God’s day and to give thanks to God
for his goodness and for His grace. It was last week, Easter Sunday morning when people were gathered together
to celebrate Easter Day of festivity, a day of great joy and rejoicing. Their jubilation and their celebration
turned to weeping and pain. It was so torturous to just
watch all that was happening. I want us to take a passage from the
book of Romans Chapter 12 and verse 15 rejoice with those that rejoice
and weep with those that weep. That is what Paul is speaking
to the Christians in Rome. Rejoice with those that rejoice and
weep or mourn with those that mourn. You know,
when you think of what happened that Sunday morning on
Easter just last week, and think about the pain and the tragedy, think of just what radicals could do. A man by the name of Zeron Haseem or
Imam Haseem of the National David Jamaat knocked down so many lives beginning in
Saint Anthony’s and then going to Saint Sebastian and then all the way to an
Evangelical Full Gospel Church basically called Zion.
And the havoc and the pain that it caused. Almost an anniversary of what had happened
before a year and two years before when the church in Egypt,
two churches, along with several churches in
Nigeria had been blown apart, which is now quite a common occurrences
in many parts of the Middle East and other places.
And right now as I speak, the Chinese government are pulling down
churches as well as many other places in Asia as well. I want us to realize that
looking at what is happening, it is so painful and difficult
to understand and interpret
what is happening and what is going on all across the world. Just yesterday when you think
about this man named John T. Earnest, a white supremacists who goes down to a
Jewish temple in a suburb in San Diego and begins to shoot, Thank God, only
one died. But that is costly enough. And the rabbi and two others were injured.
Three others were injured. What is happening? I mean it’s like you just
can’t put them together. It is such a crazy situation that places
of worship have now become dangerous to gather together.
It is so sad. So you look at all that’s
happening and you see, particularly when you think about this
man who is Zeron Haseem with his dearest friends, it’s not that usually we tend to think
basically the upward that I’m educated now this happens to be in a country where
that has not been a religious tension that has been ethnics [inaudible]
over the course of many years. But not religious and particularly never
had any problems with doing the Muslims in Sri Lanka and the
Christians in Sri Lanka. And then all of a sudden this happens, the feeling that this is because of
uneducation and poverty does not bear much resemblance in this because these
people were of prosperous and two of the people who committed this crime were
also children of the one great tycoon basically down there in Sri Lanka and
also had their education overseas. So that being put together,
why and how would they do it? And then of course from what we understand
from the prime minister of Sri Lanka says that it has to do with
the retaliation of what
happened at the mosque in Christchurch in New Zealand.
So when we think about this, we basically think about many others
that have done similar things. You remember Omar Martin who also
pledged like these people to al-Baghdadi, the founder of the I.S.I.S And so there is a concentrated effort
to bring mayhem and a sense of fear into the hearts and lives of
people not only here, but also in the Middle East as well as
across the European and Western world and also in India,
Israel and everywhere else as well. When you go into the reason why you
think in terms of revenge retaliation is that the reason,
you know, when you think about
it a little carefully, think with me for a moment
that this is a tragic, because the man that was responsible for
what took place in Christchurch and the shooting in the mosque and killing
49 people in a New Zealand, his name basically is
Brenton Harrison Tarrant. And by no means is a Christian hes also
a white supremacist and literally who hated the people coming in.
And uh, particularly those who are not of,
uh, the white a color and he
just didn’t like anybody. But if anything, when you look at it
had nothing to do with Christianity, was not a Christian whatsoever, may have by alleged people saying
connection with more with Israel, but not at all with the church. And to think of this man who goes about
shooting innocent people that come to worship in a mosque.
But the fact is, why would there be a retaliation
against the Christian Church? And these are not uneducated
people or poor people, but the fact is something that
never happened in Sri Lanka, many other places have happened,
but it’s happened right there. And look at the number of lives,
the number of families, number of people that have been hurt.
And even as we speak, they did not have a services in many of
the major churches because of fear of what could unfold in the
next couple of years. How in the world could you live with this? Now when you team up with the fact that
this man together as many others were aligned,
then also linked with Isis, then you get to know what is
the whole reason for doing this. And think about when you think
about what’s taking place. This is not unusual in
many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. It is very various things that happen
so often where people can be short, but churches can explode.
This is happening again and again, but when you look at what’s
happening across the word, think about what’s taking
place in the Christian faith. It is the most persecuted faith, in the whole world today.
In fact, the last two centuries have seen more
than all the centuries from the first century put together of the number
of Christians that have been killed. And it’s basically started
with Sudan and then Libya, Egypt and spread over
all the way to Syria and, Iran and all so many other places.
And right now, India too is in that situation, not so much with Islamic, but much
more with the radical Hindu party. And so this is happening across the world.
In fact, someone said that according the
statics statistics of open door, one person dies every five minutes.
In other words, so many churches, 344 churches are burned in and a 700
lives and 700 homes and churches, including private
properties are broken into. And this is happening a basis,
day after day, month after month. But one of the final things that
we find this, it’s not so much, seen or heard,
especially in our, in our world.
