quotes

AB953 Let Justice Flow-2018

Posted on


12631402_1688433204766572_7616067814420228175_n

Amos and Social Justice

 

Amos was the earliest prophet whose words are preserved in the form of a book. He prophesied in the Northern Kingdom of Israel somewhere between the years 760-750 B.C. Amos’ preaching took place during the mid-eighth century B. C., a few years before the prophet Hosea began his ministry.

The eighth century was a period during which a privileged few in Israel were enjoying unprecedented prosperity while most Israelites were facing dire poverty. Although Amos lived in Tekoa, a small village bordering the wilderness of Judah, his preaching to Israel provided a powerful prophetic witness for all ages because of his condemnation of the spiritual blindness of the Judean upper-class and their unjust exploitation of the poor.

Amos forged an explicit and unbreakable link between justice toward the neighbor and righteousness before God, a link that went back to the covenant at Sinai and to the ancient prophetic traditions of Israel. Amos’ ministry provides an eternal witness of God’s opposition to economic, political, and social injustice.

The words of Amos were adapted by Martin Luther King, Jr., whose famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. in August 1963 brought a new meaning to the words of Amos: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24).

Amos spoke to an oppressed society and his concern for the poor and the oppressed made him a prophet for all times. Amos is also a prophet for the twenty-first century, a time when the gap between rich and poor has never been greater.

The sources of oppression and injustice may look different today, but people’s concern for material prosperity reflects the days in which Amos lived. Amos’ message of God’s opposition to injustice, his criticism of the people’s worship of material things, and his witness of God’s special concern for the poor and oppressed, affirm that the worship of God in any age is worthless if social oppression and injustice are ignored.

Since justice and righteousness are the focus of Amos’ message, it is important to look at how the words justice and righteousness are used by the prophet. The words justice and righteousness are used together three times in two chapters of the book of Amos (Amos 5:7; 5:24; 6:12). The word justice is used once by itself (Amos 5:15).

“O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth” (Amos 5:7 RSV).

“Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:15 RSV).

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24 RSV).

“Do horses run upon rocks? Does one plow the sea with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood” (Amos 6:12 RSV).

Wormwood was an extremely bitter plant. The word was used several times in Jeremiah and in Lamentations to describe the bitterness of the calamities that befell Judah at the time of their exile to Babylon (Jeremiah 9: 15; 23:15; Lamentation 3: 15, 19). The justice that Israel’s courts dispensed to the poor was nothing but bitterness.

The oppression and injustice Amos found in the Northern Kingdom was evidence that righteousness had been thrown to the ground as something worthless by those who were in power. Righteousness no longer had any meaning for the powerful people of Israel as a requirement of the worship of God.

To Amos, “hating evil and loving good” was a simple yet powerful statement of how to establish justice “in the gate.” In a very simple language, the prophet placed principles of true justice before a group of people who could argue about legal technicalities while tolerating bribery, corruption, and greed.

The gate of the city was fortified in order to protect the city from enemies and to serve as the place where the elders of the city would gather as a legal assembly to decide cases needing adjudication. The gate was the place where the local judiciary met to determine right and wrong in legal disputes, and therefore, to decide who was innocent or guilty.

Deuteronomy 25: 1 describes this process: “Suppose two persons have a dispute and enter into litigation, and the judges decide between them, declaring one to be in the right and the other to be in the wrong.” If the judges successfully declared where the right was, then justice had been
served.

The decision of the court had a redemptive aspect for the parties involved in the litigation. The decision of the court was intended to vindicate the just party in a legal dispute. The decision was also intended to protect the social order by determining right and wrong and correcting the wrong. Thus, the decision of the court was particularly important in cases where the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien, people without power and influence, could not find redress in the community apart from the decision of the court.

