church today why we are suffering a decline in both numbers and effective witness.
Far too many members of the church, at all levels, do not identify with “Amazing Grace – that saved a wretch like me”.
Thus we have invited Jesus into our lives, but not necessarily into our hearts.
Compared to the ‘ sinful woman who ‘ invited herself’, with tears of contrition, perhaps like Pepita Little, into the very Presence of an Awesome Healing God.
And if we extend the story into the Sermon at the first Pentecost, when the people heard that they had not just, ‘ not given Jesus a kiss, or washed his feet, but killed the One sent by God’, they were ‘ cut to the heart’ and asked what should they do?
Then came the answer, ” wash Jesus’ feet with your tears, and wipe them with your hair’, viz, Repent and be baptized.
And save yourselves from this corrupt generation.
But for that to happen, we first have to just ‘ stand behind Jesus and weep’. Because like Pepita, we have so many sins. And they have all been canceled.
As were Peter’s! “Simon, do you love me”.
So I receive. So I share. Almost with tears in my eyes. In the name of Jesus, Son of the Living God.
As I conclude this three part message, a couple of noteworthy things intervened.
First, I listened to two of Jamaica’s more perceptive journalists, sharing in a deep conversation on #BeyondTheHealines on #RJRFM94 last evening. The issue was the spiralling murder rate. This, as news broke yesterday about one youngster stabbing another to death, the gruesome discovery of a tomb in a room in a house in which was found the decomposing remains of a ‘ missing woman’s. And more. Much more within the past few days, include the shooting death of two teenage couples, with both of the females pregnant. Evil! Declared Emily Shields. Beyond Policing! Asserted the veteran and highly respected Earl Moxam. As both agreed that success in treating these heinous crimes has to begin in the mind.
And I said to myself, this ‘ revelation’ is what the church has been saying for years!
But history has a way of repeating itself. So the people chose ‘ Barabbas ‘ instead! Chose to listen to the irreverents; Mutty Perkins, and John Hearne. And now Cliff Hughes and Orville Taylor. Chose to follow ‘ Bustamante til I die’….and Norman, and Joshua, and Eddie, and ‘ We say PJ, and De Driva, and Sista P, and now young Prince Andrew. Chose to put their trust in ‘ Cash Plus ‘ and Olint !
Chose macroeconomic imperatives over Christian Morality. Chose the doctrine of the ‘ Free Market’ over the Doctrine of Sin. Chose to be entertained by sundry Dancehall and Soca artistes who claim that ‘ they have the formula ‘. And of late chose to be entertained by the ‘ prosperity gospel’. Which is no gospel at all. And so the land mourns, and young girls like Pepita Little are born every day into a ‘ corrupt generation’.
From which Peter, in his first sermon after Pentecost, urged those whose ‘ hearts were cut’, by the Good News of the Resurrection of the Jesus, who they had killed ( rejected in favor of Barabbas), to save themselves.
Second, as I opened my Classics Devotional Bible this morning words from a MLK Jr meditation ‘fixed its eye on me’. Again! As I had written about it before.
HE WHO TURNS BLACKNESS INTO DAWN.
Verse: Amos 5:8
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……
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……
So let me now share the final part of the reflection on Self-love knowing that we serve a God is both good and just. And and promised, in the Gospel reading for Sunday coming, ‘ to be with us, and Pepita Little, and all who chose Him over Barabbas, until the end of age ‘.
….we should be in despair
Those who correct others ought to watch the moment when God touches their hearts; they must bear a fault with patience till they perceive his spirit reproaching them within.
Then they must follow his providence that gently reproaches them, so that they may feel that it is less God than their own hearts that condemn them. When we blame with impatience because we are displeased with the fault, it is a human censure and not the disapprobation of God.
It is a sensitive self-love that that cannot forgive the self-love of others. The more self-love we have, the more severe are our censures. There is nothing so vexatious as the collision between one excessive self-love and another still more violent and sensitive. The passions of others are infinitely ridiculous to those who are under the dominion of their own ( Especially if you are determined to stand behind Jesus like Pepita Little and weep).
The ways of God are very different. He is ever full of kindness for us, he gives is strength, he regards us with pity and condescension, he remembers our weakness, he waits for us. ( Even after we chose Barabbas….the message from Calvary).
The less we love ourselves, the more considerate we are of others.
We wait for providence to give the occasion, and grace to open their hearts to receive it. If you would gather the fruit before its time, you lose it entirely. END.
Food for thought ! From Pepita and the Church, to Jamaica and Barabbas. Time to get it right. And escape from this ‘ corrupt generation’. Time for all us to repent. And me first!
