The Message (MSG)
7 Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”
In this life, we have an incomplete view of God’s dealings, seeing His plan only half finished and underdeveloped. Yet once we stand in the magnificent temple of eternity, we will have the proper perspective and will see everything fitting gracefully together!
Imagine going to the mountains of Lebanon during the reign of Israel’s great King Solomon. Can you see the majestic cedar? It is the pride of all the other trees and has wrestled many years with the cold north winds! The summer sun has loved to smile upon it, while the night has caused its soft leaves to glisten with drops of dew. Birds have built their nests in its branches, weary travelers and wandering shepherds have rested in its shade from the midday heat or taken shelter from the raging storms. And suddenly we realize that this old inhabitant of the forest has been doomed to fall victim to the woodsman’s ax!
We watch as the ax makes its first gash on the cedar’s gnarled truck. Then we see its noble limbs stripped of their branches as the tree comes crashing to the ground. We cry out against the wanton destruction of this “Tree of God,” as it is distinctively known, and express our anger over the demolition of this proud pillar in the forest temple of nature. We are tempted to exclaim with the prophet Zechariah, “Wail, O pine tree, for the cedar has fallen…!(Zech. 11:2), as if inviting the sympathy of every less-majestic plant and invoking inanimate things to also resent the offense.
We should not be so quick to complain but should follow the gigantic tree as the workmen of “Hiram King of Tyre” (2 Chron.2:3) take it down the mountainside. From there we should watch it being sailed on rafts along the blue water of the Mediterranean. And finally, we should behold it being placed as a glorious and polished beam in the temple of God. As you contemplate its final destination, seeing it in the Holy of Holies as a jewel in the diadem of the Almighty King, can you honestly complain that this “crown jewel of Lebanon” was cut down, removed from the forest, and placed in such a noble setting? The cedar had once stood majestically in nature’s sanctuary, but “the glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house”(Hag.2:9)
So many people are like these cedars of old! God’s axes of trials have stripped them bare, and yet we can see no reason for such harsh and difficult circumstances. But God has a noble goal and purpose in mind: to place them as everlasting pillars and rafters in His heavenly Zion> And He says to them, “You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God”(Isa.62:3). I don’t ask my cross to understand, my way to see-Better in darkness just to feel Your hand, And follow Thee.
We’ve all done something bad. But imagine doing something bad, so bad that you go to jail for the rest of your life, with no chance of parole. Would this be considered a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which protects us from “cruel and unusual punishment”?
That is the heart of the issue of the Supreme Court cases Sullivan v. Florida and Graham v. Florida. In both cases, the juveniles were found guilty of offenses in which no one was killed, and they received life sentences without the chance of release. These two are among the over one hundred cases across the country in which a juvenile was sentenced to life in prison without parole for non-homicide offenses.
In Sullivan, Joe Sullivan was sent away for life for raping an elderly woman when he was 13. The case of Graham focuses on Terrance Graham, who was implicated in armed robberies when he was 16 and 17. In both cases, the judge ruled against the advice of the Department of Corrections and gave the stiffest punishment allowable by law.
In Sullivan, the judge said that he was “beyond help,” and the judge who sentenced Graham to life without parole stated during sentencing: “If I can’t do anything to help you, then I have to . . . protect the community from your actions.”
These cases come after the 2005 Supreme Court case Roper v. Simmons, where the court ruled 5 to 4 that it is unconstitutional to execute anyone convicted of a crime when he or she was a juvenile.
Now the issue is whether letting a juvenile spend the rest of his or her life in prison is constitutional. Furthermore, the issue of whether prisons are meant to rehabilitate criminals or keep them away from society is being raised.
Bryan Stevenson, who represents Joe Sullivan, concedes that there is a difference between the death penalty and life without parole. But he says that a life term is different from other prison sentences because it denies the prisoner any hope for a future. “They’re just two different kinds of death sentences,” he said before the court. “One is death by execution, the other death by incarceration.”
Nineteen states, including Louisiana, have filed a brief supporting life sentences without parole for juveniles in non-homicide cases. “I disagree that the juvenile crimes are any less culpable than the adult crimes,” said Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell in an NPR interview. “These are young criminals. That’s what they are, and the ones who are getting these sentences are the worst of those.”
