It's not an easy thing to wake up in your community and find a dead body on the street and no one knows what happened. Sadly for many people who live in the inner cities in my country this is what life throws up every so often. And that's the less scary part. Many are witnesses to both criminals snuffing out the lives of fellow citizens and police carrying out extra judicial killings and are frightened out of their minds. Add to this people willing to do anything to make a quick buck, and who were caught selling cards to 'schoolers' this week with the pictures of a famous dance hall artist proclaiming that " mi murder people inna broad daylight". This is frightening stuff and part of the reason why one specialist on security matters and a former cop was heard on radio this week asserting the Jamaica has become a " crime factory". As when you feed this idea of violence to very impressionable children, then it is no surprise that this matter of murder is now a cultural issue and therefore not amenable to simple and simplistic solutions. And this cultural penetration and thus formation has been happening for years in front of our very eyes.
How does one respond then to a situation where over 1200 persons have been killed to date. And it appears that we are heading for the record breaking 1600 which happened a few years ago. Fire the top cop and appoint someone else! That's apparently where the government is headed. Give the job to the former head of a special squad who was known to drive the fear of death into the hearts of even the most hardened criminals, but who was also suspected, but never proven, of sanctioning extra-judicial killings! That's what he is asking for in the headlines of one of our daily newspapers. As a people we are becoming despondent, battle weary, even hopeless that things will change anytime soon.
Ans so in the midst of this confusion and hopelessness, for those who have ears to hear, the Lord sends a comforting Word. As I read the headlines this morning, featuring another one who wishes to be our saviour, the Word of God as written in the Psalm appointed for today in my church came flooding into my mind.
" Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed is he whose help is in the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea and everything in them --
the Lord who remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down....
Psalm 146: 3-8 NIV
And this message of "do not place your trust in mortal men" is at the heart of the next message from the Lord. For too long in my country we have sought " salvation" in our politicians, and if truth be told, they have encouraged it, in their quest for power. We once had a " Joshua" who strode like a Colossus across the nation and on the world's stage, and when he died, that very day, his plans came to nothing. At another time we had a " Deliverer" and when he demitted office on that very day his plans came to nothing. Next came the " Black (or was it Fresh) Prince", then " Mamma P" and when they left office, the result was the same. Now we have " the driva" who is having a hard time negotiating the journey. And if not our political leaders, we have sought " salvation" in various police squads, sundry intellectuals, controversial and divisive talk show hosts, and others. All to no avail as was the case in Cambodia, the "killing fields" continue to be washed with the blood of our people.
This was the situation with the children of Israel when the Word of God came to Elijah and the rain ceased and famine was upon the land, all because they were under a judgement from the Lord, having turned from the living God, Yahweh, and sought salvation from a foreign god, who was no God at all. So in 1Kings 17: 1-16 we read the story, which was the subject of a great sermon at my church today, of a time when " a jar of flour was never used up and a jug of oil never ran dry". All on account of the Word of God and the obedience and faith of Elijah and a widow even when the situation was desperate and hopeless.
The point is that circumstances are never as hopeless as they seem, for those whose hope is in the God of Jacob, of Isaac, of Moses and of our Lord Jesus. This is the essence of a wonderful meditation which I read with great joy and thankfulness and which triggered a spate of text messages announcing this good news.
NO NEGOTIATION CHRIST TIEGEN NOVEMBER 6
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full ( more abundantly) John 10:10
IN WORD Satan is a terrorist. He will try to hijack us from the path ( of faith ... of walking by faith and not by sight) God has us on or hold us hostage for an unacceptable ransom that flies in the face of God's will for us . His mission is to steal our joy, terminate our lives, and degrade our relationship with God, and he's very aggressive about it. if there is anything he can do to interrupt our abundant life, he will attempt it.
The believer must resolutely fix his our her eyes on God and His Word and remain unswerving in devotion to Jesus. When we abide in His fellowship, we will be tempted by the enemy to resort to human wisdom rather than godly guidance. For example, a bill may scream at us that we cannot remain in the calling God has given us ---it isn't financially feasible. A relationship may drain us of the energy that god gave us to serve Him. or we may be accused of weaknesses that urge us to deny our usefulness to god. The enemy's tactics are limitless, but his intention is plain: get the Christian off track. He wants us to mistrust Jesus and start making decisions based on fear and anxiety.
IN DEED We must always remember Jesus' mission --giving us abundant life. it may not always be easy or comfortable, but it will be good and founded on His joy. hen we are confident in God's will, and circumstances arise that seem to contradict His will, e must know where they come from and cling fast to god. if we let circumstances constrain us, Satan will manipulate them indefinitely, stringing us along our whole lives in uncertain, fear-induced steps.
Our faith must fix its gaze on Jesus and not waver. Do not negotiate with the terrorist when he threatens. His tactics will rob us, kill us and leave us devastated. God's voice must be the only one we hear. It's the key to abundant life.
Wow! I recall a young lady struggling to remain faithful, yet desirous of having a child, being told by a friend that she should " come out of the church and have the baby", and then go back in the church. Satan the terrorist is at work all over the place and it is only God's Word that can keep him at bay. Foolish people, including some Christians, believe that they can "manage" him and have suffered immeasurably on account of such underestimation of the power of sin. Fear is gripping the hearts of our people, on the one hand, and a carelessness and callousness about life, decency, morality and good order on the other hand; all orchestrated by the "terrorist:
So what's the answer to this " terrorist". The response from the God of Jacob from the time of the children of Israel until now, is not what is, but who is, the answer. And the very Word of God that led Elijah to the widow whose jar of flour never ran out, and whose jug of oil never ran dry", is the same One who says:
" In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe". Hebrews 1:1-2. NIV
And it is not just a matter of calling upon His name as it were a magic wand, but much more according to an extended reading of the Epistle appointed for today.
Now the covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In the first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. The ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.
When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room
to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered up for himself and for the sins of the people had committed in ignorance.........
When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by the means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once and for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of an heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more , then will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.
Hebrews 9:1-14 NIV
I thank God for this timely reminder of the life giving nature and power of the Blood that my saviour shed for me and all mankind on the Cross of Calvary. So now, like my Pentecostal friends, I have begun to "plead the Blood of Jesus" in every situation that I face now, and I am confident based on this revelation, not my discernment, that God in His mercy has heard my cry and will hear all who, with repentance in one hand, and obedience in the other, cry out to Him for mercy. So the message in these times of hopelessness is for who who trust in the living God of Jacob and our Saviour Jesus, is to believe that the Blood of Christ opens all door, protects from every evil and removes every stain of sin from our hearts.
Finally the words of the hymnwriter invites us to come closer to the One whose blood has set us free from fear and death.
I am thine O Lord. I have heard thy voice,
And it told thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith,
And be closer drawn to Thee
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died,
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To they precious bleeding side.
Consecrate me now to Thy service Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in thine.
Pray God that faith in the sufficiency of the Blood of Christ will rescue individuals, rescue the church and in turn rescue a nation.