Representative Todd Akin the Republican nominee from Missouri provoked the biggest firestorm this week with his comments about " legitimate rape" ; and that " a woman's body can block an unwanted pregnancy". What was he really thinking! And he further compounding the issue by quoting un-named medical sources he reached an all time low. Of course the " legitimate" medical sources were quick to point out that such thinking and comments had no basis in fact. Later this week, reports surfaced that President Obama intends to " stoke the fires of this controversy", I suppose in an effort to further consolidate his already strong position with the female vote. All of this happening at time when the Republican convention is about to kick off this weekend, and Isaac is already causing problems.
Back home, here in Jamaica, after the joy of Olympians " shell dung London" ( street talk among young people for " taking over the place") , life goes back to its unpleasant worst, as this week a prominent businessman, a well respected and loved Senior cop and a battle scarred prominent politician with a history of being in the public glare for the wrong reasons, were accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice and hauled before the courts. And of course Hurricane Isaac had many persons scared, and glued to the television anxiously awaiting the news about a system which would cause death in Haiti ( once again , Lord have mercy), briefly threaten Jamaica before passing over Cuba and now heading to the Florida Panhandle. All of this news coming to us within minutes courtesy of Twitter and then the conventional news media.
In the midst of this flurry of activity across the globe, the Lord led me to reflect more deeply on the importance of His Word, as compared to the information which is now at our veritable fingertips via the social media and other aspects of the worldwide web. The first part of the message on the importance of His Word came in a sermon I preached at church, just this evening, a part of which shared below:
EXTRACT FROM THE SERMON
But thank God in the midst of the difficulties, we come upon the goodness of and faithfulness of God, as the Psalmist cries out in Psalm 16:
" Keep me safe O God, for in you I have taken refuge."
Perhaps the hymn writer who was inspired to pen the lines for " Here O my Lord I see thee face to face.. and especially the last verse: I have no other help but thine, nor do I need another arm on which to lean, it is enough my Lord, enough indeed, my strength is in thy might thy might alone. Perhaps he was moved by this passage of Scripture which has comforted millions of believers over the centuries. And we know, again according to God's word, that we serve a compassionate God whose mercies a new every morning, so great is His faithfulness.
This brings me to the central point of this message that the Lord has laid on my heart tonight. How much do we yearn for the word of God? How important is the word for our daily living? Do we get up in the mornings anxiously looking forward to what God is going to say to us through His word in the mornings? Do we carry this word to guide us and protect us during the course of the day. Is the word of God central to our to every move we make , every thought we have, every plan we construct, every decision we make, every challenge we face? Further, is the word of God guiding our prayers for the nation for our families, for our communities, for our church and indeed for the whole world? The fact is my friends, and I am reading a book now on Listening to God, God speaks to each of us through circumstances, other people, directly in a still small voice, at different times and different ways, but always through His Word. And which Word was with God in the beginning, was God and became flesh in Jesus Christ.
So the number one priority of all children of God, all believers in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, all Baptized Anglicans and all who are searching and attend church regularly, is to become familiar with the Scriptures. But more importantly, as James points out, looking at the word is one thing, but being obedient to the word is the ultimate objective. I want to suggest that, in the very the act of crying out to God, " Keep me safe O God, for in you I have taken refuge", is an explicit statement, that the Psalmist had come to know by listening to God that He was a God who could protect and a God who was faithful to His word and His promises. This is a God who had performed mighty miracles by the Red Sea, in the desert, and by the Jordan river. This God had a history of keeping people safe, especially those who trusted in Him. The question is, does the God who you serve and I serve, does this God have a history of keeping us safe...... is this a dependable God? Is this a faithful God. Is this a God who can fix Jamaica's problems? Is this a God who can free us from the murderous sprit which is shed abroad in our land and which causes bloodshed to follow bloodshed? Is this a God who can stop the corruption in high places? Is this a God who can heal our diseases and raise our dead and comfort us in times of trouble? Does our God have a such a history. What kind of God is your God, and my God. If the God you serve can heal the woman with the issue of blood, if your God can heal all ten lepers, even though only one came back to say thanks, if your God can raise Lazarus from the dead, if your God can do abundantly more than you can ask or imagine, then I would suggest that we consider briefly tonight the following three examples in the word of God appointed for this week. END OF EXTRACT
This week I was reflecting upon the state of my country: the high murder rate; the current debate about the high rate of failure in CSEC mathematics and English and the unacceptable just plain " out of order" ( uncouth and ill mannered behavior of many of our citizens) this thought came into my mind. That if Jamaicans began to do three things, consistently, then our country would change overnight.
