Month: May 2013
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Message (MSG)
24-25 But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
26 The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”
Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”
Who is your favorite wrestler?
Today’s television wrestlers are professional entertainers — athletes who have captured the imagination of Americans of all generations. Though their names change from generation to generation television wrestlers, complete with costumes, gimmicks, rippling muscles and a lot of hype has an unparalleled following around the world.
Perhaps the most famous is Hulk Hogan, who has had cartoon shows, records, comic books and television shows based on his wrestling persona. Others familiar names of our time include: ’The Rock’, ’Kurt Angle’, ’Triple H’, The Undertaker’ and others. Each combine entertainment and wrestling skills to thrill audiences everywhere.
The stronger and the cleverer of the two wrestlers usually win.
But suppose you had to wrestle God, who do you think would win?
Unlikely as it may seem there are many people who wrestle with God everyday. Some win and some lose. Those who win arise from their experience with a stronger, fuller, faith. Those who choose to refuse God’s will in their lives, walk away as losers.
As Christians we can reflect on Ephesians 6:12 which reminds us that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
As we wrestle with this we should resolve that we will not leave the ring until we are victorious and receive our blessing from God.
I. Our text first considers Jacob as returns home after being away for 21 years. He managed the herds of his uncle Laban during this time and had become wealthy.
Jacob is noted for his frequent tendency to cheat, deceive or take advantage of others. He is often remembered for his boyhood act of cheating his brother out of his divine inheritance in exchange for a bowl of soup. That caused a great division in his family and prompted him too leave 21 years earlier. This text finds Jacob returning home a wealthier man, but one who still possessed the same old habits and traits that caused him to leave. After 21 years of tricking and being tricked, Jacob decided it was time to go home.
As he drew close to home Jacob sent messengers to his brother, Esau, to inform him that he was coming home and that he wanted to make up for the wrongs he had done. The messenger returned to announce that Esau was coming to meet him but he was bringing 400 men with him.
Jacob was disturbed and afraid for his life because he thought his brother was coming to avenge his bad deeds. The night before his return home, Jacob pondered his fate and considered his options and it was to the point he had his third encounter with the Lord. His first encounter came when God spoke to him in a dream and told him to go home (Gen.31: 13). As he returned home he met angels of the Lord along the way (Gen. 32:1-2) and had his second encounter with Lord. Now in his moment of indecision the Lord seized him bodily and spiritually as Jacob wrestled to decide whether to go home or flee.
Without a doubt this was a fixed fight. The outcome of this match was a part of God’s divine plan. Jacob would win this match despite his mortality facing the invincible, indestructible, immortal power of God by simply deciding to go back home. To remind Jacob of the power God could have unleashed against him, the Lord simply touched his thigh and it was weak as a limb for the rest of his life.
Jacob’s decision to go home, but there was something else he needed from God, a changed heart. His plea for spiritual blessings was I can’t go home like this! I have cattle, riches, and fame, but I can’t go home like this! Jacob wanted a blessing from God and he received it. The Lord changed his name from Jacob to Israel, which means: You wrestled with God and won!
Jacob had wrestled with men and won! But now he had wrestled with God and won!
There are many today that have prevailed in their struggle with life’s forces. They have wrestled with men and won. Many have defeated struggles of racism, poverty and sexism to rise high in their professions and to acquire a reasonable level of comfortable living. Though their lives at times appeared to be down for the final count they have risen victorious!
Are you among those who wrestled with men and won? Are you able to keep food on your table, wear decent clothing, and get a few of the creature comforts of this life? If so, you have wrestled with men and won!
Jacob acquired his material by abandoning most stayed away from home for 21 years seeking his fortune and won! Today, there are millions who placed their active service in the kingdom of God on the back burner as they wrestle with men. Many are so completely consumed with making a dollar that they have little time left for prayer, bible study, worship or service to their fellow man in the Kingdom of God.
Sooner or later, no matter who you are, the Lord is going to speak to you. Perhaps he comes in the silence of the night. Perhaps his words leap from the pages of a manuscript and embrace you or they simply ring in your ears. The call is for every child of God to “come home!”
When Jacob asked the Lord for a blessing before he went home, he wasn’t asking for a material blessing because he already had that, what he wanted was the confidence of knowing that God’s spirit was with him. In essence he said I’m going home, “but I can’t go home like this,” without your presence in my life!
There’s somebody reading this who has wrestled with life and won and is now wrestling with a decision about coming home to the Lord!
Their prayer is “Lord, I want to come home’ because you’ve been good to me! But I’m afraid of what’s out there! I’m afraid of making that first step!
I’m not leaving this place until you bless me with your Holy Ghost!
I can’t go home like this!
When the Holy Ghost leads you:
Mountains seem to be a little lower!
Dark clouds seem to be a little brighter!
Burdens seem to be a little brighter!
Fears are a little less frightening!
Troubles seem more bearable!
No wonder the songwriter would write: ’Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me, make me, mold me, fill me, break me, spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me!’
II. When Jacob set out the next day on his way home, he had a limp in his walk but there was no fear in his heart because he had the Lord with him! He was going home, but he wasn’t the same man!
When he left home he was self-centered but as he returned he was willing to share with others!
When he left home he was filled with pride, but as he returned his pride turned to humility.
When he left home he was accustomed to using people, but as he returned he was willing to be used by the Lord!
His brother Esau met him surrounded by 400 men, but what Jacob expected to be an upraised fist turned out to be outstretched hand!
The two embraced each other and wept!
There are good things in store for those who come home! Jacob realized that there is unspeakable joy when you come home!
Every child of God knows how Jacob felt because every child of God is on his way home!
We’re going home, but not to a physical address in the mosquito ridden, humid bayous of the Louisiana Delta. We’re going to place where we have a house not built by hands!
I heard a songwriter said: “I’m going home to live with Jesus, since I laid my burdens down!”
I HEARD Jesus say “In my father’s house there are many mansions!’
Over yonder, in my fathers house:
Every day will be Sunday, always howdy and never good bye!
Every mountain shall be made low!
Every valley shall be exalted!
The wicked shall cease from troubling!
The weary shall be at rest!
Come and go with me to my Fathers house there is joy, joy, and unspeakable joy!
“Liberty is always unfinished business.” ~ American Civil Liberties Union
“Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man or order of men.” ~ Adam Smith
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens.” ~ Adam Smith
“Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is, in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention.” ~ Adam Smith
“There is no art which government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.” ~ Adam Smith
Since starting the first Men’s Wearhouse (MW) clothing outlet in Houston in 1973, George Zimmer has followed a low-cost contrarian formula. He shuns glitzy retail areas and malls, preferring to open stores in outdoor plazas. He even stars in his own TV commercials. “I have more belief in my company than anyone else,” Zimmer says. “So why hire an actor?” Why indeed. Since going public 15 years ago, Men’s Wearhouse has grown its annual profit from $5.9 million to $149 million.
One more contrarian thing: It is Zimmer’s policy that no employee or interviewee will ever undergo a criminal background check. Conventional retail wisdom says this guarantees petty larceny on a grand scale. In fact, the company loses a mere 0.4 percent of revenue to theft, way less than the typical 1.5 percent loss suffered by big retailers
“I don’t trust the U.S. justice system to get it right,” says Zimmer, who is himself a recovering alcoholic. “I’d rather make my own decisions, and I believe in giving people a second chance.”
•An employer’s use of an individual’s criminal history in making employment decisions may, in some instances, violate the prohibition against employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
•The Guidance builds on longstanding court decisions and existing guidance documents that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Commission or EEOC) issued over twenty years ago.
•The Guidance focuses on employment discrimination based on race and national origin. The Introduction provides information about criminal records, employer practices, and Title VII.
•The Guidance discusses the differences between arrest and conviction records.
The fact of an arrest does not establish that criminal conduct has occurred, and an exclusion based on an arrest, in itself, is not job related and consistent with business necessity. However, an employer may make an employment decision based on the conduct underlying an arrest if the conduct makes the individual unfit for the position in question.
◦In contrast, a conviction record will usually serve as sufficient evidence that a person engaged in particular conduct. In certain circumstances, however, there may be reasons for an employer not to rely on the conviction record alone when making an employment decision.
•The Guidance discusses disparate treatment and disparate impact analysis under Title VII.
◦A violation may occur when an employer treats criminal history information differently for different applicants or employees, based on their race or national origin (disparate treatment liability).
◦An employer’s neutral policy (e.g., excluding applicants from employment based on certain criminal conduct) may disproportionately impact some individuals protected under Title VII, and may violate the law if not job related and consistent with business necessity (disparate impact liability).
◾National data supports a finding that criminal record exclusions have a disparate impact based on race and national origin. The national data provides a basis for the Commission to investigate Title VII disparate impact charges challenging criminal record exclusions.
◾Two circumstances in which the Commission believes employers will consistently meet the “job related and consistent with business necessity” defense are as follows:
◾The employer validates the criminal conduct exclusion for the position in question in light of the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (if there is data or analysis about criminal conduct as related to subsequent work performance or behaviors); or
◾The employer develops a targeted screen considering at least the nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job (the three factors identified by the court in Green v. Missouri Pacific Railroad, 549 F.2d 1158 (8th Cir. 1977)). The employer’s policy then provides an opportunity for an individualized assessment for those people identified by the screen, to determine if the policy as applied is job related and consistent with business necessity. (Although Title VII does not require individualized assessment in all circumstances, the use of a screen that does not include individualized assessment is more likely to violate Title VII.).
