In humbling ourselves before God, we acknowledge He is LORD, over nations, over kingdoms, over people and He has has given us stewardship over the work of His hands. Heal us oh Lord, Heal our land, heal our people but above all heal our hearts and give us peace.
President Trump demonstrated meekness in calling for a restraint and not retaliation following the attack on the US Embassy in Iraq. I doubt if any nation or people can withstand the lethal power of the United States. However, he chose the path of peace. In doing so, he preserved lives and demonstrated that peace is possible for those that choose it. As we move towards peace in this new year, it is important to recognize that justice is at the right side of peace. Let PEACE be.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy. They rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor as in the day of Midian. For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice. From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this”.
Isaiah 9:2-7 (NKJV)
We have just gone through the Christmas Season with all the joyous celebrations and many messages from different renditions of the Christmas story. In bringing attention to the Prophet Isaiah (vs. 2) indicating that a light had come for those walking in darkness and for those sitting in the shadow of death, the cost of war and violence in our day comes to mind and the message of the prophet becomes even more relevant in our time. There is also another picture presented that brings meaning and a sense of hope and relevance to the light. This reason to hope and rejoice is captured (vs. 3-5) in the multiplication of a nation and an increase of joy, the joy of harvest and of the division of a spoil, the breaking of a yoke and staff of burden, the breaking of the rod of oppression. In addition, the sandals of the warrior from the noisy battle and the garments soaked in blood were to be used for burning and for fire as there was no more need for the garments and sandals because of the era of peace.
In a way, that portrayal is representative of the statement by Ghana’s Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as he delivered the independence speech in 1957 and indicated, “at long last, the battle is ended”, translating into, freedom is finally here. In capturing the moment (vs 3-5), the prophet pointed out the joy of the people, the increase of a nation and the cessation of war. Why would the prophet make such profound statements about the light? Because a better alternative and a greater purpose was on offer, peace in exchange for war, joy in exchange for mourning. It is important to note that the increase of the governance of peace WILL HAVE NO END. In essence, as these words were spoken to Israel, they were speaking also to generations yet to come, to be joyful and to cease from battles for the sake of PEACE. There is no better alternative.
The new year calls for a MOVEMENT towards PEACE. Let’s get working.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
People scramble for power, nations go to every extend to show their strength against others. In the midst of it all is a silent but firm reminder that there is one who has command and control over all. He established the world, He stretched out the heavens, the thunder of His voice echoes through the heavens and the earth. Who is like Him? Let us be still and know that He is in charge and is calling us all to Himself. From every tribe, people, nation calling us all by name to a place of repentance and recognition of who He is. In the midst of the rage, remember that when He speaks even the storms obey. He summons the winds from every corner of the earth and there is no place to hide from His presence. The intent of the heart is bare before Him. Lord may we recognize who you are, give you the due glory and stand in compliance before you. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽
~ Jude 1:20-23 ~
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh”.
In conclusion of this exposition on the call to contend for the faith, Jude adds additional pointers, exhorting believers to stand their ground, build muscle, rescue those heading towards hell and destruction, but hating their defiled garments.
Build Yourself up, in your most Holy Faith. Just as physical muscle is developed by weight exercises, so the Lord expects a building up of holy faith, by doing some lifting, digging deeper and applying discipline. An athlete preparing for the Olympic games, trains hard to get into shape. They watch what gets inside their body and they operate under strict discipline. Why? Because they have their eyes on the crown. Jude gave the exhortation to build yourself up in your most holy faith, keeping your eyes on the crown of glory. Stay disciplined, don’t get distracted because you are in a competition for the price of the upward call, with many witnesses and many counting on you. Don’t drop the baton, stay in shape so you can endure to the end of the race, with no muscle crumps and no surprises on that day. The apostle Paul brings this out very well: “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Jude then exhorts to pray in the Holy Spirit. To let God give articulation to the deepest groanings that words cannot even utter, tuning into His Spirit and connecting with Him for a deeper conversation. In doing this, you begin to operate at the right frequency, cutting out the background noise, getting right into the throne room and in deep communion with the Holy One. With that you can keep Yourself in the Love of God, and not get out of lane, as Jude exhorts, but keep your focus and remain in the love of God. In this way John 8:32 becomes meaningful, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. Thus, continuing in Hs word uncovers the truth, and bring you the true freedom, thereby proving to be His disciples. From that point, look for mercy unto Eternal Life. When you are building up the most holy faith in Jesus Christ, praying in the Holy Spirit and keeping yourself in the love of God, you are essentially placing yourself in the place where God delights. The place where His forgiveness is made available for those that love Him, not remembering their sins against them, but showing mercy. A place where the pleasure of the Lord abounds for restoration, because a heart is set after Him. In that place, His enduring mercy can be found unto eternal life. Once conditioned and positioned, show compassion, making a distinction. Compassion leads to action, identifying with the situation and taking action to bring change. In this direction, Jude admonishes to make a distinction, meaning don’t get entangled in the situation you find others in but become a solution provider heeding the call to act.
The call rings loud; save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hate the garments defiled by the flesh. In other words, heed the call, going to every extent to ensure the truth is well communicated and that people are getting onto the pathway of life. Just as there are people clothed in righteousness, others stand defiled in every way and headed for destruction. For those, there is a call to save with fear, hating even the garments defiled by the flesh. To pull out of the fire is no time to be “politically correct” as fire fighters in an emergency situations will attest to, but be uncompromising and tell the uncompromising truth to pull out of the fire, because the destiny of many depend on it. To stand unconcerned is to snuff out freedom’s holy light and allow for the destruction of those heading towards the fire of hell, which is only reserved for the devil and the fallen angels, as the scriptures indicate.
Therefore, stand and show the way to life, point people in the direction of righteousness, and not be afraid to call out the wrong doings with love, calling a spade a spade in order to bring them to the place of God’s mercy. Jesus already made provision, on the cross, for their deliverance from the curse of the law so they can be grafted into the covenant of Abraham and be part of a people called by His name. In doing this, it is important to keep a sustained focus on the King of Kings, the Sovereign One, the Lord Almighty, examining yourself daily to be sure you are still in the faith and living in a daily expectation of His return. I pray that many will heed the call and many sons and daughters of righteousness will be born throguhout this period of lent.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.
March 8, 2019