Date: December 10, 2017
Texts: Amos 5:23-24; Jeremiah 9:23-24
Rev. Marvin Robinson, M.Div.
Purpose: Justice results when the people of God actually practice worship inSpirit and in Truth.
Frederick Douglass gave a speech on July 5, 1852 entitled, “The Meaning of July 4 for the Negro”. In that speech he praised the work of the founders of this government but he eventually began to speak concerning its hypocrisy concerning its attitudes towards slavery. As far as the slave was concerned, Douglass said, “Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us [blacks]…this Fourth of July is yours, not mine”. He added, “(to the slave) your 4th of July is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license [for enslaving blacks] . . . your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery.”
In this message I will talk about Israel’s worship and the role God had for Amos; I will talk about the nature of justice and what is going on in our nation today, looking not at “they” but “we”; and, finally, a discussion of how we can begin to practice God’s justice on an individual level.
In our text this morning we read how Israel’s worship and practices were hypocritical, done only for show, having a form of religion but denying its power in their lives.Though outwardly displaying worship of God, inwardly their hearts were in opposition to Him. How? Look at the previous verses such as: v22, “Even though you bring me burnt offeringsand grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.“
A burnt offering symbolized a person’s complete consecration and devotion to God; yet God rejected Israel’s offering. The grain offering symbolized the fruit of one’s labor offered to God and yet this offering was also rejected (this is reminiscent of Cain’s offering that God rejected and the reason is because what was in Cain’s heart did not match the outward expression of his offering (Genesis 4:7). Through the prophet Amos God was commanding His people to repent and turn back to Him.
But let justice well up like water, righteousness like an unfailing stream” (Tanakh).The image that comes to mind is an ongoing, widening and flowing stream that sweeps along everything it comes into contact with. Someone once described justice as truth in action.Justice is a characteristic of God and justice results when the people of God actually worship in spirit and in truth because they truly know God. “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.”(Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Our country professes to be a Christian nation (and there is much good in this country), but by what standards are we living? It’s not to be found in the wisdom of the establishment of this country, it’s not found in the riches and might that God has blessed this country with; nor is it found in what we may call “bootleg Christianity”; it professes to worship God outwardly but only when it is convenient. It preaches “God is love” yet Sundays are the most segregated time in America in some places of worship no matter the race.Such Christianity is not good news but fake news. God would condemn us as He did Israel through Amos and calls upon us to repent as a nation. God’s prophets spoke to the times they lived in and now we must proclaim God’s words and speak to the times in which we find ourselves living in.
What are we to do? Let’s begin with practicing justice. Justice (mishpat) is an attribute of God and anyone who claims to worship God must practice it as He does. In Jeremiah 22:3God speaks to Israel and says through the prophet, “This is what the LORD says: Do what is justand right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow,and do not shed innocent bloodin this place.”And again, we are told, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And whatdoestheLORDrequireofyou? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
These times, saints, call out for justice. We do wrong as a nation when we create laws to punish innocent immigrants (did not God say to Israel in the wilderness, “You shall show kindness to the alien in your midst, for you were aliens in Egypt” ?-Exodus 22:21). God’s word and justice has not changed because He does not change. And the shedding of innocent blood such as that in abortions causes our nation to be held accountable to God. Nor is it a question of pointing fingers: individual responsibility is what matters to God (“All have sinned…there is no one righteous…we will all give an account to God”).
And what about mercy and compassion?Is it compassion or mercy to tell people who protest against what is wrong in our country to,“Get over it, it’s in the past”? Tell the Jews to get over the Holocaust– because it’s in the past. Tell the American Indians to get over the genocide of their people and the taking of their landand broken treaties –because it’s in the past. Tell African-Americans to get over slavery and tell America to get over Pearl Harbor and 9/11 because it’s all in the past. Get over it? We cannot “get over it” because it’s the past that has shaped our present times. Reconciliation means that we accept the truth, no matter how painful it is (and it is). We have been reconciled to God because we accepted the painful truth of our sinful condition; but healing came as a result.If we would truly seek to practice God’s justice we would also seek reconciliation, first of all with God and then with our neighbor.
Finally, God told Israel, “Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you”(Deut. 16:20). As we consider what is going on in our nation today can we honestly say that we worship God? Do we demonstrate God’s love to those we see or do we deny Him whom we cannot see? Let us not get comfortable and ignore what is going on around us, saints. We willbe judged as individuals and as a nation. Thomas Jefferson put it this way: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just”.
“But let justice well up like water and righteousness like an unfailing stream.”
Text: 1 Kings 22:1-7 1 Peter 4:4-7
We should not fear to take a stand for God
Colin Kaepernick took a stand so to speak in his protest against the way minorities are treated in this country. He didn’t march; he didn’t lead any violent protests or demonstrations. He merely knelt during the playing of the national anthem and the country went mad. That madness has been countered by a wave of other kneeling protests in support of Kaepernick’s protest. He was not the first and he will not be the last; those students during the civil rights movement who protested segregated lunch counters; Rosa Parks who refused to surrender her seat; John Brown refused to accept the status quo re: slavery as did James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered for daring to get Blacks to vote in Mississippi. What did these and so many others have in common? They all were willing to risk everything, including their lives, to go against the odds.