Lord renew they church beginning with me. Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s).
War in the minds of suicide bombers and wicked gunmen. Jesus vs. Satan
#Manchesterarena. #ManchesterBombing It’s not that the story didn’t touch me when news broke about the deaths of twenty three persons; with many more injured.
Ariana Grande says she is ‘broken’ after explosion in Manchester Arena that left 22 dead and 59 injured | https://t.co/aSeVWDCW3c | #Iran
In fact, like perhaps millions across the world, I was horrified beyond words. And like others, followed closely the saturated coverage of the awful story by both CNN and BBC. Further, even though I am an Arsenal fan #gunnerforlife, I’ve been there. And done that! Visited Manchester, and did what would be considered de rigeur; walked around in the Man U stadium. I know the place.
The ‘ revelation ‘ about the everyday material used in the bomb #nails, the repeated showing of the video with the terrible haunting cry of, ‘ O my God‘, the mad rush to exit the arena caught on camera, the banality of evil as shown by the middle class home where the suicide bomber lived, and the defiant attitude of those who gathered in the city centre to mourn and to comfort; all these images will remain in my mind for a long time.
And hopefully so too will the images of the over 80 victims of the #KabulBombing this week, stay with me for a long time. Despite the fact that there was no saturated coverage of that equally horrific event. None! Just a news item among many others. And then moving quickly along! Despite the fact that the objective was the same. Create terror in the minds of the ‘ target audience‘! Maybe it’s the novelty of a suicide attack in one city vs the regularity in another. Maybe! But for the Christian, we must never forget, that all are made equal and precious in the eyes of the God of Abraham, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Clearly then, news of four persons brutally murdered in seven days in #Trelawnybleeding, and three dying in St.Catherine over a weekend, and a mother and son gunned down in #Hanoverbleeding, was not going to make the International news. And who knows, perhaps people in Jamaica who don’t follow the news, unless it affects them directly, might not even be aware of such happenings.
And while the world searches for answers to the vexed question of how to stop the terrorists, or even how to deal with man’s inhumanity to man, I was led to read a profound meditation which speaks directly to this existential challenge.
Verse: You were taught….to be made new in the attitude of your minds. Ephesians 4: 22-23
You were taught…” In other words, this is something we should know. The renewing of the mind is a prominent New Testament teaching. When we become Christians we are to think differently.
“To be made new …..” We can take comfort in the fact that this is a passive command. We don’t do the renewing ; we simply subject ourselves to it. We submit our minds to God and let Him fill them with His truth. He is the guardian of our makeovers.
” In the attitude of your minds”. Our thought life is a battleground. You’ve probably noticed that. There is a war going on for the ideas and affections of men and women in this world, and it’s brutal. We are assaulted with falsehoods constantly, and sometimes they seem so close to the truth that we fall for them. But the enemy is devious, we are gullible, and the war rages on. Satan wants our minds, Jesus wants them even more.
How can we win this war?……
It’s hard. There is no easy way.
…..We are to fill our minds either truth and let God’s Spirit renew them. As we immerse ourselves in His Word and let His teachings sink into our hearts, eventually our minds will learn to decipher truth from error. We will learn to see things from a kingdom perspective rather than a worldly one. In effect, we will be made new.
Comment: I suggest that this meditation addresses the heart of the problem facing the ‘ body of Christ’, the Church in today’s Google Millennial Society.
The battleground for the hearts and minds of people, calling them to repent, to turn to God in and through Christ Jesus, is in the minds of our people. And by ourselves we would lose that war, and suffer a massive defeat.
For who among us can compete with Google, pornography, Netflix, iTunes and YouTube, for the affections and minds of unbelievers. And if truth be told, the Bible and prayer are no longer necessarily the #1 ‘search engine’ for many Christians.
So, for many, Truth and Morality are relative issues and not absolute! Something to learn and not a Person, Jesus Christ, to meet. And to ‘ covenant with’!
Therefore my truth tells me to bomb innocent people. In #Manchesterarena and in #Kabul. In the name of revenge. Or even Allah! #IamCharlieHebdo.
My truth allows me, a rated dancehall artist, so the story goes, not to be ‘ dissed’ by anyone. And thus exact revenge!
My truth says that women and children are fair game in the ‘ rough and tumble of life’. And thus as a ranking badman, it doesn’t matter how old. Or if she could have been my mother. Blam, blam. You’re dead!
My truth allows to me to live as if God is irrelevant, dead or ineffective. But yet I am in shock when disaster strikes. And yearn for a crime free Jamaica!
Thank God for Jesus, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts people of Sin. And lead them to turn to God in repentance.
