This week was not a good one in my country. Murder most foul sent shock waves across the nation. First they killed a young trying used car dealer. Took the car for a test drive and then shot him and threw him on the road as if dispensing with garbage. Even now my soul rebels against this act of sheer wickedness. Then just two days ago they, the same forces of evil, masquerading as human beings, held up a celebrated gynecologist in the western part of the island and shot him to death. His colleagues tried but could not save him. Further east, a pregnant woman, allegedly on account of the use of expletives was accosted by a policeman, and when she resisted, some kind of madness ensued, we are not sure what. But when the smoke cleared she was dead and her sister injured by gunshots. The just tonight the television crew interviewed a woman whose two sons were murdered, along with a friend, in an inner city community. Her response? She felt as if she too could die at any moment. Why does a country, so blessed as ours is, so famous as ours is, so rich in human potential and God given natural beauty, why should we go through these spasms of brutality every so often with no end in sight. Every time someone adds up the numbers killed over a particular period, it seems so barbaric....6000 in how many years! God have mercy! Christ have mercy! How long my God, how long must we keep on mourning for our young ones, celebrated ones, pregnant ones, old ones! How long! God heard, and led me to write the following messages. Messages which do not give a direct answer to solving the problem at hand, but point in the direction that we need to take as nation and as individuals, if we are going to achieve any lasting peace.
FIRST TO MY CHILDREN AND OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE WHOSE LIVES ARE CLOSELY INTERTWINED WITH MINE THROUGH MY PROFESSION.
As the deer pants for the water,
So my soul pants after You.
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship you.
Refrain. You alone are my strength, my shield,
To You alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You.
I want You more than gold and silver,
Only You can satisfy.
You alone are the real joy-giver
And the apple of my eye.
You're my Friend and You are my Brother,
Even though You are a King.
I love You more than any other,
So much more than anything.
My prayer for you this morning, is that you may own the the words of this wonderful hymn for yourself. Now, even when young and filled with all kinds of passions and responsibilities. For the Lord is worthy is having the number one position in your life, as He alone died for you on Calvary. It may seem easy and obvious, and you may think that you do in fact love the Lord more than gold and silver and more than anything, but the truth is that if you are honest with yourself, the " old man", which loves self more than God, is hard to get rid of. So the hymn writer's plea, " O for grace to love you more", ought to be your constant prayer. And mine. Consider further, the words of the last verse, and link that thought with this verse of another wonderful hymn: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation......... Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee; surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend thee; ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if to the end he befriend thee. And finally link this thought of God being a Friend and Brother to: What a Friend we have in Jesus.....
May your day be blessed as you consider these thoughts inspired by the Lord Himself.
LWJ Sent from my iPad
The central message here, and which continued throughout the week, is that though we mourn and pine for peace in our land, in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Mexico, in the minefields of South Africa and other trouble spots, such peace will only come when we are fully focused on the only One who can bring true peace. Even in the midst of the storms! Which is the subject of the next message. Does that mean that we become less vigilant in our search for justice, for security, for better housing for our people, for better education, for better family life, for more economic opportunities? No! But we recognize that even if we achieve those worthy objectives, they in and by themselves will not ensure peace.
TO SOME OF OUR NATION'S LEADERS IN POLITICS, CHURCH, THE MEDIA AND BUSINESS
I was giving thanks for thanks for God's Word this morning when He placed a phrase from the passage below in my heart. I had read the phrase before going to bed....." Those who live in accordance with the Spirit set their minds on what the Spirit desires". So I went and read the entire Romans 8:1-17 again this morning and the following things came to mind.
1. People who are not in Christ Jesus are under God' wrath, God's condemnation.
2.The law although righteous could not save sinful man, as it itself was weakened by the sinful nature of man.
3.God in His infinite wisdom sent His Son in the likeness of sinful man to do what the law was powerless to do....and thus allowed to righteous requirements of the law to be fully met in us who live by the Spirit and not by the sinful nature.
4. People who live by the sinful nature can never please God
5. Anyone who has the Spirit of Christ has his life controlled by the Spirit.
6. The question arises then if we who are baptized, and therefore, have the Spirit of Christ, why do we continue to do what's wrong as if we are still controlled by the sinful nature
7. The answer is given in a very profound way in vs 10-11. In the sense that if Christ is in us our bodies are dead because of sin..thus we continue to do what is wrong....but the promise is that the very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through the Spirit of Christ who lives in us. And therefore empower us to live in accordance with the Spirit and please God.
8. We have to share in Christ' s suffering in order to live this new life.
Then on reflection I recalled that I read the following meditation from Oswald Chambers last night. Note then the encouragement that he provides about having the Life of Christ live within us, so that we may indeed live in accordance with the Spirit and not the sinful nature. As that life is not automatically associated with Baptism for as the Scriptures say we have " work out our salvation with fear and trembling". And Prayer is one method. Living by God's Word is another. Suffering with Christ is yet another.
