A photo has been shared thousands of times in multiple Facebook posts alongside the claim that it shows Italy’s prime minister crying over the toll of the novel coronavirus epidemic. The claim is false; the photo shows Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro getting emotional during a Thanksgiving speech.
“Italian prime minister cry as he tell the press, we are overwhelmed with the coronavirus,” reads text accompanying a photo that has been shared more than 6,100 times since it was posted here on Facebook on March 22, 2020.
This fake news caught me this week. Until I went to google to include it in the story for this week. I was so impressed by this leader’s piety in the face of the onslaught of COVID-19 in is country. While this story as posted on Social Media, a double edged sword, is fake news, what is real is that things are bad, and getting worse, not just in Italy, but worldwide.
Jamaicans, just last night were told that we have four more cases of COVID-19 infections. While in America, the cases have surged so much, that, that country now has the most cases in the entire world. More than China and more than Italy!
And the short video below, real this time, tells the story of what is happening to people all over the world. They are crying inside and are absolutely terrified.
These are unprecedented times indeed for all of us who never experienced the horrors of World War 11. Or when poliomyelitis ravaged our our country. Yes SARS was frightening, and MERS too, but nothing like COVID-19. Not even close. And with the warning from the PM that Jamaica would be “locked down” if tings get considerably worse, there could be very unusual times ahead to put it mildly.
So what is to be done? Who will come to our aid at this time? Will a vaccine be made available son? Is there some wonder drug soon to be to be revealed, or is it here already but we are not willing to accept it? Or is this really the end of times? What is real and what is fake news?
This week, in my journey with the Lord, at least one of those questions were answered. And who knows, if we understand the central story of the Bible we might experience the kind complete healing which the world desperately needs now. My story is revealed in these letters to my church this week:
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and varied ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son….Hebrews 1:1-2
A conversation which began yesterday. And continued
on the way to work this morning.
Focus on what Jesus is saying in these times and not so much on Old Testament prophecy. And in Him you will find peace in this COVID-19 times.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NIV
What things? John 13 – 16. The Last Supper to the High Priestly Prayer which is John 17.
Spend quality time reading about these things that lead us to be ” in Christ”, and therefore find peace in these times. Whether over or under age 75. All can find this peace which Jesus offers. Instead of fear, and panic, and uncertainty.
Leave Netflix and general TV and the urge to respond to every WhatsApp message, for another time. Even later.
“ Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me”. John 14:1
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s)….the whole world.
A plea for us to focus on what God is saying to us in and though Jesus Christ in these times, rather than focus too much, although useful background knowledge, on what God of revealed of Himself – for more and better particulars were to come in Jesus – through Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Elijah at that time in history.
The conversation – about the OT and the NT – continued early this morning. Why “ There is, on the one hand, an abrogation of an earlier commandment because it was weak and ineffectual ( for the law made nothing perfect); there is on the other hand, the introduction of a better hope, through which we can approach God.” Hebrews 7;18-19 NRSV.
So the only way to really rescue this nation from evil, whether it be #COVID-19, or murder, or immorality or….is to depend on “ this better hope, though which we approach God”.
For if truth be told, too many in the wider church community are “ an Old Testament “ believing people. And have influenced those who are not church people, but in a sense “ have a form of godliness”, while denying the power of Christ, calling on “ Father God”, or even mimicking the Christians, calling on “ the blood of Jesus Christ”. And therefore the nation has become a judgmental people, and too often lacking in mercy. As well as a disobedience and unruly people.
And if truth be told, many of us, including myself, have in some way been influenced by this kind of doctrine. The Seventh Day Adventists have taken it to another level, for they have made this Old Testament theology, almost an entry point to Christ, rather than appreciating the the gift that it is – the first and early revelation of God – now being superseded ( for the earlier commandment was weak and ineffectual) by “ a better hope, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified and Raised from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of God, through whom, and Him only, we approach God. “ I am the way the truth and the life; no one cometh to the Father except through me”.
And this is not “ De Cordova Adams type semantics”, as the power of prayer is the most potent weapon we have to fight against evil at anytime in the Christian journey…it availeth much. And Christ Himself said that ‘ if you abide in me, and my word abide in you, then you shall ask what you will, and it shall be given unto you”. John 15:7
And to approach a holy God, and confidently ask for mercy for this nation, and for ourselves, we need to abide in Christ. And His Word!
