Surviving Injustice

Intro

Can we survive injustice in an unjust world?

Purpose

Let’s examine what can we do when we are the victims of injustices that will not be fixed in this life.

Plan

We will examine the story of an unjust inheritance in Luke 12:13-21 and Jesus’ advice to the victim.

Greed

Wicked people praise greed (Psalm 10:1-4). Greedy people ambush their own lives (Proverbs 1:18-19), destroying their families (Proverbs 15:27). They take, but the righteous give (Proverbs 15:27). Greedy get rich quick schemes cause poverty (Proverbs 28:22). Greedy leaders destroy nations (Proverbs 29:4), look to their own gain like greedy dogs (Isaiah 56:10-11), out for dishonest gain, shedding innocent blood, oppressing and extorting (Jeremiah 22:15-17). Greedy people feast on the suffering poor (Proverbs 30:14). Religious leaders are not immune to greed and wickedness (Luke 11:37-41). Don't let the cheater’s greed ruin our lives as it has theirs (Luke 12:13-21). Greed is idolatry and cannot enter God’s kingdom (Ephesians 5:5).

Greed Destroys Capitalism

Jesus condemned greed not free-market capitalism. In its broadest sense capital includes even the shirt on our backs. Jesus condemned evil forms of capitalism, based upon greed. Venice is a case study in point. Once an affluent, free-market economy, wealthy oligarchs destroyed it by excluding the middle and poor classes from opportunity. World economies face similar self-destruction as monopolies dominate and small businesses are squeezed out. The end result is people working as poorly paid serfs to those who live in excess. There may be little difference between the greedy American CEO and the Chinese Communist party plutocrat. Greed is bad for free-market capitalism. Business monopolies can destroy a free-market. Middle classes shrink and poor people die. Greed destroys capitalism.

Surviving Injustice

An unjust inheritance. A sibling felt cheated. Wise parents are fair and create a legacy of family unity. Unwise parents create family trouble (Proverbs 15:27). Favoritism and greed over inheritance drive families apart. Life is filled with injustices in and outside the family. We can waste our lives in bitterness over wrongdoings, trying to right every grievance, and don’t leave time for living. It seems that Jesus was telling the young man to just let it go and get on with living a good life. Perhaps pursuing justice for ourselves is not always worthwhile. We don’t need to fret if others are greedy and we miss out, because a good life does not consist in an abundance of things. There is coming a day when God will set everything right (Psalm 98:9).

Being Satisfied

Have you ever prayed for God to set things right but it seems like that he said no or perhaps did not even answer? A brother received a larger portion of an inheritance. Was he manipulative? Did he not defend his younger brother against unjust parents playing favorites? Jesus’ advice was to avoid covetousness. The Greek word for covetousness is also often translated by the word greed, and means “lusting for a greater number of temporal things that go beyond what God determines is eternally best. [1] If someone has swindled us out of worldly goods, let us realize that an abundance of possessions does not define a great life. Being satisfied with what God provides is a great life.
[1] THAYER'S GREEK LEXICON, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006, 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. BibleSoft.com

Selfish Species Die

Recent scientific research has shown that selfish species die. [2] For a species to thrive, individuals must learn to communicate and cooperate. Like the brother who took the largest portion of the family inheritance, greed isolates us from our tribes. Community and family members withdraw their support and mutual trust is gone. Rather than living a shared life, with mutual support and protection, the greedy brother is isolated and unprotected. Covetousness is therefore self-destructive behavior. Greed estranges those who would have been there in our hour of need. It isolate us from our support mechanism. Greed destroys the world, our nation, our families and us. Even in nature, insects and sheep know instinctively that to survive they must share and cooperate.
[2] Hogenboom, Melissa. "Selfish Traits Not Favoured by Evolution, Study Shows." BBC News. N.p., 2 Aug. 2013. Web. 31 July 2016.

Greed: How Much is Too Much?