THE GOOD OF PRAYER
"Lord teach us to pray." Luke 1:1 August 28
It is not part of the life of a natural man to pray. We hear it said that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray. I question it. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it. Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves ( as I write I can hear James 4:2-3 speaking); the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself. " Ask and ye shall receive." We grouse before God, we are apologetic or apathetic, but we ask very few things. yet what a splendid audacity a childlike child has! Our Lord says - " Except ye become as little children." Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ a chance, give him elbow room, and no man will do this until he is at his wit's end. When a man is at his wit's end it is not a cowardly thing to pray; it is the only way he can get into touch with Reality. Be yourself before God and present your problems, the things you know you have come to your wit's end over. As long as you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.
It is not true that " prayer changes things", as prayer changes me and I change things. God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of Redemption alters the way in which a man looks at things. Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in man's disposition. I was thinking yesterday that really and truly, that brutal murder of that young used car dealer, should occupy the minds of all Jamaicans. And as I write no doubt it should bring us to our wit's end. Much more than our economic crisis, much more than the crisis of poor math grades in our schools, and certainly much more than the headlines this morning about Buju Banton changing his lawyer.
The key question here is , " have we come to our wit's end" , in Jamaica, in the USA, in Europe, in Africa and the Middle East, and other trouble spots across the world in respect of the number of people who being killed daily. And the consequence for those societies. If not, we are really not ready for the kind of submission to a Holy God and to the only One who can help mankind with all its troubles. For at the end of the day it is the will of God that all humankind should come to know that there is no other God, no other Saviour, but the Holy One of Israel. And that he has revealed Himself through His written Word in the Bible and moreso in and though the Living Word Christ Jesus who died on the Cross of Calvary for Sin of all mankind.
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.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
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.
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.
Last night the Lord woke me up to read:
" Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the King of Assyria and that vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help to fight our battles. And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the King of Judah said." 2. Chronicles 32:7-8. NIV
I cannot recall reading this version of the story, although I may have read it before, but definitely the version in Isaiah is well known, including the number of Sennacherib's army which was killed by one angel.
Earlier on in the night I had completed a reading a book on " Listening to God" by Charles Stanley. The penultimate chapter was entitled: " THE LIFE THAT LISTENS - A WELL BUILT LIFE". And the reflection was grounded in Matthew 7: 24-27:
'Therefore whoever hears these saying of Mine. and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it fell. And great was its fall."
Stanley then goes on to make some great points in respect of the passage of Scripture...to which many of us could relate well, and perhaps, may have discerned ourselves. The more important contribution though was the statement following the Matthew passage.
STANLEY.... In this particular parable, Jesus confronts us with the simple truth that each one of us is building a life, and its soundness is hearing His voice and acting on it. Jesus wanted the multitudes who had gathered on the rocky hillside to understand that He wasn't delivering just a marvelous new pattern of for living. It wasn't to be a popular sermon that they all went home saying, " Boy, wasn't that a great message!". and then gradually for got about it. What He uttered was not meant to be the new spiritual fodder for debate in the synagogues or market place. He stated "Divine Truth", to be immediately implemented in every sector of existence.
Verse 29 says , " He taught them as having authority". It is as though He had said, " Men, women, and children, you have just heard My words, which come from God. You have listened to to My instructions concerning how to be blessed, how to forgive, and how to pray. You have heard great truths about My Kingdom and its principles. I leave you now with this final command.: Put these truths into practice, and your life will be like a man whose house was constructed on a solid foundation. Ignore, forget, or shelve these truths, and your life will be erected on worthless, porous sand. The choice is yours".