•Compliance with other federal laws and/or regulations that conflict with Title VII is a defense to a charge of discrimination under Title VII.
“A God of Second Chances.” In “Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie,” there is a scene where Jonah is sitting in the belly of a whale, and some angels appear out of nowhere and begin explaining to Jonah how God wanted to give him a second chance to be obedient; and thus, they broke out into song about the God of second chances. What’s really neat is how the artists animated some sailing ships that were swallowed by the whale. While the angels were singing about the God of second chances, the masts of the ships formed the backdrop, and they were in the shape of crosses; thus, communicating how each of us has a second chance through Jesus Christ.
This morning we are going to go all the way through the book of Jonah, but don’t be alarmed for it is only four chapters long. We are not going to read each and every verse either, but we are going to touch upon some key verses and points in order to gain an overview of the central message that God wants to reveal. We will come to see that the story of Jonah provides us with a picture of the love, forgiveness, and compassion that God desires to bestow on each of us. The book of Jonah is a glimpse into the second chance that God is longing to extend to all people through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
Jonah Was Disobedient to the Lord (1:1-3)
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
Right here we see that God told Jonah to preach in the city of Ninevah, but Jonah was disobedient and ran away. We read here that he fled to the city of Tarshish from the seaport of Joppa. The distance from Joppa to Ninevah was nearly 700 miles; however, the distance from Joppa to Tarshish was about 2200 miles! Tarshish was on the Spanish peninsula and Ninevah was in Assyria; therefore, these two cities were on the complete opposite sides of the known world at that time.
Jonah did a complete U-turn and went in a totally opposite direction of God’s will. Because the Lord asked him to do something that he didn’t want to do and that he didn’t understand, he deliberately disobeyed. When Jonah fled to Tarshish he went three times the distance that God had asked him to journey when he was commanded to preach in the city of Ninevah.
You see, when we are in deliberate defiance to God, our guilt can sometimes result in running as far away from the Lord as we can possibly get. We will try to run from God, because we are hoping we can hide from His face. For example, in the story of the Prodigal Son, we read that the prodigal fled to “a far country” (Luke 15:13). We can certainly run from the Lord, but we absolutely cannot hide from His presence; no way, no how.
Psalm 139:7-10 says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in [the grave], behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” We might choose to run from the Lord; but even if we do, we will still have to come face to face with God at some point or another and reckon with Him.
I want to briefly point out what happens when we run from the Lord. In verse 3, we read that “He went down to Joppa . . . and [he] went down into the [ship].” We are going to notice later in the story that he also went “down into the sea,” and “down into the belly of a great fish.” Whenever we run from the Lord we wind up going down, and still farther down, until we hit rock bottom.
When we do our own thing this will only lead to death and destruction, for we read in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Acting apart from the will of God is what the Bible calls sin, and Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death,” meaning spiritual death. As we will see, because Jonah ran from the Lord and entered a downward spiral, he was going to have a brush with death.
Jonah Was Given a Second Chance (1:4; 1:17; 2:1-2; 2:10)
1:4 – 4 But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.
1:17 – 17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
2:1-2 – 1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.”
2:10 – 10 So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Here we see Jonah’s brush with death that resulted from his disobedience to God. As Jonah sailed for Tarshish, a terrible storm arose that threatened the lives of everyone on board the ship. If we take a look at verse 7, we read that the men cast lots (or gambled), in order to find out who brought the disaster upon them, and the lot fell on Jonah; and then in verse 15, we see that they threw Jonah overboard in order to save their own lives, and they abandoned him to die at sea.
You would think that things couldn’t get any worse for Jonah, with the storm and being tossed overboard, but next we see that Moby Dick came along and gobbled him up. We read here that a great fish swallowed Jonah. We don’t know exactly what this fish was; however, most children’s stories call the fish a whale. This great fish swallowing Jonah was not God’s punishment; it was actually His provision to save Jonah from drowning. After Jonah’s deliberate running and outright disobedience, God had compassion on him and spared his miserable life. The Lord revealed here that He is indeed “a God of second chances.”
We read in verse 17, that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights. He had just run away from the Lord three times the distance that God had told him to go, and now he was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights. This similarity with numbers is not a coincidence, for a point is being emphasized here.
We read in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” This is a reference to Jesus lying in the tomb for three days and nights after His crucifixion and burial. God’s mercy toward us is so great that He gave His one and only Son to die for us and enter the place of death on our behalf, so that we might have eternal life. We can flee from the Lord three times the distance He has called us, but His mercy is three times greater than our disobedience.
Bad credit, the belly of the whale, disenfranchised due to felonies, the belly of the whale, disconnected from faith, the belly of the whale, actually in prison, stuck in unrighteous thoughts, all are not beyond you receiving a second chance. Michael Vick, Martha Steward and countless others had their marketing skills and brand packaging of talents, but we have the seal of approval from Christ Jesus our Lord, we will prevail.
Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.
New International Version (NIV)
129 Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
132 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
134 Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.
All glory and honor to The only wise God today for He has ushered me into another Birthday today. He has gifted me with the thirst of righteousness and I arose to this blessed day with Him being the first thought. I Immediately went into this study. During the era of great sea exploration in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, sailing ships traversed vast, hazardous oceans and navigated dangerous coastlines. Pilots used various navigation techniques, including a book called a “rutter”(not the “rutter,” the ship’s steering device). This was a log of events kept by earlier voyagers who chronicled their encounters with previously unknown and difficult waters. By reading the sailing details in a rutter, captains could avoid hazards and make it through difficult waters.
In many ways, the Christian life is like a voyage, and the believer needs help in navigating life’s perilous seas. We have that help because God has given us His word as a “spiritual rutter.” Often when we reflect on a meaningful passage, we can recall God’s faithfulness through trying circumstances. As the psalmist suggests, perils are found not only in life situations but also in our inner tendency towards sin. Because of these dual concerns, he wrote, “Direct my steps by your Word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me”(119:133).
As you reflect on the teaching in the bible, you’ll be reminded of God’s past care, assured of the Lord’s guidance in trying circumstances, and warned against sinfulness. That’s the advantage of having a “spiritual rutter.”
My Bible is a guidebook true
That points for me the way,
That gives me courage, hope, and cheer
And guidance for each day.
With God’s Word as your map and His Spirit as your compass, you’re sure to stay on course. He’s tried and true to do what He said. We have tried Him and He is good.
New International Version (NIV)
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,”
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember–at “Wits End Corner”
Is just where God’s power is shown.
Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,”
Blinded with wearing pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember–at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is where Jesus loves to come.
Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”?
Your work before you spread,
All lying begun, unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for stretching out trembling hands?
Remember–at “Wits’ End Corner’
The burden-Bearer stands.
Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”?
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who fails you not:
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is the “God who is able” proved.
Do not get discouraged–it may be the last key on the ring that opens the door..
My wife has just received the blessing of seeing her labor pay off from attending school even though we are pressed on every side by living arrangements and freedom of movement. Stretched beyond measure with daily necessities, but she stayed the course that Jesus has laid for her life and today she was notified of being placed on the Dean’s list at Argosy University for her major in Psychology with a minor in substance abuse counseling. We are believing for greater power and harvest than this. We are believing God for greater favor in a world that is not forgiving, I declare and agree, and decree it to come to past in Jesus name. I expect a deliverance from our plight of life as to be used vessels for God’s will and purpose in this area of oppression, I expect greater faith and strength to live a holy life. Are you expecting greater to get you through your “Wits’ End Corner? This is my birthday week end and be design I will be sober for 11 years for cocaine abuse, but on house arrest, Praise God!!! I am blessed to have hope that my joy is not established based off my perspective to participate in worldly activities, but to live and give thanks to My God for being within my heart and strolling with me as He did Adam and eve in the garden of Eden. Be blessed my readers and know that He is in control and able to do exceedingly and abundantly above what we can think, ask or imagine. Be encouraged and wait with faith.
My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.
* We live in an ungodly culture. This week I began re-reading Jeremiah & like I always am, I was struck by the parallels between the actions of Israel & the present day USA. The prophet voices the question from God when he says, “What fault did your Fathers find in me that they abandoned me – searching for worthlessness so they became worthless!” It goes on to ask this question, “Has a nation changed its God?”
* Any honest observation and or assessment of this nation will reveal the decay, disintegration and devolvement of this culture. We see wild immorality. A 10 year old girl told her mom that her one driving question in life was, “When can I have sex?” The problem for us today is that God’s answer to this question seems to be markedly different from the answers which are given today. Today we hear of parents saying, “When you love someone baby” or ‘You’ll just KNOW when it’s right.’ Our young people (& not so young people) are imploding because they give of themselves sexually to the extent that when they do decide to marry, they have little left to offer. The results are devastating as we live in rampant immorality.
* For any culture there exist the three levels of morality. These are defined as moral, immoral, and amoral. In the moral culture there exists an agreed upon set of moral standards which governs behavior and people actually abide by. The immoral culture is the same type of culture (where everyone KNOWS the standard) but while everyone knows the moral standard – those standards are basically ignored. The amoral culture is the one found in the last verse of Judges where, ‘everyone does what is right in their own minds.’
