Sunday, April 7, 2013

Insecurity at home and abroad: Never Again says the Lord in and through Christ Jesus

The Anglican Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman islands, Dr. Howard Gregory addressing the recently held 143rd  synod of the church, quoted the rally cry of the Jews after their experience with the Holocaust, " Never again", in respect to how, in his view,  the political leaders here have used populist policies or have been distracted by electioneering, thus leading to the economic predicament that the country faces.

The young North Korean leader Kim Jong-un seems to be  either  blissfully unaware, or singularly unimpressed,  by a world, which is for the most part, united in its determination that, " never again" shall we have nuclear war on this earth. Not after the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki! So as the North Koreans continue to threaten the USA and its allies with a nuclear attack, even the China, who support the Pyongyang regime, felt the need to issue a thinly veiled rebuke that " no state should sow chaos, and that they would allow mischief on their doorsteps. Suddenly the world seems a more dangerous place.

Back home in my country, on my way to church this morning, in the midst of a very bustling part of city Kingston, the now familiar yellow police tape, surrounding a crime scene, announced yet another murder. At minutes past 7:00 am this morning! Perhaps it's time to follow the example of the Bishop and cry out as a nation, " never again", shall life become so cheap, and come to a such sudden and inglorious  end on the streets of our cities. No doubt this is part of the reason, along with the inevitable political machinations,  why there is a veritable media frenzy over reports in my country that the Minister of National Security was held up whilst spending time with friends over the long Easter weekend. The sentiment is that " never again" should he who is responsible for the security of the nation, be placed in such an embarrassing, and potentially dangerous, situation.

Also in the news was President Obama's decision, occasioned by the consequences of " sequestering" in the USA, to give back a small part of his salary. In a largely symbolic,  but perhaps politically astute, show of support of those who have been badly affected by the cut back in government spending. Accordingly the Jamaican government, in general and our Prime Minister in particular, have been under pressure from the local media to follow suit.

In this midst of this, what can only be described as, reckless International adventurism by North Korea, murder most foul in my country, and calls for sacrifice, so that never again, shall we walk this way as a people and as a world community, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Creator of North Korea, China, the USA and Jamaica spoke. The Almighty God who holds the future in His very safe hands, regardless who seem to have power in the world, spoke in clear terms.


Yesterday I was led to these words, which came to me as I began my devotions with praise.
When he (The Holy Spirit) comes he will convict the world of guilt in regards to sin and righteousness and judgment.  John 16:8 NIV

Then this morning, again as I began with praise, I was led to the words of this glorious hymn which we sing regularly in the Anglican Church:
Praise my soul, the King of heaven............ransomed healed restored forgiven.

Finally, a reflection on this profound truth, of how I, and all mankind whether you believe or not, have been restored by grace to a right relationship with God after we all have sinned and turned away, led me to the famous passage of Jesus restoring Peter. He who had denied Jesus three times.

" When he had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ' Simon son of John, do you love me more than these"....John 21:15. And not insignificantly, Jesus posed the question three times.

Sometime during Holy Week, not sure when, I heard the following, " Jesus came to tell us that man should not live by bread alone.

Take home lesson from all of this: I doubt very much if you can really love the Lord Jesus, unless the Holy Spirit has convicted you of we have denied Christ in our lives in one way or another. Whether like you my friend carrying the sin of unbelief that in Christ alone there is salvation,  or for others ignoring the great offer of mercy extended by God.....or knowing him and committing all kind of evil as many of us have done.

So my friend perhaps you are , potentially, in a better place than others who claim to love him, but have never admitted, nor understood how far away from God they or we all were, until Christ died for all of us. For them the words of the Revelator is important:

" I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth"
Revelation 15-16

The problem for you my friend, and all who depend on their intellect and who claim to have no need for Christ, the only way to God,  in their lives, those who live by bread alone, and not by every word that comes from God, is that the next few verses are very challenging.

You say, ' I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

But then comes the great offer of hope and restoration again;

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

I recall reading many years ago a quote from he who was once an atheist, C. S, Lewis, something to the effect, that if we could ever see how filthy we appeared before a Holy God we would recoil from our own shame.

I pray God that, while the offer stands available,  you, and others, will  accept and believe in the God,  who is,  in the words of the hymn writer,  " slow to chide and swift to bless", and who came  not for the healthy, but to call sinners like me and you to repentance.