‘It is the spirit that gives life,; the flesh is useless ( counts for nothing). These words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life”. John 6;63 NRSV.
The challenge for us is that the Holy Spirit, which Christ promised to send to us, to “ guide us into all truth’, will not abide in a heart set on disobedience to God’s Word – which is spirit and life – and continue to be led by the flesh – which counts for nothing. Useless! In time of trouble.
This is where the Old Testament experience can help us as we recall Joshua “ Chose ye whom you shall serve today…as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord”. In that sense the eternal struggle, of the early church, the children of Israel, and now the body of Christ, is to understand that, as Joshua warned, they having said “ yes” we will serve the Lord, that without help we cannot indeed obey God.
Thank God for Jesus, and Him Crucified and raised from the dead, with mighty power, that, that help, to serve God, and to approach Him, with confidence in times of trouble, and Corona is serious trouble, is with us, and in us, in Christ Jesus.
And to access that help, the door is opened by repentance; “ a broken and contrite heart you will not despise’. Psalm 51. Which is why Lent, which by the way, we are still observing, despite the frenzy about hand washing and physical ( not social) distancing, is divinely appointed.
“ In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries, to the one who able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.’ Hebrews 5: 7 NSRV
Therefore this is not the time for occasional and standard prayers, “ languid prayers and dim faith ….And now O Father mindful of thy love…second verse”, if there ever was such a time, but for bawling out before God for mercy.
“ For lo! Between our sins and their reward we set the passion of our Lord.
May God hear and have mercy on our nation!
Lord renew thy church beginning with me, and all of us; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s). Now and after Corona Virus.
Peace, and in obedience, for flesh and blood, nor my own imaginations, have not taught me these things.
I have many Seventh Day Adventist patients, and friends, lots of then both patient and friend after many years of journeying together in Christ. And I love them dearly and know that they love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart. But at some time, and sooner than later, I would suggest that they follow the advice of Elijah, and “ cease limping along with two opinions”. For the struggle to restore the soul of this nation, and not just to fight against COVID-19, will require that all Christians acknowledge the “ better hope “ Who is Christ, and though Him, and Him alone, and not through the keeping of the Ten Commandments – which neither we nor the SDA can keep – we can approach God and ask for mercy for this country. An attempt to merge the two can’t work.
The same, or even greater, challenge applies to those who promote the “ prosperity gospel’, which is no gospel at all. For to look to God for “ blessings “ as if He is a celestial ATM, and not be prepared to suffer with Christ, undergo trials, and even persecutions, and to “ rebuke Diabetes, or any other malady, in the name of Jesus” , is to fashion a new gospel. And one which has no power to rescue this country. Finally in this context, and by far the wore ‘sin’ of all, misunderstanding the essence of the gospel story, the better Hope in Christ Crucified and Risen, is one thing, but it is a horse of an entirely color to be persistently and unrepentantly disobedient to the Word of God. Which is the case of far too many who “ take Holy Communion every Sunday”, and who know, the correct Theology of the Truth about Christ.
The conversation about OT and the New Covenant -which began on Sunday – continued again this morning. With an additional context!
I don’t know how many of you listened to Beyond the Headlines with Dionne jackson-Miller about 6:30 last evening, but she interviewed someone from a new ‘church’. And the essence of their suggestion, and which irked DJM in this time of COVID-19 when people are being laid off, was that, God is calling on people to sow a seed offering to ‘appease’…my word… Him to end the epidemic. She called them scammers. But I don’t believe they are diabolical, as their spokesperson is someone I know, but they are seriously mistaken. And she, the spokeswoman, quoted a passage from Ezra to validate her arguments. But DJM was having none of it and dismissed her summarily.
