Sunday, July 17, 2011

Yes we can Mr. President, but only in Christ Jesus

“Mr. President, do you have hope of reaching a deal", asked a reporter during a Q & A session at the White House this week, following another day of deadlock in the discussions (on the way forward in resolving the Trillion Dollar Deficit and the need to fund Government spending) between the Republican Majority leaders and the Democrats. " I always have hope; don't you remember my campaign", was the immediate response, much to the amusement of the rest of the media reps gathered there. And don't we all recall the very infectious and inspiring " Yes we can"! slogan, which has since spawned many ' cousins' across the world including those involved in the recent Egyptian revolution. From the first and unlikely victory in Iowa, to the soaring heights of his victory speech - was it in New Hampshire? I can remember getting goose bumps just listening to the speech on my way to work the morning after - having missed it the night before. Then who can forget that amazing night in November, just over two and half years ago, when his victory speech in Chicago made even Jesse Jackson - and many other men, and women cry with joy. People across the globe celebrated. From Kenya, the land of his paternal forebears, to my homeland in little Jamaica, From the red hills of Georgia to the busy streets New York, a nation celebrated a time of hope. But now the mood is more somber, less optimistic, and there is even talk of the "D" word - a default in paying America's debts which would be catastrophic for the entire world, and certainly would destroy any hope of President Obama winning a second term. Whose fault? His own! The Republicans, elements of racist America, the legacy of George W Bush. Perhaps all of the above. Whatever the reason, hope - about the economy - is fading fast in America at this time. But who knows what will happen next year!

In the midst of this “bad news" about one of my all time favorite world leaders, the Lord reminded me that He is faithful. And that no one who puts their trust in Him will ever be disappointed or become ashamed. Also that it is His wish that we should be passionate and faithful in our hope in Him. In retrospect I think this message about hope was triggered by an interview in CNN featuring the very popular American comedian Bill Maher - an avowed Obama fan, but very disappointingly an equally avowed atheist, passionately denying the reality of the God of Abraham. The Sovereign God of those of the Judeo-Christian faith. And so my God, who is very real, who walks with me and talks with me, in Miami, in Kingston, in Moscow, in Madrid and in Singapore, led me to read, reflect on and send the following meditation to my church members. A message from one who was once in the employ of the Devil - like Bill Maher and all who deny the living God - who was once a captain of a slave ship, and who like Paul, had an encounter with Jesus. The result? The composition of one of the all time great hymns, which even unbelievers sing with joy and feeling - Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me......
I pray God that Maher and other unbelievers may one day come to appreciate how much they need the Lord God of Hosts.

A MESSAGE TO MY CHURCH ON FRIDAY OF THIS WEEK

Someone needs this reassurance. I know I did!

BE STILL MY HEART
John Newton (The same one who wrote Amazing Grace.)

Verse: Hebrews 10:22

Be still my heart! these anxious cares
To thee are burdens, thorns and snares
They cast dishonor on the Lord,
And contradict his gracious word.

Brought safely by his hand thus far,
Why wilt thou now give place to fear?
How canst thou want if he provide,
Or lose thy way with such a guide?

When first before his mercy seat
Thou didst to him thine all commit;
He gave thee warrant from that hour
To trust his wisdom love, and power.

Did ever trouble yet befall,
And he refuse to hear thy call?
And has he not his promise passed,
That thou shalt overcome at least
He who hast helped me hitherto
Will help me all my journey through,
And give me daily cause to raise
New Ebenezers ( 1 Samuel 6:12) to his praise.

Though rough and thorny be the road,
It leads thee on, apace to God;
Then count they present trials small,
For God will make amends for all.

Amen. But we must believe that when the Word of God says that...... by the Blood of Jesus we can enter into the presence of God with confidence and ask for grace and mercy in times of trouble......no power or trial can overcome such an assurance. So we thank God for the Blood of Jesus and endeavor not to commit the sin of unbelief....." burdens thorns and snares".