The court seemed divided on the issue. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, “The confusion and uncertainty about the moral responsibility of a 13-year-old is such that it is a cruel thing to do to remove from that individual his entire life. You see, we are at the extreme.”
Justice Samuel Alito disagreed with Breyer, remarking, “You are saying that, no matter what this person does, commits the most horrible series of non-homicide offenses that you can imagine, a whole series of brutal rapes, assaults that render the victim paraplegic but not dead, no matter what, the person is sentenced, shows no remorse whatsoever, the worst case you can possibly imagine, that person must at some point be made eligible for parole?”
In a victory for the rights for juveniles, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that a sentence of life without parole is unconstitutional for anyone under 18. The majority opinion, which follows a 2005 ruling that executing minors is unconstitutional, said the punishment must be interpreted in light of the country’s “evolving standards of decency.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, went on to say, “By denying the defendant the right to enter the community, the state makes an irrevocable judgment about that person’s value and place in society.” Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a dissenting opinion, said that interpreting the Eighth Amendment with the changing societal standards is “entirely the court’s creation.” He argued that the “question of what acts are ‘deserving’ of what punishments is bound so tightly with questions of morality and social conditions as to make it, almost by definition, a question for legislative resolution.”
Please let me hear from you on what you think about this issue. I have two young adults sentenced to life one in Maryland and one in California. I lost my daughter at the age of 18 and my son at the age of 19 and it haunts me every day. I can’t Imagine losing a younger child at the age of 13 to 14 years old.
From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. What part of “no” do you not understand? Or better yet: What part of “do not” do you not understand? Who said those words? It’s probably not the person you thought it was.
The phrase got a wider audience when it was used as the title of a popular country music song in 1992 recorded by Lorrie Morgan:
What part of no don’t you understand?
To put it plain and simple
I’m not into one night stands
I’ll be glad to explain it
If it’s too hard to comprehend
So tell me what part of no
Don’t you understand?
There are other versions of this question, such as: NO MEANS NO! Or no thanks. Or no way, Hosea! Never. Nix. Not at all. Not on your life, etc.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. What did John mean?
Billy Graham is quoted as saying: “Our interests are in ourselves. We are preoccupied with material things. Our supreme god is technology. Our goddess is sex. Most of us are more interested in getting to the moon than getting to heaven. We are more dedicated to material security than to inward purity. We give much more thought to what we wear, what we eat, what we drink, and what we can do than what we are….”
He was right. We all have our worldly side or worldly desires that often capture our attention more than God or Christ.
II Timothy 4:10 “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.”
If Demas fell in love with his world then we can do it too. In fact, I think it’s a whole lot easier today to fall in love with the things of this world than it was for Demas. WE HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH!
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
God said clearly, “Don’t love the world. If you do, my love is not in you.” Wow! When and where do we cross the fence from loving God to loving the world? God knows and we all need to find out.
What is so bad about the world that we are told not to love it? Why is the world so evil?
1- The lust of the flesh
2- The lust of the eyes
3- The pride of life
I. THE LUST OF THE FLESH
For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
This worldly temptation deals with the fleshly appetites: food, sex, excess in various ways, etc.
Jackson Brown Jr. (American author best-known for his book Life’s Little Instruction Book which was a New York Times bestseller) said: I’ve learned that if you give a pig and a boy everything they want, you’ll get a good pig and a bad boy.
If we got everything we wanted in this world, we’d be in trouble.
A man said: While my wife and I were shopping at a mall kiosk, a shapely young woman in a short, form-fitting dress strolled by. My eyes followed her. Without looking up from the item she was examining, my wife asked, “Was it worth the trouble you’re in?” This is just one temptation of this verse.
May and I enjoy watching TV’s DANCING WITH THE STARS. We have often commented on the dress of both the men and the women, but mainly the women and the lack thereof! Some of those professional female dancers don’t like to wear much clothing. I assume they think it enhances their dance, but in reality, it may only enhance the judges’ eye!
If we’re normal, we all can be tempted with the lust of the flesh. If we were put in the wrong place at the right time most of us would fall. We may be guilty anyway.
Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ’Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
The lust of the flesh deals with others things too.