In the case of an unjust inheritance, Jesus defined greed as a desire for an abundance of things, way beyond basic necessities, storing up for selfish purposes without being rich towards God. Elsewhere, Jesus taught that if we have two coats, give one to the poor and he encouraged one rich young man to sell everything and give it to the poor. Yet others of his followers were quite wealthy. It’s not the amount that we own, but our attitude towards it. Wealth deceives us. The more we have the more we think we need and the more covetous we can become. At what level would you divest yourself of wealth and find ways to give most of it away?

Good Coveting

Covet simply means desire. Desire is only wrong when we lust after what is not ours. The 10th Commandment deals with lust. Coveting what does not belong to us leads to lies, murder, theft, adultery, etc. Jesus addressed the folly of covetousness in the story of the unjust inheritance and the parable of the greedy farmer. A brother was unjustly treated in a family inheritance. We don’t need to lust after what others have rightly or wrongly gotten. It is also the case with the farmer and his barnyard retirement plan. Let us not trust in selfish preparations but in God. Covet the best gifts (spiritual) and pursue the real purpose of life, to love (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13).

Outro

Not every injustice will be fixed in this life. Jesus tells us that those who treat us unjustly only hurt themselves and their families. He encourages us that being satisfied with our lot in life and creates a far better life than all the ill gotten gains of unjust people.

Bold & Audacious Prayer

Intro

How do we pray? Are we allowed to ask for what we need? Are we waiting to be worthy?

Purpose

Let’s learn to pray.

Plan

We’ll look at Luke 11:1-13 verse by verse and some of what Jesus taught on how to pray.

When Y’all Pray (vs 2a)

Luke 11:1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” 2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say, …
When teaching his disciples to pray, the first words from Jesus were, “When ye pray...” Modern English has lost the word ye and substituted the confusing word you which is the same for singular and plural. Some dialects maintain a plural like ye in y’all, you’ns or youse and other regional variants. Some believe that the use of the plural you before the Our Father indicates a group prayer, and that certainly is a reasonable conclusion. Perhaps that is one reason why the first words are “Our Father” rather than “my Father”. Perhaps if we understood how unifying this wonderful and instructive prayer is supposed to be we would make use of it in more churches than we currently do.

Why do We say Our Father? (vs 2b)

Luke 11:2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven…
The Lord’s prayer begins with two important words. Our, we, us is found throughout this the most perfect of all prayers. God is ours, not for me alone. Some people are offended by calling God a father, and substitute the word mother or parent, but there have been abusive mothers too and Jesus did not use parent but father. God does not describe himself with the metaphor of father to cause offense. He knows that no human parent is perfect. He wants us to understand perfect fatherhood through him. In Greek father means one who “imparts life.” In the Bible it does not refer to a “universal fatherhood” towards humanity, but to those in "intimate connection and relationship" with him.

Why Hallow His Name? (vs 2b)

Luke 11:2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
The Ten Commandments say it in the negative, You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. That includes the popular OMG. The Lord’s Prayer says it in the positive, hallowed be your name. Do we approach God’s name with reverence? Do we talk about him as someone that we love? Hallowed means "to make holy, consecrate, sanctify; to dedicate, separate." Do we use God’s name as holy, treating it with great respect and adoration? Do we begin our prayers by praising God and praying that his name be glorified? Do we promote our religion, our denomination, our theology or God’s name? All churches are polluted by sin. God is not. Let us glorify his name.

Why are We Debtors? (vs 4a)

Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us…
When we sin we miss the mark, which is what the word sin in Luke’s version of the Our Father means. We have not lived up to life’s highest expectations. Our sins create an unfulfilled obligation to others and to God, an injustice that needs to be set right, a debt that we owe. When we forgive we release others, not only of their having missed the mark but also of the debt of justice that is owed to us. We give up the right to justice. For instance, if someone has unjustly swindled us out of something valuable, forgiveness means we give up the right to justice. Because we do, we can rightly ask God to forgive our debts.