And for many reasons, one of that is because it is under
reported for many reasons. Um, why the press? And they
would basically, uh, exaggerate other situation but very well
under report what is happening across the world. And then also the fact because of
the polarization of the two parties, they are basically so focused on
things they think are important, whether it be the homosexuals or whether
it be in terms of refugee or a boundary or open doors. So much so that this important fact
is sometimes deliberately or maybe unconsciously,
but it is in the back burner. Nothing big about churches being
burned or Christians being killed as it happens. Not all the way back in the
1st and the 2nd or the 3rd century, happening right now.
Even right now as I speak, I mentioned China is out destroying
churches like many other nations are doing today.
So when you think about this, why would this group, which is not a larger large
group in Sri Lanka do this? Is it because of the retaliation?
Like I mentioned, this man was not at all connected with
the church nor a committed Christian, had nothing to do with the
church in his writings. He doesn’t talk about the church
and yet you find this tyrant, basically did what he did and we
basically condemned that across the world. Christians have condemned and New Zealand
and prime minister has stood up and a voiced the thing that has taken
place as well as across the world. But the fact of the matter is,
if you were to take, the Old Testament, and
again, let me say this, most active legalistics law also has
been taken over like a lot of the Old Testament into the Quran.
If you read with me, Deuteronomy chapter 19 and verse
21, you can sort of see, uh, what this passage says. So as you turn to Deuteronomy
chapter 19 and Verse 21, I’m waiting for the things (eboard).
Otherwise I could just go into this. It says here,
“and then I shall not pity, but life shall go for life for life,
eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand
for hand, foot for foot. The same thing is rather
repeated in Exodus chapter
21 and reading from verse 23 and 24. Again, the same thing.
Life for life, eye for an eye. If any mischief follow, then you shall give life for life and
verse and verse and verse 24, eye for eye, tooth for a tooth, hand
for hand, foot for foot. So understand this is
basically the old law, the legalistic, what would be the
mosaic law. But that being said, even the in the Hebrew faith, there were basically things that
were done to protect the people. There was the sanctuary or the refuge, city of refuge where people could
run to before they could be killed, and it was basically justified for a
killer to take someone’s life if someone close to him, life has been
taken or basically foot for foot. And yet they were also prohibition, by which they could pay for
what damage has been done. But if they were to
enter a city of refuge, there would be the elders and the judges
there that would properly judge and also protect as far as they can, this person who was accused of whatever. So that being said that the law
has been literally, eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand
for a hand, life for life. And that has been taken over
of course in the Quran as well. And so it is enacted in
many way by the Shariah law. It is not as simple as that.
It’s a little more, in both the Judaism and in Islam, a little more complicated.
But basically this is where it stems from. That being said, I want you to understand
with all that being done and said, what and how do we react
to what is taking place? And I just want to explain what would
be not simply a Christian faith, but particularly and specifically
what Jesus Christ said. You know,
when you turn to Matthew chapter 5, verse 38 and verse 39,
the words of Jesus, you have heard that it has been said an
eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But listen to what he says. He says in verse 39 “but I say
unto you that you resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy
right cheek turn to him the other also”, but it is figuratively.
But what it says is, I am saying this and it is not an eye
for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. That actually would be the purgative
of what would be the state, but in a personal realm for individuals
as Christians we are not to pursue or run after and take vengeance. Vengeance is not part of what
would be the New Testament. It could have been in the Old Testament,
although the rabbis would basically have
a little question about that, but absolutely nothing to do in any way, an eye for an eye tooth for
a tooth in the new testament. What is so unbelievable is that Jesus
Christ stood to basically finish or complete or what would be
do away with the shadow, the symbols, the type and all of this
that we’re figuratively
speaking in the Old Testament, which literally were carried out, which was about a picture of those
days of lawlessness, they needed a law. But what we are doing today is we’re
living in a spirit of grace and those that understand grace, the law
is not part of it. Now, understand in many parts of the
Middle East, they need the law. They would not be able
to live by that grace. But in the western world it’s a little
different because when we understand following the tradition of the Christian,
Judaeo Christian, it’s a lot to do with the grace.
Now when I say this, understand all of the practices of Jesus
was not at all with the old testament, tenants of a eye for an eye,
tooth for a tooth or a hand for a hand, absolutely not. When you
look at the mosaic, legally, what the people did was bring
a woman caught in adultery, and they were right when they said, when you look at it in a letter
of the word in terms of the law, the woman should be stoned.
That being said, not the men, not the ones that are in power,
they get away with murder, but always the weaker, always the
child, always the person who has, not much money,
but in this case it is the woman. And if you were to look at it from
the Old Testament point of view, it is certainly the woman
should be stoned. However, that was not practiced the
time of the Lord Jesus, nor literally by the
people of Israel then. But that was part of the law and they
were trying to emphasize the legalism. And Jesus said, “he who is without sin cast the first
stone.” There is no one there without sin. And so they left one by one and now the
perfect sinless lamb of God comes to say,
neither will I, but go in peace and your sins
are forgiven. Now that is grace, that is mercy that comes basically almost, you’d think it’s a contradiction
of the Old Testament, no, it is a fulfillment of The Old Testament.