So early this morning the Lord led me to read a familiar passage, but one which I had never really understood the depth of the meaning. I had some idea, as many, very many, of my patients are Adventists, so I had thought about them whenever I read the passage. But not like this. For to be led to read it now, in the context of the COVID-19 Virus, cannot be just a coincidence.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NIV
“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
2 Corinthians 3:1-3 NIV
Not written on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts – really grabbed my attention. Question is how many of us understand that we are “ a letter from Christ”, as a result of the ministry of the Apostles, not just Paul. Which leads us back to Jesus’ High Prayer in John 17:
““My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:20-21 NIV
Therefore our growth and development in Christ, is not something that started with the Apostles, nor I did it depend on our teachers and preachers, but comes from the very heart of God. Who in Christ Jesus prayed that we may not only believe in His Son, but maybe one, with each other, in the same way that Jesus was one with the Father. O Jesus have mercy on our souls!
And may be one with each other, so that ( read John 17 again), praise God:
“that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17:21-23 NIV
What does this mean? What is says! That Evangelism will not succeed, unless with are one with each other. That this #Popcaanunrulynation will not be rescued from Murder and Strife and Corruption and false doctrine unless, not just us at STAPC, but we can begin there, are one with each other. For unlike the movie, or song “ Every Nigger is a Star”, the body of Christ has no Lone Rangers. For even John Wesley had a serious support base in his mother, and I am sure many others praying for him. Night and day!
Back to the letter to the Corinthians :
“Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! 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. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 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 3:7-18 NIV
What struck me, in addition to the revelations about that which accompanies the “ ministry of the Spirit” in Christ Jesus, is that “ since we have such a hope, we are very bold”. And if ever there was a time to bold in our ministry it is now in these COVID-19 times. Praise God.
One more thing before I close. My mind ran not on the Adventists alone, but on the Jews, the forerunners of the present Church. They who are still awaiting the Messiah, and locked in OT Theology, and still therefore have their minds covered by a veil. And to Romans chapters 9-11.
I was led to read Romans 9. And found this:
“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. It is not as though God’s word had failed.
For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”
Romans 9:1-16 NIV
So two things came to me from this passage. That we must never forget to pray for the salvation of the Jews. And that our mercy, our rescue from COVID-19, does not depend on human effort, to sow a seed or not, but on God’s mercy. So let us pray without ceasing for God’s mercy, with boldness. But we ought not to expect any mercy , although He may still be gracious, who knows the mind of God, if we continue to ignore His Word, at best, and at worse, if we are disobedient without shame and without repentance.
Lord renew thy church, beginning with me, that we may be one; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – and rescue us from error.
Sent from my iPad
Beware of “ Greeks who come bringing gifts” of salvation by “silver and gold”, at this time. Or any time. Scammers or mistaken. God will judge. But let us be in our guard against magic. And trust in the God who died for us on Calvary. So that ultimately we may become one with Him in Christ Jesus. His plan also for the forerunner of the church in this present age – the children of Israel. Please remember them in your prayers.
This morning the Lord woke me up at exactly 4:am to “ listen to Him”.
But before that, yesterday this Word came to mind, and I posted the following messages on Facebook, and sent the original one, about Elijah, to some of my patients on a WhatsApp group.
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.
Despite the good things that Elijah and Isaiah and Ezekiel and others spoke when they heard from God, in this age the Lord says: ” Listen to him”. Jesus Crucified and Risen. “
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. Let us listen to Him in this #COVID19 times. And not our own imaginations.
For if truth be told, going to work in this COVID-19 times has been very stressful. For many reasons. Within and without out! So I have been crying out to God for mercy. Not for me alone but for the entire Jamaica. Even yesterday, I went to church and the door was locked. And O Jesus what a disappointment, but I stood outside the door and prayed with all my heart. And left in peace!.
But a more important truth, is that following a conversation with a dear Christian sister on Sunday, about which I have been reporting, the Lord has taught me the importance of “ Listening to his Son Jesus “, whenever I read the Bible, and it has has made a profound difference in my understanding of Holy Scriptures. Especially in these times. For now, even when I open the Bible randomly, as I did last night, and arrived at Psalm 107, a wonderful Psalm, I was “ listening to what Jesus was saying”. And so a reading of this Psalm led me to the well known passage about faith: Hebrews 11.