What does Temptation Mean? (vs 4b)

Luke 11:4 … And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”
We are encouraged to pray “lead us not into temptation.” What does that mean? The Greek word can mean either trial or temptation. Temptation is everywhere. We live in a world where there are many enticements to miss the mark of right living. We want to stay faithful to God and are surrounded by gods of materialism. We are surrounded by those who misuse God’s name. Many are seduced into working without rest building bricks for corporate pharaohs. We can be tempted to dishonor our parents. We can be tempted in a moment of anger to kill. We can be enticed to be unfaithful to a spouse. We can be tempted to steal, lie and covet what is not ours.

Audacious Prayer (vs 5-13)

Luke 11:5 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? 8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
We could translate verse 9 as, So I say to y’all, Y’all ask and it will be given to y’all; y’all seek and y’all will find; y’all knock and the door will be opened to y’all.” The promise is to expect answers when we all pray together. Do we sometimes believe that God is like a sleeping neighbor, uninterested in answering our prayers? He encourages us to persist in bold and audacious prayer, like the midnight visitor. Fearlessly pray, brazenly asking that he gives us bread. God encourages us, despite our unworthiness, to be persistent, without quitting. Notice how our daily bread is expanded to fish and an egg and then to an even more wonderful gift, the Holy Spirit.

Outro

We don’t need to be afraid to pray, hiding from God like Adam and Eve. God knows our sins and still encourages us to come to him boldly and often. He wants to hear from us and is ready this minute to forgive and give us what we need.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Too Busy for God

Intro

Loving God and loving neighbor sometimes conflict. How do we choose the right priority?

Purpose

Let’s begin to understand when loving our neighbor is loving God and when it is not.

Plan

Let’s recall the story of the Good Samaritan while we read the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, to discover some priorities in loving God and neighbor.
Luke 10:38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

1. What Distracts Us?

Standing in line for communion, a lady’s cell phone went off. The pastor, having a little fun said, “Tell them that we don’t do takeout.” [1] Our lives are filled with distractions. Family, friends, job, school, television, internet, email, social networking, home maintenance, shopping: all distract us. Merchants distract us with a monotonous incursion of advertising hoping that their endless interruptions of our lives will return them an income. We go to church to get closer to God, but even there we can find distractions that can make a retired person forget to pray. Finding time to sit at the feet of the Master is a continual struggle. It takes self-discipline to turn off the media and listen to God.

Are We too Busy for God?

In the Good Samaritan, the Priest and Levite were too busy loving God to love their neighbor. Martha was too busy loving her neighbor in preparing food, to love God by listening to Jesus. Do we love God in faithful church attendance, prayer, Bible study, tithes, offerings, meditation and occasional fasting? We cannot neglect either loving God or loving neighbor.

Why are we Here?

There are so many jobs involved in running a church that we easily get distracted from the reason we are here. All the jobs are important. However, sometimes we can become so busy doing God’s work that we don’t take time for God. No job ought to prevent us from a very important task: sitting at the feet of Jesus.

2. Do we Really Love God?

Martha, Martha! We may smile as we remember the words. We have all been Martha, men and women too busy to sit at Jesus’ feet, too preoccupied for prayer, too distracted for church, too engrossed to read our Bibles. Many things can distract us from loving God. The story of Martha may be the other side of the coin to Proverbs 24:30-34. I walked by the field of the servant of God. It was covered with weeds and its walls were broken down. A little extra Bible study and a little more time at Jesus’ feet and some maintenance is not so important. It isn’t always laziness. The story of Martha puts loving God in it’s proper priority, first.

Are we Obsessive-Compulsive?

There are so many rules to follow that our world has become obsessive-compulsive. The stressful overload has forced us all to become this way in order just to survive in the modern world. We are modern slaves to endless regulations. Where does Jesus fit into this? Do we take time to escape the rat race and rest at Jesus’ feet?