In other words, there is nothing to do with
the old way of doing things. There is not absolutely from
the standpoint of the Bible, revenge, retribution or something
that is a recompense for what you did, I’m going to pay back.
That is not the law of the spirit. That is not what the grace and what
the words of our Lord Jesus Christ is. Again, what is remarkable is if you were to
go to certain passages in the Bible, you’ll find that uh, the way Jesus talked about in Luke, I believe chapter 9 and probably verse 55, you’re going to find a
situation where Jesus not, was not welcomed into a Samaritan village. Understand when you read a passages
before his face was towards Jerusalem and yet because of his compassion, he reaches out to this Samaritan
village and the pious Jews would not go, but it clearly if they had to cross over, they would take the long mile off
rather than to go through a shorter, as the a course flies right through a
Samaritan village, they would avoid it. There was no love lost between the two
of them. The Jewish and the Samaritans, they had nothing to do with each other.
There was no love at all there. Yet Jesus makes the point and when they
knew that he was on his way to Jerusalem, that alone was sufficient for them to
refuse hospitality or to welcome the Lord Jesus or whatever they could have said.
It infuriated the sons of Zebedee, both James and John, they were so angry that they
basically wanted fire from heaven. Well, they had a precedent in the old
testament because that’s exactly what the Prophet in the Old Testament did. The Prophet Elijah basically had fires
from heaven come down and would that be applied by the one that is the fulfillment
of the law? No, not at all. In fact, His response was not to the
attitudes of the Samaritan, but I want you to listen
carefully to what He says. He turned and rebuked them and said, “you know not what manner of spirit you
are.” You know not what manner of spirit you are?
Think with me for a moment, it was not to the Samaritans but it was
to James and John, the sons of Zebedee, His disciple, who may have with
all intention, good intentions, wanted to protect the Lord,
wanted to protect the Lord, so I know want to repay these people for
the way in which they treated the Lord and so they were responding in a way
to protect in a way to basically say, you mean more than to us then
what they have done to you. No, Jesus is saying,
He rebuked them first and said, you know not what manner of spirit you
are, what manner of spirit you are? Think with me for a moment, this is not of God that
sends the fire from heaven. That’s not what I have come for. I’ve come to rescue people from the fire. The love of the Father is
in me and we can’t see God, eternal, immortal and invisible. But we
see all of God in Jesus Christ, His love, His grace,
His mercy. And so His was not a sense to
say I’ve come to take revenge, but He’s come to bear the love of the
Father and the love that cost Jesus Christ His very life to the point to say,
I’ve come here not to send fire, but to send love.
And understand this, it was not total rejection. He went
all over to Jerusalem, but again, He had an opportunity to come
by and remember this again, when you look at the Samaritan woman
who came to the Lord or look at the Samaritan village that welcomed them
later. The Lord did not dismiss them. The Lord did not look for vengeance. The Lord would not look for recompense
or all of that. But it was grace. It was mercy. And this is
what He said, the spirit, you do not know what spirit you are of. And we must be very careful to
understand what spirit it is. You know, when you go through
the history, your going to find, there was basically a dial in roof, a 17 year old kid in 2017 went
in and bombed this AME church, killed people. Nine people
including the pastor. Basically, Pastor Clement Pinkney
who was also the senator, literally destroyed that life
and understand what happened was, this is a man who has such a vengeance,
like, the man that went to Christ church, the mosque there in Christ Jesus,
the same situation. But I want you to understand the
response of these people that were in AME church down there in South
Carolina and many of them were, our relatives and were relatives of Mother
Jackson here at the Highland church. And amazing way is when I watched
the series done on the television. Every one of them was speaking of a
forgiveness and speaking about God’s grace and God’s love and not
that all of retribution and
revenge and recompense only to say, God forgive you.
I keep you in prayer. That is what I call is a Christian spirit.
I wanted to understand, we are facing two evils in this day.
One on the international front, which is basically what would be a
religious hatred in the form of Isis inspired, Al Qaeda inspired,
Muslim Brotherhood inspired. On the other hand we
have what is domestic, as well terrorist that basically are
extreme as well. Killing people as well. They have their own ideology. It is
white supremacy. That being said, I want to just halt to say it is
happening all across the world. And when you go all the way back
to some 25 years ago in 1994, think about, an American born Israeli citizen went
down to a mosque in Hebron and literally started shooting people that were praying. 29 people were killed and
understand it happens across. But what I want you to
understand is looking at all
of that takes place and this is very careful, we need to understand that not all of
them represents the community of people, they represent. In fact,
it’s just a fraction. This is a small fraction in Sri Lanka. And I happen to watch the BBC to look at
another Imam who basically condemned us and said this hot-headed people were
following this fellow and it was bad news. We tried to tell the young
people, and there are many, many, many people who are not part of this. And when you think about
the white nationalist, I can tell you hundreds of
thousands of people from, from the Caucasians who had
the most wonderful people. So these people do not represent
at all the average or overall, and we cannot generalize.
So you can find the two traces, whether it’d be in terms of international
terrorism or whether it’d be domestic, but they’re both dangerous.
