On the day of national elections in my country December 29th 2011, far away in Miami and unable to vote, I posted a prayer on my facebook page; " May the one with the humble heart win the elections". Well, this week I had the privilege of meeting with the one with the humble heart, the Hon Portia Simpson- Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica. We sat and discussed the main agenda item, " Road Safety", which was my ticket into the seat of power in my country. But there was so much more than came up and about which we spoke at length. At the end I came away with a deeper appreciation of her love for the people of my country, and more importantly, some of the reasons why the ordinary folks in particular love her so much. But as fascinating, as that meeting with the PM was, far more instructive was the message from the Lord in a book that I started reading again, having first opened the pages in Miami whilst on holidays. And again, about which I posted on my facebook page.
Timothy Keller is fast becoming a well recognized name in the USA, and is also well known in Evangelical circles around the world. He is the author of the New York best selling novel; " The reason for God: Belief in an age of Skepticism". A book in which he recounts his approach to establishing a huge Ministry in the heart of Manhattan, and which has spread out across the USA, by listening to and responding carefully to the questions of unbelievers...and as you can imagine there are many in Manhattan.... after the service where he made himself available to those who came to hear him preach. Well, Keller has a new book: " King's Cross: The Story of the World in the Life if Jesus Christ"...as recorded in the book of Mark. And the message which touched my soul surfaced in chapter two...I am now at chapter 3. "When Greece was invaded by Persia and the Greeks won the great battles of Marathon and Solnus, they sent heralds( or evangelists) who proclaimed the good news to the cities: " We have fought for you, we have won, and now you're no longer slaves; free". A gospel is an announcement of something that has happened in history,something that's been done for you that changes your status forever. Right there you can see the difference between Christianity and all other religions, including no religion. The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news. Other religions say, " This is what you have to do in order to connect to God forever; this is what you have to do to earn your way to God." But the gospel says, " This is what has been done in history. This is how Jesus lived and died to earn the way to God for you". Christianity is completely different. It's good news." No wonder then that St. Paul declares: "When I came to you brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom but on God's power". 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NIV Christ and him crucified, that's the key! That's the good news of the entire Bible. That's why St. Paul this time in the book of Romans underscores the point. " The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is the word of faith that we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:8-10 NIV. This week also I was moved by a word from the Lord and to write the following message to my church family. Do we really understand when we say the Lord's prayer.....thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven......that in heaven: " day and night they never stop saying:
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Revelations 4:8 NI This constant worshiping of God is something we should think seriously about, as we move in this fast paced world. And consider the words of the hymnwriter....in church...at home...at work....at play. > > We have come into this place( this world,this church, this home, this office, this school....) > And gathered in His Name to worship Him, > We have............. > To worship Christ the Lord, Worship Him, Christ the Lord. > > > So forget about yourself > And concentrate on Him and worship Him > So forget........... > And worship Christ the Lord, Worship Him Christ the Lord. > > > He is all my righteousness, > I stand complete in Him and worship Him, > He is all........ > And worship Christ the Lord, > Worship Him, Christ the Lord. > > > Let us lift up holy hands, > And magnify His Name and worship Him > Let us............ > And worship Christ the Lord > Worship Him, Christ the Lord. > > I pray God that we will all yearn to worship Christ the Lord, night and day, in church and at home, at work and at play, as this is why we have " gathered into this place" and what we shall do when we are " gathered into another place". > Then we will be more effective in witness in this place. The we will have less strife and trouble in our churches. But first we have to learn to forget about ourselves. > Amen > > > > No wonder then, that this meditation under the guidance of the hand of God began with a reference to a " humble heart". As this is the state that one has to reach in order to " forget about yourself". People who are proud, and confident in their own abilities and resources to assist them in the many struggles that life offers will never really hear the gospel, the " good news " about Jesus Christ, as they never really forget about themselves. Their hurts, their pain, their needs, and focus on God's love in Christ Jesus to satisfy their deepest need...to be rid of Sin! They may attend church sometimes, they may even, like Herod, " love to hear John preach" ...and then cut off his head at the request of a loved one......they may attend crusades and even " give their lives to the Lord", several times, but all they are seeking is advice. Advice on how to better themselves, how to win an election, how to get a better paying job, or even a job where none existed. Advice on how to " make it " in this highly competitive world. > > One of the things that Keller, and others no doubt have discerned, is that when the "paralyzed man", who the four friends with great determination climbed up a roof and and let him down into the presence of Jesus, is that Jesus, knowing his greatest need, pronounced him free of sin first. And only healed his paralysis afterward. The point is that, the God who knows our hearts better than we do, knows that our greatest need, in order that we may life a full life, a satisfied life, a fulfilling life, is a life free of Sin. And only the Blood of Jesus on the Cross can wash away Sin. That's why Christianity is good news and all that Oprah Winfrey and other new age people, and Mohammed, and Buddha and Confucius, and Socialism and Communism and all others can offer, is advice. However useful it may be! > > It takes a really humble heart to accept that " .....out of the men's ( and women's) hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly....." Mark 7: 21:22 NIV > > It also takes a really humble heart, as the Lord led me to read again this week, and to post on my facebook page and to accept that : God " ....is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your father is merciful." Luke 6:35-36. And so I implored my friends to " Let it go", and forgive all who have done wrong against you, in the family, in the church , in the political arena, at work, at school...wherever. For if God can forgive the ungrateful and the wicked, who are we to hold grudges in our hearts for ever. Especially in this year of Jubilee when we celebrate the nations' 50th year of Independence > A revelation which is further underscored in the book of Romans, again a book and chapter to which I was led this week: > > " You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you towards repentance". Romans 2:1-4 NIV > > Now since this passage of Scripture follows one of the main passages used to underscores the Bible's declaration of homosexuality as a sin, (1: 26-27) and goes on in (28-31), to list many other sins which then leads into this passage in Chap 2, the question arose in my head, of whether or not we can be justified any longer in separating out one sin, buggery ( being fully aware of the power and nuances of some members of the homosexual community in their bid to to promote that lifestyle as being equal to God's righteous plan for man to be joined in holy matrimony to a woman only) to be subject to the punishment under the law,and therefore judgment, and leave out the many others, except murder, listed in the second section... > " which we not only do but approve of those who practice them".....strife, deceit, malice, gossips, slanderers, insolent arrogant, disobey their parents.... > In short all those sins which " come out of the hearts of men and women. > > My country has just passed through, thank God, a relatively peaceful election. But the wounds and the scars of previous wrongs run deep. Further, our economic situation is dire and can trigger social explosions if not handled carefully, compassionately and with urgency. My hope and prayer is that those who have been given the power by God, who has ultimate authority over every living thing, including Presidents and Kings and Opposition leaders and other aspirants to power, may truly humble themselves and really listen to the good news, the gospel of Christ. So that my country and the countries of the world may benefit from the peace which automatically flows wherever the good news is obeyed. And sin is rejected and men and women repent. It is my prayer that all of us who have been Baptized, and who have heard and believed the good news, may give ourselves no rest whilst we are on this earth, but tirelessly and with determination, forget about ourselves, humble ourselves and spread the good news, on face-book, on twitter, on the cell phone, at home, at work, on the street, over the radio, on the television, in high places and in more circumspect situations, wherever and whenever, to those who are merely listening to advice. So that under God, and in Christ this nation and all nations may flourish. And so we sing:
Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
try me, O Lord, and know my thoughts, I pray:
see if there be some wicked way in me,
cleanse me from every sin and set me free.....
I praise thee, Lord........