Anger – A Biblical Perspective

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Anger – A Biblical Perspective

What is anger? –  A strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence a deep and strong feeling aroused by injury, injustice, or wrong, (real or imagined.)

Anger is a feeling, an emotion aroused by injury, injustice, or wrong against the ‘self’.

You may think as we go through this lesson that this study is directed towards someone in particular.  You are correct it is directed to both you and me.  Anger always involves ‘self’.   We all have to deal with anger at some point and time in our lives.  It is important that we learn not how to manage our anger, but we need to learn how to master it!

When God sends a word to establish His truth he often confirms it by two or three witnesses.   You see this principle in Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15, and in again in Matthew 18:16, 18:20, 1 Corinthians 14:27-29, 2 Corinthians 13:1.   Keeping with this, we will look at three examples of anger in the Bible.  What picture does the Bible paint about anger and how does the Bible tell us to handle anger?

Cain and Abel Genesis 4:1 – 16

Vs. 3 – 5 – What was the source of Cain’s anger towards his brother?

God rejected Cain’s offering?

  • Cain took God’s rejection of his offering as a rejection of him personally.
  • Cain seems to see this rejection or slight is being against him because God somehow favors Abel over him.
  • Did God favor Abel over Cain?
  • Why did God reject Cain’s offering?

Vs6 – 7 – God told Cain if he did what was right he would be accepted

  • God warned Cain that unless his heart and conduct changed sin was waiting like a predator for an opportunity to take him over.
  • God further warned Cain that he must master sin (anger) and conquer it!
  • Anger mastery not anger management!

Vs. 8 – 10 – Did Cain take to heart anything God said to him? (NO!)

What was the sad and tragic result of ignoring God’s direction and counsel?  He talks to (argues?) with his brother and while they are out in the field Cain ambushes and kills Abel his brother!

The murder of Abel was the direct result of Cain’s selfishness, arrogance and disobedience.  Jesus in Matthew 5:21-22 equates being angry (without cause) with being a murderer.  Anger left to itself will always result in murder.

Anger is the fuel that lights the bonfire of destruction in the lives of all who indulge its murderous influence!

Vs. 10 – 16 – After killing Abel, did Cain have or show any sorrow or remorse?

  • The only remorse you see from Cain for himself. He says that God’s judgment is too harsh.   Notice that ‘self’ refuses to even answer to God for its wrong!

What was the end of Cain?

  • Banishment from God’s presence
  • A cursed ground
  • A cursed life, lineage and family

One major cause of anger depicted by these verses is?

Rejectionreal or imagined

Rejection by friends, or loved ones hurts

How we handle rejection is a measure of our Spiritual maturity before the Lord!

Saul and David – I Samuel 18:5- 14

Vs 5 – Saul the King gives David a commission in the Israelite army!

This act by the King elevated David’s status in the eyes of the people and in the eyes of Saul’s servants (ministers)

Vs6-7 – After a great victory over their enemy the grateful nation throws Saul and David a parade.  They sang and danced in the streets giving praise to Saul and to David for the great victory they had won.

Vs8 – Upon hearing the women ascribe more of the victory to David than him, Saul became “displeased” and very angry!

Why was Saul “displeased”?

Why was Saul “wroth” (very angry)?

Saul felt slighted and humiliated in the eyes of the people!

Saul felt threatened by David’s fame and popularity with the people

Saul resented the respect and adoration that David received because he thought that it took away from him the honor and respect that was due him being the King.

Here you see another source of what causes anger.

Being slighted, humiliated, or threatened (real or imagined) can lead one into extreme anger.

What had David done at this point to deserve Saul’s feelings of slight (rejection), humiliation and fear?

  • NOTHING

Saul’s feelings towards David were rooted in his own insecurity.

Saul’s anger so consumed and infected him to such a degree that he was never able to see the truth about David (he was innocent of any offence against Saul).