And how then can we respond? When you go through this
Jesus saying to the church, just as He said to James and John, you do not know what spirit you are. And this is not the spirit of God,
retaliation. This is not the spirit of
God, recompensing. This
is not the spirit of God, which is revenge.
Now when you think about the spirit, you’re talking about the spirit of Christ,
the spirit of the Holy Spirit. What exactly is that spirit? In
Romans, chapter 8 and verse 2 it says, the spirit of life, not the spirit
of death. We speak life, not dead. We speak life, life, life, even in the midst of pain and hurt and
set backs. When you go into the Bible, you’re going to find in 2nd
Timothy chapter 1 and verse 7, and it is the spirit of power, it is the spirit of love and it
is of a spirit of sound mind”, not stupid, crazy, prejudice mind. So this is the spirit and Jesus is saying
that is not the right spirit. Again, in Hebrews chapter 10 and verse 29, it is called the spirit of grace.
It is the spirit, not legalistic knots in terms of
religious hatred and prejudice. And we must be able to be very careful
to understand that ours is to go beyond and all that Christ has called us
and the way Christ has spoken about. That’s very important. You know when you turn to Luke chapter
6 verse 27 and verse 28 listen to the words of Jesus, but I say unto
you, which your love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. That is a very high call and
we need to understand again, when you read Romans
chapter 12 and verse 15, I said rejoice with them that rejoice.
But he says, weep with those that weep, but let’s go down to verse 16 and listen
to what verse 17 and when you read verse 16 – 17, recompense or don’t have
a retribution, do not have revenge. No recompense to man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of men. Now what it says in the
next verse is important. As much as lies in you in verse 18, live peacefully with all men. It’s not possible to live with the
basically people who are cranky, cankers and constantly creating problems,
but as much as lies in you, this is the biblical New Testament,
live peaceably with all men. Not compartmentalize, not just within
your own kind, not within just people, but with all people.
Not just segregate the woman. Not Segregate people of
color or by distinction, but live peaceably with all men. That is the new testament because
Jesus lived with His hands open to all. He died with His hands open to all and
He rose up with His hands open to all. Go into all the world because His was
an ethno to all the world with no hate, no sense of communal or national or what
would be in terms of just my people. Jesus is this to all
that is the love of God. The father shed abroad to all
nations through Jesus Christ. So again, when we go into the
passage, let me remind you, that simply means that we must be
able to reach out to all people. They will be crackheads,
hotheads, extremists in every
segment of the society, but they do not and should
not represent the whole. There’s a whole lot of people
that basically are against
this and so we must be very careful not to basically denigrate
or basically say all of them fit the same. No, there’s a lot of Muslims
who basically are opposed to this. In fact they have helped find and protect
Christians as well as all that they have done.
In fact, they’ve stood round churches so churches
would not be burned in many cases when al Qaeda or ISIS or Muslim Brotherhood
came in spite of all we have of, we need to realize there are people, good people and we can’t basically
put them everyone into the, into one brush and say are all bad and
we must be very careful and we must be able to cultivate a set of a bridge that
would be able to reach out to people because they themselves are going through
a difficult time trying to compact within their community or within
their race or within their culture, the hatred and they stand alone and we
must be able to link up with them because they want the best and they want to reach
out and we must be able not to put up a wall but to be able to put up a
bridge to be able to say, you know what? I’m here for you. We can try and see how much because
there’s a lot of people that are falling into hate and extremism because of the
reactions of people and we must be very careful of how we are able to react
to this. Not at all in incrimination, not at all in recompense, not at all in terms of vengeance
and revenge and all of this. So that being said, how then do we respond to this
aspect of what takes place? Here’s across the world, Christians are paying a price with their
blood and Christians are hurting across the world even though the West does
not report it. But as Christians, there’s a couple of things that I feel
is necessary that we must be able to understand and principles
that we must live by in, in terms of all that’s happening.
Number one, we must be united, united in our prayer. That is very
important. When you go to the Bible, particularly when you read
Hebrews chapter 13 and verse 3, the writer of the Hebrew is a giving
us a very important principle. Remember them that are inborn, so remember
them in your prayer. Remember them. Don’t forget them.
Somehow Christians, the West basically are so pampered. It’s all about me and myopic word that
we don’t think of many others outside of the United States that basically are
hurting and understand this many at times. What they go through is
also because of our fault. There’s a lot of good
things about America. People give their right hand and
their left hand to come to America. Nevertheless, I want you to
understand people on the top, whether it be in the
Republican or Democrat, the presidents have made wrong decisions.
Have gone toward unnecessarily. It could be because of oil.
It could be because of greed, because of oil producing nations
to try and quell whatever. And when we move in there also in
terms to protect Israel, many at times, the people who pay the price, our citizens that are minority and
they are in larger scales and 100%, they are faithful
citizens of that country. And they’re not creating mutiny. They are not creating rights because
the Bible explicitly tells that obey the government that is basically,
there is two sets, the spiritual, but there’s also what would be the civic
and the Christians are told to obey. So they live under dictatorship.
