Category Archives: Community

Resurrection Sunday: The Mercy of God

April 1, 2018

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Joh 3:16

The eyes of the Lord are always upon the earth because He made the earth and cares for it.  What about man? God made man and says every soul is His. So imagine God looking at the earth in its present corrupt state and how He must feel in seeing everything He made for His glory and left in the hands of man as caretaker.  If you are thinking anger, you are wrong.   Before the foundations of the earth God had redemption in mind (Ep 1:4) for His creation.  Looking through the portals of time God knew what man would do and set out plans for a solution.  He even looks at you and me in a perfected state like He saw fearful Gideon and called him: “thou mighty man of valour.”

What is it about a parent that looks at a child and knows it has done wrong and still sees his own image in that child and shows compassion toward it.  Before the foundation of the earth God knew.  He saw man sin again and again and yet had devised a way out for him.  He sent preachers like Noah, prophets like Elijah and servants like David to show His everlasting love for mankind. When none of these could restore His people to righteousness, God was still not through.  Determined to save His lost ones, God decided He would send His final and best to save His creation.

God, Himself, decided He would pay the cost of man’s redemption. He would pay the price to redeem lost man.  We are told that His word became flesh and we came to know of the man named Jesus who would save His own.  We read that Jesus went to the cross and was willing to suffer, bleed and die an undeserved death for our sins.

God had asked Abraham for the life of his only son, sacrificed by his own hands. As difficult as that would be for any human to do, Abraham was willing to kill Isaac in obedience to his God.  But God must have thought how can I let this one that I love suffer such hurt and so much pain.  He chose that He would endure that suffering and gave Abraham instead a ram to offer as a substitute sacrifice.

Unwilling to let Abraham sacrifice his own son; God, Himself, endured that pain as His only begotten Son made the supreme sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the whole world.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”(Joh 3:16).  That scripture may have become too familiar for some people and lost its meaning because of its familiarity.  But just imagine if it was you asked to kill your only child.  Regardless of how or why it was done; it would bring unbearable pain. God’s love spared Abraham that suffering and He endured it Himself.  God did it for all of us.

Neither Abraham nor his son could pay the price of the world’s sin because they were sinners too.  Just like you and me, he had no sinless life or blood to offer for redemption.  Jesus shed His sinless blood to make a pure sacrifice that was acceptable to God as atonement for the sins of the world.

Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.  Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,  I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. Ps 40:6-8

Not only does God command us to love but He has illustrated perfect love in His willingness to sacrifice Christ for a world full of sinners who were undeserving.  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jo 15:13).  Now that He has paid the penalty for our sin, Christ only asks that we take His life and power to live in righteousness.  It is ours for the asking.

In this sacrifice is a valuable lesson for us: a lesson of sacrificial love.  If we only quote the scripture or celebrate the Easter holiday without meditating on what God did in Christ, we miss the whole purpose of Christ’s great sacrifice for us.  Not only that but we also miss the opportunity to help fulfill the work of Christ to restore mankind back to God.  Love is the weapon that defeated Satan at the cross and love is the weapon that defeats him in our lives as well.  When we look at the world and wonder where God is, remember that Christ died so that the Spirit of God could live in us.  It is now our job to dispel the darkness and bring God on the scene by letting Christ’s light shine through us.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

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Man in the Mirror

December 2017

There was a popular song in the late 70’s, re-recorded in following decades entitled: “I’m Every Woman.” It was sung by popular artists Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston and others. The song is the boast of a confident woman who feels that she has the strength of womanhood to do whatever a woman is needed to do. She is the perfect woman above others and no other is needed. She represents the best of every woman. Here are some of the lyrics:

I’m Every Woman – (Excerpt)

Whatever you want,
Whatever you need,
Anything you want done, baby,
I’ll do it naturally
‘Cause I’m every woman
It’s all in me.
It’s all in me, yeah!
I ain’t braggin’ ’cause I am the one
You just ask me, oo, it shall be done.
And don’t bother to compare,
I’ve got it.

We live in a day when a lot of us feel the same way, whether we will admit it or not. People today have the ability to buy, rent or credit whatever is needed to represent their best self. Whether their ideal of themselves is real or borrowed, they have substantiated their image as reality and you would best not dispute it.

As Americans, we have set forth an image that everyone can have success and what it should look like. Those that have not obtained the coveted level of success or perfection are frowned on as being below standard; so everyone tries to obtain above the level of that disrespect. This motivation prompts people to buy, rent, beg, borrow or steal to reach this status of life. The American dream, full of accomplishment and success, is the ideal set forth to the world as something everyone must obtain. Immigrants of other nations strive to obtain passage to America for the satisfaction of obtaining this American ideal. The American dream is set forth as the thing that will make one happy and fulfilled and everyone wants that. Those who have experienced this height of success but subsequently fell off their pedestal are discounted as unfortunate.