To accept the truth about David would mean that Saul would have to admit the truth about himself.  Pride will prevent you from seeing your faults and only focusing on the faults of others.

Vs9 –  Saul’s attitude towards David changed forever from this point forward.

  • His anger turned his heart against David
  • His anger poisoned his mind about David
  • His anger consumed him just like Cain’s anger consumed him!

Vs10 –  As a result of God’s judgement, God removed His spirit from Saul.  Since he was determined to ignore God’s will for His life.

An evil spirit from the Lord (I Sam16) returned to torment (chastise) Saul.   This was done to try and get Saul’s attention and to turn him back from his sin!

Examples of this can be seen here:

  • Ananias and Sapphire refused to turn and it cost them their lives (Acts 5:1-11
  • Incest and adultery in the Church at Corinth (1 Cor 5:1-6)
  • Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor 12:7)

Vs1 – 14 –

What was Saul’s attitude towards David from this point forward?

  • He was afraid of David
  • He felt that David had to die to appease his offended pride
  • He plotted, planned and looked for ways to kill David
    • Direct attempts by javelin
    • Indirect attempts by subterfuge, and hidden agendas
      • Broke his promise and denied marriage to Merab Saul’s daughter
      • Put David in charge of the army so he could be killed in battle
      • Saul gives Michal to wife who Saul hoped would be a snare and problem to David

Here we see again how direct the connection is between murder and anger.

How did David respond to Saul’s attitude and treatment of him?

  • He behaved himself wisely!!!
    • Read the rest of the chapter and you see this phrase repeated many times.
    • This is the answer on how to respond and master anger

The Prodigal Son – Luke 15: 11 – 32

This story in the Bible is about a wayward son who leaves home as selfish, arrogant and foolish individual and returns as a humble, repentant and wiser son.   It is story about mercy, forgiveness and redemption that is available by the grace of a loving father.    Often missed in the story is another lesson about the other son.   The other Prodigal son in the story is the one who never left home but the one who also was selfish, arrogant and foolish.   His story is told starting at verse 25.

Vs25 – 30 – Why was the elder son angry?

He felt slighted, and wronged by his father.   He said he served faithfully his father for many years, and never disobeyed anything his father told him to do.

He said he was ‘never’ given a fatted calf, or a party so he could celebrate with his friends.

He told his father that he was wrong for celebrating the return of the son who had wasted his life in riotous living.

Notice how ‘self’ is always at the source of anger?   Notice how the offense seems to give almost a ‘righteous’ tone to the sons accusations.

The son said he never disobeyed anything his father told him?   He is disobeying the father by refusing to come into the feast but that truth is lost on him because he thinks he is right even when he is actively engaged in doing wrong!     Never disobeying and serving faithfully doesn’t look anything like he is behaving right now!

Anger has a way of not letting you see the truth even when it is staring you right in the face!

Vs. 30 – 32 –   The father explains that he has not slighted the elder son.  What is happening has nothing to do with the elder son.

The elder son has all of the privileges and honor that go with being the elder son.    Whatever mercy, forgiveness and kindness the father shows to the younger son, is done because it is the right thing to do.   (vs. 32)

This takes nothing away from the elder son, and in fact he should be rejoicing along with the father at the return and restoration of his brother.

See how relentless and unreasonable ‘self’ is once anger has taken hold of the emotions.   It will cause you to do and say things that go directly against what we know to be right.

The elder son’s anger caused him to rebel against his father, and sin against him and against heaven just like his younger brother did.

How to respond to anger in the Bible

The key to responding and mastering anger is to learn how to behave yourself wisely.   No matter how angry you are, you are still expected to handle yourself as it befits being a Christian.    The following Scriptures are helpful in helping us to behave ourselves wisely.   Read and mediate on them.