1. Go to church...and by extension, read God's Word regularly and be obedient to His Word.
2. Read much more - and by extension, watch less television, text less, and listen to less music which place all kinds of evil and negative things in one's mind.
3. Exercise regularly - and by extension, eat more healthily and develop a more disciplined approach to everything in life.
The second part of the message about God's Word was the receipt of a meditation from The UCB Word For Today which comes out of the UK. This was one of three that dealt with satan and his defeat by God. The knowledge of the kind of spiritual warfare about which most unbelievers are unaware, and even some believers, and which lack of knowledge, based on God's Words, is the source of much evil and trials in this world. Thus I was moved to send this message by e-mail to others for their own reflections.
24 Aug 2012 Satan Is Defeated (2) You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32
Satan is a deceiver, but Jesus is a revealer. So any time you bring Jesus into the situation, satan is unmasked and his plans for your life are exposed and foiled. Satan is referred to in Scripture as 'darkness,' and Jesus as 'light.' The moment the light moves in, the darkness has to move out. So your first priority is not to conquer satan, but to move closer to Jesus; to line up your will and your word with His will and His Word. Instead of just lying down, taking it, and saying, 'I guess there's nothing I can do about this,' rise up in faith and say, 'satan, it is written...' Faced with a level of temptation none of us will ever be exposed to, that's what Jesus did to satan in the wilderness. The Bible says, 'Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him' (Matthew 4:11 NKJV).
Recently we witnessed bankers and brokers take people's money, lose it, then later come back and say, 'Here's another good plan; invest in it.' But now we know better, don't we? We no longer believe an investment is good just because somebody says so. Don't miss the spiritual analogy here. When you know the truth of God's Word and you use it as a weapon, satan's walls crumble, his plans for you come un-glued, and his schemes fall apart. When you understand who you are 'in Christ,' you are more than a match for the devil and he can no longer control your life.
The third part of the message about God's Word came in the form of a reflection on two hymns, which one of my bishop's refers to as " beyond the sacred page". In the sense that although not God's Word per se, the inspired hymns of the church have great value if we discern God's voice in the midst of the hymn writer's struggles.
One was " Hark my soul! it is the Lord, the last verse of which provided great inspiration for me and for those to whom it was sent. The second one, is a less well known hymn but contains within it powerful words and a great message for those who are seeking a deeper knowledge of Christ. there was a great insistence in my reading this second hymn, even in the middle of the night the Lord woke me up to read and reflect and find great comfort in the words.
HYMN ONE 1. Hark, my soul! It is the Lord; ............
6. Lord it is my chief complaint
that my love is weak and faint;
yet I love thee and adore;
O for grace to love thee more.
May the Lord's peace be with you today, in a special way, as you reflect upon, and pray according to this last verse of a wonderful hymn. Much love
Sent from my iPad
Glorious things of thee are spoken
Zion, city of our God
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode.
On the Rock of ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou mayest smile at all thy foes ( what a wonderful assurance)
See, the streams of living water,
springing from the eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters,
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river
ever flows to assuage our thirst;
grace, which like the Lord the Giver
never fails from age to age?
Round each habitation hovering,
see the cloud and fire appear,
for a glory and a covering -
showing that the Lord is near.
Thus they march, the pillar leading,
light by night and shade by day;
daily on the manner feeding
which he gives then when they pray.
Saviour, since of Zion's city
I, through grace a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy name.
Fading is the world's best pleasure,
all its boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
none but Zion's children know.
The reality is that though just yesterday, the Manchester United fans were cheering Usain Bolt, one of their biggest fans, and singing ,
" sign him up Fergie ( the Manager Sir Alex Ferguson), sign him up, that kind of fame is fading. And only the solid joys and lasting treasure, known only by Zion's children...baptized believing and obedient children of God ...will last forever.
Finally, a Word from a famous Saint of old, and from the Bible, for those who are struggling to believe and to join up with Zion's children and make this world a better place. Much more than Michael Jackson can hope for or imagine. And a Word which speaks to the hearts of those who long for the grace to love Christ more. And which Word was sent to others for their own reflection
No man ever believes with a true and saving faith unless God inclines his heart; and no man when God does inclines his heart can refrain from believing - Blaise Pascal
" I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ Jesus when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come." - St. Paul. Ephesians 1:17-21.
I pray God that according to Pascal He may incline your heart to believe, and according to St. Paul that He give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may not only believe, but know Him better.
I pray that all who follow God's Word and seek to obey Him, may realize that what twitter and facebook and other social media offer is only immediate information about current events and happenings. But what the Word of God offers is the true knowledge of Christ, and Who alone, by belief in and obedience to the Gospel - His life, death, resurrection and ascension - can protect us from spiritual, physical and material disaster. Amen.