In today’s message we will see what happens when the plans of men are overruled by God while He uses one man to stand for Him against the odds; we will also see that as believers in Jesus Christ we also must not fear to go against popular opinion and to stand for God.
We come upon two scenes: one on earth, in the court of King Ahab of Israel, along with his in-law, King Jehoshaphat of Judah, in consultation concerning whether or not Ahab should go to war against the Arameans to recover the lost territory of Ramoth Gilead, the key to entering and invading Israel. If you know anything about Ahab you know that he worshipped Baal, the storm god and who went all out to practice evil.You also remember Elijah’s battle with the false prophets of Baal and how they were destroyed. King Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, worshiped the Sovereign God, the only God, and who trusted God as did his father Asa (who instituted reforms in Judah).
God fought for Judah and Jehoshaphat when three armies came against Judah and it was only because Jehoshaphat trusted in God.
So what in the world was Jehoshaphat doing in an unholy alliance with Ahab? They were allied by marriage of Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram to Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab (who would later massacre all of her grandchildren with the exception of Josiah).Doesn’t scripture speak against being matched with unbelievers?God warned Israel concerning intermarrying with the surrounding nations (not because of race but because of different faiths). Ahab worshipped Baal; Jehoshaphat worshiped Jehovah. It’s like the Mormon belief that Jesus and the Accuser are brothers! Where does your faith lay, saints? Is it the same as other professing Christians? If not, in the Lord’s words, “Come out from among them!”
v.7 Jehoshaphat allied himself with Ahab in unity but when Ahab’s prophets all said the same thing, Jehoshaphat ‘s response was something like this: : “Say what? You’ve got to be kidding me! Is there no prophet-a true prophet of the LORD here?”
It’s something that we can all ask today: Are there any prophets of God among us?Some leaders, whether political or religious, push their own agendas just to go along to get along, choosing to be pc rather than obeying JC. The way we can discern what is of God and what is not of God are the Scriptures. I know this goes against popular opinion, but we can only say as Peter and the disciples, “We ought to obey God rather than men”. And we also read this in 1 Peter 4:4-7 re: going with popular opinion/actions.
The prophet Micaiah was asked to go along with the crowd and to speak what Ahab wanted to hear. And this evidently was not the first time Micaiah and Ahab came to blows (read v.16). First there was Elijah and now Micaiah. God never leaves Himself without a witness, saints. And today we are called to be His witnesses. God has said, “You are my witnesses that I am God”.
While all of this was taking place on earth, God was holding court concerning how to bring Ahab to his death. While the false prophets are going through all kinds of chants and flips and splits, God’s court is quietly anticipating God’s decision and the amazing thing is God brings His court into His counsel! Don’t we realize, saints, that whenever we pray we are being invited into God’s counsel?Micaiah reveals to Ahab and Jehoshaphat that God had decreed disaster for Israel but death for Ahab. In a rage, Ahab puts Micaiah into prison only to be released upon Ahab’s return.
We don’t know what happened to Micaiah afterwards but if these onetime people of God had any shred of reverence for God, they let Micaiah go free as a witness to the truth of what God had spoken through the prophet. And if not, he was welcomed into God’s presence with a , “Well done!Micaiah and other prophets stood against the odds yet stood for God.
CONCLUSION “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them”. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Shall we go against the odds, saints? We bend the knee to worship God and to intercede on behalf of our country–OUR –COUNTRY- in agreement with God’s will as revealed to us in the Scriptures. Go against the odds, saints, let’s commit our ways to God and simply bend the knee in prayer like Daniel as we seek God’s will and to practice it because time is running out. Let’s pray.
To get the PowerPoint Slides for the Sermon Spiritual Reset by Raymond Horner Jr. at Calvary Gospel Church, Newark NJ on November 13, 2016 Click this link body-soul-spirit-spiritual-reset.
Black and White handout with scriptures click link below.
The video will also be posted. I welcome your comments and insights.
What will keep us united and our faith strong?
The power plant of the Christian is a spiritually transformed mind. There is No Mind like a Christ Mind! Romans 12:2 Say’s do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is that which is good and acceptable and perfect. I don’t want God to have these words with me that he had with the church at Ephesus in revelation 2:4 “I have this against you that you have left your first love.”
I was reminded on the day before preparing this message of how important the word of God is to the development of relationships in the family. I shared openly ,with my wife, what I had been learning from the scriptures about having the mind of Christ. We had an exciting exchange of what scriptures where saying to us. It had a unifying effect on us and it convicted my spirit.
I would like to share with you , in upcoming blog posts“Seven Characteristics of a Christ Centered Mind.”