They live under sovereign rule, but no matter where they are, they will constantly be there
as law abiding citizens. These are the people who are paying the
price for the damages that we do in many countries and many a times
when we go into a country, unfortunately for one cause or another, there’s a lot of innocent people that
are being killed and it’s collateral damage and as a response, many tend to have one to have a whipping
boy and since they cannot reach out to America were too powerful.
They reach out to someone weak, right in their eyes and these are
Christians in the Middle East, that pay a price, Christians
in India, that pay a price, Christians who are
minority in these places, they pay a price and we
must be ever careful. Remember those that are in bonds, as with them and those that
suffer adversity as being
ourselves also in the body and we must be considerate. I like the many prayers that
are mentioned in the Bible, but let’s take an old testament prayer
that is prayed in Psalm chapter 61 and verse 2 and listen to this prayer. It says in verse 2 verse
1 Psalm 61 and verse 1, it goes to say, hear my cry,
oh God, attend to my prayer. I am crying out to you. And now in verse 2
listen carefully to this, from the ends of the will,
I cry unto you. I am crying out from the ends of the
earth and when my heart is overwhelmed, I cannot understand. I don’t have
the full grasp of what taking place. It’s so hard for me to realize,
lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Let me be higher then what I would
conceive in my own flesh and by my own culture,
by my own denomination. Let me come to a higher realm to an
understanding that only you have, may I enter into that and understand
and pray with knowledge knowing that’s what’s taking place. You are still on the throne and
all of these are taking place. But there’s a reason for it.
But God helped me to pray. And it’s important to understand that
prayer is very important in a time like this. And Paul goes on to say pray, pray
for him that opened doors would be given. Pray for him when he’s in
bond and he’s in chain. Prayer is what he has asked and this
is what the folks there are asking. In fact,
one who in Egypt, whose life was in, basically almost going to be wiped out. This is what he wrote to people,
Christians overseas. He said, what I wanted to do is
not just pray for me, but I want you to pray with me.
In other words, don’t pray with a hot-head to say
send hell fires and send all of this, but pray with me because
I’m praying for the people. They don’t know what they’re doing. Pray with me because the prayer
of two and three avails to a lot. And it’s important we
understand the prayer. The new testament has a lot of prayer.
We don’t, we don’t have time to
run through all of this, but Ephesians chapter 1 verses 17 all
the way to 19 is a great prayer for understanding. We opened Ephesians chapter 3 verse 16
to 19 is another prayer that God would show us the length and the breath of
everything that God has put into us in our prayer life. And Philippians chapter 1 verse 9
to 11 is another powerful prayer. You can see those prayers. Colossians
chapter 1 is a tremendous prayer as well, but all of this to say it is important
that when things happen we go to God in prayer and not only for our lives and
not only for our group and not only for our city and not only for our church and
not only for our nation but to pray for Christians and also to
pray for non-Christians. It’s important we keep that
before the Father always. And remember in heaven there is what
would be the fire of prayer of the saints being set up before the
presence of the Lord. Number 2 we need to understand
is how would be our response, that we would be united with
a shared pain and empathy. In other words, that we would be able to understand
that this is what we need to do, understand their pain and feel
one with them in their pain. We need to identify with
them intercession, not simply
meaning stand in the gap, but also feeling the pain and the hurt
that they go through as we stand in the gap and pray and agonize for them.
What I like about this, is in 1st Corinthians
chapter 12 and verse 26, Paul is writing to the church in
Corinth and listen to what he says, and whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it or one
member be honored all the members rejoice with it. And it’s important we
understand that if one hurt, everyone has sad. When
one is promoted, everyone, they should not be any jealousy. So when there is a part of the body
being hurt somewhere in the world, we need to basically be together
in this and not be divided. When one part of the church, people of
color that are going through injustice, we need to come together and be
as one and address the situation, rather than be divided
over color and culture. We must be together with one voice because
injustice is something that basically is wrong in the eyes of God.
Again, when you think about Paul, he lived with so much of a death threat.
In fact, I want you to understand, long before
Al Qaeda and long before I.S.I.S. there were basically terrorists
all the way in his time. 40 of them got together to say they will
not eat or drink until they get his life passed down. Now, of course
before he came to the Lord, he was one who went about
in chapter 9 of the book, the book of Acts chapter 9, 1 and 22 talks about he basically
had them put in chain and, wanted to shut down churches.
And that’s basically what Paul did. Now that he’s come to the Lord,
they were people hunting for his life. So how was his reaction?
There is not a word of hate. On the contrary,
he said, how my heart aches for my
people and love my people. I pray for my people. Brethren, I
have a burden in my heart. Excuse me? How does he respond to, and how would you respond in
terms of your life is uncertain? Any day a threat could come.
Any day someone could kill you. Any day someone can blow you into
oblivion. How would you react to that? When you read Philippians
Chapter 1 verses 21 to 23, you can get, how this man reacts.
He says, for me to live is Christ, to die is gain. For me living
is Christ. And if I should die, it’s actually a gain, I go to
be with the Lord. Elsewhere, in 2nd Corinthians chapter 5 he’s saying
that to be absent in the body is right away to be present with the Lord. It’s
not an uncertain, it is a certain thing. So how does he say in the next verse?