Sent from my iPad

Comment: the key point here is that since Christ came as man, since He died on the Cross at Calvary, and since He was raised by power on that fateful Easter Sunday, " never again" will mankind be separated from the Almighty God.  Never!  Never again will evil be allowed to rule the earth, and ruin the life  which man was made to enjoy - close fellowship with the Creator God. Yes, there may be well be very difficult times ahead for mankind. In fact nuclear war may yet happen again. Who knows! But because of that one fact of life, that God in Christ  came and became man, suffered and died, and was raised from the dead, we can celebrate the victory over sin and death and evil. Whether in Pyongyang, or on the streets of city Kingston where life has become so cheap. The key things for all mankind to apprehend, whether they be King, President, Prime Minister or pauper, is that all of us are " wretched, pitiful, blind, poor and naked, before a holy God". And that we need to purchase " gold, white clothes and salve" from God, in and through the shed Blood of Christ the lamb of God, so that we may  become rich, clothed and see - gain the righteousness that comes in and through Christ and Christ alone. So that truly , " never again" will we be subject to the wrath and terror of God - much worse than even nuclear disaster.

Finally, this morning during my devotions, whilst praising an Almighty God, and being led to read Songs of Solomon about the mystery of a woman's  love and marriage,
again, the words of John the Revelator came into my head.

 " Day and night they never stop saying:
 Holy, holy, holy
 is the Lord God Almighty,
 who was, and is, and is to come.........
 You are worthy, our Lord and God,
 to receive glory and honor and power,
 for you created all things,
 and by your will they were created
 and have their being.......
 You are worthy, to take the scroll
and to open its seal,
 because you were slain,
 and with your blood you purchased men for God
 from every tribe and language and people and nation.
 You have made them to be a kingdom of priests
 to serve our God,
 and they will reign on the earth......
 To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
 be praise and honor and glory for ever and ever.
 Revelation 4:8-5:13 NIV

Then I was reminded on the words of a wonderful hymn which, inter alia, among other messages, speaks about how we may love this Almighty God, even though he is so powerful. because of Christ.

My God, how wonderful thou art,
thy majesty how bright,
how beautiful thy mercy-seat,
in depths of burning light!

How dread are thine eternal years,
O everlasting Lord,
by prostate spirits day and night
incessantly adored!

How wonderful, how beautiful,
the sight of thee must be,
thine endless wisdom, boundless power,
and awful purity!

Oh, how I fear thee, Living God,
with deepest, tenderest fears;
and worship thee with trembling hope,
and penitential tears!

Yet I may love thee too , O Lord,
almighty as thou art,
for thou hast stooped to ask of me
the love of my poor heart.

No earthly father loves like thee,
no mother, e'er so mild,
bears and forebears as thou hast done
with me thy sinful child.

Father of Jesus, love's reward!
What rapture will it be,
prostrate before thy throne to lie,
and gaze and gaze at thee.

Final Comment: It is a shame, and a great travesty, that He who by the shedding of His precious Blood, purchased man for God from every tribe, and language and people and nation,
should be the subject of much debate rather than obedience in this " modern " world. Like the Jews, we who love Him who we fear " with deepest tenderest fears", He who " stooped" and became man so that we can love him, commit to saying, " never again". Never again will we allow sin to rule over us. We may sin, we may do what is wrong and even evil, but it shall not rule us again ever. Because we are assured of forgiveness in and through Christ Jesus, once we repent with a sincere and contrite heart.
Never again will we allow the desire for vengeance to rule over us - and threaten an entire peninsula. Never again will we allow our sexual desires to rule over us - and thus provoke the firestorm that is raging in our country about how to prevent teenage girls from getting pregnant whilst in schools. One suggestion is to give out condoms. Clearly coming from a worldview that does not believe that the worse thing that can happen to anyone, is not to die, or to contract AIDS or to get pregnant, but to be eternally separated from God, because of persistent disobedience. And woe to those who cause " these little ones to sin".

Never again will we allow our desire to survive, despite the most difficult circumstances, to push us to the point of taking someone's life,  in order that we might live - thus opening the gates of murder and envy and malice, all of which conspire to cause blood to flow on the streets of city Kingston.
But that cry of never again, coming from the depths of human misery occasioned by the horrors of the Holocaust during World war 11, can only be assured when we place our trust in He who holds the future. The Almighty God who allowed  His people to cross the Red Sea on dry land, but ' the horse and rider of the Egyptians, He threw into the sea", and they perished.

I pray God, that Kim Jung-un may come to his senses and seek peace instead of war. That leaders in America and in Jamaica, at all levels, may acknowledge the greatness and mercy of God in Christ Jesus, and seek Him , and pray, " while you may be found; surely when the mighty the waters rise. they will not reach them ". Psalm 32:6
For when knows when the waters of life may rise suddenly and find us unprepared and unprotected.
In Jesus mighty name we pray..