The American church has told people that Christianity means being happy and fulfilled. They have promoted the gospel of prosperity as the vehicle to obtain this fulfillment. Multitudes have bought into this religious system but have not obtained material success or fulfillment. They, however, will not confess that it has not worked for them as they continue to “fake it till they can make it” while using other means for immediate fulfillment.  Jesus never taught the prosperity gospel that is being practiced today by mega ministries and storefront churches. The devil is not above using some religious principles mixed in with a lie to ensnare the unwise. While the American dream could possibly include Christianity; Christianity cannot be defined as successfully obtaining the American dream. America did not even exist during Christ’s earthly ministry and Jesus’ ministry and teachings (and that of the apostles) were focused on obtaining heavenly rewards. His goal was salvation for the soul, not material wealth. He promised God would provide for the believer’s needs but taught against an evil love of money. There was no guarantee of wealth in this life even though the ability to get wealth was provided (Deu 8:18). Abraham, Job and King David were wealthy men whose true wealth was their love of God. Wealth was added to them by a faithful God, pleased with their obedience. Jesus taught:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Mat 6:33

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Mat 6:30

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Mat 6:19-21

His message seems to be opposite of what the prosperity preachers are teaching. They teach get religion and then seek your material wealth through giving money to them. They teach that you are sowing seeds for future wealth but they seem to be the only ones getting wealthy, while some in the church are discouraged in the gospel because it doesn’t seem to work for them. The prosperity preachers keep waving this carrot of prosperity and teaching new strategies to hold their audience captive to their message. Wealth is not wrong but neither should it be a Christian goal. Jesus taught against this pursuit in Matthew 6:19-34 and later warned: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (Mar 8:36)? Wealth is not the measure of one’s worth because the greatness of Jesus was not the manifestation of material wealth (He owned it all and we are His heirs) but in the power of God.

A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. Ps 37:16

The religious system of America has gone worldwide as other nations are practicing America’s religion and buying into its philosophy. The prominence of this religious system has failed to prevent the sinfulness that has taken leadership in America because of compromise. But as long as it appears to be working, it will continue to sell. The object of a good scam is always to keep up the appearance of success. The more people buy into the scam, the more popular and successful it appears. The disillusioned are disqualified as losers and inept. They just did not believe hard enough to succeed even though Jesus boasted of the potency of mustard seed faith. True religion is criticized while false religion is promoted for its profitability in the marketplace. This type of religion is satanic and far from the Christian faith Jesus taught.  Jesus taught and warned fervently about false teachers and a religious system that would arise in the last days. He warned: “…Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them (Lk 21:8).”

The efforts of those who do preach the gospel truth have barely penetrated this false gospel because the promise of the prosperity gospel is so lucrative and appealing to all. God has shown His disapproval of America’s false Christian witness though, through the repealing of blessings and the difficulties our nation has encountered by religious scandals, failing ministries, a poor economy, internal discord, threats from without, government confusion and devastation of various kinds. As long as fool’s gold is flashed, people will continue to follow the false map.

The word of God has foretold everything we are experiencing in America and of everything that happened to the once God-fearing nation of biblical Israel for their disobedience to God. God gave us the living image of God in Jesus as the perfect man following perfect faith as a guide for believers to aspire toward and imitate. Jesus did not exhibit or promote prosperity. Love was to be our motivator, not lust for material things. However, the false church has set up a false image of Christianity and the Christian that is more appealing to fleshly churchgoers. Jesus foretold:

I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. Joh 5:43

We ought to hold up Christ’s image against our lives or the walk of religious leaders to see if there is any comparison to Christ’s likeness.  If the example shows no resemblance to Christ, it is not of Christ. Christians are made from a good God and that tree bares good fruit.

America has gone way off the Christian course but does not seem to recognize it because the image that has been sold is so great and appealing to the flesh of churchgoers. The troubles in the land have failed to cause multitudes of American believers to turn from their sin and truly seek God. Professed believers and unbelievers united to seek a strong leader that would substantiate your beliefs and champion their earthly causes; and God has allowed them their petition. They sought a governmental leader over the leadership of Christ just like biblical Israel sought a king rather than God. King Saul was not in Israel’s best interest but God allowed it to show them their sin. Israel was even told in advance the evil that would come upon them as a result of selecting this king but it did not stop their desire for their will to be granted. So God gave them their fleshy leader and every event God prophesied through Prophet Samuel occurred as foretold. The people suffered and cried out under their evil leaders but the nation would not repent.

Similarly today, God has given the people the leader they cried out for. This leader was not the best God could provide but it was exactly what the people asked for by name. God has a permissive will that He grants when necessary to teach a lesson. King Saul, in God’s permissive will, brought great devastation to the people but it was necessary to show the people their error.

The “king” that America has been given, an answer to evangelical prayers, was necessary; they would have it no other way. Their king is a perfect representation of the people he represents. He is a supposed Christian, arrogant, egotistical, materialistic, self-absorbed, self-righteous, ignorant of God’s true ways and one who refuses to acknowledge sin or repent. In this leader, America has been given an image of herself that it can see and moan over every single day.

We seldom see our own sin but we can easily identify sin in another. God used this method to reveal King David’s sin. Most everyone can identify sin in America’s new leader and that is good. He has been called racist, prejudiced against foreigners and immigrants, sexual deviant, blatant liar, undisciplined, seeker of self-wealth, unteachable, narcissus, self-willed, selfish, disrespectful and disloyal. In watching and disapproving his actions, I have at times caught a glimpse of myself in him. I hated that thought but cannot deny I saw it. He is a mirror for all of us. In all of his arrogant errors, each of us will find something that is wrong in ourselves. He represents America and worst in us. Some people do not see anything wrong with him; they are in deep denial and may never see their sin even when it is directly before their eyes. Some people have been rendered blind, hardened in heart and will never turn from their sin; but they, too, have been given the same opportunity to see their own sin displayed before them. God gave the Law so everyone could see in it their sin but some still denied any wrong and boasted self- righteousness. When we compare the image shown to us to Jesus Christ, who can deny the difference between love and hate? We are without excuse as Apostle Paul taught. Undeniable evidence has been put before us and we all must admit we are sinners deserving of punishment and fall on God’s mercy with repentance for His grace. We cannot save ourselves. All God asks is that we repent of our sin and He has put the punishment of that sin on Jesus Christ, the Sacrificial Lamb of God. Who can deny the mercy of God in granting us repentance so that He can bless us?