In Philippians chapter 1, verse 22, he says,
but if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor because I
will be laboring for God with you all. Yet what do I choose? I really don’t know
because he goes on to say in verse 23, for I am between a straight, between two streets having a desire
to depart and be with Christ, which is far better, but because I
know I would be useful to you all, I still want to live. So he says,
it doesn’t matter to me if I live, I want to be living for
Christ. If I die, it is again, because I will be with Christ.
So as long as we live, the Lord is with us and if we should
leave this world, we are with the Lord. Isn’t that awesome?
Isn’t that amazing? You know, when you think of what Paul says in
Philippians chapter 1 and verse 17, he talks about sacrifice,
his life as a sacrifice, but the other of love knowing that no,
Philippians chapter 2 and verse 17, I’m sorry, Philippians
chapter 2 and verse 2:17, Ye, if I be offered up upon the
sacrifice and service of your faith, I joined rejoice with you all. If my life is but a sacrifice,
it’s a sacrifice. In other words, it is something
that I would willingly give. I basically am not afraid. This is the language he uses
just before he is being executed. When you find the last letter towards
almost the last thing that he wrote in 2nd Timothy chapter 4 verse 6,
listen to what he says here. This is amazing.
In 2nd Timothy, for I’m ready to be offered and the
time of my departure is at hand. He’s not saying,
you know what? We need to do something and
cook up something to make sure, make sure that these people, we destroy them and bomb them and kill
them and blow them into cemeteries. No, that’s not what he’s saying. He
says, I’m ready to be offered. And the time of my departure is at hand. You think about Martin Luther King and
the way that he knew what would happen to him, and yet he basically
did what he had to do, but he was prepared for the eventuality.
Again, when you go into the next verse
listen to what he says in verse 7. Very remarkable because here is a man
who says, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I’ve kept
the faith. That is the most important. Keeping the faith simply means just
exactly what Jesus has spoken and to have the spirit of Jesus because he said,
you know His spirit. It’s the thing that is of vengeance
and retribution is not of God, it’s not of God’s spirit. Understanding this and to keep the faith
that God has given to us and to live with it, and to have finished your
course and to have a good fight, not a bad fight.
To do things that are not lawful. He’s talking about a good fight.
He’s talking about finishing his course, cropping up,
keeping the faith, and now listen to what he says in verse 8. That is not the end of life
because he says in verse 8, henceforth there is laid up for
me a crown of righteousness, a crown of righteousness. What I mean is if we should leave just
like those folks that were blown away, I want you to know they were
worshiping the Lord and from there, from a natural into the spiritual,
they have gone to be with the Lord. There is a crown of righteousness,
not for taking a life to be a martyr, but for dying for a faith, you’re
willing to die, that is a true martyr. And he say’s the righteous also, will
give, God will also get me to that day, but not only to me but to all
those who love His appearing. Isn’t that awesome that we are
talking in terms of eternity, we’re not talking about here and now?
Were talking about, leave everything with the hands of
God. You know, when you think about it, he’s almost using what
Hebrews talks about. The steps of faith or the pillars of
faith or the doctrines of faith. You know, you have that in Hebrews
chapter 6 verse 1 and 2, but just so that we go into verse 2
Hebrews chapter 6 verse 2. Listen, it talks about the doctrine of baptism, of the laying on of hands and
of the resurrection of the dead. We believe in resurrection of
the dead and of eternal judgment. And we need to be careful. We can’t live the way we want in
terms of extremism or revenge, but we need to realize that we
believe that when Jesus comes, the dead in Christ shall rise and then
we which are alive shall be caught up to meet the Lord and we shall
forever be with the Lord. This is but for a short time.
But we will be eternally with the Lord. We’re not afraid of death.
In fact, we look forward to the coming of Jesus
while we live and while we are alive or if we should die, we should wait
for the resurrection of the day. And in the spirit we
will be with the Lord. What is so interesting is
there are two types of people. The book of Hebrews talks about those
that are over comers in chapter 11, and you have the names of these great men.
They were ordinary people, but you have Enoch, you have Enoch, Abel, Abraham all of that, all the way to chapter 11 verse 35, but then suddenly changes in verse 36. So Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 35, let’s go down to verse 35,
women received their dead, raised to life again and others were
tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a
better resurrection. So there
was no excuses. They know, we don’t want this there.
There were those earlier, they were victorious and these
folks that went through torture, were no less victorious, they were even
more victorious. When you read the end. Listen to what it says in verse 36.
It says, and others had trial of cruel
mockings and scourgings, moreover bonds and imprisonment, which is what so many people are
going through in Christianity. When you go in verse 37 listen to what
it says. And others, they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were
tempted, were slain with sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and
goatskins being destitute, afflicted, tormented. Verse 38 goes on to say of
whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and
mountains in caves and so forth. And so as you can read till the
end of the verse, that is powerful. What is it that made them who they
were despite all of the setbacks, despite all of the persecution,
despite all of the threat of death, and prison and all of this. This is one thing in the next chapter
and verse 2 we’ll tell you what, and that is what makes the
Christian faith so amazing. That is basically, we understand cross and we
understand resurrection. We just have victory,
victory and when you go through hardships, you basically could almost lose your
head because you’re talking God is great, but what is going on.
