Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy

This is a 4:00 in the morning message on a Wednesday not a Sunday night. It's short and prompted no doubt by a conversation I had with someone - another Christian - yesterday about Sin. The experience weighed heavily on my mind. So I went to bed praying and thinking about it and woke up this morning to read God's Word and to listen to His voice. And this is what I heard.

That's the only context. But I am mindful of the foundation prayer of this Ministry:

" Lord renew thy church beginning with me. Lord renew thy church that the church may renew the nation."

As always, then, this "urgent" message is for me first and then for others in the Ministry.

" For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with spite of severe suffering you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers ........They tell how how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath"
1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 NIV

Just as I am without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God I come....
Verse 1 of a well known hymn

" Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."
Matthew 22:21. NIV



"Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned". Romans 5:12

The Bible does not say that God punished the human race for one man's sin; but that the disposition of sin - my claim to my right to myself - entered into the human race by one man, and that another Man took on Him the sin of the human race and put it away ( Hebrews 9:6)
- an infinitely profounder revelation. The disposition of sin is not immorality and wrong doing, but the disposition of self-realization -- I am my own god.......
Sin is a thing I am born with and I cannot touch it; God touches it in Redemption. In the Cross of Jesus Christ God redeemed the whole human race from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin. God nowhere holds a man or woman responsible for having the heredity of sin. The condemnation is not that I am born with a heredity of sin, but if when I realize Jesus came to deliver me from it, I refuse to let Him do so, from that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation. " And this is the judgement" ( the critical moment), " that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than the light.


That men and women elevated "Caesar" over God. That men and women elevated their own wisdom and desires over obedience to God - even when they heard the gospel. That Jesus died to rescue us from such a disposition. Amen

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Better days are coming and have come in the USA and in Jamaica in and through Christ Jesus

No question about it. News about the continuing crisis in the financial system in the USA and and indeed across the entire world dominated my thoughts this week. And no doubt the thoughts of many others too. In fact our the Prime Minister finally came to the nation and laid on the table the fact that Jamaica was likely to suffer its fair share of an economic fallout from
this great crisis, and that we as a people need to be fully aware of this problem. But not far behind this major International issue was the reality of continued reports of murder and mayhem in our country. Just this week in an inner city where I work, "up the top",
and , " down the bottom", are at war again. And the fallout! The abduction and murder of a young girl - just twenty years old. And of course the presidential race continues to be a big topic, especially with attempts to paint Obama as a "terrorist" and the frightening call to " kill him". For which comment McCain wisely " apologised". But just the thought of it was frightening, as if that were to happen, God forbid, many American cities would go up in flames. So we are just hoping that Nov 4 will come quickly and that race will not play a "major" part in the election.
And that we will soon see the back of McCain and Palin and the 'reactionary' policies which they espouse, and which policies and views have caused so much problems across the entire world.
So in the midst of this madness, the Lord sent several messages.

" Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil. For thou art with me;Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4 KJV

Actually the entire Psalm was the one appointed for today. But I found great comfort and assurance of God's presence with me in these challenging times as promised in verse 4.



" Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God".
John 11:40

IN WORD One of the foundational dynamics of the kingdom of God is this principle of faith: faith, then sight. How often we try to reverse the order! Our natural inclination -- and probably that of Martha in this passage, as she mourns the death of her brother Lazarus -- is to say we'll believe when we see the glory of God. But throughout Jesus' ministry, He is emphatic that we have it backward. We'll see the glory of God when we believe.
It's the way of the flesh that says, " I'll believe it when I see it". Jesus says, " You'll see it when you believe it". It's one of the hardest principles for Christians to grasp. The work of the almighty sovereign God is often actually dependent on the level of our faith. It isn't that we limit Him; it's that He has limited Himself. His modus operandi in this world is to act in response to faith: the prayers of faith, the obedience of faith, the attitude of faith. As incredible as it seems, the biblical witness is that our belief prompts His intervention. And without belief, He often does not intervene.

