I am inviting all who read these weekly blogs, to watch the sermon shared at the annual National Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Jamaica, on Thursday morning, January 18th, 2018. It can be found in the link below on YouTube. If you wish you can fast forward until the sermon appears, or watch the entire program.
The preacher, Rev. Astor Carlyle of the Webster United Church in Kingston Jamaica, inspired me to write the following comment on my Facebook page:
A CALL FOR A MORAL REVOLUTION
Search through this link and you will find a great treasure. A call for a moral revolution otherwise we will always be in a state of emergency – Pastor Astor Carlyle speaking at the #NLPB this morning morning. And more!
Spent time tonight listening to the entire sermon all over again. And from Buju Banton through Jeremiah, from Clear mindedness and Truth telling, from Community mindedness and Justice, to Clean mindedness and Righteousness, the same Truth rang out like a clarion call. Only God can circumcise the heart. Only God can lead us to a moral revolution and away from moral insensitivity. Only God!
COMMENTS ON FACEBOOK
And among the comments which this post triggered were the following:
First: Veteran broadcaster Fae Ellington –
“Wasn’t able to watch it live but I did so last night. Rev. Astor Carlyle, my pastor’s message at the National Prayer Breakfast, to all of us Jamaicans – at home and abroad – is exactly what this nation needed to hear.
I have one concern however. This timely message was delivered on the same morning that the state of public emergency was announced. So although the leaders of both political parties were in attendance, they may not have ‘listened keenly’ because their minds might have been focused on what was happening in St. James, the Prime Minister moreso.
This also applies to others key functionaries in that room.
My point is borne out as most media missed the nexus between the Rev Astor Carlyle’s message and the real reason for a state of public emergency. On this count #CVM did much better than #TVJ.
Those media houses which only gave it a ‘lick and promise’ or no coverage at all need to revisit that message and be bold in the reporting and critical analysis.
I think we all as a nation would benefit from a full panel discussion on this message. Criminalogist. Psychologist. Political analyst. Sociologist. We don’t even need a theologian on this one.”
Second: Well known human rights activist and Anglican Pastor – Rev. Sean Major-Cambpell
“This message should be put on cd and sent throughout the country. Imagine this message feeding the minds on buses versus the filth that is often played. Imagine a portion being played at school devotions across Jamaica. Imagine a few minutes of this being played in the tax office and the banks and some crowded spaces where people spend a long time in lines. #FeedingTheMinds”
Third: The most unapologetic, strident and ‘ Truth telling ‘ journalist in town – Erica Virtue
“There are No guarantees that without an impending State of Emergency they would have listened any keener. But I can tell you they heard. You could see them wince as the truth hit home. He gave them all a righteous slaughter. Serve them right. And good for him.”
THE TEXT FROM THE PROPHET JEREMIAH
Having watched the sermon again, and having spent some time reflecting on the many contextually relevant and pointed observations: ” Truth is closely allied with trust; and without trust people will not sacrifice to help build a nation “, I went to the text from which he preached. Jeremiah 4: 1-4
THE WORD OF GOD
“If you, Israel, will return, then return to me,” declares the Lord . “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ then the nations will invoke blessings by him and in him they will boast.”
This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord , circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.
Jeremiah 4:1-4 NIV
And then during #mylunchtimedevotions on the following day, I went back to Chap 3, in order to better understand the context in which the Word of God was ‘ lifted up high’, in, and on, the nation yesterday. And found this:
THE WORD OF GOD
“I myself said, “ ‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me. But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord . A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the Lord their God.
“Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” “Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God. Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills and mountains is a deception; surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.
From our youth shameful gods have consumed the fruits of our ancestors’ labor— their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters. Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our ancestors; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”
Jeremiah 3:19-25 NIV
GOD’S PLANS FOR JAMAICA
And so I understood better the Word from this anointed man of God, that The Lord has a wonderful future in store for Jamaica. But to attain that preferred future, we have to choose well. Make a choice to, as a nation, as they say in the language of the streets ” bun fyah for moral insensitivity and tun up moral revolution“.
For our God is longing for us to call Him Father, and not turn away from Him. In #StJamesbleeding! In #Clarendonbleeding! And in #Jamaicableeding.
Then I gave thanks for Jesus in an intentional way. Why?
Read again about God’s wrath in verse 4: “Which will flare up with no one to which it. Forever!”
THANK GOD FOR JESUS
That is, no one but Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. ” For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”!
Not just Israel. Not just Judah. Not just the wicked gunmen in St. James, and in the heart of New Kingston the day after the #NLPB was held…and not far from the hotel. Not just ISIS. Not just #Kartel. Not just #Ninjaman. Everybody! The Governor General, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Church leaders, me, you. Everybody!
” But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus”. That’s why we love the Lord Jesus. Because He died for me. And for you! And so we sing the sanke that came into my head:
” Are you washed, are you washed, are you washed with the blood of the lamb. Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow, are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb”.
So My Lord, God who became man, Incarnate, died so that the wrath of God, may not destroy all of us who have sinned viz., ” perish”.
The reality then, us that, with all the preaching in the world, with all the Prayer Breakfast, with all the State of Public Emergency now in force in St. James, unless we, confess our sins before a Holy God, repent, abd are ” born again “, baptized and become a disciple of Christ, we will never have a ” circumcised heart”.
And thus a nation will always be in a state of emergency.
And not just Jamaica. For if truth be told whether they accept it or not, America is in a state of moral emergency. So too most of Europe. Despite their great wealth! For all that glitters is not gold. Perhaps in an even more dire state than #Haiti and parts of #Africa.
OLD COVENANT AND THE NEW COVENANT
Finally I was led to read one of the great teaching passages in the Bible:
THE WORD OF GOD
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:12-14, 16-18 NIV
This then is the ” preferred future” for all mankind. To perceive the ” new thing “, that in Christ, God is doing. To move in the direction that the Prophet Jeremiah pointed. To a New Covenant with God written in! The Blood of the Lamb on Calvary And where no ” veil ” covers our faces, and no ” veil ” covers our minds and make them dull. But rather looking to the Lord Jesus, we are being transformed into His image with ever increasing glory.
That is the heritage of all faithful believers.
Only then will ” streams of living water ” The promised Holy Spirit, flow from us, and help to heal this #ZOSO land. This #StateofEmergency land. And bring Peace to Montego Bay and Kingston. And grant us a ” circumcised heart “.
PRONE TO WANDER
Otherwise as the song writer so profoundly observed, in the words of a song that came into my heart last night; we will always like the people of Israel, be ” prone to wander from the God we love “.
With devastating consequences!
Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy praise!
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
And teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
praise the mount! Oh, fix me on it,
mount of God’s redeeming love.
Here I find my greatest treasure,
hither by Thy help I come,
and I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God,
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
Oh, 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, oh
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.