Did you know there is a new Sonic drive-in on Cajalco road just down the street fromone of the houses I used to own? I know this probably does nothing for you but it does for me! They had a daily special while back which I liked very much. It’s a chicken strip basket with french fries, a cup of white cream gravy, a piece of toast, one delicious onion ring and a drink of your choice for only $4.31.
Again, I know that this might not turn your crank but it does mine. I happened to like chicken strips and these are just about as good as I’ve ever had. The fries are good. The gravy is good. The toast is ok but better when it’s dipped in the gravy.
WE DO LOVE OUR FOOD! We all love some kind of food. In fact, sometimes we love it too much!
Do you eat to live or live to eat? Many people live to eat food and many times a day. And living to eat could well be a part of the lust of flesh, especially, if it controls us.
Did you read about that 600 lb. woman who wants to weight 1,000 lbs.? Donna Simpson, 42, of Old Bridge, N.J., already tips the scales at 600 ounds but says she won’t be satisfied until she’s up to 1,000 – to grab the title of world’s fattest woman. She eats 12,000 calories a day!
Philippians 3:18-19 “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”
I don’t think we want to be categorized with the enemies of the cross! However, we can become something of an enemy to the Lord if we allow the lust of the flesh to control us!
II. THE LUST OF THE EYES
For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
A gentleman mugger has been jailed despite his elderly victim’s pleas for him to be let off because he was so polite. The pensioner told the court in Salzburg, Austria, that she had not come across such a well mannered criminal for a long time.
The man grabbed the old woman’s bag and ran off but returned when he noticed she had fallen to the ground. “When he saw me fall, he came back. Criminals just don’t do that any more,” she said. “He was very neat and well mannered and asked me not to report him. He said he was really sorry, but was just desperate for money,” she told the court.
The 27-year-old, who has not been named, then helped his victim search for her keys which had fallen out when he grabbed the bag. Police arrested the well mannered mugger after being called out by a passer-by who had witnessed the incident. He was jailed for two-and-a-half years despite the pensioner’s testimony after it was revealed it was not his first offense.
INTERESTING STORY. We all know that stealing is wrong and stealing is a matter of lust of the eyes. It’s the idea that we want what someone has and if we can’t get it by paying for it, we might steal it. SOME WOULD.
The lust of the eyes deals with money and materialism. Both grab our hearts and minds. Some people live for making money and others live to spend money…that is, on material things. Both are the lust of the eyes. Some hoard and some spend.
Most of my life I’ve been spender. I’ve been spender out of necessity: food, clothing, shelter, transportation. However, there have been times when I’ve spent and didn’t need to spend or didn’t really have the money. THAT’S THE LUST OF THE EYES. Buying things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. Or something like that.
A few years ago I was on a Corvette kick, that is, I thought if I could find a decent Corvette for a decent price it would be a decent thing for me to have! But I never did find one. Most are far too expensive. To buy a 1997 to 2004 Corvette will cost around $20,000 up to $35,000. And that sort of killed it for me.
Occasionally, a person might fall into a good deal. My friend Michael Best didn’t tell me about a good deal on a beautiful Red Corvette in his town of Oxen Hill Maryland. I was sick when he told me about it since I missed out on it.
I think it was a 1998 model, in excellent condition, with only about 50,000 miles on it. He said it sold for around $15,000. Had Mike told me about it I probably would have drove asap to Maryland and bought it.
I am now thankful I didn’t buy it, because I want to be a better steward with the Lord’s money, meaning what He has given me.
The lust for either gaining money, making money, and keeping money OR spending money on material things that we don’t need is the lust of the eyes. And it’s also idol worship!
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I Timothy 6:6-10 “6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
III. THE PRIDE OF LIFE
16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. THE MESSAGE reads: wanting to appear important.
The pride of life deals with or can deal with fame. Most of us will never be tempted this amount of pride, because we’re just not that talented. We’ll never make it in Hollywood but some have
and we wonder what happened to their faith.
I think Denzel Washington is a good actor. Did you know that his daddy was a gospel preacher? Denzel Washington was born in Mount Vernon, near New York City, in 1954. His mother, Lennis, was a beauty parlor-owner and operator born in Georgia and partly raised in Harlem.