* In other words, it is “Katie-bar-the-door-no restraint-nothing right-nothing wrong.” It is ‘live and let live.’ It is you want to cohabitate, that’s okay because it’s no one else’s business; same sex marriage is nobody’s business. Brothers and Sisters, this is the culture we find ourselves in – in the USA of the 21st Century. Sin in all forms and perversions of God’s morals, precepts, laws, and words, have been cast aside in favor of the “If it feels good or feels right, do it.” Thus abortion is the law of the land. Sexual Immorality of all brands (homosexuality, fornication, adultery, and more) is seen as acceptable instead of sin. God’s standard, His word, and His people have been cast under the bus.
* It is into this culture that God calls men and women to be godly parents, to be salt and light, & to represent Jehovah to this world, their family, and friends. Pastorally, I will say to you that you will be challenged because you may well be called on to stand against the very people you love. Today’s question may well expose who we love most, people or God.
* So to our ladies, “How can I be a godly mom in such an ungodly culture?” To our men, don’t’ get too comfortable because these words are for us also. How can we be godly people in this ungodly culture? Please don’t miss this: being godly is not a live and let live passive attitude toward sin. In these matters, passivity was not & is not Jehovah’s approach.
* Today, from Paul’s words to Timothy, let me offer & let’s discern how to accomplish this. From the text I lift out three ways.
1) By Your Modeling – (v2) – Now in this culture, we know what ‘female models’ are, or at least we ‘think’ we know. Models are those skinny women who appear on the magazine covers & supposedly are examples of how ‘all women should look.’ Even as I speak these words, you know better. Those models are a façade. They are photographed & brushed to perfection.
* What I am saying is that this culture casts its gaze on that which is unreal & calls it a model.
* The Bible speaks of us, both individually & collectively, as being patterns or examples for others to imitate. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that he and his team worked like they did to be an example, a pattern, & a model for them to imitate. Look how this relates to the ladies, or better said, moms.
* Verse 2 is packed full of these truths for today. It begins by addressing the “Older Women.” In the original language this word is the root word – feminine gender – of ‘presbuterous’ which is generally interpreted Elder. This speaks of someone with life-experience & Godly wisdom. This would be those who have been & are wives and mothers – those who have been far enough down the road to have stepped in a few potholes.
* The scripture says they are to be ‘reverent in behavior.’ The behavior (or action) part tells us HOW the mom is modeling for her family, friends, and neighbor. How she acts, lives, & reacts daily should be ‘reverent.’ Reverent is not what we think it is. Somehow we have decided that reverent is quiet, hands-folded-in-lap, & becoming totally passive. KJV uses the thought “as becometh holiness.’ Paul tells Titus that the mothers, older women, should show other people how to be holy, pure, chaste, & godly. Here’s a couple of practical ways to accomplish this, don’t be slanderers (in other words – don’t talk about other people) and don’t drink a great deal of alcohol (don’t let your kids drive you to drink? – I’m teasing).
* History & culture teaches us that, back in this time, the older ladies – who had time on their hands, were given to drink. Paul is saying that this is a bad habit which gives the wrong example & perception. Also, more than one time scriptures speak about this thing of slandering. It goes by many names: coarse, crude, or foolish talking as well as gossip.
* Paul says, “You need to be modeling for the young people the godly life and leave all godliness alone.” Mom, Grandma, Great-grandma (dad’s – etc) you want to leave a godly legacy in this ungodly age – become a model for God and good. This begins with a life surrendered to Jesus. It starts by recognizing what you are before the Lord – a sinner. God will reveal this to you. The Bible tells us that the payment for this sin is death (physical & eternal). The Bible tells you that Jesus died for your sin, to forgive you, & to give you abundant life here & eternal life beyond the grave. If you trust Jesus, He’ll clean you up.
* Then you can be a model with your life & (look at that last phrase) teach good things to your children, grandkids, and those who God’s places in your life. This is the starting part.
2) By Your Mentoring -(v3) – This verse is the reason we are using ESV instead of the HCSB today. For some reason instead of saying ‘train’ the HCSB says you are to ‘encourage’ the younger women. Encouragement is much different than training. To encourage is simply to offer support, cheerlead, and/or give some verbal comments that helps someone take the right action. While I’m not minimizing the need for encouragement, in fact I will say that we need more encourager in the church. But ‘teaching’ is different than ‘encouraging.’ A teacher doesn’t simply encourage their students to learn – they insist on it. Mom’s, you shouldn’t simply encourage your young daughters (& sons) as well as other young women in life, you should demonstrate it & do your best to get them to catch it.
* If you see how the scripture is written – this becomes crystal clear. (Read the last sentence of verse 2-verse 5b). What a task!
* Know what I remember? I remember a church (& community) where the women walked with God closely. The men – could be wild, but there were a few women who were godly.
* They became the conscious of the church – not because they were rude, arrogant, over-bearing, & opinionated – but because their lives spoke ‘tons’ about God’s love, God’s word, and God’s standard. You see, our influence really depends on our godliness. Our godliness depends on our intimate personal relationship with God through Christ. Our relationship with Him depends on our commitment & obedience to Him. We’re tempted to compromise.
* We are tempted because the world doesn’t understand. Most of us remember the name Bing Crosby. Most of us know that he had a daughter named Mary. I shall never forget his stand on morality which shocked the liberal media person, Barbara Walters. She interviewed him in the early 70’s – when the sexual revolution was making its way across the land. Her question to Bing was, “If Mary were to move in with a guy without getting married, what would you do?” Without missing a beat & in a matter of fact way he said, “She would not be welcomed in my house.” Barbara was aghast! “Come on Bing, you wouldn’t do that.” He didn’t get upset but simply responded, “She knows my standards, and she would be welcomed back when she honored them.” Where has this commitment gone?
* To be a godly mom or dad in this ungodly world doesn’t mean being mean, it means having convictions, modeling those convictions, and teaching those to our children. One last thing;
3) By Your Ministry – (v4) – To be a godly mom, man, or person in this culture, you must have a personal persona that speaks to the culture as a ministry. Simply defined, a ministry is what you do ‘for others expecting nothing in return.’ So take all three verses, wrap them together and discover the ministry you & I should have. How does this work? (TEXT)
* We are to be ‘reverent (holy)’, not slanderers (gossipers), nor controlled by wine (not given to lose our witness by alcohol), teach what is good (verbally & visually), train young women to love their husbands & children (a principle), be self-controlled (a message in itself), pure, working at home (priority), kind, and submissive (big stuff).
* We do this for this reason – ‘so the word of God won’t be reviled.’ Other translations use the word, slandered, maligned, & blasphemed. Have you ever considered that when people who claim the name of Jesus do not live according to His words, that in the eyes of this world, the word of God is minimized. We may not like this, but it is the truth.
* If we are going to be godly moms, dads, & kids in this ungodly world – our lives, our words, & our actions must point to Him.
* If not, then the culture will decay & disintegrate to point that everyone will do what is right in their own eyes & minds, and God & good will be dismissed.
* Consider these final thoughts: Every day we model a life of some kind. Our friends & family see it. What does your life say to those watching you? For those who look up to you, like it or not, you are influencing them like a mentor. If they become just like you, what will they ultimately be like here on earth? Finally, how is your ministry? You do have a ministry. Again, like it or not. People see what you do. Do they see Jesus in your life or do they see the ugliness of selfishness running through you?
* I believe that people here desire to be a godly person in this ungodly culture. Moms, dad, boys, & girls, all do. But perhaps we believe we can do it on our own. The Bible says we can’t. We are flawed people & mere sinners, who are hopeless on our own. The starting point & the ending point is Jesus. He will make you – if you’ll let Him.
A government, for protecting business only, is but a carcass, and soon falls by its own corruption and decay.
Amos Bronson Alcott
Are payday loans a good source of emergency cash? Thanks to misleading marketing, many of its consumers unfortunately think so. Corruption painted as help only in low income communities. Can you see what is taking place under the guise od humanity and helping others?
“Payday lending stores are opening their doors in low-income neighborhoods at a rate equal to Starbucks [opening its doors] in affluent ones,” states NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond to illustrate how payday lenders are rapidly sinking their roots into our communities.
Many payday loans trap consumers by encouraging them to repeatedly pay high fees for borrowing small amounts of money. The average loan size is $375; but borrowers end up paying about $520 in interest. And repeat borrowers, many who secure an additional loan to pay back their previous loan, account for 91 percent of all payday loans per year.
Single mothers, African-Americans and Latinos are overwhelmingly targets for payday loans, according to studies by FDIC and CFSI.
Mass predatory lending products and deceitful financial practices contributed to the 2007 financial crisis. However, with foreclosures being the focal point of the crisis, payday lending has not been discussed as prominently– until now.
Payday lending’s economic impact cannot be understated as it drains the economy significantly. A recent study by the Insight Center shows that in 2011, payday loans cost the U.S. economy nearly one billion dollars and thousands of jobs. Payday loans reduce household spending by taking away money that consumers could spend on businesses, which in turn fuels business growth and job creation.
Consumer advocates, along with state and local governments, are initiating efforts to protect consumers from these types of “debt traps” in disguise. The Obama Administration established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to help protect consumers from the disastrous financial products on Wall Street that financed and contributed to the greatest losses of wealth for the average American in modern history.
