Joseph; Righteous above Right (Matthew 1:19)

Standard

 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
Matthew 1:19

This just in; God knows what He is doing!  God chooses Joseph to be the husband of Mary.  She is picked out, as was the custom, and leaves her in her fathers home to prepare a place as well as to possibly carry out his dowry agreement.  While working in service or bringing the agreed dowry price, Joseph returns and finds that his bride to be is with child.  Knowing the law, Joseph knew what could be done about the situation, as well as what would happen to Mary because of her decision and actions.

Though she had made a mistake he thought, Joseph decided to deal with her in private, and not to destroy her.  Joseph knew that she would be stoned if she was exposed, so he sought a way to deal with her sin that didn’t end in death.  Isn’t this just like our heavenly Father?  He caught her, in what he believed to be sin, and as opposed to destroying her, sought a way to forgive and deal with her sin.

Bethlehem Christmas. Star in night sky above Mary and JosephI praise God that he is compassionate towards us, and though the laws deemed for her to be punished, he had in mind to show mercy towards her.  In my life time, I have been found in some circumstances that are wrong, but praise be to God that God sought not to give me what I had earned from my own actions.

Joseph was a man that had mercy as a part of his character.  From this, we can summarize that he was not just merciful, but that he administered grace to those he dealt with.  Even when wronged, Joseph was willing to move on without having the full measure of the law taken towards a person whom was found to be flawed or in error.  Thank God, that He is just in every way!  That He is filled with grace and mercy, and that He considers the person as he considers the offense.

I thank God that He sought not to expose each of my flaws, and protected my name for Kingdom usage.  Joseph could have exposed Mary, much like God could completely expose us.  Truth be told, the world knows only 15% of our story, and the rest is on the editing room floor of the sea of forgetfulness.  Yes, He chose the Right man, a Righteous man.  A Righteous man is not about exposing sin, but exposing the sinner to grace that they might be restored through love and forgiveness.  

Joseph knew the penalty associated publicly with the sin, but also new the wages of the act she committed.  Without loosing her life, she would pay dearly for her decision.  She would be tied to her fathers house, not desired by others and un-marriable because she has been tainted.  Often, we might believe that the avoiding of stoning is getting away with the act, but the righteous know, the wages of sin pay off in many ways.  Joseph was satisfied with allowing her decisions to impact her life as opposed to longing for the release of hurt through casting the first stone.    He chose the right one!  Many of us long for the release through releasing the stone that inflicts pain on the one that has harmed us, but not Joseph.    What about you?

How are you with people that break covenant with you?  Joseph faced one that was joined to him in covenant, and now had to address the dishonoring of the agreement made between the two.  How are you with covenant breakers?  Are you still filled with mercy?  Are you still guided by peace?  Are you still filled with forgiveness?  Are you still fortified with love?  Chances are, most would have had a few harsh words with Mary for breaking the covenant.  But not Joseph.   Joseph understood that the disgrace is not on the one who has covenant broken, but on the one that breaks the covenant.  Because we are focused on self, we always consider the effect on our person hood first, and the feeling associated with the breaking of covenant cause us to feel disgraced.  We must understand that the offense to us is minimal than that of the one who breaks the covenant.  Their breaking of covenant does not change who we are, but demonstrates the character and integrity of the one breaking the agreement.  Thus, Joseph was willing to walk away, name and integrity in tact, not desiring to build or protect his name at the destroying of one of God’s children.  What about you?

Are you the Righteous Man?

 

#PastorJDO3

The Lion’s Roar (Amos 3:4-8)

Standard

Amos 3:4 Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey? Does it growl in its den when it has caught nothing?
7  Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing             his plan to his servants the prophets.
8 The lion has roared— who will not fear?    The Sovereign LORD            has spoken— who can but prophesy?

 

This week, we found ourselves in the 3rd Chapter of Amos, looking at his prophetic to God’s people.  He informs the people that the Lord has decided to punish Israel.  Their time spent feeding their flesh and being disobedient to His commandments and to the word given through His prophet have caused God to take action against His people.  There is no turning back he advises them.  The ball has been set into motion.  It’s inevitable!

He then explains further, informing them of something key.  See, they have ignored all the warning signs.  They heard the words of the prophet and would not give heed to them.  Amos says, “does a lion roaring the thicket with it has no prey?V. 4  For those late to the story, God is the Lion and we are the prey.  Amos informs the hearers that God is in the thicket.

Lion sitting in tall grass

20 Jun 2013 — Lion sitting in tall grass — Image by © Jeremy Woodhouse/Blend Images/Corbis

We talked about the National Geographic videos that feature the unaware deer grazing in the field, while the lion sits couched just feet away, waiting for the right time to pounce.  My friends, God is not dead!  He is not unaware!  He is not sleep!  He is God!  He never sleeps nor does He slumber!  He could be called the silent killer, but he gives a warning first.  The people, like us, believed that God was pleased and or not bothered by their action because he not stop it immediately.  They continued feeding their flesh, believing that they were getting way with it. They weren’t!  He watched the whole time!