The Word of God teaches in 1Co 11:3l-32 that we should judge ourselves so that we be not condemned with the world and certainly we should not be judged by the world but the world has judged American Christians. The ridicule and judgment is God’s. “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world (1 Co 11:32)”. We find in Rom 2:4 that “…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Let’s finish this message the way we started it: with a song; and may God help us to see the changes we need to make as we pray for ourselves and others.

Man in the Mirror (Excerpt)

I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right…
As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowin’ my mind
I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat
Who am I, to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs
A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top
And a one man’s soul
They follow each other on the wind ya’ know
’Cause they got nowhere to go
That’s why I want you to know
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)

In this season where we focus on giving, thankfulness, the love of God for us and New Year’s resolutions; it is a perfect time to examine ourselves to see if we are really walking in Christian faith. This season represents Jesus’ birth into a world of sin so that we could be reborn in His image, all our sin exchanged for all His righteousness. God’s perfect, tailor-made gift to us is His Son, Jesus, a perfect representation of God for us to examine, follow and reverence. If the image we see does not look like Christ then, with a tender heart, let’s ask God to help us and others to make a change.

God’s Best to You
Through Jesus Christ, God’s Son

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY – LEST WE FORGET!

That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them…these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children…for ever. Jos 4:6-7

January 15, 2016

Our nation will pause this weekend to reminisce on the life of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Many people that are living today were alive during his life and at his death, so the memory of events before and after is still fresh in our minds.  We know the importance of the things he did and what they represent for the black population of America.  But like in the book of Joshua, where God indicated that some of the miracles would be forgotten and later generations would not appreciate the past, it is important that we set up memorials to bring to remembrance those past events for generations to come.

Happy Martin Luther King’s Day to all those that have cause to rejoice over the victories won and the  battles fought for black people to realize equal rights in a country where their fore parents bore the hardship of slavery.  Blacks deserve an opportunity to rejoice after all the pain and suffering of the past.  But more important than rejoicing is the need to reflect on the lessons learned.

In the bible story above Joshua was instructed by God to set up stones to remind the people of the miracle of crossing the Jordan.  It was not just for a memorial about crossing the Jordan.  Along with remembering the miracles of that time, God wanted the children of Israel to reflect back on what God had done for them.  The miracles did not happen as a fluke of luck that came their way, but the Israelites had a God that cared for them and who helped them every step of the way.  God was not finished with His people after they crossed the Jordan, but He needed to help them learn how to prevail in the future.  They needed to know that they would not prevail by happenstance or mere determination on their part.  They had to learn that their help came from the Hand of God.  So along with the story of the crossing of the Jordan, the storyteller was to point out that it was God who led and helped them.

Lest we forget, we must have our memorials in the black community as well.  In telling our stories of victories from slave time to the present day, we must not forget to tell children that it was God who helped us.  While we remember the importance of the life of Dr. King and celebrate his life and work, we must realize that none of it was possible without God.  Dr. King was not just a civil rights leader, but he was a man of God who saw the need to rise up and do the works of Christ.

We could miss the lesson of his life and think that equal civil rights alone is the answer to the black dilemma in America.  We could miss the point of this history lesson and think that protesting the political system is the answer.  We could even miss the lesson by waiting on our next “Dr. King.”  Near the end of his life, Dr. King did sum up his life’s purpose for us in his Drum Major sermon.  He just wanted to be remembered as someone who “tried to love someone.”  He reviewed the humility of Christ as He served and told us to seek greatness through service and love.  Because he set out to bring new freedoms to black people and did accomplish it, we must evaluate his life and extract the message from it.  God knew the heart of man and that they had a tendency to lose the message or lessons learned so he made special provisions for the Israelites to set up the memorial with special instructions for the time of celebration or reminiscing.  In the times to come and when the descendant’s children would ask: “How came these stones hither?” then the parents would relay the miracles that God had done for their people.   God was preparing Himself posterity in the people.  He did not want the destiny of the people to be lost to their forgetfulness.

Lest we forget, we must not just celebrate the man and his life, but we must relay the message of his life.  It was not just that he believed in something better for himself and his family and pursued that dream; but it was that this man had a faith in God, imitated the life of Christ and sought to bring change while he continued to believe and work toward the dream.  If we pursue the dream and forget the God that gave it, then we might as well not celebrate Martin Luther King’s Day.  We could all go to Disney World instead and admire the fantasies that came from Walt Disney’s mind.

We must know and remember that there is a God that has a purpose for His people and that He has a destiny for black people in America.  We must know that God has no step children but that we are all (black, white, brown, yellow, red) the same in His sight.  We must know that we all, as people or believers, have a right to the blessings of God if we trust in Christ.  And finally, we must know that we as black people do not have to be subservient all our lives to the dominance of a white majority in America or anywhere else, but that God promotes the righteous and brings down the foundations of the unrighteous.  Dr. King showed us that it is possible to rise up and be better and do better in America.  It is up to us to move forward with progress from the possibility to the reality.  If we pursue the results and forget the way he showed us, we will have missed the lesson of his life.