When the words “justice” and “righteousness” are used in Amos, justice is the primary word since it appears first in the parallelism of the two words. Justice is the result of seeking or loving good, as in Amos 5:15. Justice is also the fruit or the result of righteousness as in Amos 6:12. Thus, according to Amos, righteousness is essential to the well-being of the community. Righteousness is essentially a relational rather than an absolute ethical idea. Righteousness has to do with the relationship between a person and God, and a relationship between members of the community. Righteousness is a relational concept; its meaning is determined by the particular social context in which it is used. Righteousness is a quality of life which is displayed by people who live up to the demands of the covenant. The righteous person does what is right to other persons involved in the relationship.

Amos proclaimed that Israel had violated the ancient traditions of Israel. The poor and oppressed were individuals who deserved the protection of the court and fair treatment by those in a position of dispensing legal decisions. The only way for this to become a reality in Israelite society was for justice to roll down like waters, and for righteousness to run like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24).

Since its inception, the United States of America has struggled with developing a just criteria for immigrants seeking citizenship, particularly as it relates to people of color. The roots of this struggle lie in America’s arduous history as it relates to slavery. In 1776 as the American colonies were preparing to separate from Great Britain, Thomas Jefferson wrote what has become almost a sacred document for not only Americans but for oppressed people across the globe who seek freedom, justice and an opportunity to have a better life.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence he penned the prophetic words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and the fathers of America signed it, they had no idea that they would be motivating marginalized people across the world, generation after generation to seek life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because even though the Declaration of Independence professed that all men were created equal in reality only white men were considered to be full citizens when America was born.

When America was born slaves had no rights and free people of color and women had few if any rights. Even after slavery ended people of African descent continued to experience discrimination and were denied full citizenship rights as a result of Jim Crow laws that were pervasive across the land. My former Gunnery Sergeant, Mike Phillips use to put it this way, because of the laws of the land and the hearts of the people, “If you were yellow you were mellow, if you were brown you might be able to stick around but if you were black you had to get back!”

Nevertheless, God is a God who loves the oppressed and He is the King of Justice. So the Holy Spirit empowered people like Rosa Parks, Medgar Evans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. who initiated, formed and led the civil rights movement, which dismantled legalized segregation in the 1960’s. Finally, descendants of African slaves had full citizenship rights in America. Police Accountability, AB953 law “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24).

30705736_10101723911704220_7148565355831492608_n

 

 

 

~I Am Made Alive In Christ~

Posted on Updated on


Rembert-TheLynching

“Some of us aren’t meant to belong. Some of us have to turn the world upside down and shake the hell out of it until we make our own place in it.” ― Elizabeth Lowell, Remember Summer

God destroys the barriers that divide us. In Him, there are no insiders or outsiders.

Image result for Images of cartoon afro american insiders & outsiders

The text of the message from Eph 2:1-10  passages hinge on two words in v. 4 – “But, God…” With those words darkness is turned light, hopelessness is thrown aside for favor, a desperate situation is changed to one of amazing destiny! We were dead, ‘objects of wrath,’ but because our merciful loving God intervened, we are now SPIRITUALLY alive and destined for HEAVEN.

Seven Way King

My King was born King. The Bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews – that’s a racial King. He’s the King of Israel – that’s a National King. He’s the King of righteousness. He’s the King of the ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that’s my King. Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don’t try to mislead me. Do you know my King?

TEXT -Ephesians 2-11-21

Almost every one of us has the unpleasant experience of being an “outsider” at some point in our life.

Ever been ‘shut out?’

Discrimination, that is, choosing to accept or reject people based on color, sex, or religion is a “skill” which we learn fairly early in life.

Little boys form their clubs and put the sign over the door of the clubhouse, “no girls allowed!”

As early as first or second grade, kids have already decided who is cool and who isn’t, who is an insider and who is an outsider.

The little kid who was born with bigger ears than other people, who has clothes that are last year’s style, is marked an outsider and shunned fiercely!

Big people play the same games, just not as openly.