For us as Christians, we understand a power of resurrection. Understanding first, the way of the cross and listen to
what it says in Hebrews chapter 2, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith who
for the joy He for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross despising the shame
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
He did what He did. Endure all of this for you,
for me, for the joy that was set before
Him that is looking, looking, looking under Jesus. Something else we need to understand is
united with those that are persecuted, whether it be in Africa, in many parts whether in Libya or Egypt
or Nigeria or so many places in Sudan and so forth,
or whether in Asia, in Pakistan or India or going
all the way to the Middle East. They’re all going through
persecution and like this man said, not only pray for me and for us,
but pray with us. We need to stand up to
be able to be a voice. We must be able to do all that we can to
say this is important and so understand this. I liked the way the book of Proverbs
Chapter 31 and verse 8 says. Turn to this, it talks about those
who cannot speak be a voice to them. He says, open your mouth for the dumb in the
cause of all such a point to destruction. Speak up for them. Make others alert and aware of what is
taking place because in the next verse, verse 9, listen to what it says and
this is very important. He says, open your mouth, judge righteously and plead the
cause of the poor and needy. 3 or 4 or 5 A’s I want to give you.
Number one, a sense of awareness, that we must be aware and not be ignorant
of what is taking place around the world.
We could be so busy with petty politics, we forget that we should be about that
and be concerned and be aware of what, what is taking place,
of Christians across the world. Not only aware but alert.
Tell others and what we need to do. Join together in prayer, reach out and
see what you can do. Not only that, but we must be able to be in advocacy
to stand up and advocate on their behalf where injustice has been done.
If we could do reach out, call up those in authority, call up the congressman call up capital
and said this is not right. I represent. Remember this, the elected officials,
when they here from you, they do, when many of you call because
they’re elected because of you. And so stand up and make your voice to
be heard and make your case and advocacy on their behalf and finally
see what you can do. A assist. So not only in terms
of a- awareness, a- alert, a- advocacy,
but also a, to assist those that are going through
difficult time. There’s something against, again, I want to talk about.
Be united against violence. So that is on your note,
united against violence. And what I mean to say is my friend, the spirit of God is not in violence. Every time you see violence in the name
of a color culture, country, religion, it is not of God.
That is not, God does not need a man to do His killing. He is not a goon sitting up there and
saying kill that man and kill this woman for me. If God is God, He can do what
He wants. God has given the state, the decision to do what they have to do, but not individual people
to act on His name. All it requires a man to sign a
thing and say, go kill that man. I give you authority that is not given
by God, that is given by mere men, and that is against the culture of God.
When you go into the Bible, you’re going to find out that, that
is what is happening. Violence, violence, violence. You know, you look at the example of Jesus Christ, particularly when you read Matthew
chapter 26 and I believe it could be 52 or 53,
but just think about it. What Jesus is saying is, Peter went to defend himself
and listen to what Jesus said, put up again,
your sword in its place. Put it in the seat and
this is what He says, for all those that take sword
shall perish with the sword. All those that take up sword,
shall perish by the sword. And I wanted to understand any religion
associated with the gun and violence or anybody associated with
gun and violence to kill, basically it is not the spirit of God.
It is a spirit of violence. I want you to understand,
it is so dangerous, it is so terrible.
Jesus is simply saying, they that live by the sword
shall die by the sword. A few years ago, I.S.I.S.
was running rampant. You almost were alarmed, almost
pulling your head up and saying, God, are you on the throne?
I went through a similar situation, almost like a argument with God.
Lord, people are being killed, not simply Christians, but even moderate Muslims are being killed
by these radicals. What are you doing? And deep down the Lord spoke to me and
said, understand what I’ve told you. If you live by the sword,
you will die by the sword. Wait for awhile and you’re
find them all running away. It was like they were the big guys on the
top and now they’re hiding under every little thing to find because the very
people that went out with their sword, are being killed by their very sword.
In fact, nations that supported them like Saudi
Arabia with huge petrodollars are now using all of the millions and billions
of dollars to basically kill them out. To stop these people because they realize
they’ve created a monster and that money that was used by the salafi to
the salafi movement actually comes to a place where say we can’t stand it,
otherwise our kingdom, our shake dens will be broken up. People are realizing it’s a menace and
understand this very important word. You live by the sword, it will not be long where you
will also die by the sword. Have you ever seen people running
over with a gun and robbing a bank. Wait for a moment. That person will be
shot. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but he will be shot. What I find is this culture of violence
is being promoted in Hollywood like never before.
I know I shouldn’t say this, but how many people from the Caribbean
told me that they used to leave their door open? Mothers in faith would tell me about
this and they said times have changed. We not only close the door, bolt the
door, but we even have bars on the door. Were like prisoners. And I said,
what is the cause? He says, because our kids are basically
being smeared and spoiled by the, by the Hollywood gun and violence
and songs of killing and all of this. They are playing this in reality.