Where are We Between Jesus and Our Neighbor?

In our story of Martha and Mary we see Jesus placed in an awkward position between two sisters. Sometimes a third party can contribute wisdom and a solution to a conflict. Jesus balanced out the Good Samaritan story. Loving a neighbor is good. Loving God has a higher priority. Helping the injured Jew was an emergency. Preparing a meal is not.

Outro

So, the difference between loving our neighbor in the story of the Good Samaritan and the story of Mary and Martha is that one was an emergency and the other was not. How high a priority is church attendance in our lives? Do we love Jesus enough to temporarily put aside our loving service to others and sit at his feet?

False Friends and Loving Enemies

Intro

After World War Two the Allies helped former enemies Germany and Japan rebuild. The hatred did not last forever. Thanks in large part to Allied aid, former enemies became close friends and two of the world’s strongest economies were given life.

Purpose

Let’s look at how even enemies can become good neighbors?

Plan

Let’s examine the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 and see how it applies to us.
Luke 10:25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” 27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” 29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. 31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. 33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ 36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. 37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois

Who is Our Neighbor?

Politicians tell us that the illegal alien, the Muslim refugee and the unborn baby are not our neighbors. But if we are truly Christians, Jesus defines who our neighbors are not politicians. Politicians encourage prejudice but not Jesus. Jesus places no limits on neighborliness. We may want to help our neighbors within our own towns, but not in another state or country. Yet, the Gospel must go in word and deed to the whole world. We want to limit our responsibility to others but our responsibility has no bounds. Neighbor literally means someone near but, in the Good Samaritan Jesus explains neighbor as any person irrespective of race or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet.

False Friends & Loving Enemies

We have all experienced the disappointment of false friends or perhaps been a false friend letting someone down when they needed us. People in business often pretend to be customer friendly but take our money and run. People running for office as “friends of the people” make promises only to break them once elected. Worst of all are the disappointments we find in church life where we like to think that we have better conduct than the world. We often don’t. We are more like the priest and Levite than the good Samaritan. We have all failed to be good friends. Only Jesus is a faithful friend. Even Christians can be deceived into considering him to be an enemy Samaritan.

When Calamities Come

Many robbers attack people today, strip people naked and leave them for dead. Corporations, governments, natural disasters, war, famine, disease, declining union influence, lack of education, fathers leaving the family, floods, domestic abuse, employment abuse, immigrant status, minority status, prejudice, disability, unemployment, low wage rates, high medical bills, fraud, oppression, theft, disasters, fire, inadequate health insurance, industrial change, foreign aggression, apathy, greed, laziness, overpopulation, inequality, abuse of power, indifference and many more things attack, strip and beat people, leaving them half dead. Are we too busy doing God’s business crossing to the other side, hurrying past hurting people and ignoring them, or are we the despised Samaritan that cares enough to do something to help our neighbor?

Christians Act

Here Jesus emphasizes loving our neighbor by works. Some Christians claim we just need to believe and not act, but that contradicts Jesus. James put it succinctly when he said that faith without works is dead, useless (James 2:18-26). As love of God is useless without love for neighbor, so love is visible in action. We don’t do good works to gain favor with God, but because we love him and our neighbor. The works that we do in love of our neighbor are like a bright light in a prominent place in our communities that gives glory to God (Matthew 5:16). When concluding the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus’ teaching is to go and do likewise.

When Enemies Help and Friends Don’t Care

Why do mafia dons give away money to the poor, or drug lords help their communities, or corporate robber barons give away millions in philanthropic donations, or pro-abortion politicians sometimes help the poor more than conservative politicians? Even evil and murderous Hitler helped his country out of the great depression. Why is it that bad people sometimes do better than good people? That is the story of the Good Samaritan. Sometimes Christians try to boycott what they perceive to be bad companies, but the truth is we are all sinners and all commercial businesses are tainted by some kind of wrongdoing. The Good Samaritan teaches us that, sometimes enemies do good and friends don’t. Can an enemy be a friend?