When the black man shows up to apply for the job, a company isn’t hiring, but when the foreman’s son needs a summer job, one is suddenly available.

When a woman of skill and training wants to move into management there is a freeze on promotions, but somehow when that classy young guy makes it known that he might move on if he doesn’t move up, the company finds a place.

Our text is about being invited ‘in.’ Paul expands on the grace message in the first 10 verses. He lays a foundation of theological unity for us, reminding us that ‘in Christ,’ the barriers come down.

Principle- There are no ‘insiders’ or ‘outsiders’ in the family of God.

Before we read the text – another great one – that stirred me to heights of worship as I studied it again this week, we have to know some of Bible history. The Lord called Abram, out of Ur, invited him to faith, and seeing his obedience, made a covenant, an agreement, with him.

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.” (Genesis 12:1-4, NIV)

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.” …”I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.” (Gen 17;1,7-11, NIV)

 

God promised Abraham that his descendants would be His very own people! What a calling, what a privilege! They would represent the Lord before the world. Curiously, the mark of their uniqueness was circumcision. Every Jewish boy, on the 8th day following his birth, would be circumcised, physical mark on his body for life, signifying that he was part of the privileged people of God.

But, He did not set out to create an exclusive club. What did He say? That the descendants of Abraham were to be a blessing to the whole world, showing the world the one true God and his ways.

Human nature being what it is, the ancient children of Abraham closed their society and regarded the rest of the world contemptuously as the “uncircumcised.” They (not all, but most) assumed Gentiles were excluded from the promises of God.

TEXT- “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”

(Ephesians 2:11-16, NIV)

The Jewish/Gentile controversy was the HOT BUTTON issue of the Church when Paul was writing. Many of the Jews who accepted Jesus Christ as Messiah, still thought of themselves as insiders because of their religious heritage. Many teachers insisted that Gentile Christians HAD to observe Jewish law – including circumcision, Sabbath observance, and kosher diet. Some of the early churches met together but did not take communion together, dividing between Jewish converts and Gentile converts, even for the holy meal.

Paul calls on them to see what Christ has done.

TEXT- “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.” Eph 2:22

It is possible you’re listening to me go on about this and wondering, “What does this have to do with me? That controversy is a non-issue here.” Ah, you’re right and you’re wrong. Discrimination, even in the church, is alive and well in 2017.

16 - 7

There are people who are ‘churched’ or who have absorbed a cultural worldview that they believe is Biblical, who are not at all shy to say that they are insiders with God. Because they are “good” they believe that God looks with favor on them and they perhaps jealously guard their church club.

Divorced? Not welcome.

Identifying yourself as a homosexual? Not welcome.

Struggling with pornography? Not welcome.

Have a promiscuous past? Not welcome.

Trying to reconcile your education that marginalized God with the authority of the Scripture? Not welcome.

Don’t understand the rituals or words used in church? Not welcome.

Other barriers are raised – too rich? Too poor? Too young, too old? Too many tattoos, hair too long, don’t like the right kind of music? Don’t have the ‘right’ theology?

Ill.- This week I met with some local pastors who minister in churches that are not evangelical.

Somehow our conversation drifted into a discussion of their interaction with some pastors from churches who are more conservative. It was both sad and funny to hear the stories of ignorance and bigotry that were visited on these pastors by those who did not consider them to be ‘real Christians.’

I am sad to say that I get this text from the position of the “circumcision” as an insider.

I grew up with the rituals, absorbed the values, learned the words, lived a life that was morally respectable. For the first 3 decades of my life, I was horribly certain about who was in the family of God and who was not. It’s a habit that dies hard. From time to time, I still find myself spiritually prideful, though much less these days than I once did. I repent, for I realize that my credentials gain me no favor with God. Only Christ does!

Perhaps you’re on the other side of the issue feeling very much the outsider. You may be convinced that because of something you’ve done, or something done to you, that because of who you are … God would never accept you.

