Remembering Dr. King

Today we celebrate the life of a good man, a great man, Dr. Martin Luther King. It troubles me deeply that many will use this day to promote racism, because that is precisely what Dr. King was against. Many others will use it to push THEIR agenda of privilege – we live in a world of agendas, it seems. The color of your skin (red or yellow, black or white, we are ALL equal in God’s eyes) does not give you the right to have and do things that are unjust to others, and it shouldn’t give an economic edge or bias. There was a show on PBS a few years ago that was set during the Civil War, and a Union Doctor chastised a Union nurse about not tending to the Confederate soldiers who were in their hospital. He told her that among the wounded, there was no Blue or Gray – all blood is the same color. Red. To me, that speaks volumes, and it is a message I have preached for many years. God created ONE race, the HUMAN race. He saw fit to create a rainbow of colors, from the palest albino to the darkest black; we all bleed the same and we all – ALL – share same DNA and we all share the same ancestry in Adam and Eve.

Instead of celebrating or emphasizing our differences, wouldn’t it be awesome if we would emphasize our sameness?

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
Genesis 1:1, 26-28 NIV

That verse is worth repeating, over and over again! “GOD created {ALL} human beings in His OWN Image.”

Especially today, let’s celebrate life and our likeness to Jesus, and let go of the differences. Let’s stop demanding special treatment for different colors – or for having a different take on life. Oh, how I wish I were as eloquent as Dr. King! He preached equal treatment, not special treatment. He preached equality, humility, and love. Something all of us would do well to emulate. Like Dr. King, I, too, I have a dream.

Why Did Jesus Come?

“For [GOD] did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, “What is man, that You remember him? or the Son of Man, that you are concerned about Him? You have made Him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned Him with Glory and Honor, and have appointed Him over the Works of Your Hands; You have put all things in subjection under His feet.” (Psalms 8) For in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him. But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, JESUS, because of the suffering of death crowned with Glory and Honor, so that by the Grace of GOD He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for Whom are all things, and through Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author [the pioneer, the trailblazer] of their salvation through sufferings. For both He Who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I will proclaim your name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” And again, “I will put my trust in Him.” And again,”Behold, I and the children whom GOD has given Me.” Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a Merciful and Faithful High Priest in things pertaining to GOD, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:5-‬18 NASB
(For more on angels, go to Hebrew 1, 10, and Revelations 4-22)

Why did God become man?
*To Restore Man’s Dominion Over the Earth: Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 

*To Taste Death: His death was a Crown of Glory and Honor – God cannot die, nor can the angels, so Jesus became man in order to experience death for us so that we – man – wouldn’t have to. His Grace was His motivation: His death was for EVERYONE. We are so dearly loved, He died for us.

*To Bring Many Sons to Glory – Ephesians 5:2b “….. love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” 

John Donne (1572–1631), an Anglican minister, in a sermon on Psalm 2:10-12, asserting that the One who with the Father and the Holy Spirit creates and sustains all things has become our brother; the inconceivably transcendent God is present among us.

There is no person so near of kin to you as Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus your father created you; he is your brother because he took your nature. He is your father because he provided an inheritance for you; he is your brother because he divided this inheritance with you. And because he died to give you possession of that inheritance, he is the Nourishing One, your foster father who has nursed you in his house, in the Christian church. He is your twin brother, so similar to you that his Father and yours in him, will not know you from one another but will mingle your conditions: he finds your sins in him and his righteousness in you. “Kiss this Son” as your kinsman.


*To Disarm Satan and Deliver Us From Death – JESUS came to save us; therefore He had to defeat satan and render him inoperative. 1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”  We have no reason to be afraid of death…. we are delivered from satan’s control!