God never told any people that the way to full rights and blessings was through petitioning a governmental authority.  Moses told Pharaoh what God demanded.  The Israelites had a right to be free and it was time for Pharaoh to let them go.  It was not a request but a demand from the Sovereign God coming to see about His people.  If we continue to believe and petition the Supreme God instead of a secular government, we, too, in America can see a time when: “… all God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, Free at last, Great God a mighty, We are free at last.’  While remembering ML King, let’s not forget the KING OF KINGS!

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.  And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. Lk 4:18-21

HAPPY MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY!

CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS:THE STONE THAT THE BUILDERS REJECTED – HE IS THE LORD

December 2015

And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Lk 20:17
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. Rev19:16

This is the time of year when we joyfully remember that God so loved us that He sent His only begotten son to be our Savior, born in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. We rejoice at the miracle of His birth through a virgin and the promise of His reign in the earth. We rejoice because we know that this miracle was for our deliverance from sin and translation into the Kingdom of our God. The prophecy came forth from God in the Garden that there would be a seed from the woman that would bruise the head to the serpent and this was the beginning of its fulfillment.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Gen 3:15

God continued to speak through time by His prophets that a promised Messiah would come:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isa 9:6

The hope and promise of the Jews was that this King/Messiah would come to save and deliver them from their oppression. Their religious symbols, service and worship to God reflected this hope of the coming Messiah. Yet when the promised Messiah did come to save and deliver them, He was not recognized nor honored by the devout religious leaders. How could they have missed this moment?

Architects design buildings with a strong foundation to enable a tall structures that will endure the times and adverse weather. They spend time testing and preparing the land for the footing. Strong enduring materials such cement or stones are used at the base of the new structure. Where stones have been used through the ages, choice stones are selected while defective ones are rejected or discarded.   The stones are examined to determine strength and detect any cracks or defects that would weaken the structure.   The stones are selected based on outer examination and a stone that looks weak and fragile would not be selected because of inferiority. A cornerstone holds a prominence place in the foundation of the building.

We judge people the same way: by their outward appearance. How many stones have we rejected because of outer appearance? Rich people in expensive apparel are preferred above people in poor apparel. People may be rejected because of appearance, language, place of origin, work, financial status or family. Many rich people now dress down in jeans and shirts and may drive economy cars making it impossible to tell who is really rich. Poor people sometimes buy and wear clothes and cars outside of their reasonable financial means. The wise counsel of Jesus was that we should not judge people by their outer appearance because it does not reveal the true value or worth of a person. Samuel, God’s prophet,  was taught that God does not see like man but that God looks at the inside of man, into his heart.

There may be people we have devalued that were God-sent blessing to us. We may have missed the very thing we were praying for because of disregarding someone based on outward appearance. God often tests the heart of his steward before sending a blessing as He did with Abraham.

And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;… Gen 22:16- 17

The Book of Hebrews has taught us: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Heb 13:2).” When Jesus came into Jerusalem He did not arrive as a rich man would in a carriage, on a horse or stallion. He came walking in sandals without a royal place to abide. The King of Kings was born in a stable because there was no room for Him at the inn. He was not born to a royal earthly family with the means to give him a palace in which to dwell. He could not be distinguished from the locals by his apparel or royal behavior. He ate and slept like the locals and yet He was higher than any rich man or king. Jesus came meek and lowly and He humbled Himself to the governing authorities of the land. Christians are taught through the teachings of Jesus to show no respect of persons but to love and treat every man as himself. Jesus walked the way that He commands us to walk: in humility and love toward everyone.

Our society today pays homage to men of wealth and status and place them above others of lesser means. And yet God is still sending great wealth in undesirable packages, undetected by man’s eye. Jesus, the Christ, was rejected by man but accepted and approved by God. Many people that God will use are still being rejected by man though approved by the Father. Jesus is still being rejected as undesirable even though He is now seated in heaven.  Those that determined that he would not rule over them will one day have to bow their knee to Him.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isa 9:6
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (1Pe2:7 -8)
And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Lk 20:17

Today God’s church is built upon a sure foundation where the Corner Stone is Jesus Christ the Messiah and Redeemer. We, that believe, are likely stones built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone… (Eph 2:20).   Jesus came low and walked in humility until it was time for Him to be exalted on high. And now He reigns as Lord of Lords and Kings of Kings.

In this season where we traditionally celebrate how the Savior came low to identify with  and save us, we should remember an important lesson from the story: Do not judge people because they are a stranger, poor, homeless, weak or distressed in their present situation. We do not know the destiny God has put in anyone. If we obey the royal law to love everyone without respect of person, we could possibly come to a place where we witness that we have longed for as did Anna and Simeon at the birth of the Savior (Lk 2:28-38). Some may yet be entertaining angels, their breakthrough or miracle in disguise.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

THE SAVIOR IS BORN

 

 

America – Responding to a Call for Repentance

 

October 2015

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  James 5:16

Literature Source:  http://theresponseusa.com/north-carolina/

“OUR NATION IS AT A CROSSROADS.

America’s issues are not primarily financial, political or moral. Neither does America’s hope lie in one leader or institution. Our hope is found in the One who desires for us to turn to Him with our hearts. This is our response – to call on Jesus on behalf of America, that He might hear our cry and heal our land.

