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).