Sunday, September 6, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Serve the Lord

As I continue to witness the civil unrest that has beset our blessed nation, I cannot help but be saddened by all that has gone on. After praying for God’s message for His people, He laid these words upon my heart to share. It is a very difficult message, but we, as His children, need to hear the truth and answer the same question that Joshua asked his people when they began to wander from their faith.

Joshua, in chapter twenty-four of the book that bears his name, says, “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” 

We, like the Israelites, have a choice to make. We can either choose to put aside our differences and work together for the betterment of all or we can choose to turn our great nation, given to us by God and blessed by His hand, into a den of thieves and cutthroats. The choice is completely up to us.

As for me, the choice is very clear and easy. My answer is the same as Joshua’s. My family and I will continue to love and serve God. We will continue to humble ourselves before Him and toil daily for the Master. Whatever He commands us to do, we will do and it will be done for His glory and His glory alone.

Each day we hear the stories of those who have lashed out in anger and who have even killed others to further a cause. Each person has the right, as guaranteed under the United States Constitution, to peacefully assemble and to petition the government for redress of our grievances. These rights are guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. 

Our Founding Fathers believed that every citizen of this nation should be guaranteed their voice and be heard. The First Amendment does not give people the right to lash out in anger and burn down businesses, hurt others, or, worse yet, murder innocent people.

Instead of coming together, we are choosing to go down a path of civil unrest and destruction. We have failed to heed the words of Jesus, a man who spoke of peace and love.

In chapter twelve of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus, when asked by the Pharisees about the most important law, said, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.

In chapter five of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus takes the love of one’s neighbor a step further by saying, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

We should not just confine ourselves to loving those who are friends. We are commanded to love everyone and work together for the betterment of each other. It is so easy to love those who love us. It is entirely different to love those who hate and despise us and remain truly God’s children.

Over time, things will change, but change can only happen if each person begins to change. If we don’t begin that gradual change, we are doomed to destruction. We will continue to riot and hurt one another. Instead of seeking peaceful solutions, some have chosen to take up arms and use violence to change the world. This is not the way. Violence begets violence. 

But, what happens if we choose the path of violence and destruction? We will suffer for it. There are always consequences to our actions. 

In chapter nineteen of the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and saying, “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.

Unlike the Israelites, we haven't quite gotten to the tipping point. With each day of violence, we get closer and closer to that point of no return. The blessings that we received from our Heavenly Father will be withheld. Just like the Israelites, we will be given over to our enemies and be crushed into the ground. 

The question that you must be asking yourselves right now is how can we return to God and live our lives as He intended?

In the same chapter of Luke, Jesus goes into the Temple and finds that it has been turned into a place of commerce. It was no longer a “house of prayer”. 

After He clears out all of the merchants, Jesus says,  “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.

As the first step back to God, we need to clear out those thoughts of violence and love one another and, most importantly, love God and serve Him. Unless we are willing to do this, we will remain in this “den of thieves”.

God, in chapter seven of Second Chronicles, says, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.

Don’t let yourselves and our nation fall into ruin. Through God’s strength and love, we can overcome all things. Don’t let the ways of this world be our path. That path only leads us away from God and, ultimately, to destruction. We should do as Jesus did and commanded: clear out all those things that are not righteous, love one another including our enemies and, most importantly, return back to God with a heart of service. It is not too late for us to return to peace. But, we must take action now.

When we do all those things, God will reign supreme in our nation and we can stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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