Monday, October 3, 2011

The Prime Minister speaks a word and the God of Jacob sends a Word

As I sit to write, in a few minutes our Prime Minister, who caught the nation completely off guard by his decision not seek re-election at the next party conference, which in our system of governance, means that we will have a new leader in November, is expected during a highly anticipated nation broadcast to share his thoughts on this sudden move. Regardless on his explanations, however, the entire country is taken up with a national debate on who will be the best person to lead this country until the next elections constitutionally due next year. In fact the PM has just concluded his brief address which highlighted the fact that the Dudus Coke affair - the breakdown in public trust despite exhaustive explanations - and his age - younger people are now leading countries all over the world including the USA and Britain - are the two issues which have led him to demit office at this time, and which will also give the party sufficient lead time to organize elections. This is a real shocker, as having apparently weathered the initial storm of the Coke extradition matter, most persons figured that he would continue to lead the country. In the midst of this confusion and much turmoil the Lord sent a word. And which word is shared in the following story which was sent to my church this week A remarkable thing happened yesterday. A Bishop of one the Evangelical churches came to see me. He was dressed in an ordinary shirt, no collar, no purple. Nothing to indicate his status. Perhaps that's why ( one of the reasons) - my Anglican heritage which coloured, pun intended, my understanding of who ought to be a Bishop - I had not asked him the question before, as I had known him for along time. But to fair, the other reason was the state of the nation, what with the current "excitement" in the air. So I asked him , " Bishop, do you have a prophetic word for the nation"? And without any hesitation, he referred me to the fig tree which Jesus cursed, and then he said that, in like manner, we are to " speak to the problems and not about the problems in the nation". And the same faith which the Lord promised to those that do not doubt would drive out the various spirits abroad in our land. The spirit of corruption etc....... And so I suggested that my understanding of his prophetic word was that we, the church, ought to be praying about the problems in Jamaica, and not just lamenting and engaging in " verandah talk". And he also reminded me that the same Jesus who spoke to the fig tree, is available in us and through us, by faith, to " speak to the problems in this land". And then we will be blessed. And so I should have hope for my country. So this morning I read the passage in Mark and found yet another instruction, indeed, a precondition to be fulfilled before God will answer our prayers. And having read and reflected I constructed a text message , and sent it to my "children", based on the revelation from a Psalm that the Lord placed in my mind early this morning. THE PSALM " One generation will commend your works to another, they will tell of your mighty acts." Psalm 145: 6 NIV THE CONTEXT The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, May no one ever eat fruit from you again. And his disciples heard him say it. Mark 11. 12-14 NIV THE PASSAGE " In the morning, as they went along, they saw a fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered! Have faith in God, Jesus answered. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, Go throw yourself into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him , so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11: 20-25 NIV THE TEXT MESSAGE Read Mark 11.20-25 and forgive all who have done you wrong and then pray with faith about every situation you face giving priority to that which will advance the God's kingdom. And so I did just that and used the message from Mark as the basis for my prayers for self, church and nation. So let us be obedient today and forgive, and member. pastor, bishop, self, family member, colleague, foe, politicians, journalists , and then offer believing prayers about all things, and God will, in and through a believing and forgiving church, bless this land, even as we contemplate the advent of a new political order. Indeed then there is hope for our beleaguered nation. Amen LWJ So, having reflected on the Word from the Bishop, what is the Lord saying to us at this time in the nation's history? One, is that we must not place our faith in the strength and wisdom of any man. History may or may not be kind to the PM, but the reality is that few other leaders have come to office with such high expectations based on the prevailing circumstances, the chequered history of achievements by past leaders despite many promises, and the welcome call for constitutional reform and a pulling back from the old style confrontational politics. So many young persons, some would say naively so, helped to usher him into office. Large sections of the media backed him and so did many of those with money and power! And