The Response: USA is holding statewide solemn assemblies to gather people from all ages, denominations and backgrounds in prayer and fasting on behalf of our nation. This is the time for Christians to come together to call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy. Here are our upcoming Response events.

Why a Gathering of Prayer and Fasting?

In the Bible book of Joel, in Chapter 2, an ancient Hebrew prophet speaks to a nation in crisis and gives God’s solution when He tells them to, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning (contrition and humility)” (Joel 2:12).  In that day, the command was for everyone to stop what they were doing and gather for a “sacred assembly,” to turn to God with prayer and fasting.

Why did God desire fasting, weeping, and mourning from the people? It provided them with an opportunity to gather before God and acknowledge that their nation had drifted away from its foundations in morality and faith (Joel 2:15). Because of this moral decline, the people were not prepared to face the threats rising up against them and God wanted His people to understand that their moral decline was far greater than the threats of economic crisis or military invasion.

God ordained in that hour of history that prayer would serve as the only way of escape from their mounting troubles. Only God had the power to solve both a nation’s internal and external threats. All were unsolvable by human means and human solutions, but God had a solution that could be found in His great mercy.

Our Response

Sound familiar?  America is at a crossroads … and the root is not to be found in political agendas, economic doldrums, crime rates, or terrorist threats, as many believe. Our country is in crisis because we are a people who are no longer honoring God in our prosperity or humbly calling on Him in our predicaments. The Response is committed to activating a return to prayer by those with contrite hearts, to provide witness that the Church is taking a stand for righteousness and asking God for His mercy on the land we love.

As a nation, we must come together to call upon Jesus to guide us through the unprecedented struggles we face today, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we have so richly enjoyed. The epic crisis facing our nation and threatening our future demands an epic response of repentance, prayer and fasting, asking God for mercy on us and on our land.

The call of God to His people in times of great trouble is to gather together and call on Him with one voice, one heart, and a unified desire to see great blessing and great glory come to our nation again. The power of unified prayer from a humble gathering of the saints is found in the hope that He might answer us once again, and turn the tide of our trouble and the host of threats that stand against us.

THANK YOU FOR ATTENDING THE RESPONSE: NC.

Thousands gathered together last Saturday and called on the Lord on behalf of their state and nation. We prayed for over 6 hours and we saw the Lord’s presence come into the Charlotte Convention Center. We thank you for your commitment to prayer and fasting and we hope that you continue to follow The Response events as they take place in other cities. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep in the loop.”

Source: http://theresponseusa.com/north-carolina/


The Real Meaning Behind the Jewish Feasts

September 2015

There has been a lot of interest lately in the coming harvest feasts celebrated by the Jews and whether or not it has any implications for us as Christians and Americans. There have been many attempts to answer and decipher its meaning. America has seen tragedy during this time of year and some people have determined it was judgment from God. Because we as Christians have not come into a clear understanding of God’s ways, His movements have often eluded us.

It was during these seasons that I received salvation and pursued a deeper understanding of God and events that occurred during these seasons. The untimely death of a loved one got my attention as I wondered why. I became angry with a God I did not know. God did not have to vindicate Himself to me but He did because He is just that kind of God. He wants us to know that He is always righteous and good. With God’s help I was able understand death and work through the grief process. I began to observe a pattern in deaths around the end and beginning of a year. As a new Christian, the Jewish feasts were unfamiliar to me until much later so it was attributed to some phenomenal related to the end of the year. For years I observed these times of unusual blessings and loss and sought to understand. This mystery was opened up further and further as I grew in Christian knowledge and searched out the ways of God.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He established patterns in the earth and patterns for His interactions with mankind. God’s laws are universal but His ways are to be understood by His people. There are those that can break down the Jewish feasts in ways that I would not even attempt. My intent is only to understand what God wants from us and how we are to give it. Recently I wrote out a paper of my own research in this area entitled “The Offering God Wants When He Comes to Meet With Us.” Through this research I found my answer and maybe my summary will suffice others as well.

The History of the Feast Times

To understand God, we always have to go back to what He originally instructed us and see the progression of this truth through the scripture. Because God does not change. What He originally wanted, He still wants. It is our sin that has changed the equation. God originally came to meet with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden on a regular basis (Gen 3:8). We saw in Genesis where the sons, Cain and Abel, prepared offerings for God (Gen 4:3). We are not told how these offerings began, just that they occurred. God was pleased with one offering and rejected the other. This story reveals that God expects to meet with His people at set times and that He wants us to offer up something of value to Him at His coming.

In the wilderness, we saw that Moses instructed the Children of Israel in the ways of God and how to please Him. The Israelites were told that several specific times during the year God would meet with them, how they would present their offerings, and that these would be times of a great celebration.

Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Deu16:16

The Israelites worked the land and were shepherds so their offerings to God were related to their labor during the year. God expected His people to recognize and bless Him at the end of their season of work where He had prospered them to have success. The combination of their work and God’s favor produced a crop or blessing of which God expected His credit, respect and reverence.

Man’s response to God’s expectation to be remembered at this time would show man’s appreciation and thankfulness for a good and gracious God. Cain, of course, did not show proper respect or appreciation and God was not pleased. What about us? Are we thankful? God has blessed America greatly. Are we showing thankfulness? God no longer expects animal sacrifice, but He does expect from His children thankfulness and reverence.

This coming season is about a tradition of God coming to meet with His children and bringing and receiving something of value in a time of thankfulness for all He has done for us. Will we have an acceptable offering? Certainly there will be praises and worship going up to God as we carry on church services but let us not forget other behavior.