Recently, the CFPB released their initial findings on payday loans. Their report found that these loans are not used regularly for emergency cash – which could be easily paid back in a short period of time – but rather by those who do not have enough income to meet their regular expenses. The study concludes, “These loans raise substantial consumer protection concerns.”
This study proves that small dollar high-cost lending is predatory and unfairly targets the economically weakest members of our community. They exploit consumers’ inability to meet their regular financial obligations while stripping wealth from segments of our society that can ill afford it.
Financial institutions, including Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), have joined the CFPB in cracking down on the banks it oversees by issuing guidelines on their payday products called deposit advance loans. These guidelines require banks to better assess the customer’s financial capability to pay back a loan so the consumer can better avoid being caught in a debt trap. They also require that each deposit advance loan be repaid in full before issuing another deposit advance loan; and that banks cannot offer more than one loan per monthly statement cycle.
At the NAACP, we engage the community around predatory payday lending by connecting NAACP state and local units with CFPB national field hearings and representatives and hosting fair lending workshops nationwide to inform consumers of how to beware of these debt traps.
Whether payday loans are dispersed through storefronts or well-respected financial institutions, accountability is key. We are encouraged that government agencies, along with other consumer advocacy groups, are moving on all fronts to protect our communities from economic exploitation. Economic empowerment and justice are at the root of advancing racial equity. And we must eliminate barriers to economic justice like predatory payday lending, which weakens the economies of so many Americans.
Money and corruption are ruining the land, crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits and treating us like sheep, and we’re tired of hearing promises that we know they’ll never keep.
Micah speaks by the Spirit of God and points a bony finger at three distinct groups of people and says, “It’s Your Fault!”:
1. Corrupt Politicians
2. Compromising Preachers
3. Complacent People
Micah desperately wants the people to understand that the God who loves sinners still hates sin. And sin must always be judged. His holiness demands that. Praise God that if you’re saved you will never be judged for your sin; they were judged 2,000 years ago on Calvary’s cross! But that does not mean we can live a careless, haphazard Christian life. The same Bible which teaches that we will not be judged for our sins also tells us that we will indeed be judged for how faithful we have been. All individuals will one day be judged, and there is such a thing as the judgment of a nation.
Micah 3:12 talks about a nation being “plowed as a field,” a metaphor for judgment.
No nation was as pure in its inception as the nation Israel— by God Himself in Genesis 12. And yet even Israel went corrupt, and the vast majority of the people were ignorant or indifferent concerning that corruption. For this reason the prophets of judgment came along, like Micah, calling the people to repentance, and making the people aware that the God who would rather bless will blast if his hand is forced.
I’m optimistic about our nation’s possibilities for the future, but I think we should be realistic. And part of loving America is wanting to save it from a corruption that most people are seemingly ignorant of…or at least indifferent to.
Fault Line #1 – Corrupt Politicians
Micah 3:1-3: And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment? Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.
Reading these verses is like watching the nightly news. NBC’s Tom Brokaw used to do a weekly segment called “The Fleecing of America.” It highlighted the price Americans pay at the hands of leadership gone awry. I think you could have put these three verses into his teleprompter and no one would have known the difference!
Here are six requirements God recommends for government leaders:
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. (Proverbs 29:2)
It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness. (Proverbs 16:12)
Why is it that today we just look for skills and credentials, and not look to morality?
I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions…by me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. (Proverbs 8:12-16)
3. Absolute Honesty
Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince. (Proverbs 17:7)
Leaders and liars are not the same thing!
4. Separation from bad influences
Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness. (Proverbs 25:4-5)
A leader must focus on what is right, not just public opinion or lobbying pressures.
5. Personal Purity
Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. (Proverbs 31:3)
If a man will not honor his marriage vows, what’s he going to do with those “piddly little vows” of public trust?
6. Protection of the weak and the defenseless
Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8-9)
A leader is to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and defend those who cannot defend themselves.
A Biblical leader should stand tall on behalf of the unborn. Some would say, “Abortion is legal. And a leader is supposed to uphold the law!” Certainly being legally right doesn’t make something morally right.
Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? ( Psalm 94:20)
And I should add those who stand for the unborn but turn a blind eye to the poor offend God as well.
When Micah warns the people that God is about to judge, he points first at the corrupt politicians, and says, “It’s your fault.” And until we own our faults there is no hope for a change.
Fault Line #2 – Compromising Preachers
Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him. (Micah 3:5)
Should they be preaching peace when judgment is coming? Should they preach to the offering plates, altering their message so as not to offend? And do we today really need to drag Jesus down to a lower level in an attempt to make Him more palatable? Did not Jesus Himself say, “Come unto Me”? When a preacher invites someone to Jesus, he must present Jesus and all he is without compromise.
We must preach the truth at all times and no matter the cost. And it is vital that we practice what we preach. As people of God, we must, at times, look inside ourselves with humility. I must confess I have spent several hours in reflection since I wrote the last sentence, and though I am young and inexperienced, I feel led of God to share something from my heart:
Concerning ministers such as myself, I believe the Lord is not as concerned about where we are as where we are headed. Which way are we facing? Are we going forward for him or regressing? In short, our present is more pertinent than our past. This principle applies not only to those of us in the ministry but our church members as well. It applies even further to our nation. But, in keeping with our point, what does this mean for me?
To use a crude but potent illustration, this means that there have been times that God has been more pleased with a drug addict than with me. I know he has seen something in a wife beater that he wished he could see in me. He has hoped I would learn something from someone who has had many extramarital affairs. “How could this be true?” you may ask. It IS true, because all of those mentioned got saved in our church and began allowing God to conform them to His image. They were improving, and meanwhile I was only going backward down Satan’s subtle slope of sin. Oh sure, if I were counting our crimes or stacking our respective sins on a scale then I may (or may not!) come out ahead. But that’s not what God is looking at. He’s not comparing me to them; he’s comparing my today with my yesterday.
When Micah warns the people that God is about to judge, he points at not only the corrupt politicians, but also the compromising preachers and says, “It’s your fault.” And we must own our faults before God.
Fault Line #3 – Complacent People
The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? No evil can come upon us. (Micah 3:11)
The word “they” is where the complacent people appear.
The people of Israel said, “We know the politicians are corrupt, we know the preachers are compromisers, but it will be ok, because we’re ok. The economy is strong, we’re happy, and it’s alright. Is not the Lord among us? No evil can touch us.” And many ignorant Americans make a similar claim: “Our nation has a Christian heritage. We have Godly roots.” So did Israel! And so did many other nations which God has judged, or wiped out completely. We must pursue hard after God or destruction will certainly overtake us as well.
Where do we go from here?
We should do our part to elect leaders that seek to fulfill God’s righteous requirements. And what do we do if and when corrupt politicians come to power? We may not be able to absolutely control such a situation, but we certainly can focus on ourselves and make sure we aren’t compromising preachers, and we can do our job in proclaiming the truth to complacent people in our pews, remembering the promise of II Chronicles 7:14: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
It is true: I think our nation is in trouble. But I also know that Jesus Christ is the hope of our nation and the world. He stands as a light for us to follow. His arms of mercy are open to those who will turn from selfishness and evil to him. Certainly he extends his own righteousness to us as a free gift. But our acceptance of that righteousness will certainly be evidenced by a life marked by that righteousness. My prayer is that my preaching—and yours—be marked by the righteousness, justice, and mercy embodied by Christ himself.
Ultimately, the hope of America is not found in the White House or the State House, nor in the Courthouse. The hope of America is found in God’s House, and your house, and my house!
What a curious phenomenon it is that you can get men to die for the liberty of the world who will not make the little sacrifice that is needed to free themselves from their own individual bondage.
The Message (MSG)
21-31 Tell me now, you who have become so enamored with the law: Have you paid close attention to that law? Abraham, remember, had two sons: one by the slave woman and one by the free woman. The son of the slave woman was born by human connivance; the son of the free woman was born by God’s promise. This illustrates the very thing we are dealing with now. The two births represent two ways of being in relationship with God. One is from Mount Sinai in Arabia. It corresponds with what is now going on in Jerusalem—a slave life, producing slaves as offspring. This is the way of Hagar. In contrast to that, there is an invisible Jerusalem, a free Jerusalem, and she is our mother—this is the way of Sarah. Remember what Isaiah wrote:
Rejoice, barren woman who bears no children,
shout and cry out, woman who has no birth pangs,
Because the children of the barren woman
now surpass the children of the chosen woman.
Isn’t it clear, friends, that you, like Isaac, are children of promise? In the days of Hagar and Sarah, the child who came from faithless connivance (Ishmael) harassed the child who came—empowered by the Spirit—from the faithful promise (Isaac). Isn’t it clear that the harassment you are now experiencing from the Jerusalem heretics follows that old pattern? There is a Scripture that tells us what to do: “Expel the slave mother with her son, for the slave son will not inherit with the free son.” Isn’t that conclusive? We are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
How you interpret the facts is important. A worldly young Southern Baptist went to the racetrack for the very first time. He saw a priest in the paddock give a horse a blessing. The boy took the horse’s number, placed a small bet and sure enough the horse won.
For the next several races, the boy went to the paddock, saw the priest bless a horse, placed a bet and won. On the last race of the day he repeated the routine and bet all his winnings on the anointed horse.