now despite some significant achievements he is leaving office without satisfying the hopes of many who backed him. The call by Jesus, to " Have faith in God", is a call that has echoed across the ages. And the real issue facing us is whether or not " young", or more mature leaders in the future, will continue to depend on their own wisdom, or seek the wisdom of God as revealed in the written and living Word, even Christ Himself. Two, is that in the same way that Jesus " spoke to the problem", of "bearing no fruit", the church needs to take heed, as the other word from the Lord as pointed out to me by a young pastor, is to found in the readings for the Anglican church this week. Especially the words in the gospel which, not inconsequentially, are to found only a page away from the Evangelical Bishop's word to the nation. It's the parable of the Tenants which tells of how a landowner rented his well-taken-care-of-vineyard, to some farmers, and then went way on a journey. Whilst away he sent his servants to collect the fruit. However the story tells us that they treated his servants badly and even killed his son, for whom he thought they might have had some respect, and so in the end God declared that, " the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit......". Matthew 21:33-44. So clearly it is not only Prime Minister's stewardship which is under scrutiny at this time. More importantly divine judgment is on the church, the body of Christ. What fruit have we borne in this nation? Have we in the words of Isaiah, chap 5. 1-7 NIV guilty of the following observation: " ....................The vineyard of hte Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed: for righteousness, but heard cries of bloodshed". One of the sad features of the "reign" of " The President" Christopher Coke a.k.a Dudus , a self confessed drug and gun runner, is the amount of blood which has been shed in Jamaica by men carrying high powered weapons, and many would say, some acting under the influence of drugs. So Coke has much for which he has to answer to God and man in this country. This is why, despite the PM's consistent explanation that he was defending Dudus' constitutional rights and not his behaviour, many Jamaicans are angry and disappointed with him, as this man Coke was a terror to many, though a benefactor to some. The question that the church has to answer, therefore, is to what extent, by what it has done or left undone, has it been guilty of being party to the " bloodshed and cries of the poor"? And the charge becomes even more personal when we apply the question to our own stewardship. Is the Lord pleased with how we have taken care of his vineyard called Jamaica? Have we been resolute in spreading the Word? Have we been unrelenting in seeking justice for the poor? Have we been guilty of taking care of ourselves and family first and leaving the " stray, the lost, the sick and the weak" to fend for themselves, as recalled by the prophetic word of Ezekiel ( 34:1-6) and thus caused God's people to become " food for the wild animals". Have we really, with all our strength, tried to help young girls to avoid going into prostitution? Have we, with all our hearts, done enough to prevent young men from falling prey to " Dons" and wicked politicians? Have we challenged the rich and powerful to live a different life or have we joined the " vera chattering class", and spent our time speaking about the problem rather than to the problem? Have we become "comfortable Christians", attending to the needs of our congregations and leaving unmet the felt needs of those around us? Have we prayed without ceasing, crying to God for mercy and for wisdom, rather than despairing like unbelievers who do not know the power of the living God. Let us, if we are guilty, urgently repent of our sins, resolve to do better, lest the Lord take away our part in the kingdom and give away to others who will bear fruit. Three, is this matter of forgiveness. As unless we forgive the Prime Minister, and all those who were involved in the Dudus affair, including Dudus himself, and all other leaders for their roles in many other issues - Portia Simpson-Miller, P. J. Patterson, Edward Seaga, Michael Manley and others - our own prayers for our sins, and who is not guilty, will not be answered. That is how kingdom of God is so structured. So if we wish to have a more orderly country, a more prosperous nation, a more civil society, a more just society, then all our prayers will count for nothing until and unless we learn to forgive. That is part of the fruit which the God of Abraham looks for in a people, in whose hands he has placed his vineyard Jamaica. I pray God that we will indeed use this terrible time in the life of the nation, to learn to forgive, to learn to trust in God, and to resolve to bear fruit for the Lord, and not just to seek for our " salvation", either materially or spiritually. And the God of all comfort will bless the nation, bless the Prime Minister, and even bless those who have done much harm, according to His will and purpose, and He who alone searches the hearts of all mankind. Amen