America has recently thumbed its nose to God. The White House was lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate a practice that God hates. Our legislative branch is at war with each other. The Supreme Court has validated and made legal a homosexual life style that God specifically forbade. The nation has removed prayer and the Ten Commandments from public arenas, shunned the stranger, murdered millions of babies while the rich have decried the portion for the poor and many churches have rejected God’s truth and deceived believers. America that loves money and that has made money its god is now poised to elect a new president who appears to worship money. Shall God be pleased with what America has to offer Him when He comes to be celebrated in this season? I think not. America’s present state can be found in the book of Judges where the people were willing to say to anyone: “Come and be lord over us and take this mess under your hand.”

“Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you – Jdg 8:22-23.” (Read the rest of this chapter.)

“When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand…” Isa 3:6.

Perversion of the Season

Many false religious leaders have made a mockery of this time and required of God’s people a substantial money offering during these feasts. People looking for a blessing from God have been taken advantage of and some fallen into unbelief because of it. While God does expect us to give finances to the church that upholds His name and does His work, it is in the normal process of church obedience, not in a lottery to get future blessings. We must remember too, that there were some offering as mentioned by Isaiah that God did not want.

“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.” Isa 1:11-14  

These verses were followed up with the truth of what God really wanted: Isa 1:17 – “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” God is more concerned about our heart and right behavior (New Testament Commandments) than our offering up vain offerings in an attempt to appease Him. So, like with Cain, an offering from impure or insincere hearts will not be acceptable to God. Malachi 3 helps us to see also that God will not be pleased with our refusal to give godly pastors the portion that is rightly due for the work of the Lord. The New Commandments that Jesus gave us refer to a changed heart. A right heart leads us to do right with our money.

The Expectation of God’s Coming

This upcoming season is about God coming to see what we have prepared as an offering for Him. Will it be good works, a heart of love, fellowship with Him and our brethren, an appreciation and thanks for His truth and blessings or will it be our disrespect? God will come to some in blessings for their good done toward His name but He will appear as a judge to others for their disrespect of His Word and Person. How will we meet our God?

Jewish Traditions Applied to Christians

The Jewish feast of Rosh HaShanah is September 13-15, 2015. It is the Jewish New Year and marks the beginning of a ten-day period of prayer, self examination and repentance. Jewish tradition teaches that during the High Holy Days God decides who will live and who will die during the coming year. It is a time of judgment for mankind and reconciliation with God.

The next significant feast is Yom Kippur – Atonement celebrated on September 22-23, 2015. This feast begins at sunset of one day and ends at nightfall of the next. During Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and in the days leading up to them, the Jews begin to examine their lives and repent for any wrong doings committed the previous year. This repentance is called teshuvah. Yom Kippur is when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies each year to make an offering for the sins of Israel. The Jews during this time would make amends with those they have wronged and make plans for improving their lives during the upcoming year. Many Americans follow this custom but observe it at our New Year’s Day which starts in January. Where our calendar has gone through worldly changes the Jewish calendar is more exact. Yom Kippur is the deadline for making things right and by its end, God’s “Book of Life” is said to be closed until the next year. It is a time of fasting, repenting and cleansing to renew our relationship with God.

Even though some Christians may have difficulty with these holidays because they represent Jewish traditions, we must realize that our Savior and Christian blessings come through the lineage of Jews and that we must understand both the past and the present to get a full understanding of our God. These practices that we saw exercised in the Garden of Eden were evidently established long before Abraham. Though we do not follow the laws of the Jews, we do obey the spirit of the law and some principles are timeless as are some commands God gave to the Jews, i.e. honoring God and putting Him first. We are admonished through the word:

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Pro 4:7

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” 1Jn 2:20

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Joh 8:32

God can move at any time in the life of a person but we are told specifically about His expectations at this time.  Whether for blessing or judging, we would do well to be ready for God’s presence in love and preparedness. Christians are not Jews but we serve the same God and we have been brought into a better relationship with Him through our faith in Jesus Christ. Christ actually taught His disciples about divine visitations and how to be ready for them (Mt 24-44). This is a time when we should reach out to and pray for all souls. While God comes to bless and fellowship with the obedient, the ungodly will find His judgment of sin. There are yet deeper meanings to the season for the believer in fellowship with the Lord and they should diligently seek God for His purposes. We have a standing appointment with the Righteous God over the earth and it is always a good idea to take some time to examine our lives and prepare it to be a time of celebration.

Why White America Does Not Repent

August 2015

The Christian faith requires a confession of sins and commitment to the doctrine and practices of Christ. Those that circumvent these requirements, therefore, cannot be authentic Christians. The early apostles and Christ warned believers against following teachings contrary to what they taught (Mt. 16:11-12). However, many churches teach a derivative of the gospel that does not model what Christ practiced. Some professing Christians may not be indeed true disciples of Christ. Lack of understanding of the gospel explains why some religious people may not see the need to repent in a season where God is dealing with all hearts.

Christian Progress Incomplete

A study of Christian history reveals many phases of the Christian journey in the western world. It will reveal many wars and executions resulting from those who believed their religious method or practice was supreme to others they considered heretics. Christian history also reveals extreme and unnecessary practices that some were willing to endure to perfect their faith. Like them, many of our churches believe they have found the true ways of Christ and have set out to perfect that standard among their members. But are they more right than believers of prior centuries who risked life and limb to sustain their practice of faith? The present deterioration of Christianity in the western world argues that something is awry in our practice of Christianity.   Even as the Old Testament Jews never reached perfection through their religious practices, nor have many of us who have not rend the heart to find Christ. Christ walked out the faith that pleased God to show us the right pattern and yet it has escaped the understanding of many seekers.

