METHODIST Minister Rev Stephen Mullings has encouraged Jamaicans to draw nearer to the word of God to ward off temptations during the period of Lent.
Rev Mullings was delivering yesterday's sermon at the Lyndhurst Methodist Church in Kingston, where staff members of the Jamaica Observer worshipped to start the newspaper's 20th anniversary celebrations.
"How many of us have said 'the devil made me do it' and used that as an excuse when we are caught doing something we weren't suppose to? It is a convenient defence, isn't it?" asked Mullings. "But there is one problem: the devil can't make us do anything because he doesn't programme us, and I don't believe that any of us are robots," he continued. The minister said the devil is clever and tempts people by feeding on their weaknesses and bodily urges. But he told the congregation that the Bible is the "sword" in warding off temptations.
"How can we ward off temptations when so many of us do not know the word of God? The word of God is important because we can't face the devil without knowing the word," he said. "The word prevents us from falling to the temptations. No matter the state of your life, I recommend to you the word of God because the word of God is power and might, the word of God is the sword that we may use against the evil one," he said.
Rev Mullings' sermon was based on Luke chapter 4, verses 1-14, which documents the devil's temptation of Jesus after he spent some 40 days in a wilderness. This period is referred to as Lent, and it began on Ash Wednesday, February 13.
Rev Mullings, meanwhile, urged employees of the Jamaica Observer not to become tempted with complacency as they celebrate 20 years of existence.
"Celebration is good... but we all know the environment in which we operate and we cannot sit idly by and behave as if all is well. There are many more mountains to climb, many more milestones to achieve and many more targets, under the stewardship of the Honourable Danville Walker, to be achieved," he said.
Yesterday, Walker — the Observer's managing director — in commemorating the occasion, gave God thanks for sustaining the newspaper over the period. He said God's guidance was instrumental in the success the paper has seen over the years.
"Today, we are not here just as a team but we are here as a family to praise with you the last 20 years, and to give thanks and look forward for many more," he said. "God has given us innovation; the Jamaica Observer is the first newspaper in the Caribbean to print in full colour, and it maintains very high standards of quality, of content, production, and distribution.
"God has been good and merciful to us; let us not take this for granted. Instead, let us continue to strive for excellence, be hopeful, thankful and work hard for continued growth, and that while doing so we will continue to love each other as God loves us," he said.