TEXT “Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals and so made us equals. Through Him, we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:17-18, The Message)

So, what does any of this mean for our lives?

Three illustrations are used to show what is true who are ‘in Christ’ through faith.

TEXT “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

(Ephesians 2:19-22, NIV)

1. Those who are ‘in Christ’ (by faith) are invited to become – citizens of the kingdom of heaven!

Americans, for the most part, spend their entire life within the borders of one nation. American culture is dominant in the world so understanding of blessings may elude us.

I was privileged, many years ago, to spend a few weeks in India. I was among people whose languages I did not know, whose customs I did not understand, whose food was very different. It was a curious thing to be surrounded by people who communicated without me having the least clue of what they were saying. For all I knew, they could have been discussing ME. Physically, I stood 6″ taller than most of the people and my skin was darker by several shades.

When I arrived back in the US, I was glad to be able to communicate. When the customs agent spoke to me, I understood him. When he saw my passport, he waved me through. I was a citizen, with rights and privileges, not an alien who was here as a guest.

Sin made us aliens to God as our text has made plain. The divide could not be bridged by anything we did. God showed mercy! And, more wonderful, secured our citizenship at His expense, by giving His Son as the sacrifice.

When we accept Him, by faith, He grants us entry into the kingdom of God.

2. Those who are ‘in Christ’ (by faith) are invited to become – members of God’s family.

I love visitors in our home. But, common courtesy says that if you visit, you don’t go into the refrigerator and start to prepare something to eat without an invitation. If your stay is extended, you don’t just assume that a bedroom is ready for you.

But, when my kids come home, they can walk through the door without knocking, they can sit up to the dinner table without an invitation. They have household privileges!

In Christ, God is your Father and you have run of the house. In fact, you have rights of inheritance!

Eternal life is yours. Heaven is yours. The Father’s wealth is yours!

3. Those who are ‘in Christ’ (by faith) are invited to become – an integral part of God’s holy temple.

Paul says we are ‘temple,’ each of us a building block, all of us resting on the Cornerstone, Jesus.

When we come to Christ, we are invited to become part of His Church. We are no longer alone. We are given the privilege of working alongside others to accomplish things we could not even dream about on our own! We are, to change the metaphor, brought onto God’s team, equipped with spiritual gifts, given a place to belong, to serve, to find purpose.

True teamwork is something awesome to see. The recent World Series was dominated, not by a couple of superstar players, but by the Houston Astros, who were a stellar team! Unlike Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers pitcher, Houston Astros pitcher, Brad Peacock, was good, but not a star yet. We saw a team effort and a team win.

And, what is the purpose of this temple? To be a place for ‘insiders’ to form a holy club, to be a fortress to shut out the wider world? To be a place of privilege for a few?

TEXT – “Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22, NLT)

God brings us together in His Church so that we will make Him, invisible, a visible Presence here on Earth!

Outsider? Insider?

Do you feel like God is far away because of your past or your messed-up present?

Too something – dysfunctional, broken, sin-scarred to be useful?

Or are you feeling self-satisfied because you think of yourself as one the good guys?

The fact – “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” the Words says.

We are all separate from God unless we humble ourselves to enter through the common door of access, through Jesus Christ. And when we are ‘in Christ’ we are invited to

Closing, He Lives: Who is He Preacher, Jesus, My King

STORY…

Paul Tournier was a brilliant thinker and writer, and an influential Christian therapist during his time. Doctors from around the world traveled to his home in Switzerland to learn from him. He wrote, “It is a little embarrassing for students to come over and study my ‘techniques.’ They always go away disappointed, because all I do is accept people.”

VERSE…

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10)

A gospel song refers to a hill called Mount Calvary, but the Gospels never say, “Mount Calvary.” Some Bible versions translate the place where Jesus was crucified to be the Aramaic word Golgotha, meaning the Place of the Skull. Others translate it as the Latin word Calvary. Luke 23:33 says, “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left” (NKJV).