Conflict with the Blueprint of America

When we examine the difference between the power structure of America and that of other democratic nations, we discover the uniqueness of this nation and gain further enlightenment on this question. This nation was formed by people who wanted to escape the tyrannical rule of religion and government. They wanted to lift up the voice of ordinary people to significantly impact what happened in their lives. With the help of God, the nation was formed to allow citizens religious freedom and exercise of a strong voice in the lawmaking process that ruled their lives. These systems have been in place for over 200 years but the nation has fallen into decline because people have disengaged their participation in governing and given rise to groups willing to reign over them. So America has not succeeded in its well organized system to evolve into the great democratic republic whose governing would be of the people, by the people and for the people, with liberty and justice for all.

Every organization, people or system is patterned after something that it has seen or envisioned for itself. America did not favor the old patterns of England and sought to find a new system that would be more just. They envisioned a governing system that would largely involve the common people in decision making. But more importantly this system was formed mostly by people with faith in God and who incorporated biblical ideals into this new system. What all of them may not have realized at the time was that God had a major role in setting up this new government. As the Master of the Universe, it was God who was guiding man to a system of government where all the people He created as equals, having equal value would have equal opportunities as well in the earth. The many forms of Christianity that united in the beginning of the nation later chose to divide by state; but the heart of the bible envisions a people who would follow biblical principles and arrive at a destination of heart that flows with love and compassion for all people.

The nation of America has never reached that destination of love and compassion for all people in its religious community. Having fought the Civil War and against civil rights for black people, America has been forced to accept the legal rights of all people by law, rather than by heart. The Law (Ten Commandments) was established to show people their sin and need of a Savior; and that Savior has come. Law never perfected the hearts or performance of any people. So what the Ten Commandments failed to do in man’s heart, the law of man cannot do. But God is still willing to work with America if America is willing to work with God.

Christianity’s Goal of Love

With the failure of religion to perfect the hearts of America and bring it into the plan of God for the people, it has left many seeking some other pattern to follow. We have seen America’s social engagement with the royals of England and a developing affection for the monarchal ways. The love affair with and lost of England’s Princess Diana (America’s Princess) broke the heart of America. The nation of America still flirts with the ideas of past European ways, travelling to foreign nations as royalty, establishing homes on several continents and developing an infatuation with foreign personalities and their speaking accents. We still see American elites trying to live the life of European aristocrats, some who maintain their status by oppressing commoners.

The nation of America must have a vision to imitate and a pattern to follow. If not Christianity, what? Ideals formed from Christianity and a pursuit of equal rights for all people is what made America different from other nations of the world. If it does not continue in this vein, it really does not have a purpose or destiny to fulfill. That is the reason why we see factions of its citizens trying to remake America into some other image. Some that were successful in removing the Ten Commandments from the courtyard recently positioned a demon statue in the courtyard in its stead. Because Christians and political leaders have lost their way, ad hoc groups are establishing their own control, i.e. the gay rights movement, the wealthy, media, conglomerates, and religious sects. All of these groups and their lobbying efforts that are also represented in other developed nations just add to the confusion of governing.

Backward Drift into Darkness

We are seeing America drift backward because it refuses to continue on a godly path. Legalization of hallucinogenic drugs and sexual appetites, breakout of violence and discord, confusion about moral values, as well as the breakdown of the family are all signs of the backward drift. As America condones the newly uncovered atrocities in the abortion industry and choosing instead to protest killing of sanctioned wild life, it does not seem to realize that this same type of hardened heart that endorsed slavery, killed the Jews, and thought it okay is the public heart of America today on display. Irony would have America to consider its deviant behavior that is being uncovered while it is busy judging the deviant behavior of other uncivilized nations and immoral groups. While some are cutting off heads to reach their goal, America condones cutting up babies for financial goals. While uncivilized and unprogressive nations are protecting the family, America is busy destroying the family. It is indeed a time for serious soul searching! But there seem to be no strong component to turn the nation in the right way because the right way has been rejected and the trumpet blowers are not alarmed.

Why is it that America will not continue in a righteous path? Churches have been content to have unregenerate pastors and congregations who follow religious paths leading down a road whose end does not resemble Christ. They have valued their social unity above relationship with Christ. Jesus met many people on this path in His earthy ministry and appealed to their hearts to change. America has arrived at a place where she must repent of past sins that she does not want to acknowledge. And yet she can precede no further until she deals with it in broken hearted repentance. The nation cannot deny its Christian founding, biblical foundation or past Christian leaders but it must continue its journey. It is fine to call oneself a Christian, but true Christianity requires one to accept the truth and repent of sins. White America, like during slavery, has been fine with having a form of Christianity that does not invade personal pleasures or privileges. True Christianity requires acceptance of every nationality of God’s people and bringing them into the commonality that is the Kingdom of God. White Christians have had their reign over all the affairs of the nation and refuse to release their control. But even the gay community has refused hypocritical religion and decided to guide its own way into politics and religion. America’s Christian white community has also established a gospel of prosperity that allows them to have elite rule from a different platform of privilege and self-righteousness, where commoners support their lifestyle with their dollars. It is no different than the British royals, except for the propagation of a perverted gospel.   We even saw recently the white political body of the right wing and Christian organizations rise up into a powerful political force to set up their own candidates for the office of president of the United States in hope of gaining more control toward hierarchy and aristocracy. This would have been America’s own religious controlled government with a bias against blacks and other minorities. Sovereignty prevailed though and the move was crushed to the amazement of its organizers. White Christians in America were willing to compromise or give up their God in order to increase their rule. We have already seen this modeled in South Africa and it failed.