The message also came in time for me to share it with someone whose loved one was in hospital, and who wanted the church to pray for that person. An experience which is common to many persons in today's world, where trials in our physical health, finances, relationships at home and at the work place, and even in the church, all threaten to erode the hope we have in a God who is Sovereign and has proven Himself to be faithful, time and time again. Thus the writer of that most wonderfully comforting Psalm - 91 - can exult that: ".....his faithfulness shall be your shield and rampart". vs. 4 NIV. So my God is real, O so real.......I can feel it deep in my heart, Mr. Maher.
John Newton is the same person who wrote “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me......". He was the captain of a slave ship until he had an encounter with Christ and was converted to Christianity. And afterwards, was ordained as a Pastor and wrote many hymns and reflections.

And in case you think that all of this is my imaginings, how would you explain the fact that the very same day, the same Sovereign God, led me to read another of John Newton’s meditations, but this time to send it to one person - a prominent politician in my country.

MESSAGE

I thought about you in my devotions as I read this poem inspired by Rev. 5:9 “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slain and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." I pray that it may touch your soul and lead you to know Christ as Lord and Savior as I obey what the Lord has placed in my heart at this hour.

THE ENCOUNTER

An evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopped my wild career;
I saw One hanging on a tree
In Agonies and blood
Who fixed his languid eyes on me,
As near his cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath
Can I forget that look:
It seemed to charge me with his death,
Though not a word he spoke:
My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me into despair,
I saw my sins his blood had spilt
And helped to nail him there.

Sure never till my latest breath
Can I forget that look: Though not a word he spoke:
My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me into despair,
I saw my sins his blood had spilt
And helped to nail him there.

Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!
A second look he gave, which said,
' I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid.
I die, that thou mayst live.'

Thus, while his death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too....

And as I write strains of the wonderful hymn below, flow, without effort, into my mind. As this is the basis of the hope we have in God - The atoning death of Jesus on Calvary, the mystery of His grace and His precious Blood that washes away all our sins Our hope is built on nothing less - not our bank account, not our political leaders, not even our church leaders - and thank God for those who preach sound doctrine, epecially in this " let all ideas contend " country of freedom. That’s why Holy Scripture assures us that ....by the Blood of Christ we can enter into the very presence of God with confidence and ask for grace and mercy in times of trouble. I pray God that even now, Mr. “no drama Obama” will approach the throne of grace on behalf of his country and ask for help from the God of all hope and comfort, in this time of trouble.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When darkness seems to hide His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.



Finally, in respect of hope for all peoples and especially for the forebears of the Judeo-Christian faith the children of Israel, the Lord had a message of hope which I sent to select members of my church this week also.

MESSAGE


Will thou not turn and quicken us O Lord that thy people may rejoice in thee.

" I speak the truth in Christ - I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in 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 brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons: 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 Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. Romans 9:1-5

It was not a dream but a quarter to four in the morning message.
Our prayers have been too small and limited.
" Lord renew thy people, beginning with the people of Israel. Lord renew thy people that thy people may renew the nation(s)".

That's how my decade of evangelism prayer will read on my blog from now on and as I read chapters 9-11 it struck me that we should begin our Intercessions with prayers, not just for the remnant but for the whole people of Israel, in the same way we pray for the Diocese and for our leaders.

" O Jerusalem, Jerusalem how I longed.....but you were not willing"

If the salvation of the children of Abraham was so much on the mind of our Savior and St. Paul, how much more they should be in ours too.

" Enlarge the place of your tent
stretch your tent curtains wide
do not hold back;
Lengthen your cords
strengthen your stakes".
Isaiah 54:2
Let us therefore widen our prayers, private and corporate, as they are too narrow, as many nations and peoples are waiting on " four friends" to carry them and let them down through the roof right in front of Jesus. Amen
Peace
Therefore let us heed the Word of God as spoken by Jesus Himself": Trust in God, trust also in me". John 14:1 NIV
We pray that our political leaders may place their hope in God. That the people of Israel may place their hope in Christ. That like Nineveh, this great city of Miami may repent and turn to Christ. And equally so we pray for New York, for Chicago and for those in Washington DC. We pray because our hope not based on " yes we can" but on the Word of God that states that " with God all things are possible''. The dead can rise, sins can be forgiven, nations can turn around and become Godly, for the Blood of Christ has purchased for God, people from every race and tribe and language.

Amen.

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