His father, Reverend Denzel Washington, Sr., was an ordained Pentecostal minister and also worked for the Water Department and at a local department store, “S. Klein”
Washington and his wife, Pauletta of 26 years, attend the same church as actress Angela Bassett at LA’s West Angeles Church of God.
Washington’s big break came when he starred in the popular television hospital drama, St. Elsewhere from 1982 to 1988. He was one of a few actors to appear on the series for its entire six-year run.
In 2000, Washington appeared in the Disney film, Remember the Titans, which grossed over $100 million at the United States box office. AND he was nominated and won an Oscar for Best Actor for his next film, the 2001 cop thriller, Training Day, as Det. Alonzo Harris, a rogue LAPD cop with questionable law-enforcement tactics.
As far as I am concerned, Denzel Washington went downhill when he played in that movie (and some others) because of the horrible language that he used or had to use to do the part. That makes me think less of Denzel Washington as a Christian man.
And it also makes me think that he did it for money and fame, which is a part of loving the world. And I don’t want to be too hard on him, because if I were in his shoes I might be far worse! Let the truth be told I was in worse shoes than his, I compromised in the worse way in falling in love with the world. I probably still do when it comes to living my life by these new standards, but we have to immediately repent and stand for righteousness when conviction hits the mind and heart.
Fame or attention can come in many areas or arenas even if we are not in Hollywood.
I think many preachers are tempted in this area, particularly those in large churches or are in TV. These preachers get a lot of attention and adulation and praise. And pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.
However, we all can be tempted in this area when we do something good and we are praised or patted for it. We like attention but IF IT’S GOOD, IT’S FROM THE LORD. Even when it seemingly comes from us. He alone is the author of good in our lives.
I Peter 5:5-6 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
All of us can fall into the sin of pride, desire for fame, desire for praise and accolades.
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
One time a man said at a church meeting, “Mr. Chairman, I move that we move the world.” Instead of letting the world grab us, we need to move the world by living the Christian life, by letting our lights shine, and by preaching the gospel of Christ!
Instead of being in love with the world, we need to be in love with the God who created and the Savior who died for us. This world will pass away but whoever does the will of God lives forever. How’s that for a deal? Do not love the world!
Martin Luther King, Jr.
tell me what charges you have against me. ( Job 10:2)
When I read about suffering from the many blogs I visit I get so chocked up about the pain so many of us are suffering through. Writing helps us to deflect our pain and release healing into the atmosphere we so often mistake as just air. When the pilots of my ears and eyes are upon the articles I experience a sensitizing revelation that through others pain I can obtain hope for mine.
O’ tested soul, perhaps the Lord is sending you through this trial to develop your gifts. You have some gifts that would never have been discovered if not for trials. Do you not know that your faith never appears as great in the warm summer weather as it does during a cold winter? Your love is all too often like a firefly, showing very little light except when surrounded by darkness. And hope is like the stars–unseen in the sunshine of prosperity and only discovered during a night of adversity. Afflictions are often the dark settings God uses to mount the jewels of His children’s gifts, causing them to shine even brighter.
Wasn’t it just a short time ago that on your knees you prayed, “Lord, I seem to have no faith. Please show me that I do”? Wasn’t your prayer, even though you may not have realized it at the time, actually asking for trials? For how can you know if you have fAITH, UNTIL YOUR FAITH IS EXERCISED? You can depend on the fact that God often sends trials so our gifts may be certain of their existence. And there is more than just discovering our gifts–we experience real growth in grace as another result of our trials being santified by HIm.
God trains His soildiers not in tents of ease and luxury but by causing them to endure lengthly marches and difficult service. He makes them wade across streams, swim through rivers, climb mountains, and walk many tiring miles with heavy backpacks. Dear son’s and daughters, could this not account for the troubles you are now experiencing? Could this not be the reason He is dealing with you? Being left alone by Satan is not evidence of being blessed. If you are caring for a sick family member, if you are experiencing finacial smoothering, persecution from friends,sheer dispondancy of life give thanks and remember your gifts are being refined and defined for you to give glory to God through them by being an instrument of “Fresh Oil” for His good. The Balm of Gilead is your purpose. Only what you do for Christ will last. Praise God at all times and confuse the enemy always. Your expressions are a tell-tell sign of victory or defeat.