The founding fathers and first settlers of America had had enough of monarchal rule and religious oppression. They were ready for a reversal of that path. But new Americans, accustomed to privilege and liberties, have no appreciation for the hardship and fear the founders had suffered under English rule. Nor has America learned the lesson from the Civil War: oppression is wrong. Slavery was wrong, but America has never fully repented or atonement for this sin. Repentance calls for confession of sin and reversal of the old direction. Some Americans are trying to move forward through that backward direction because the hatred and racial prejudice of America’s past has not been resolved. It has always continued in some other guise such as unjust laws or discriminatory acts that boils over from time to time. Healing never took place because it has never been properly confronted. The height of Christianity obtained to the present day in America has not inspired the white church to lead the charge of resolving inequalities toward to blacks in particular and other nationalities. The insidious nature of the prejudice that ruled in America over past centuries was a hatred that told whites their skin color made them superior to those of darker skin. This deception can be traced back to the prejudice of its author, the German philosopher Christoph Meiners (1747-1810) who coined the term “Caucasian” for the white race; denoting people he thought were more morally virtuous and attractive than others due to their pale skin color. And even the world’s condemnation of this belief, demonstrated through German Adolf Hitler’s prejudice and atrocities carried out against the Jews, has not alleviated this venom. White Christians have failed to learn this lesson from past mistakes and to avoid making the same errors in the future. Christ demands a love for man’s neighbor that looks beyond physical attributes, one that proactively seeks to show love to neighbors and strangers and that will not participate in stoning of sin, even the sexual sins of homosexuality.

America was founded at a time when Britain was denouncing slavery and yet the new nation of America launched head first into it, ignoring British evangelists who brought their message across the waters with great power and authority compelling the end of slavery. America’s white population, and especially white Christians, still must come to grips with the lie of racial superiority that science refutes with the resulting embedded prejudice of soul; and come to a place where they denounce this hatred before it destroys the nation of America. It is unconscionable that Christian love, racial prejudice and a spirit of superiority could reside in the same soul; and some that are looking for revival will not acknowledge this major hindrance in their hearts. Apostle John denounced this hypocrisy in his gospel message:

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 1Jn 1:6

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 1Jn 3:11

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 1Jn 3:14

America must remember its past where many religious people, professing Christians, preachers and even the founders of the nation bought and sold black people as slaves, brutally handled and killed them, believing it was God’s will and that they themselves were righteous and followers of God. How was that possible except that they were unregenerate or churchgoers with consciences seared through hatred? This same hatred is blinding America from the ability to solve urgent issues pertaining to immigration, racial discord, homosexual demands and internal/external terrorism. Refusing to deal with the root of these issues in the heart only exacerbate the problems. The very definition of Christianity is a heart of love because God is love. This fact should cause every white professing Christian to search his own soul to see if his salvation is merely professed rather than possessed. They should ponder how it is possible to have racial hatred, a spirit of superiority and yet call oneself a follower of the very Christ who forbade these practices and Who taught a doctrine of love and humility.

Christian Churches Should Set the Example

Individual believers of Christ should inquire from spiritual leaders the soul-searching questions of the day and follow only those that truly follow Christ. True Christianity will save the soul and America. True Christians in the white communities must deal with diehards that refuse to obey man and God’s law for sharing this nation. If Arab nations can realize their responsibility why cannot white America and especially Christians? This is a conversation that white America must have with itself and with their religious leaders before America can move forward. Many white Americans, rather than looking inward, are spending their time dissecting other issues such as gun control, immigration, motivation for crimes, and the president’s action. They have concluded that the cause of the problems must be those other people. How can black Americans be the problem when they have been beat down, oppressed and discriminated against at every turn while whites have had the advantage of majority rule and liberty in America that comes through a history of over two thousand years of Christianity? Imagine parents who would claim their children are destroying the family when it’s the parents who are in charge of the house and who control the purse strings. How foolish! Everyone knows this would be the parents fault! White America must search its own soul. Their sovereign rule over the lives of others has not given them a peace that satisfies and they continue to search for it in other places instead of in true relationship with God. But the Word of God declares:

For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. Luk12:48

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. 2Ch 7:14

Note in these scriptures God put the responsibility of change on those who say they are His. What has always been at issue in America is how the white elites can control the wealth of the nation for themselves. Greed is the issue behind racial prejudice as it was behind the issue of slavery. The love of money is still the root of all evil…in church…in government. But these issues are all settled in the heart of a true Christian who has learned to love his neighbor as himself. So where white America and the Christian community have failed to succeed in God’s vision for America, they must decide if they will now pursue God’s way. The power to change is the mighty power of God that He gives abundantly and freely. The power to change has been provided and the alternative is devastating. Wisdom would advise America and white Christians in particular, to consider its own wicked ways, repent, and follow the nation’s founders and God’s plan for allowing the nation to grow into a united body, which enjoys equally God’s bounty in liberty. Reversal into the confusion of past mistakes will not help and God forbids that course!