Thank God for Pentecost which many churches will celebrate thisv Sunday. Marking the beginning of the Christian Church when the Holy Spirit was ” poured out on all flesh “.
When the first sermon was preached. Acts Chap 2. One of the readings for Sunday. And the people were told that God raised the man Jesus Christ – who they had killed – from the dead.
The people then asked what should they do? ” Repent and be baptized…..and save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”. Came the answer.
God then ‘ added to their number’, three thousand on that day.
So in the final analysis, it is God who convicts people of sin, when we lift up the Name of Jesus. In our homes! In the community! In the crusades! In the media! On social media! At Healing Conference! Everywhere!
No doubt it was for reasons as articulated above, why I was inspired to post this message on Facebook this week.
” Opened my Classics Devotional Bible randomly in my #earlymorningdevotions and found this:
THE SEEKERS COVENANT
Matthew Henry ( 1662-1714 … As a bible expositor, his multivolume Commentary on the Bible still enjoys popularity, even though they were written almost 300 years ago…..)
Verse: 2 Chronicles 30:6
“Yield yourself unto the Lord ” ( 2 Chronicles 30:8)
Before you can come into communion with him you must come into covenant with him……
The God you are called to return to is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a God in covenant with your first fathers.
Your late fathers that forsook him and trespassed against him have been given up to desolation; their apostasy and idolatry have been their ruin, as you see ( vs 7). You yourselves are but a remnant narrowly escaped out of the hands of the Kings of Assyria. If you return to God in a way of duty, he will return to you in a way of mercy….
Could anything be expressed more pathetically, more movingly? Could there be a better cause, or could it be better pleaded?
Comment: #Trelawnybleeding and #Hanoverbleeding and #StJamesbleeding and a 9 year old girl coming from school is struck down a few feet from her home by a speeding bus…. and #Jamaicableeds and #Jamaicatroubled came into my mind. For we have in large measure forsook the God of our grandparents, who were in a covenant relationship with ‘Puppa Jesus’ and ‘Maasa God’. And got taken up with idols, in politics, talk show radio ( it will take many years to recover from Mutty Perkins et al) , in our wallets, even in the Church( have mercy), on the Internet- we turn to Google more than we turn to the Bible or go on our knees –
And so our land mourns. The people are confused and increasingly becoming hopeless and cynical about the solutions to stem the flow of blood in our land.
Thank God, as Matthew Henry closed his profound meditation,
” In the worst of times God has had a remnant, so he had here….”
A people committed to ‘ yield themselves to Christ and Christ alone’.
To Whom will you pledge allegiance today? The Lamb of God. Or idols, about whom King Hezekiah faced with the threat of destruction by the King of Assyria declared:
“ Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him; for there is one greater with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us fight our battles. The people were encouraged by the words of King Hezekiah of Judah. 2 Chronicles 32: 7-8″.
Our duty then is lift up the Name of Jesus in Word and in deed. A lifestyle! Whenever. Wherever. To whomsoever. In season and out of season. Whether we get a visa or not. Whether we are ridiculed or not. Whether we appear on page 2 or not. Whether we are ignored or not. Whether we suffer at the hands of extremists, in Pakistan, India or in China. And in Jamaica. And the USA.
That is the context in which we need to reflect on the powerful message coming out of #HealingConference2017: that Healing takes place in community.
That we need each other. In war torn Afghanistan, in the ruins of Aleppo, and the human tragedy that daily unfolds in Syria, in the once tranquil and now devastated city of Manchester, and especially in ‘ Paradise Lost’ Jamaica. A togetherness which was a striking feature of first century Christianity as they witnessed to the love of God in Christ Jesus – the end of Acts 2. But which quest for unity, sadly, is no longer a priority in the ‘ body of Christ’, as each denomination ‘ does its own thing’, largely unconcerned with the activities of others outside their ‘ flock’ – one of the scandals of the modern day church.
And then this chorus which got into my soul during the Healing Conference weekend; in particular just before the powerful Healing Service on Sunday morning, reveals the only source that binds us together. Not doctrine! Not tradition! Not culture! But:
oh it is Jesus
yes it is Jesus
it’s Jesus in my soul;
for I have touched the hem of His garment,
and His blood has made me whole.
Pray God that His precious blood will make people ‘ whole’. In Manchester. In Kabul. In Trelawny. In Hanover. And across the entire world. If people would just reach out and ‘ touch the hem of his garment ‘.
And sing ( another Healing Conference chorus):
1 Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
hear my humble cry;
while on others thou art calling,
do not pass me by.
hear my humble cry;
while on others thou art calling,
do not pass me by.
Song in video. Early morning devotions on Saturday.