Listening to God and obeying Him are the only constructive methods that help us to survive the storms of the twentieth century. Hearing His voice and integrating it our value systems, behavioral patterns, thoughts, and conversations are prerequisites for for enduring lives. Staying alert and responsive to His speaking voice becomes the rock foundation that no tempest, temptation, or trial can erode. That's why it's dangerous to attend church, listen to religious broadcasts, or read Christian publications! It's dangerous, because Jesus said everyone who hears His truth and does not act upon it will be like the foolish man who built His house upon the sand. It's perilous, because each of us will be held accountable for acting upon every spiritual truth we hear......STANLEY
As I conclude his meditation, and recall how having read these things last night, I woke up this morning singing: "There is power in the Name of the Lord...Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the following thoughts entered my mind. Do the members of the cabinet realize how dangerous it is to invite a man of God to share the Word with them? Do the Christian members of the Press Association which is scheduled to have it's AGM this week understand how dangerous it is to hear the Word of God and not act on it, or share it with authority with the Nation. Or how dangerous it is for the non-believers of that body to listen constantly to God's Word and not believe. Perhaps the sector of society which is most in danger is the church. A church that does not preach with authority, but shares the Word of God as if it is one more element in a pluralistic society that can choose to debate it's worth, accept or reject it, without any consequences. The storms of life are upon us as a nation....the murder, the violence and immorality in the schools in particular, the poverty, the gross inequality in our society, the rebellion against any kind of authority, the ill temper and aggressiveness increasingly evident in both sexes but disconcertingly so in our women, the nurturing ones in the family, the poor performance of so many in our schools, the " low life" of many of our political and other leaders in our society, the " shocking revelations" every so often in the churches, the unbelievable slackness that passes for contemporary music. All have their root in the choice that this nation has made. To ignore the Word of God. And each one of us will be held accountable by God Himself. Who not only came to earth as Man, but died so that we may live and flourish as individuals and as nations. And left us, the church, with this great message and ministry of reconciliation. What have we done? Or more importantly, what have we left undone?
The final message that I was moved to write this week, is set out below, and has little of my thoughts in it. Mostly the Word of God. My conclusion is that all of this inspiration from the Lord is intended to underscore the fundamental importance of the Word of God in the life of every living soul in this world. There is no other source of God's revelation. Only the written Word and the Living Word. Every " inspiration", every " prophetic utterance", every " message from the Lord", has to be validated by God's Word. A great part of the problem in the world today, is that many who claim to " speak in the name of the Lord", have deprated from the simple but profound truths in the Bible. And have gone for the spectacular, the dramatic and the fascinating. But ultimately have no power, as the Word says in Colossians 2: 19..." they have lost connection with the head". And since the church is ordained by God to be the " salt of the earth", little wonder then that evil reigns supreme in many places , inlcuding my beautiful island of Jamaica.
The fact is that the only hope for mankind in every part of this troubled world is to come to the knowledge that " the thief has come to steal, and kill and to destroy", but Jesus has come " that we may have life and have it more abundantly". And the way the " thing is set up " according the young people, the way God has ordained it, it that it is only when we come to our wit's end, that we really and truly understand the need for Jesus in our lives. And God who is gracious and compassionate to the wicked and the ungtrateful, al of us, will forgive us and set us free from the bondage of Sin in and through belief in the life, death and resurrection of His Son Christ Jesus - the unseen bu very present in times of trouble, according the Psalmist.
FURTHER EARLY MORNING REVELATIONS.......in respect of the house built on solid rock...and the life of a Christian in any society...and news for the unbeliever....or the disobedient
" But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task. Unlike so many we do not peddle the word of God for a profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God...........
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, " Let light shine of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God, and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
It is written: " I believed; and therefore I have spoken". With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak...............
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. For we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 & 4:1-18 NIV
Without any doubt the final verse sums up the challenge for all Christians. How to live a life with " eyes fixed on the unseen". And not on the unseen. And the "distractions" are many. So that unbelievers may come know that God sent Jesus for them too. So that God's power may flow out of us and heal this nation. It is not easy, as we all have responsibilities...to our jobs...to our families...to church life...to attend to national affairs. But it is God who has given us these gifts and responsibilities, and He will provide the wisdom and resources and power. What He asks of us, is to first to be aware that " we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing". And " not to lose heart" in the struggles we will face in representing Him in ...national life....in family life....on radio or television ......in our jobs.....in our time of relaxation...in all our endeavors. Then this country of ours with all its problems will be renewed, as the battle is not ours but the Lord's. But we must be faithful.
Hours before I wrote yesterday, one who " kept her eyes fixed on He who is unseen" went back to the Lord who she loved dearly. One who was unheralded in this nation, but one whose witness for Christ in her quiet way, helped to shape the lives of many with her fine manners, quiet dignity, constant joy and incessant prayer. I was privileged to have known her and to have been loved by her and to have loved her. Her son is included in this message. May God's peace rest on he and his family.
No doubt in the ensuing weeks, many meetings will be held, analyses made, investigations pursued and statements made in an effort to try and reassure the nation and to bring comfort to the relatives and justice to the perpetrators of the kind of evil which flourished in my country this week. And those things must happen. But greater will be the benefit if more and more people chose to believe what Jesus told us on the night before He died. " If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him". John 14:23. So the question arises, if God, the Almighty God, The maker of Heaven and Earth, the sea and everything in it, has promised to live in us, if we believe and love His Son. How can silver and gold compete with this promise. How can all the pleasures of the world compete with this promise? How can all the power that this world has to offer compete with this pomise? And how can we not accept such a wonderful gift so that evil will no longer flourish in our land!