*To Make Propitiation For Our Sins – JESUS became a Jew – the most hated race – in order to become a high priest who would perform sacrifices, and to become the ultimate, final sacrifice. Christ was born and He died to turn around God’s wrath. Hebrews 2:17 “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a Merciful and Faithful High Priest in things pertaining to GOD, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

*To Help Those Who Are Tempted – God isn’t angry with me, because I believe in Jesus Who died to cover my sins. The angels can’t relate because they cannot die, cannot be tempted. That’s why Jesus became man, so that He could experience life as a man and suffer as a man. He has been tempted, lonely, broke, abandoned, hurt – to BE with us …. and He understands what we are going through. Jesus is “God with skin on.” Since sin comes into the world through the man, Jesus was conceived without man to keep His human body pure. Adrian Rogers: “JESUS is all God and all man; man to be able to die, God to pay the ultimate price for our sin.”Once and for All. AMEN!

“But JESUS Kept Silent …”

“… And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the Living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the Right Hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” ” – Matthew 26:63‭-‬64 NASB

What a powerful statement!

Jesus never bragged about Who He was. He stood silent when He was accused of being seditious against the government, and in fact, He never called on His followers to overthrow the government. He was tried and convicted on hearsay, so that He could stand before us, and die for us, on the cross. Could you – can you – stand by and be accused of crimes and keep silent? Do you? At work or school, at home, how many times have we defended ourselves, rightfully or wrongly? Especially when working around kids, a very common phrase we hear is “but I didn’t do anything!” I have defended myself many times (right or wrong), and I’m sure I will many more times in the future.

But Jesus kept silent….. The only truly innocent person to ever live, when accused, kept silent. The God of the Universe, Creator, Son, Living LORD Who calls Heaven home, showed us how to live and how to turn the other cheek. He was born for that moment. No argument, no grandstanding, no yelling. What a wonderful example for us to follow as we move into a new year.

Jesus and The “Littles” …

How did Jesus treat children? Not, as some people do, expecting them to “be seen and not heard!” Blessing children is scriptural from Genesis and on throughout the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New Testament.

“And they” (the Greek word used indicates the fathers as spiritual leaders bringing their families, their children) “were bringing children” (infants up to 12 year olds) “to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.” (The disciples are blocking people instead of being a bridge to Jesus. They were acting as bodyguards, trying to hinder or stop anyone from coming to Christ, when they should have instead been encouraging.)“But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant” (angered) “and said to them” (His disciples), ” ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child” (with empty hands, coming as they – weak, helpless, dependent) “will not” (the Greek word translates as never ever) “enter it at all.’ And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” – Mark 10:13‭-‬16 NASB (also see Luke and Matthew)

** Side note: This passage is not about infant baptism; it is about blessing the children. Baptism is an outward, public declaration of putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ; i.e. entering the kingdom, by being immersed in water, representing the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord.

We must come to Jesus as a child; we can offer nothing to Him because He is the Creator of all things. Without Him, we have nothing. From the hymn Rock of Age, written in 1763 by the Reverend Augustus Toplady:

Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to Thy cross I cling
Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to Thy cross I cling
Naked, come to Thee for dress
Helpless, look to Thee for grace
Vile, I to the fountain fly
Wash me, savior, or I die

His Promise

We are powerless over our lives, past and present, and our lives are unmanageable on our own. We recognize that we need something more than ourselves; a “Higher Power ” (AA), or as we know, GOD. Only He can be trusted to bring sanity, wholeness, and healing to us.

This is a paraphrase of the First and Second Steps of AA and Celebrate Recovery, to be embraced by anyone* who realizes that they are not in control of their lives. *That means everyone. No matter how together and in control you think you are, with God, you are spiraling out of control. It may be a really slow spiral, or it may be twisting and turning so quickly that you can’t get a breath.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NASB

“But he promised me….. ” Something men do, and don’t follow through on. That’s what we have to go on; what our experiences teach us. Even though I know this to be true, every time it happens, a little piece of my heart dies. We see betrayal every day, and yet we are supposed to believe that some higher being is going to be different?