Rounding the final turn the horse had a sizable lead, but then he suddenly dropped dead. The young man sought out the priest to complain.
“That’s the trouble with you Baptists,” said the priest. “You don’t know the difference between a simple blessing and the last rites.”
Events aren’t always what they seem on the surface. Some events in life can only be understood if the Holy Spirit explains them to us. Such is the case with Paul’s disclosure here.
The proposition that only those who by a true and living faith accept God’s promise are children of God is given its last defense with an appeal to Scripture interpretation. It is an appeal to Scripture to again prove that Christians are not under the law. He takes the familiar story of Ishmael and Isaac (Gen. 16-21) and draws from it basic truths about the Christian’s relationship to the law.
Paul uses the slave woman Hagar and her son to show that adherence to the law is slavery. The free woman Sarah and her son of promise stands for faith and freedom. The law is bondage and spiritual slavery but faith in the promise is freedom and spiritual fulfillment (CIT).
I. THE TWO SONS OF ABRAHAM, 21-23.
II. THE INTERPRETATION, 24-29.
III. THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION, 30-31.
People are saved and sanctified because of their faith in Christ, not because of what they do. Verse 21 begins a contrast between those who are enslaved by law and those who are free from law. Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?
The legalistic Jews continuously promoted the indispensable necessity of keeping the law. If they had truly listened to the law they would know that it contradicted their beliefs. The word law here is without the definite article referring to a legalistic following of the Torah or Pentateuch. The lively word listen or hear carries the idea of understanding what is heard. The challenge is that if they really hear the law, meaning correctly understand and respond to it, they would not want to be under it.
Verse 22 summaries part of the story of Abraham. For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.
The Jews were always boasting about being descendants of Abraham as if that relationship granted salvation. Yet those who prided themselves on their descent from Abraham forgot that he had two sons. Ishmael by Hagar and Isaac by Sarah. If physical decent from Abraham is so all–important then Jews are no better than the Ishmaelites or Arabs. Yet there is a difference, not just of mothers, but of a contrast in relationships. One was a wife and a free woman, the other a slave and a bondwoman.
A further contrast of the manner of each son’s birth is in verse 23. But the son of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son of the free woman through the promise.
Ishmael was the product of his parents’ physical power of procreation therefore he was flesh-born. He was born by the fleshly nature of Abraham and Hagar (Rom. 9:7-9). Ishmael’s birth was the result not only of a physical act but of a sinful act caused by doubting the promises of God (Gen. 16: 1-4). Ishmael thus represents all who place their hope of salvation in what they are able to accomplish, or their own works.
Isaac was the child of faith. He was the child of promise born because of a miraculous intervention on the part of God which enabled the dead seed of 99 years old Abraham and his barren wife Sarah to conceive (Rom. 4:19; Heb.11:11f). Isaac was born as a result of the promise, born by the Spirit’s enabling. The conclusion is that Isaac is a symbol of all the Spirit-born.
II. THE INTERPRETATION (24-29).
The allegory here of Ishmael and Isaac (Gen. 16:15; 21:3, 9) expresses truth embedded in the simple facts of the case in order to inform the legalists that they were related to Hagar, Sinai, and the law and did not have the authority or blessing of God.
A new understanding from the old story begins in verse 24. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.
This story that actually took place was designed by God to convey a meaning additional to the strictly literal. An allegory ( – from allo, “another” and agorevo, “to speak” – to speak another meaning) is a narrative which has a deeper meaning behind it. In an allegory like John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress persons and actions represent hidden meanings giving the passage a symbolic as well as literal meaning.
These two women represent two covenants, one of law and one of grace. Paul begins with the covenant given at Mount Sinai which was one of law. This covenant places all who try and obtain their salvation through it in bondage and under heavy burdens. “The law, even when kept to the best of a person’s ability, is nothing but a prison, a death row cell where one waits for eternal execution”— John MacArthur.
Why isn’t law keeping enough? We were not made to know and love laws. We were made to know and love God. A mother and a father do not gain a sense of parental fulfillment because their infant doesn’t climb over the side of his play pen. What they long for is a smile, a giggle of recognition, and a hug of affection. As that baby grows, obedience to household rules is not a fitting replacement for a warm relationship with his mom or dad. Taking out the garbage or cleaning up a room is no substitute for the words “I love you.” So too, what God wants from us is not mechanical adherence to certain regulations, no matter how noble. He wants us, He longs for our love and our loyalty.
Hagar, who represents fleshly birth and the covenant of law, also represents the earthly Jerusalem in verse 25. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
Both Hagar and Mount Sinai can produce nothing but slaves. In line with Hagar and Mount Sinai is the present day earthly Jerusalem and her children, the third element of the comparison. Jerusalem, the center of legalistic religion and the place of fulfilling Sinai’s law, is a place of enslavement for her children, for they imagine that by stringent obedience to this legal code – with emphasis on its ceremonial regulations and man made additions– they can achieve entrance into heaven.
They failed to see that the cross of Christ signaled the end of the old covenant and the beginning of the new. They failed to believe that God accepted them solely on the basis of faith, not because they kept rules and regulations. They were bound to earth and the earthly and had rejected the heavenly and spiritual.
The place of realized redemption for the God’s born again children is connected to the new Jerusalem in verse 26. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
The heavenly Jerusalem is the mother of all the children of grace. This new Jerusalem which one day will descend to be the eternal city of glorified believers (Rev. 21:2) is now the “city of the Living God” (Heb. 12:22). The Jerusalem above symbolically is the mother of God’s children. Heaven is the church’s mother for it was heaven that gave birth to her children.
This Jerusalem is free (Jn. 8:36). She has been delivered from every form of bondage and enjoys perfect peace in the presence of her Lord. She is the mother, both of the Jews and the Gentiles who have placed faith in God’s promise. Legalistic Jews are really brothers with the Ishmaelites. Those born from above are true Israelites (Rom. 9:6-7; 1 Pet. 2:1-10).
Verse 27 teaches that the children of the barren woman will be fruitful. For it is written, “REJOICE, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR; BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR; FOR MORE NUMEROUS ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE THAN OF THE ONE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.”
To support his point Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1. It originally prophesied the changing fortunes of Israel and pictured spiritual restoration and growth after the Babylonia captivity. Paul seems to be applying this passage to Sarah who though previously barren was later blessed with a child who ultimately would have numerous children.
Spiritual barrenness for those under the old covenant was the norm. For they married themselves to the law instead of to God. Under the new covenant spiritual fruitfulness is the norm for the children of promise.
Verse 28 begins the teaching on the outcome of believing in God’s promise and living out God’s promis. And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.
Here again Paul affectionately addresses them as brothers. They like Isaac, by virtue of the promise realized in him, are children of promise. They are Abraham’s legitimate sons, the true heirs. As children of the promise, they should live in light of the promise and not the law.
Verse 29 points out another similarity between us and Abraham’s two sons. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.
On the occasion of Isaac’s weaning at three years of age, Ishmael mocked or mistreated Isaac (Gen. 21:10). Because of the in-fighting Hagar and Ishmael promoted, Sarah demanded that Abraham cast out Hagar and her son.
The persecution that existed in Abraham’s household is like the persecution of those in bondage to sin bring upon those free from sin even now. Paul and other Spirit-filled believers had experienced its bit and venom.
The persecution of the descendants of Ishmaelites and the Jews is still fierce. Just as the persecution of legalists against the Spirit-filled still is fierce today.
III. THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION, 30-31.
God rejects legalism as verse 30 indicates. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”
Sarah gave the order and God approved of it (Gen.21:10, 12). Ishmael had stayed in the home for at least 17 years and it might appear his stay was permanent, but he eventually had to be cast out. The two pairs could not remain together and no reconciliation was possible.
Law and grace cannot be mixed. The bondwoman and her son have no inheritance with the son of the free woman. A religion based on works is incompatible with one based on faith.
Verse 31 confirms the true heirs of heaven. So then, brother, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.
In closing, Paul affirmed that he and the Galatian believers were not children of the slave woman who was driven away and denied a share in the inheritance. Rather they are believers and children of the free woman, “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).
In Alex Haley’s epic book ROOTS Kizzy Kinte didn’t have a chance. She [was the daughter of Kunta Kinte &] wanted to slip the bonds of slavery and live free, as her ancestors had done in Africa. But she couldn’t. She was born of a slave-woman, Bell Kinte, and in those terrible days of bondage, she was destined to live as a slave. Kizzy’s parentage, over which she had no control, dictated her destiny.
Paul used an analogy of an Old Testament story to help us understand bondage and freedom. Alluding to the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, Paul explained the difference between the child of a bondwoman and the child of a freewoman. Only the child of the freewoman could enjoy an inheritance; the other was destined to bondage.
Here’s the point: each of us-male or female, Jew or Gentile, black or white, rich or poor-can share in God’s inheritance.
All who trust in Jesus as Savior become children of the free woman. We are released from the bondage of the law of God and offered God’s grace instead. And our inheritance is freedom in Christ (Jn. 8:31-44).
Has God’s grace made you free?
Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee. -Sleeper
The law has its place in God’s plan. It is not the goal to put a road sign that tells us we have failed and need Jesus. We should not be chained to this warning sign, nor should we try to chain others to it. We should attach our life to the life of Christ instead.
It was Abraham’s faith in God’s promise that made him right with God. By works of law no one can be right with God and the law lacks power to transform anyone.