O blessed Jesus, and O what a revelation it was to read this account of the faith of the “ ancients”, in COVID-19 times. And a blessed assurance of God’s everlasting and unchanging love and mercy. So now, this morning come what may, and good things await those who trust God, not evil, my heart is light and my soul is at peace. And even if fear were to return, as Satan is always like a roaring lion, the words of a wonderful meditation in my Classics Devotional come to mind:
MAY 13, 1657 ( I wonder what’s the significance of that date)
Verse : Psalm 84:6
As spring the winter doth succeed
And leaves the naked tress do dress,
The earth all black is clothed with green.
At sunshine each their joys express.
My sun’s returned with healing wings,
My soul and body doth rejoice,
My heart exults and praises sings
To him who heard my wailing voice.
My winters’s is past, my storms are gone,
And former clouds seem now fled,
But if they must eclipse again,
I’ll run where I was succored.
I have a shelter from the storm,
A shadow from the fainting heat,
I have access unto his throne,
Who is a God so wondrous great……I’ll share the other two else’s one day.
So back to Hebrews 11. And 12. They are umbilically and forever linked.
These Words stayed in my heart and brought fresh revelation about the need for this kind of faith in COVID-19 times.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”
Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”
Hebrews 11:7 NIV
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Hebrews 11:8, 10 NIV
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”
Hebrews 11:13 NIV
“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,
Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”
Hebrews 11:17, 19 NIV
Faith has to be, and will be tested, even long after COVID-19. And we must rest in the blessed assurance and promise that no situation is too desperate for God’s rescue plan and action and power.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
Hebrews 11:24, 26 NIV
This verse has so much to it. Deep thoughts of God. It even explains “ Before Abraham ( and Moses) was, I am”. For the truth is that, as Christ taught the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, the Blessed Savior has been active in the affairs of man, as part of the Triune God, ever since the creation of the world. And the world then, and now, has elected not to “ Listen to Him”. But Moses did! He made a choice. And so must we, especially after the threat of COVID-19 has passed, not to enjoy the “pleasures of being the son of Pharaoh’s daughter”, viz., the pleasures and the beguiling things that this world offers which would lead us away from trusting in God, and “ taking up our cross” and following Jesus.
“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
Hebrews 11:32-40 NIV
COVID-19 ought not to be the only thing that concerns us as people of God. Read again the list of things that the faithful suffered for the sake of Christ. Read again the list of accomplishments that the people of faith achieved, in the midst of storms of various kinds. But read again the highlighted part of the passage – none of them received what was promised. For only in Christ, a privilege we enjoy, as a gift, with us, they would :
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
Hebrews 12:5-13 NIV
There is a lot to digest in this passage. And indeed in this entire message. But persevere as God will make all things “ visible” for the faithful. For you and I.
But never forget the most important thing. God is leading us though all of this in Christ Jesus, as He did with the ancients, that we may, one day, “ share in his holiness”. And on that journey, if we are faithful, He will work through us, to share His glory with the world.
A world that is desperately in need of redemption and reconciliation. A world that may never be the same agin after COVID-19. For now we know that “ the path is not greener in the USA”, nor in Europe. But only in God wherever He places us. For there He will be with us, forever, in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Let us then commit to listen to Him much more often, through His Word; in Prayer; yes in fasting too if that is your calling; in responding to the the cries of the poor and needy and the stranger ….St. Andrew Settlement and hence Majesty Gardens is desperately in need of help; and even in our trials and persecutions and troubles. But Listen we should, and not be disobedient and unfaithful. Let us then cease being of two opinions and trust the God who we have come to know in and though the Crucified, Risen and Ascended and never forget, soon coming Jesus Christ.
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s)…that continue to limp along with two different opinions.
In all of this COVID-19 times, let us never forget the call to love one another and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. For we cannot calm to love and trust in God, who we cannot see, if we do not love our neighbors who we see everyday – Holy Scriptures. So this is not a time for spiritual distancing, Physical distancing yes. But let us do whatever we can for the poor and the needy and he vulnerable in those time, for with such things God is well pleased.
As strong faith and a thoughts of a better hope, will come to an end one day. But love will live on forever, And ever. For God is love and whosever lives in Christ, lives in love. This is the central message that has come our way though our history, when, in love, it is the Christian, who remained with the afflicted in their time of need, ministered to them, and died with them, and thus when “ COVID-19” was over, the number of people who joined the church and believed in Christ, grew exponentially.