Jesus was crucified on Mount Calvary. According to John 19:20, it was near Jerusalem. Hebrews 13:11-13 (based on Leviticus 16:27) explained that, while the animal’s blood was sprinkled in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, most of the animal was burned outside the camp. Jesus likewise was crucified outside the city in a maelstrom of activities over a six-hour period, with everything focused on Him.

O How I love Jesus, Why? Because:

David says
The Heavens declare the glory of God
And the firmament showeth His handiwork
No means of measure can define His limitless love
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply
No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing

He’s enduringly strong
He’s entirely sincere
He’s eternally steadfast
He’s immortally graceful
He’s imperially powerful
He’s impartially merciful

Jesus was crucified on Mount Calvary, where a minimum of twenty-five events occurred between 9 AM and 3 PM. Among them were the public execution itself; the soldiers offering him vinegar laced with gall; two thieves being crucified either side of Jesus; darkness falling over the land for three hours; the temple veil being torn in two from top to bottom; an earthquake shaking the earth; soldiers piercing Christ’s side when they found him already dead; Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus burying the corpse with seventy-five pounds of spices; women standing at a distance watching Him die, and in close proximity in the garden as the rich men buried Him.

What do you say he is Preacher:

He’s God’s Son
He’s the sinners’ Saviour
He’s the centerpiece of civilization
He stands alone in Himself
He’s August
He’s unique
He’s unparalleled
He’s unprecedented
He’s supreme
He’s pre-eminent
He’s the loftiest idea in literature
He’s the highest personality in philosophy
He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism
He’s the fundamental doctrine in true theology
He’s the cardinal necessity of spiritual religion

Christ was crucified on Mount Calvary, where a minimum of ten decisions were made. Among them: Jesus refused the vinegar-wine; the soldiers divided His clothes; Pilate asked for the centurion’s guarantee that Christ had died; the women left the cross for home, where they prepared spices and observed the Sabbath.

Who is He Preacher:

He’s the miracle of the age
He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him
He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously
He supplies strength for the weak
He’s available for the tempted and the tried
He sympathizes and He saves
He guards and He guides
He heals the sick
He cleansed the lepers
He forgives sinners

Christ was crucified on Mount Calvary, where a minimum of sixteen statements were made. Among them: Christ’s seven words; Pilate’s sign called him King of the Jews; the leaders and others mocked him for destroying the temple, but not saving himself; the thieves and soldiers abused him for what they perceived failures; the man who lifted a wine-soaked hyssop plant to Christ’s parched lips wanted to see if Elijah would come and remove him; the centurion called Jesus a son of the gods.

What does he do Preacher;

He discharges debtors
He delivers the captives
He defends the feeble
He blesses the young
He serves the unfortunate
He regards the aged
He rewards the diligent
And He beautifies the meek

Christ was crucified on Mount Calvary, where many conversations were held. The two recorded were the stirring dialogue between Jesus and the penitent thief and the rancorous dialogue between the priests and Pilate over the wording in Pilate’s sign nailed above Christ’s head.

Do you Know Him preacher?

My King is the key of knowledge
He’s the wellspring of wisdom
He’s the doorway of deliverance
He’s the pathway of peace
He’s the roadway of righteousness
He’s the highway of holiness
He’s the gateway of glory
He’s the master of the mighty
He’s the captain of the conquerors
He’s the head of the heroes
He’s the leader of the legislators
He’s the overseer of the overcomers
He’s the governor of governors
He’s the prince of princes
He’s the King of Kings
And He’s the Lord of Lords

That’s my King

Christ was crucified on Mount Calvary, where at least five requests were made. Among them: the leaders asked Jesus to prove Himself by coming off the cross; Jesus asked John to provide sanctuary for Mary; the priests asked Pilate to remove the bodies before sunset.