Sister Ashley spoke of the frustration watching the video.  Though the dear is unaware, the viewer and the lion are not.  Point being, often those around us see the larger picture.  While the dear or person grazes, they  often does not realize they are in trouble.  They eat peacefully, while those watching scream helplessly at the screen.  We are that dear!  We carelessly feed our flesh, as though the lion does not exist.  But a newsflash; God is not sleeping.  He “…neither sleeps nor slumbers…” Psalm 121:4   He is watching us!  24 Hour surveillance!  He sees and knows all, yet we act as though he is knowledgeable of our sins!

Amos continues,“…the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets…” V.7   In other words, before the Lord strikes from the “thicket”he speaks to the prophet.  He informs the prophet of his plans, that he might speak to the people before he strikes.    After crouching, the Lion leaps into action, chasing relentlessly until it corners its prey.

The question was asked of the group, “Have you ever been cornered?” As a consensus, the majority agreed that Sunday service tends to feel like this.  It’s word that comes from the mouth of the prophet that lets you know that God has been watching.   Often we sit through messages that leave  us feeling as though the preacher has been following us around, documenting all our thoughts and actions.  This feeling is the result of God’s leading of the man of God, giving him or her the words to speak to his people.  The listener sits in their seat, confronted by the truth and the power and knowledge of the lion, feeling helpless and powerless, many times looking for a way of escape.  It is amazing how many come to church and are still shocked when the preacher speaks right to their circumstances; however, let us recall this to be God’s process.  He speaks first to His prophet.  He gives instructions and warnings!

Here we find ourselves in the midst of a hidden truth, the Prophet is the Lions Roar.   Amos speaks and then says, “The lion has roared— who will not fear?”  V.8   Verse 6, He says, “If an alarm sounds…do not the people fear?”  Amos speaks forth God’s truth!  The people are cornered.  Their sins have been revealed, and God’s plan uncovered!  He then ask, “…who will not fear?” V. 8   After the Lord roars, we like the cornered dear, should be filled with fear.  We should drop what we are doing.  We should change our direction.  We should hide our face.  We should repent!  However, what we find is often the deer is so caught up in its grazing, that the lion is on his back with jaws clinched between his neck and spin.  The prophet stands before the people sounding the alarm for the city, and yet people continue with business as usual.

When will we heed the word of the prophet?  As our world continues to fall deeper into living for the flesh, we must find ourselves finding a new appreciation for the word of God and for the voice He determines to deliver it through.  We must not look at the Prophet as just another person, but according to the assignment that has been given to him or her.  Respecting the office and responding to His instructions with urgency, because He watches the lion while we graze.

 

#PastorJDO3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mighty River Racism

Standard

This year, we have possessed front row seats to Hatred, Disguised as Love. Passionate individuals and groups, have taken shelter in their causes, and used Gorilla War like tactics to inflict pain and terror on innocent people.

Each time, we take a breath, caught in the emotional storm on display. The sirens blare in concert with the cries and screams of those who have been injured and have lost loved ones, while lens of the camera paints vivid scenes in HD.  US-flag-at-half-mast

The incidents in San Bernadino have again struck a chord in the hearts of America, but sadly, the chord while be a measure as opposed to a sustained chord. We will find ourselves watching the next media’s presentation, as though watching a series of movies at a film festival.

Yet, what I am writing about is not the loss of life or the hatred displayed by individuals and groups, but the hatred is discussed but not addressed. The shootings in Paris, that fell on the heels of the shootings in Africa, again placed a microscope on a continued reality which serves as our national anthem, Racism.

The racism we experience is not your typical brand of hatred, it is on that is fueled by greed, and propped up on every side by selfish behavior and intentions.  It serves as the blanket that tucks us in at night, and the espresso that gets us going each morning.  It’s the finely tuned Beats headphones that allow us to make it through the day and the deposit slip stamped federally insured that gives us confidence and security.

It is not the foundation or the building blocks that make up our country, but rather the load bearing walls and support beam that can not be moved without tearing down what exist.

Racism is a mighty river that has flowed through generation after generation, eroding shores, and forming new streams.  It has slowly become the infrastructure and source of entire systems, blurring words, and marring interpretations.  These streams have risen up, to become rivers. These rivers are seen as separate from the original, but are from the same source, just taking on different directions and spanning different territory.

Why are we eager to build a wall, but not willing to build a dam to stop the flow of a stream that has created a culture that is simply un-american?

As my wife and I watched the trailer to the coming attraction Race (the story of Jesse Owens), I asked my wife how a man can carry America on his back, stand beside Ralph Metcalf and make a statement for the country a declaration not of independence but of American superiority, bring home medals and return to a place where he was considered second place; possibly third?

We have moments that should bring us together as a people, but they are just moments.  Moments that are enduring on photo and video, but leave no lasting impact.  Much like Sunday morning for the masses, the message of truth is loud and clear, but the ears of the hearer are stopped up due to their hand in the sin that continues under-gird what we believe to be happiness.

 

 

#PastorJDO3