I went to Barbados. I thought it was a great
place until they said, no, you can’t go into this
place and I said no, it’s a heavenly place here like Sweden.
He said, no, this is actually dangerous. Kids run with gun. I said,
I don’t believe this. Why is the movie industry that glorifies
the gun? I want you to understand, Proverbs chapter 10 and verse 11
speaks of two types of people. One is a well of spring
and the other is death. Proverbs chapter 10 and verse 11,
the righteous, their mouth speaks like
the well of springs. And then when you look at the wicked,
the Bible says they covered their mouth, but violence covers the mouth
of the wicked. Oh my goodness. It is either you are a well of spring
or you would be like a violence which is the mouth of the wicked.
So it’s important we understand, it’s happening all across the United
States and I know the government and the law and all of them are joined in
together with the community to say that we should not have this violence in
our own place. We need to pray, particularly this prayer and pray that
it would be so in our nation as it would be across the word and in
the Middle East as well. My prayer is simply Isaiah
chapter 60 and verse 18. May this be our prayer. Listen to what it says in
Isaiah chapter 60 and verse 18. Violence shall be no
more heard in thy land. They would not be wasting of kids’ life,
wasting for our future generation, wasting of our own family nor
destruction within the border. But you shall call the wall’s peace,
salvation and your gates. Praise the Lord. May we pray that they would not be
violent and people will not be fascinated with all of this. That we’ll be
able to have peace and salvation. And we could say praise God for serenity
and prosperity and peace because of prayers. There’s something else. I want
to say this as I want to close with this, that we must be united in forgiveness.
In other words, how do you react to what
took place in Sri Lanka, in the churches?
How did they react? Basically all the way in
Charlottetown, I’m sorry, in south, South Carolina. So the AME church,
they went up to and say, we forgive. The words of Jesus Christ is so important. If you look into Luke chapter 23 and
verse 34 listen to what He’s saying while He’s put up on the cross and who put
their, of course He went for our sins, but it was the religious people.
It was the business people. It was the political people. It was people with vested interest apart
from all of us who put them up there. And this is what he says.
Father, forgive them for they know not what they
do and they parted His garment even as He was saying this in Caselot.
My friend, it would take the spirit of
Christ for us to say, Father, forgive them because they do
not know what they’re doing. They think they’re doing you a favor, but actually they are hurting themselves
and that generations of people. What is happening is wherever
you see bloodshed in any nation. Look at what the land has been reduced to. Killing and violence and killing
and violence like a chain. It destroys some of the richest
country in terms of mineral, in terms of all that is in the
land. Our basket cases, poverty, while blood and violence
has created such a problem. May we ask for forgiveness, may we stand in the gap for
forgiveness and say Lord, forgive them. That even as Jesus forgave,
we will be able to forgive them. We must be united in our love and this
is important because this is basically the prayer of Martin Luther King in his
thing called search for peace for love. He talks about the love
that must be practiced and I
like the way as I come to a conclusion in John
Chapter 13 verse 34 to 35, I’ll continue this the next Sunday
God willing, but listen to what Jesus is saying.
In John Chapter 13 verse, a new commandment I give to you.
Excuse me, we have 10 commandments
in the Old Testament. Why do you have to give a new commandment? Because everything up the
10 is enshrined in this one. Whether its 1, whether it’s 2, whether 3, it has everything to do with love.
In other words, do or don’t do this is enshrined in, it must be sandwiched in love just like
the gifts of the fruit of the spirit in chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians,
then it is sandwiched in love. Otherwise we could go basically
very legalistic. So He says, a new commandment I give you that you
love one another as I have loved you, that you love one another. He stress this so much
that as I have loved you, that you love one another. How much has God loved me? That much and more. God has loved us far beyond our own. We must love others as Jesus loved. What He says is mind
blowing in the next verse, and I want you to understand
this very carefully. It says in verse 35 and this is important, by this shall all men know
that you are my disciples. Or basically thing is I must be liberal
in my political view or I must be conserved in my political view.
No, my friend has nothing to
do with political views. It has nothing to do with being
Democrat or Republican, black, white or blue or brown. It has everything
to do with this, very important. How shall men know that we
are the disciples of Jesus? That you love one another. That
you love, your white brother, you love your black brother,
you love your brown brother, that you love your Christian men in Africa
and Asia and Australia and Europe and all across the world because then
only people will know that we are the disciples of Jesus Christ, not by wearing
a big cross or carrying a big cross or carrying a big bible.
Do you love your brother? And if we can show that,
look, listen to what the words
of in the first in the, in the early century, when Christians were mold and
thrown into the arena with lions, and all sorts of things where
they were being cut to pieces, where they saw their family being hurt. And this is what Markus
the great philosopher said, see how they love one another. The costs for the growth of
the church was this one thing. They stood together.
They lived together for Christ, and they died together for Christ.
They loved each other. Can we love one another?
And no matter what, can we reach out to one another and said,
I know we have so much of difference, but there’s so much of commonality and
I will never stop loving you because God never stopped loving me.