IN DEED Do you find yourself in a difficult situation? Believe God, and you will see His glory. that doesn't mean that we lay out a plan of action for Him and then complain when He meets our needs in another way. Faith does not dictate God's method of intervention --in His way and in His time. This will mean believing that God has specifically allowed your crisis in the first place. Jesus let Lazarus die --on purpose! He said His friend's sickness was for the glory of God to be revealed, and he intentionally stayed where He was for two days after hearing of Lazarus' illness. When a crisis comes, do we complain that God was not watching over us, or do we watch for His glory? Our inward response might have more impact than we think. Jesus is clear: " if you believed, you would see the glory of God"

I remember very clearly the reaction of many Americans to the crisis of 9/11. The churches were filled on the Sunday following the incident. People asked, " Where was God when Bin Laden's terrorists were attacking the WTC? Then, the church attendance steadily declined and the questioning stopped and "business as usual", took over. And now there is another, and perhaps potentially even a greater crisis than 9/11. The same is true of the crime in Jamaica.
And our crisis has comes in stages. First they were only killing young gang members; then they began killing women and old people; then they began killing relatives and friends - anyone whom their murderous hearts could find; then they began killing the children. What next O Lord?
Is the Lord unconcerned about America? Is the Lord unconcerned about Jamaica? Or is He deliberately staying away so that we can learn to believe, and trust Him in all situations - and thus unleash the mighty power of God, for His glory and for His praise. " Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil...........".


I was not quite sure why the Lord led me back to August to read His inspired message, but when I was awakened this morning at 4:30 am to read the following reflection I understood.
And thought deeply about the importance of obedience, as I almost went back to bed.

" Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam.....It is not study that does it but obedience.The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens up and the truths of God are your straight away". Tiegen



" When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was."
John 11:6

Has God trusted you with silence - a silence that is big with meaning? God's silences are His answers. Think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany? is there anything analogous to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking for a visible answer? God will give you the blessings you ask if you will not go any further without them; but His silence id the sign that He is bringing you into a marvellous understanding of Himself!
Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? You will find that God has trusted you in the most intimate way possible, with an absolute silence, not of despair, but of pleasure, because he saw you could stand a bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, praise Him. he is bringing you into the great run of His purposes. The manifestation of the answer in time is a matter of god's sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you said --- " I asked God to give me bread, and He gave me a stone." he did not, and today you find He gave you the bread of life.

The wonderful thing about God's silence is that of the contagion of His stillness gets into you and you become perfectly confident --" I know God has heard me." His silence is proof that he has. As long as you have the idea that God will bless you in answer to prayer, he will do it, but he will never give you the grace of silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, He will give you the first sign of His intimacy - silence.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------No question about it. This is a very challenging reflection. And many may chose to ignore the conclusions and advice. But consider the following. Not having prayed it for a while, the base prayer, the foundation prayer of this Ministry came into my mind this week.
" Lord renew thy church beginning with me. Lord renew Thy church, that the church may renew the nations".
Why? I believe this issue of the correct understanding of what prayer is all about, and who God is, rather than who we think He is, is critical to the revival of this nation and its rescue from murder and mayhem - and by extension America too.
During the process of prayerfully reflecting on the meditation, and its implications for our prayer life, and in particular the silence of God in respect of murder in my country, this hymn came into my mind without any prompting.

" When I am down and, oh my soul so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me........

Coincidence? I think not. Especially since I had a conversation with a Pentecostal sister just yesterday about the need for silence, sometimes, in her church. As though I appreciated the uptempo music, sometimes, I told her that I could not worship like that too often, as God does not ( perhaps I should have said often ) speak in the noise. And it is far more important to hear from God than for God to hear from us - words to that effect. Actually I was telling her about a wonderful song uptempo I heard on LOVE FM that morning that moved my soul : "Mi want some soul to go to heaven with me as I cannot go to my father's house with an empty hand".


A wonderful sermon from a young priest this morning at church entitled ; " Better must Come".
And in fact Better has already come in the person of Jesus Christ. The background is the OT passage appointed this week from Isaiah. 25:1-9. Where the prophet Isaiah, having witnessed the suffering of the Israelites, brings a prophetic word of comfort that " Better would come one day".
So " Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil---as better
days are here in Christ Jesus. Despite the problems in our personal lives, our relationships, our children, sickness, financial crisis, even death; despite the problems in the Nation - murder and mayhem; despite the International problems, God has said in Christ Jesus, that if we trust in Him, if we believe in Him, we will witness His power acting in and through our lives, for His glory and in His time.
Will this kind of understanding of God, bring peace in that inner city, peace in Jamaica and stabilize the markets in the US, next week or in our lifetime? Maybe. Maybe not. That all depends on how long God's silence will last. But what I am certain about is that it will bring Him honor and glory in my life and yours as we obey His Word.