I do. I believe that a higher being, the Higher Being, the LORD, is different. I know He is different. He has listened to me for years, letting me rant and rave, yell and curse, and still He stayed with me.

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Isaiah 35:3 NASB

The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalms 34:17‭-‬18 NASB

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NASB

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13 NASB

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1‭-‬2 NASB

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NASB

Until you can admit that your life is not yours to control, and that, in fact, you are out of control, you are lost. The LORD seeks us. He seeks you.

Step One: Admit you are powerless.

All Men Are Liars

“I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.” What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me?” Psalms 116:11‭-‬12 NASB

I didn’t say it first, but I have to agree. All men are liars. Before you men get all up in arms, know this: all women are liars, too. There’s only one man, one human, who has or ever will walk this earth who isn’t a liar, and that man is Jesus, Son of God.

Argue all you want; you know that’s a true statement.

Oh, we are capable of being truthful, and I believe that most most people want to be honest, at least for the most part. Some people can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie. I look for the good in people. I want to believe you when you tell me something. I want you to be believe me when I say a thing. Mostly, you can. Like everyone else, I am fallible. I don’t usually mean to say untruths – lie – although, like most people, I do occassionally. Sometimes to spare your feelings, sometimes it’s to spare my feelings, and sometimes it’s just because I don’t have the energy to deal with it – and yes, that’s a cop-out that every single person has done at one time or another.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NASB

Is really so difficult to follow through; to say what you mean and do what you say you will do? I offer my heart too easily, and I take people at their word. I would like to live in a world where a man’s word truly was his bond. No written contracts necessary. This world, our reality, requires us to have promises in writing and witnessed, and even then the promises are broken. The courts are full of broken contracts and promises.

Watch your heart. Spend time talking with the LORD. Listen to the wise counsel of believers. Most importantly, both personally and in business dealings, treat the other person as you want them to treat you. You can’t expect any better than that.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NASB

I Am Strong

From God’s Not Done With You, a devotional by Tauren Wells, on http://www.Bible.com:

“When we admit that we are prone to failure, that our strengths aren’t strong enough to save us, we find the power to live righteously through Christ….. When sin affects our opportunities to use our strengths, a perfect situation can become a perfectly wrong situation.”

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12‭-‬13 NASB

Did that hit you like it did me? It’s when I stand on my strength, and rely on my abilities, that I fall. It’s that old “I can do it” attitude. When I rely on me, I fail. I’m a “fix-it” person. If there’s a problem, let’s fix it. Don’t wait, don’t take time to pray about it, just get it done. I’ll do it if it kills me.

Sound familiar?

I’ve known so many people with that attitude. Then there’s the opposite: those who sit back and do nothing, expecting God (or man) to step in and take care of the problem with no effort from them.

In my opinion, both attitudes are equally wrong. The Bible doesn’t say that God takes care of those who take care of themselves. It also doesn’t say to be lazy and expect others to take care of you. God gives us our strengths, our talents, to use in conjunction with Him and His Will. Do I do that? Unfortunately, no, not like I should. Sometimes I’m determined to do whatever it is on my own. No help. Other times, I give up, and want someone to to do it for me. I’ve turned many opportunities into disasters with these attitudes. Even Peter, the Rock, loved by Jesus, fell when he tried to stand on his strength over the Lord’s.

“And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75 NASB

We need to weep for the many times we have denied Christ by trying to stand on our strengths rather than His. I weep for all those times, past, present, and future that I stand on my own. I’m human, I will continue to fail, but I am also a child of the King, forgiven for my failure.

Lord God, help me get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’ that I can stand without You; help me to take heed of Your Will so that I will not fall. I know that no temptation has ever overtaken me, or will ever overtake me, but such as is common to man; and I know that You are faithful. You will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able as long as I depend upon You, and with the temptation, You will provide the way of escape also, so that I will be able to endure it. Amen.