Life or death

Do we obey the law of life or death (Romans 8:2)? In the southwest of the United States a Good Samaritan could get arrested for giving a drink to a dehydrated illegal immigrant attempting to cross the desert. In Jesus we obey a higher law, one that values human life no matter their status in this world. In the allegory of the Good Samaritan we are not told why the priest and Levite did not help the robbery victim. Perhaps they were attempting to obey Old Testament laws which forbade certain mingling with foreigners. Yet there were other laws which expressly instructed helping those in need. There is no ambiguity in Jesus. We are to love even our enemies.

Salvation in Pictures

Early church writer Origen suggested that the parable of the Good Samaritan is like an allegory of salvation in pictures. The injured man pictures Adam. The journey from Jericho to Jerusalem represents our journey from this world to paradise, the robbers who attacked, stripped and beat the man represent hostile powers. The priest pictures the law and the Levite the prophets. The Samaritan is Christ who we, in our fleshly lusts, treat as an enemy. The man’s wounds are what our disobedience to God does to us. The donkey pictures Jesus’ body which takes us first to the inn picturing the church, the manager is the pastor of the church, and the Samaritan promises to return just like Jesus will.

Caution

Jesus would not expect us to take this parable as a naïve lack of caution in regard to our enemies. It does not say that we allow our enemies to live among us unchecked, nor allow a false religion in, nor allow Samaritan terrorists or criminals into our land, nor does it mean that we give arms to our enemies.

Outro

Notice that the Good Samaritan helped the Jew. A Samaritan saved his enemy neighbor. Jesus died for his enemies. As Christians, we too are to love our enemies and that involves action. Jesus’ point was that giving aid to others crosses all lines.

American Revolution Sermons

Intro

Was the American Revolutionary war an act of un-Christian rebellion or does the Bible support the idea of freedom from tyrants?

Jonathan Mayhew

July 4th reminds Americans why people fought for freedom. Jonathan Mayhew preached January 1749 on Romans 13:1-8 revealing that we submit only to those who “rule for the good of society.” [1] He further argued that to submit to a government that was performing evil was to aid that evil. He said, “Let us not profess ourselves vassals to the lawless pleasure of any man on earth.” [2] Where the letter to the Romans says to submit to the state, it does so in the context of state authorities that will honor us when we do what is right. There is no command to submit to a government that insists that we do wrong, or that is harming us.

Samuel West

Samuel West preached May 1776 on Titus 3:1 that “when a people find themselves cruelly oppressed by the parent state, they have an undoubted right to throw off the yoke, and to assert their liberty… it is their indispensable duty” [3]. He said that it would be absurd to obey authorities that are self-serving and seeking to ruin and destroy the country. [4] He further said that, “tyrants are the ministers of Satan, ordained by him for the destruction of mankind.” [5] Revelation 14:9-10 reveals “God’s abhorrence of tyranny and tyrants, together with the idolatrous reverence that their wretched subjects are wont to pay them, and the awful denunciation of divine wrath against those who are guilty of this undue obedience to tyrants.” [6]
[1] Thornton, John Wingate. Pulpit of the American Revolutionary War. Gould and Lincoln. 1860. 78. [2] ibid. 104. [3] ibid. 279-230. [4] ibid. 283. [5] ibid. 317. [6] ibid. 319.

Freedom

As Americans celebrate freedom from tyrants, let us also remember that freedom is fully completed in the law of Christ. Paul preached in Galatians 5 that true freedom is founded upon that great law of Christ, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Where the people kill, steal and lie, they take away the freedom of others and will find themselves to be oppressed by more and more laws designed to stop their bad behavior. Freedom from dictatorship only works for a moral and upright people who are seeking to obey the simple law of love for God and neighbor.

Outro

The church has an important message to tell the world, that to live in freedom we must repent of wrongs that only destroy others and we must seek the love that Jesus preached.