The man who makes law the principle of his life makes himself a slave attempting to satisfy this task master. The one who surrenders his self reliance to the grace of God is born from above. Only those born of the Spirit are sons of God and only sons receive an inheritance in God. This present inheritance is demonstrated in a love for God that has a constraining and freeing power that those who adhere to the law cannot know.
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The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.
Jeremiah 4:22″ For My people are foolish, They have not known Me. They are silly children, And they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, But to do good they have no knowledge.”
The Lord cried passionately, ‘my people are wise to do evil!’ The level of manipulations we see now in methods of trickery is astounding!
• Consultants offer numerous manipulative methods to students and to aspiring candidates who desire to study abroad. The huge deposit amount that has to be made by the candidate is furnished by the consultants on a commission basis; to put it in plain words, the candidate cheats the foreign university by showing false availability of money in the bank, once the admission is acquired the money is withdrawn by the consultants. All this COOL shady deal is not down in a dark corner, it is done openly and Bible-reading, church-going Christians send their children through such ‘bogus ways’ and then weep when curses come on the lives of their children. Are you listening?
• There are plethora of agents to get you bogus certificates of academic / technical qualifications, experience certificates, caste certificates and what not! It would be crazy on my part to even try to spell out all of them because they are just ENORMOUS! Spreading like mushroom. Whatever has happened to integrity?
• Dad and moms are ever ready to give ‘huge money’ as donations – please call it BRIBE – in order to get admission in ‘good and reputed’ schools. What does ‘good and reputed’ actually mean can you tell me??? Did you know friends, Christian schools run by reputed denominational Christian organizations take bribe and refuse to give receipts to parents? Let the Lord judge them.
Which reputed and good college did the Hebrew slave Daniel study in order to get a plum position in the Government of king Nebuchadnezzar ? Where did Daniel get such phenomenal wisdom? Can anyone answer me? This handsome Hebrew slave got the attention of not the principal of a college, but of the king and became his pet because of the grace of God on him. His name is Daniel. Read the book of Daniel in the Bible to know more. I wish more Christians do a lot of spade work, hunting and searching for a ‘good church’ and put their kids in the Sunday School / Youth fellowship and make them grow in the knowledge of God than knowledge of computers. I am screaming out to someone out there! Your kids need J-E-S-U-S ! There would be less of divorces, and more of responsible children if we have given them the Bibles at an early age.
Many Christians are into: adulterous relationships, pornography, pre-marital sex, software piracy, embezzlement of funds, misuse of office property, smoking and drinking, obscene words spill off their mouth when triggered and much more. I am not being unkind, I am just bluntly opening the cupboard!
We need J-E-S-U-S!
An Unchanging Message For An Ever Changing World
“One of the most frequently used phrases in Christian circles is “the gospel.” Amazingly few adults know what this term means. It could either refer to its literal translation, “good news;” or to the perspective that salvation is available only through the sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ and a person’s acceptance of Christ as their savior. Less than four out of ten adults (37%) knew this; 34% had other, inaccurate perceptions of the meaning of the term; three out of ten adults did not offer a guess. Even among born again Christians, only 60% correctly identified at least one meaning of this expression.
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, (7) which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (10) For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
In the past thirty years there has been a proliferation of “new gospels” in the United States. Some such as the “new age” belief system are rooted in eastern mysticism, such as Hinduism. Others are based more on pop-psychology than they are on the gospel. But whatever their origin they are misdirecting men and women away from the only truth that can save you from you sin.
The core of this letter is that the people at Galatia have been turned from the life changing truth of God’s word. Paul says in verse six, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.”
The Greek word used here (thaumazou) is “to be astounded or bewildered.” Paul’s astonish-ment is not that false teachers exist, but that the church was following them. He had expected false teachers and in fact had warned the Ephesians elders (Acts 20:28-30) that false teachers would come. What he is so surprised about is that the church is so easily mislead.
In the four verses that we are going to consider today the apostle gives us four abiding principles concerning the word of God, the gospel.
First, The Gospel Needs No Additions
Note that these false teachers are not opening denying the gospel message. They only wanted to improve the gospel by adding to it; requirements, new ceremonies and new standards. It is as if they are saying, “We believe in Jesus Christ – but we have something wonderful to add to what you already believe!” What is at least implied is that the faith that these believers have is not sufficient, some -thing more is needed.
What they viewed as a different gospel was actually a distorted gospel. The word translated “distort” means to transform into something of an opposite character.
He goes on in verse seven to clarify that by saying, “which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.” The New Living Translation renders these verses this way, “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way (7) that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ” Paul says that this new gospel or “good news,” is in reality not the gospel or “good news” at all. It is a counterfeit. In verses six and seven, Paul uses two different Greek words, to describes their spiritual defection to another [heterous – another of a different kind] gospel, which is not another [allos – another of the same kind]. Not Only Does The Gospel Not Need Any Additions but….
Secondly, Distorting the Gospel Is Serious Business
In verse eight Paul invokes a curse on anyone, himself included, who distorts the gospel, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
Paul is saying that real problem of another gospel is not only that it is a bad idea, and not only that it lacks power because it is a fake, but that it is dangerous. In our sensitive English translation we lose some of the heat of this verse in the original language. He says in verse eight, “If anyone comes with another gospel let him be damned.” And in verse nine he continues the thought by saying, “And if you believe it you will be damned too!” Well if nothing else I probably just got your attention! This is not a curse word, it is using the word in its proper sense – that is these individuals will be damned, separated from God and eternally punished. Those who distort the gospel message are rejecting the authority of Christ and are therefore cursed (anathema). Paul is not talking about church discipline, his language is far too strong for that. He is invoking God’s final damnation and wrath on people who distort the gospel.
I fear that those who followed David Koresh in a compound in Waco, Texas to their fiery deaths in 1993; and the followers of Marshall Applewhite’s (Heaven’s Gate Cult) who in 1997 took their own lives in twisted attempt to connect with extra-terrestrial visitors who were hidden in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet, will not find themselves excused because of their sincerity. And those who led them into that error will bear a greater judgment.
One modern distortion of the gospel is preached in order to fit Christianity in a materialistic society. The message of this gospel is which we can call “the gospel of success” or “the prosperity Gospel,” is based on the premise that God wants to bless you therefore you can only expect good things from him if you follow him. The problem with this gospel is that it ignores the fact that in Christian life there is sorrow, there is suffering, there is death. The key of the gospel of Jesus is not the avoidance of life events, but the possibility to overcome them.
Distorting the Gospel Is Serious Business because….
Third, Only the Gospel Saves
Back in verse four, Paul reminds the believer that was Christ “who gave Himself for our sins.” As Christian’s in America we believe in the freedom of religion. But Christian’s need to realize that does not make all religions equally true. While we defend the right of each individual in this country to worship as they choose, in so doing we not defending that all religions are also “the” truth. The words of Jesus grant this elusive claim only to faith in Him when he said in John 14:6,”I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The writer of Acts reiterated that thought when he said in Acts 4:12, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved.”
Only the Gospel Saves and …
Finally, Only The Gospel Produce Real Life Change
“The strongest argument for the Gospel of Christ is the personal testimony of someone whose life has been changed by it. Charles Bradlaugh, an avowed infidel, once challenged the Rev. H. P. Hughes to a debate. The preacher, who was head of a rescue mission in London, England, accepted the challenge with the condition that he could bring with him 100 men and women who would tell what had happened in their lives since trusting Christ as their Savior. They would be people who once lived in deep sin, some having come from poverty-stricken homes caused by the vices of their parents. Hughes said they would not only tell of their conversion, but would submit to cross-examination by any who doubted their stories. Furthermore, the minister invited his opponent to bring a group of non-believers who could tell how they were helped by their lack of faith. When the appointed day arrived, the preacher came, accompanied by 100 transformed persons. But Bradlaugh never showed up. The result? The meeting turned into a testimony time and many sinners who had gathered to hear the scheduled debate were converted.”
When we lose the gospel of Grace we lose the only message that has the power to heal. We witness the power of the gospel in the story of the demon possessed man in Luke 8 (26-39). The demon possessed man experienced many horrors at the hands of neighbors, family and even friends in their attempts to deliver him from the demons who possessed him. Luke 8:29 states that they had “had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles.” In spite of all their attempts to cure him, he was no better off. Multiple attempts had obviously been made at deliverance but had failed, but one encounter with Jesus brought deliverance and sanity. When the townspeople investigated what had had happened we are told in verse thirty-five that they, “found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind” There were no chains. He was no longer screaming and attempting to hurt himself. He was not sedated, he was “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.”
That is what we lose if we lose the gospel, the power to change lives.
In verse ten Paul tells the reader why he is saying these things. “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Paul says that he is not trying to be sensational. He is not saying these things, as some preachers do, because he knows it is a good safe topic and he can count on some hearty Amen’s. He is saying them because there is only one truth and the gospel message that Jesus Christ came and died for men’s sins is the only real truth.
The Unchanging Message for an Ever Changing World is the Gospel!
• The Gospel Needs No Additions.
• Distorting The Gospel Is Serious Business.
• Only the Gospel Can Save Men From Their Sins.
• Only The Gospel Produces Changed Lives.
Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
In this time of trial we need to be encouraged and comforted by one another. The temptations of Satan are greater now than ever before, for he knows that his time is short and that very soon every case will be decided, either for life or for death. It is no time now to sink down beneath discouragement and trial; we must bear up under all our afflictions and trust wholly in the Almighty God of Jacob. The Lord has shown me that His grace is sufficient for all our trials; and although they are greater than ever before, yet if we trust wholly in God, we can overcome every temptation and through His grace come off victorious.
If we overcome our trials and get victory over the temptations of Satan, then we endure the trial of our faith, which is more precious than gold, and are stronger and better prepared to meet the next. But if we sink down and give way to the temptations of Satan, we shall grow weaker and get no reward for the trial and shall not be so well prepared for the next. In this way we shall grow weaker and weaker, until we are led captive by Satan at his will. We must have on the whole armor of God and be ready at any moment for a conflict with the powers of darkness. When temptations and trials rush in upon us, let us go to God and agonize with Him in prayer. He will not turn us away empty, but will give us grace and strength to overcome, and to break the power of the enemy. Oh, that all could see these things in their true light and endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus! Then would Israel move forward, strong in God, and in the power of His might.
God has shown me that He gave His people a bitter cup to drink, to purify and cleanse them. It is a bitter draught, and they can make it still more bitter by murmuring, complaining, and repining. But those who receive it thus must have another draught, for the first does not have its designed effect upon the heart. And if the second does not effect the work, then they must have another, and another, until it does have its designed effect, or they will be left filthy, impure in heart. I saw that this bitter cup can be sweetened by patience, endurance, and prayer, and that it will have its designed effect upon the hearts of those who thus receive it, and God will be honored and glorified. It is no small thing to be a Christian and to be owned and approved of God. The Lord has shown me some who profess the present truth, whose lives do not correspond with their profession. They have the standard of piety altogether too low, and they come far short of Bible holiness. Some engage in vain and unbecoming conversation, and others give way to the risings of self. We must not expect to please ourselves, live and act like the world, have its pleasures, and enjoy the company of those who are of the world, and reign with Christ in glory.
We must be partakers of Christ’s sufferings here if we would share in His glory hereafter. If we seek our own interest, how we can best please ourselves, instead of seeking to please God and advance His precious, suffering cause, we shall dishonor God and the holy cause we profess to love. We have but a little space of time left in which to work for God. Nothing should be too dear to sacrifice for the salvation of the scattered and torn flock of Jesus. Those who make a covenant with God by sacrifice now will soon be gathered home to share a rich reward and possess the new kingdom forever and ever.
Oh, let us live wholly for the Lord and show by a well-ordered life and godly conversation that we have been with Jesus and are His meek and lowly followers. We must work while the day lasts, for when the dark night of trouble and anguish comes, it will be too late to work for God. Jesus is in His holy temple and will now accept our sacrifices, our prayers, and our confessions of faults and sins and will pardon all the transgressions of Israel, that they may be blotted out before He leaves the sanctuary. When Jesus leaves the sanctuary, then they who are holy and righteous will be holy and righteous still; for all their sins will then be blotted out, and they will be sealed with the seal of the living God. But those that are unjust and filthy will be unjust and filthy still; for then there will be no Priest in the sanctuary to offer their sacrifices, their confessions, and their prayers before the Father’s throne. Therefore what is done to rescue souls from the coming storm of wrath must be done before Jesus leaves the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary.
We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.
WHEN TO SAVE A DROWNING MAN
Watchman Nee tells the story of his stay in China with twenty other Christians. The bathing accommodations were inadequate in the home where they were lodging, so they went for a daily dip in the river.
On one occasion, one of the men got a cramp in his leg and began sinking fast. Mr. Nee motioned to one of the other men, who was an excellent swimmer, about the drowning man. To his astonishment, however, the man did not move. He just stood there and watched the drowning man.
Mr. Nee was agitated, but the swimmer was calm and collected. Meanwhile, the voice of the drowning man grew fainter and more desperate. Mr. Nee hated the swimmer who just stood and watched on the shore when he could have jumped into the river and rescued the drowning man. As the drowning man went under for what looked like the last time, the swimmer was there in a moment, and both were soon safely on shore.
After the rescue, Mr. Nee chewed out the swimmer, accusing him of loving his life too much and being selfish. The response of the swimmer revealed, however, he knew what he was doing. He told Watchman that if he had gone too soon, the drowning man would have put a death grip on him and they would have both drowned in the river, and he was right. He told Mr. Nee that a drowning man cannot be saved until he is utterly exhausted and ceases to make the slightest effort to save himself.
Such is the case with our salvation. When we stop trying to save ourselves, then the Lord can step in and save us when we yield to Him. When you see the struggle that is a sign that you’re sensitive to sin and that is where God can help you.
AUGUSTINE AND THE FOUR STATES OF MAN
In the 5th century AD, St. Augustine wrote about the “4 States of Man”:
* The first state of man (the haec sunt prima) is “living according to the flesh — with reason making no resistance.” This can be seen in so many ancient cultures and religions (and unfortunately more than a few in our own time) with their human sacrifices, their idols, their pagan ceremonies, and even cannibalism. Human life — without power — was lightly regarded. Animals, especially domesticated animals, were often valued more highly than human life. Reason often vanishes when weighed against lust and self-gratification. Even today, this seems to be coming full circle.
* The second state of man is “recognition of sin through the Law . . . but sinning knowingly.” It was so important for Satan to remove the Ten Commandments from our classrooms and courtrooms. It was critical for him to “separate church and state.” So long as people knew the Law, it would not be so easy to ignore the Law. Without the reminders of the Law, we easily return to the first state of man. Does any of this sound familiar?
* The third state of man is “faith in the help of God — but he perseveres in seeking to please God.” Man has begun to be moved by the Spirit of God. We are already standing with one foot in the hell which we have created, but in the “third state”, man knows it. So he still struggles against his own sinful nature because he has not yet been fully healed.
* The fourth state of man is “the full and perfect peace in God.” This we find in harmony with Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the person of Jesus Christ, we see how far we have departed from God.
Augustine adds, “The will of man is always free, even and particularly when it can no longer will to do evil.” But Adam and Eve were not gods, “and their ‘free will’ would not have sufficed, even in paradise, to merit immortality. Divine assistance was needed. Their immortality could only continue by their continued relationship with the Divine. So how much more do we need God’s help since our fall?”
Augustine continues, “Even the good merits and qualities which people may display toward one another are gifts from God. Every good quality comes from His grace. God’s mercy is the ground of salvation. Therefore, let no man boast. Out of faith spring hope and love. We hope only in God — not in men and not in ourselves.” (“The History of Doctrines”, Reinhold Seeberg, p. 366)
Dorothy Sayers wrote, “If men will not understand the meaning of judgment, they will never come to understand the meaning of grace.”
It is October 14th, and the sun is reflecting mirages of water on an Air Force base runway in southern Florida. The silence of the scene is interrupted as a long-winged plane touches down on the runway and taxies to the hanger. A thousand planes a day go through this same routine, but this one plane’s payload is different from all the others. Its payload is just a few rolls of film, but the information on that film will shape the events of the world. It will shift the balance of power in the world. The film is transported to a top-secret laboratory and developed. It is sent to the Pentagon and then to the Oval Office in the White House.
The date is 1962, and a young president, John F. Kennedy, just 44 years old, sits at the desk. The decision he makes moves the armies of the most powerful nation in the world. The crisis he faces is one of immense proportions.
The photos taken were from a U2 reconnaissance aircraft. One picture in particular revealed that the Soviets had placed medium-range missile silos in Cuba. These missiles were capable of reaching strategic targets throughout the United States.
The risk of world conflict hadn’t reached this level since WW2, and it involved the two greatest superpowers in the world.
The president moved decisively, ordering Premier Khrushchev to halt all further deliveries of weapons and to immediately dismantle the missile sites.
A broadcast to the American people let us know the gravity of the situation. The president said, “This secret, swift, extraordinary buildup of communist weapons is a deliberate and unjustifiable challenge to our national security, and it will not be accepted.
America braced for what was to come. President Kennedy ordered an immediate naval and air blockade of Cuba.
Premier Khrushchev decided he would test this young president’s fabric. He would challenge this nation’s resolve. He would confront the standard of our convictions. The Soviet ships sailed on toward Cuba.
The world held its breath in nervous anticipation as hours crept by and ships grew closer and closer to one another.
As kids we played a little game. We called it ’chicken’. You want to see who is going to flinch when challenged. In national politics, you call it ’brinkmanship.’ Brinkmanship is the willingness to expose oneself to risk, to press the limits of safety for a cause. It is the walking of the tightrope of disaster.
The Soviets were going to press the boundary, walk the line, and see just how much they could get away with.
The Soviet ships were 100 yards away from our American ships. Our Navy was on full battle alert with orders to stop the Russians at all costs.
Some of you recall those moments as people were glued to the radios and TV’s to see who would flinch, who would fire, or what the world would look like in this latest age of nuclear war.
With just feet to spare, at the brink of disaster and destruction, the Soviets turned.
This incident in world history has a living parallel in our daily lives. Many are involved in a dangerous game of spiritual brinkmanship. We walk the very boundary of sin in our lifestyle. Balancing precariously, we move toward the cliff’s edge. Dangling our toes over the abyss, we tempt the fall. We struggle with bad habits that become self-destructive patterns. At the same time, we are saying, “Oh, don’t worry about me’ it’s okay, I’m a Christian.”