My King
His office is manifold
His promise is sure
His life is matchless
His goodness is limitless
His mercy is everlasting
His love never changes
His word is enough
His grace is sufficient
His reign is righteous
His yoke is easy
and His burden is light

Christ was crucified on Mount Calvary wherein a sacrifice only He could make, He secured a victory only He could win.

I wish I could describe Him to you
He’s indescribable
He’s indescribable
He’s incomprehensible
He’s invincible
He’s irresistible
I’m trying to tell you
The heaven of heavens cannot contain Him
Let alone a man explain Him
You can’t get Him out of your mind
You can’t get Him off of your hands
You can’t outlive Him
And you can’t live without Him
The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him
but they found out they couldn’t stop Him
Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him
The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree
And Herod couldn’t kill Him
Death couldn’t handle Him
And the grave couldn’t hold Him

That’s my King!

Become a child of the heavenly father.

Become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.

Be joined to the great church of God.

He always has been
And He always will be
I’m talking about
He had no predecessor
and He’ll have no successor
There was nobody before Him
and there’ll be nobody after Him
You can’t impeach Him
and He’s not going to resign

That’s my King!

FB_IMG_1503680239886

Controversy Of The Cross

Posted on Updated on


the CrossRun But Can't Hide

1 Corinthians 1:17-25 (New International Version)
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

A case before the US Supreme Court focused on whether a religious symbol, specifically a cross, should be allowed on public land. Mark Sherman, writing for Associated Press, said that although the cross in question was erected in 1934 as a memorial to soldiers who died in World War 1, one veteran’s group that opposed it called the cross “a powerful Christian symbol” and “not a symbol of any other religion.”

The cross has always been controversial. In the first century, the apostle Paul said that Christ had sent him “to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”. As followers of Christ, we see the cross as more than a powerful Christian symbol. It is the evidence of God’s power to free us from the tyranny of our sin.

In a diverse and pluralistic society, the controversy over religious symbols will continue. Whether a cross can be displayed on public property will likely be determined by the courts. But displaying the power of the cross through our lives will be decided in our hearts.

Christ takes each sin, each pain, each loss,
And by the power of His cross
Transforms our brokenness and shame
So that our lives exalt His name.

Nothing speaks more clearly of God’s love than the cross…..

Like my post? Please support me by clicking on the Mersi button

Mersi ME!

Money, Money, Money

Posted on Updated on


 

(The Message)

Acts 8:20
20 Peter said, “To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable – trying to buy God’s gift!



Do I trust in God or in my own skills to supply my needs? In 1923, several of the most powerful money magnets in the world gathered for a meeting at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The combined resources and assets of these men tallied more than the U.S. Treasury that year. In the group were Charles Schwab, president of a steel company; Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange; and Arthur Cutton, a wheat speculator.

Albert Fall was a presidential cabinet member, a personally wealthy man. Jesse Livermore was the greatest Wall Street “bear” in his generation. Leon Fraser was the president of the International Bank of Settlements, and Ivan Kruger headed the largest monopoly in the nation. It was an impressive gathering of financial eagles!

What happened to these men in later years? Schwab died penniless. Whitney served a life sentence in Sing-Sing Prison. Cutton became insolvent. Fall was pardoned from a Federal prison so he could die at home. Fraser, Livermore, and Krueger committed suicide. These extremely rich men ended their lives with nothing.

Money is certainly not the answer to life’s ills! Only God can give us peace, happiness, and joy. When we focus on God and His goodness in our lives, whether we have money or not, we can live in contentment, knowing that God will meet all our needs.

In my vocabulary, there is no such word as “can’t,” because I recognize that my abilities are given to me by God to do what needs to be done.

Like my post? Please support me by clicking on the Mersi button

Mersi ME!

Can We Follow Simple Instructions? Hate The World!!!!

Posted on


 

 

From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.

Socrates

 

love & 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.


CONCLUSION————-

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!