1. The Mind of Encouragement (verse 1)
“1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,”
Encouragement is multi-faceted. It at times comforts the sick or emotionally hurting. Encouragement also helps to redirect those that are going in the wrong direction. Christ both healed the sick and turned tables when folks where selling in the Temple .Mat.21:13 “It states “is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers den.” Hebrew 3:13 say’s that we should “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. “
There is a strong urgency to be an encourager in fact it takes courage to be one. I teach art at a local school, one of my students became tired of working on one of my assignments . Half way through, they asked if they could stop and hand in the project the way it was. I thought for a moment, what if in life they didn’t complete their assignments. So I said “Sure give me half of your assignment and I will give you half of your grade.”
That was enough of an incentive to complete the full assignment. They actually relieved an excellent grade for the good work submitted. We are like this at times. We need a little encouragement to do things that will benefit us. Be that encourager; help some along both with a soft word, a helping hand or a firm word to redirect. Ask yourself, how would Christ do it?
As discussed in Sunday School Class today, one of the powerful things David is saying in Psalms 131 is probably one of the most important thing we can do for God. That is to completely surrender everything to HIM with the heart of a child.
Today we looked at different translations of Psalms 131
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.
Here are other translations:
Which is your favorite translation?
Today I read a powerful devotional on worry. Now, I know about worry. I went to bed last night with a few worries. Often, I may say “in all things give thanks”. Yet last night instead of writing down my worry I left it on my brain.
The devotional today suggested WRITING DOWN THE STUFF WE ARE FRETTING OVER AND PRAY.
So I want to share that with you today also. I am going to do it as soon as I finish this post. See the devotional I read today below. No need to compare lists but we can keep praying for each other
Here is a devotional based on Psalms 90. The author, Joe Stowell, is a writer for the Daily Bread. Please read and share some comments. Is this a realistic perspective for you right now?
By Joe Stowell
“Teach us to number our days . . . that we may gain a heart of wisdom” Psalm 90:12
I am hopelessly prone to overcommitting myself. Is anyone else out there a little too quick to say “Yes” to every request? Let’s start our own little group—Overcommitters Anonymous. We can have weekly OCA meetings. We’ll become experts at saying “No.” Wanna join?
As I get a little older I realize, like Moses did in Psalm 90, that my time on this earth is limited. It is quickly passing. And that means that, more than ever, I want to be strategic and purposeful about where and how I am spending my time. It’s not because I feel like I’m better than others, or that some tasks and opportunities are beneath me. It’s just that I have this long list of goals I’d love to accomplish, people I want to invest in, and dreams I want to see realized—and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time.
Moses was gut-level honest about this reality. He says, “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength” (Psalm 90:10). This from a guy who didn’t even lead God’s people out of Egypt until he was in his eighties! Moses goes on to say of our years: “yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”
I suppose old Moses may have just been having a bad day when he wrote this, but I suspect, more accurately, that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Moses had one of those wake-up-to-your-own-mortality kind of moments where he became aware, in a fresh way, that he wasn’t going to be around forever. And so his heart’s cry was very simple: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (v.12). In other words, “Lord, I need you to clearly show me how to use the time that I have left.”
Which brings me back to my overcommitment problem.
I’ve found that often I am afraid to say “No” to people because I have a fear of offending them. I like being liked. I like being available. I like being helpful, and so I cringe at the idea of disappointing someone who has asked for my help. Another committee to serve on. Another project to lead. Another trip. Another . . . well, you get the idea.
For me, the antidote to my fear of offending people is cultivating a deeper fear—the fear of neglecting some of the core ministries and responsibilities that God has entrusted to me. Like, for example, my family. I want to be sure that my outside commitments don’t pull me away from my responsibilities as a husband, a son, a father, and a grandfather. If I have a healthy fear of neglecting my family, it will eclipse the lesser fear of potentially offending someone who has asked for a chunk of my time that would overcommit me.
After 18 years at The Moody Bible Institute, I’m now on staff at a church again, and I want to be sure that I am maximizing my effectiveness to the church that God has called me to. So, my Sundays are not free for “pulpit supply” the way they used to be, and more of my speaking time and energy is reserved for my church. If I overcommit myself, I risk neglecting that vital ministry.
So, maybe we don’t need a meeting of “Overcommitters Anonymous” after all. We simply need to personalize the perspective and prayer of Moses as we consider every opportunity in terms of the priorities of our fleeting lives. Besides, I really shouldn’t commit to another meeting!
* Do you have a tendency to overcommit yourself? What fears prevent you from saying “No” to certain people or opportunities?
* What are some of your core responsibilities and commitments? How are those affected by overcommitment on your part?
* Take a few minutes to read through and then personalize Psalm 90. Spend some extra time praying the prayer of Moses, “Lord, teach me to number my days aright, that I might gain a heart of wisdom.”
I firmly believe that the principles basis of all Team Building practices are based on those principles found in scripture. Most devotionals like the one featured in this post will use a real life story and apply those sound principles.
In the devotional I read to day I was reminded that regardless how many books I read to prepare for a workshop or keynote on Team Building that I should always start first with my bible.
Take a few minutes to read this powerful devotional and illustration, especially appreciated by sport fans, on Team Building that leads to Team Work.