The other day I was driving in the morning commute and I saw this phrase on the bumper of a car in front of me. And I started thinking about what the phrase means (I think about all kinds of stuff during my morning commute because I don’t want to think about work.) So I’m going down the freeway with my hands at ten and two (because this was the tricky part of I-52 West where all the people wanting to take I-5 North wait until the last twenty feet before the off-ramp and then try and jump the line of cars waiting to take the ramp) and I’m thinking I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t mean to “let go” of the steering wheel because that wouldn’t do anyone any good at all. So I was thinking what does it mean “Let go, Let God” and our lesson this evening is going to address that question. Let’s examine the meaning of “Let go, Let God.”
I.Let Go of Our Agendas
A.…and let God direct our paths.
1.Whether or not we are intentional or not, we all have agendas for our lives and for our futures.
a.Some are more immediate than others, some more sophisticated, some are better planned out than others but they do exist.
b.Most of us are not simply drifting through life.
2.The priorities we set, the standards by which we make our goals and gauge our success, the plans and dreams by which we live our lives are all part of our personal agenda.
3.These determine the consistent pattern of decisions and actions which illustrate the agenda by which we live.
B.God has a better design for our lives than any we can devise for ourselves.
1.As we examined last Lord’s Day; God is our good shepherd. He is our provider, our guide, our protector and our host in this life and the life to come.
2.His agenda for His children is for a blessed life, a righteous life, a life lived for a greater purpose than we could ever establish for ourselves using the priorities and standards of this world.
3.Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
4.We must be willing to let go of our own agendas in order to accept the agenda of God.
5.Accepting God’s agenda requires that we accept God’s truth.
a.Before we can accept God’s agenda we must choose what will be the foundation for our lives: the social, ethical, and moral codes of God or those of the world.
b.What we believe to be true affects every aspect of our lives.
6.To let go of our agendas and take steps down the pathway of God’s plan for our lives requires that we decide, once and for all that we believe that the Word of God is true for every condition, circumstance, and situation.
7.We need to accept the Word of God as our standard for right and wrong, for true and false, and for good and evil and in having accepted it we need to do every thing in our power to make it the foundation of our lives, the basis of every principle, attitude, motive, and action. Letting go of our agendas and letting God direct our paths.
[Having chosen to let God direct our paths we need to give Him the proper place in our hearts and…]
II.Let Go of Our Idols
A.…and let God have the center of our hearts.
1.There is a statement made by Jonah towards the end of his prayer to God when he was in the belly of the fish that speaks directly to this thought.
Jonah 2:8 “Those who regard worthless idols, Forsake their own Mercy.” NKJ (Forsake their hope of steadfast love. ESV Forsake their faithfulness NASB)
2.Anything that we hold in higher regard than God becomes an idol to us, worthless as Jonah says, but an idol none the less. And by putting our focus, our energies, our devotions into these worthless idols we forsake the mercy of God and lose the hope that is available to all through His steadfast love.
3.1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
a.Note that this command is absolute, not relative. It does not say: “Don’t love the world too much,” but “not at all”.
b.The “world” here does not mean the earth or its people (God Himself so loved the world that He gave His Son to save its people), but rather the world as a “system” or “worldview” made up of ideas and beliefs that exclude God.
c.We are not to love the things which are sought merely to pamper the appetite, to please the eye, or to promote pride in living. These are the objects sought and made into idols by the people of the world; these are not the objects to be sought by the Christian.
d.The secular worldview places little or no importance on God, instead focusing on “All that is in the world” and in opposition to God.
B.All that is in the world…
1.All that is in the world is not from God and when we put them at the center of our heart they become worthless idols and cost us the love of the Father. All that is in the world falls into one or more of these categories:
2.The lust of the flesh.
a.The lust which has its seat and source in our lower animal nature. Satan tried this temptation first on Christ:
Luke 4:3 “Command this stone that it be made bread.”
b.Jesus spoke of how adultery begins not with the act, but with the desire – with looking at another person with lust in one’s heart (Matthew 5:28).
c.While we often limit this category to refer mostly to sexual lust, any sort of selfish or greedy cravings simply to satisfy one’s physical desires in rebellion against God could also be considered “lust of the flesh.” This would include anything purely physical, exploitive, and self-centered.
3.The lust of the eyes.
a.Sins of craving and accumulating possessions (bowing to the idol of materialism) fall in this category. While sex may also be included here, people’s “eyes” can lust after many things – Eve wanted the fruit that was “pleasing to the eye” (Genesis 3:6), Achan saw the beautiful robe from Babylon and the silver and gold (Joshua 7:21), and David saw a beautiful woman bathing and wanted her (2 Samuel 11:2-3). People would have to be blind not to see anything, but believers must not become obsessed with what they see.
b.The avenue through which outward things of the world, riches, pomp, and beauty, inflame us. Satan tried this temptation on Christ when he showed Him the kingdoms of the world in a moment.
4.The pride of life.
a.Some versions translate this as “pride in possessions.” It refers to both the inward attitude and the outward boasting because of an obsession with one’s status or possessions. The word “pride” suggests this person brags in order to impress people, but the bragging may stretch the truth.
b.Literally, “arrogant assumption”: vainglorious display. Satan tried this temptation on Christ in setting Him on the temple pinnacle that, in spiritual pride and presumption, on the basis of His Father’s care, He should cast Himself down.
5.The love of God and the love of worldly things are incompatible. If you give place to the love of the world, the love of God cannot dwell in you; and if you have not His love, you can have no peace, no holiness, and no heaven.
6.A Christian cannot live with a divided heart, responding one moment out of love for God and at the next turning to the world for pleasure. If we want to demonstrate (to ourselves, as well as to God) that we know Him, we must let go of our idols and let God have the center of our heart.
[James 4:4-5 “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?” Which means we need to…]
III.Let Go of Our Old Selves
A.…and let God have our new selves.
1.If we are honest we can relate with the church in Corinth when Paul wrote to them in his first letter:
I Corinthians 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
2.When we become Christians we must let go of our old selves, the lives that were led by the agenda and idols of the world and let God take over. Paul wrote of this often:
a.Ephesians 4:21-24 “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
b.2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
c.Romans 6: 4-11
3.Knowing we have put our old selves away we must have the same attitude as Paul: Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Letting go of our old selves and letting God have our new selves.
To let go and Let God means to give back to God that which is already His, our lives. When we Let go and Let God we adopt His agenda for our own, we make Him the center of our heart and we devote ourselves to doing His will and in doing so we will reap the benefit of His love and His blessings and His promise of eternal life through our belief in His Son.
Over and over the scriptures make it clear that the ultimate offering God desires from us is to give our lives over in complete dependence on His ways. So for us it remains to Let go, Let Go!!!!
Relax, Daniel,’ he continued, ‘don’t be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I’m here to help you understand what will eventually happen to your people. The vision has to do with what’s ahead.’
This passage is a wonderful teaching on prayer and shows us the direct hinderance Satan can be in our lives. Daniel had fasted and prayered for twenty-one difficult days. As far as we can tell from the biblical account, the difficulty came not because Daniel was not a good person nor because his prayer was not right but because of a special attack fron Satan.
The Lord had sent His angelic messenger to tell Daniel that his prayer was answered the moment he began to play, but the good angel was hindered by an evil angel who met him along the way and wrestled with him. This conflict occured in the heavens, yet Daniel experienced the same kind of conflict here on earth as he agonized in prayer.
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,… and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”(Eph.6:12). Satan’s attack and the ensuing struggle delayed the answer three full weeks. Daniel was nearly defeated, and Satan would have been glad to kill him, but God would not allow anything to come upon Daniel beyond what he could bear.
Many prayers of believers are hindered by Satan. Yet you do not need to fear when your unanswered prayers are piling up, for soon they will break through like a flood. When that happens, not only will your answer flow through but they will also be accompanied by new blessings. Hell works the hardest on God’s saints. The most worthy souls will be tested with the most pressure and the highest heat, but heaven will not desert them.
My week has been coupled with attacks on my character and peace and my prayers have seem as if they are not getting through, but this word is for times like this. I have not surrendered 80% to His care, but 100% to Him who is able to present me faultless and keep me from stumbling and falling. Be encouraged my family of believers!!!!
I do believe we’re all connected. I do believe in positive energy. I do believe in the power of prayer. I do believe in putting good out into the world. And I believe in taking care of each other.
To my faithful community,
I am confidently sending this request out to those of you I have plussed with in the name of Jesus to agree with me for the healing of these individuals mentioned in the text below. I want to thank you in advance for your time and faith related to this important issue.
PRAYER REQUEST!!! This prayer request is for my nephew Quintell and his wife Destaney who are expecting twins. She is having complications with carrying them and the doctors are wanting to save the mother and take the babies. Now as the prayer warriors that we all are I am asking everyone who reads this message to say a mighty prayer for the saving of both mother and the babies. I also ask for prayer for their strength as a couple and as expectant parents. We know that God is the greatest physician, the greatest healer, the greatest comforter, and the Most Sovereign and Most High God and only his will be done in their lives and ours. May the God that we serve continue to Bless and Keep all those of you who will be praying on the behalf of Quintell and Destaney and their gifts from God…May Pratt