Eccl 7:9 – “Be not hasty in the spirit for anger rested in the bosom of fools”

Eccl 5:6 – “Suffer not thy mouth to cause they flesh to sin…”

Psalms 37:8“Cease from anger and forsake wrath”

Prove 14:7 – “He that is soon angry dealt foolishly…”

Prove 29:22 – “An angry man stirred up strife…”

Eph 4:26 – Be ye angry but sin not, let not the sun go down upon your wrath”

 

 

Getting Back to Basics

 

Here is a clip that expresses my sentiments on the critical issues facing the Black community as it relates to violence and lawlessness.

Please be advised, some of her language may be a bit ‘coarse’  but please listen to the points that she is trying to make.

Unlike the speaker,  I was born and raised in the inner city (Roxbury MA) and have spent almost most of my adult life ministering with and to the people of our community.  Despite this difference, I concur with Sister Stacey’s assessment of the nature of our problems and on her recommendations for what we need to do to address the problems we continue to face as a people.  In fact the week before this was posted I spoke to our Church family about some of these very things she mentions in her post.

She mentions many things in her post.  I would like to highlight just a few.

1. We need to come back to God (Church)

Get back to God, (go back to church) is an appeal for us as a people to turn back to the one thing we know worked and somehow have now forgotten.  We believed and Trusted in Jesus Christ.   His Word and His will were central to our lives.   We need to find our moral compass. For apparently we have certainly lost our way morally (spiritually).

2.  The purpose of the ‘Civil Rights’ movement

The Civil Rights movement was not just a political movement but it was a movement based on solid ‘moral’ principles.  Christian principles of right and wrong.   It was a movement birthed out of our Christian Faith, nurtured by the Word of God and our willingness to obey God rather than man!

We were marching, protesting, and fighting for the rights that other Americans were already enjoying.   We were willing to endure indignities, insults for God’s sake, and risked life, and liberty for the same.  Our struggle was not for new rights, not for spite, not for political advantage, not just to vent our feelings and emotions, and certainly not to incite and encourage others to respond with violence against those who treated us in violent and demeaning ways.   There were some who called for that type of response, but that was not our fight.  We were ridiculed and scorned by many of our own because we responded to hate with forgiveness, and hurt, with kindness and patience.  Our Faith taught us that if we would endure these things that our God would vindicate us and He would fight for us.   “We shall overcome some day” was not a song of empty hope and wishing things would be better,  it was a song that encouraged us to keep the faith, and keep on fighting the good fight of Faith until we achieve the victory that God had promised.

3.  The Police who do bad things should be brought to justice

Because of the nature of their responsibilities the police have to operate at a very high standard of behavior.   When they fail to do so,  they should not be given a pass, but should bear the brunt of the judicial system and process to full extent that the law allows.  We have plenty of laws already in place to address this problem and there is no reason not to enforce these laws against  Police personnel who commit crimes against the citizenry.

4.  As a people we are not being honest with our “Black Lives Matter” mantras and marches, pontificating and protesting.

If “Black Lives Matter”  Why do so many of our people refuse to take any responsibility for the killing, maiming of black people that goes on everyday in our communities.  Why is there a ‘no snitching’ code among us that allows the killers, and rapists, drug dealers and other criminals to operate open in our communities with impunity?

A person can be shot down in the street right in front of us, but when we are asked to identify them,  we suddenly get ‘amnesia’ and can’t remember,  or refuse to cooperate with the authorities to are simply trying to do the job we asked them to do.

If “Black Lives Matter” why are we killing millions of our own children in the name of the God called ‘Abortion on Demand’, or “The Woman’s Right to Choose”?  Sister Stacey gave the statistics for the average number killed per day ($4300).  According to her account 43% of that number are Black babies!  In some parts of NY we are aborting more black babies than are being born in the same area.

If “Black Lives Matter” why are so many black families leaving the rearing of their children to the ‘system’.   Why are there so many black men who are unwilling, or unable to be a father to the children that they create?  Why are there so many black women allowing men to use them, leave them, to fend for themselves and their children?   If we don’t care and respect ourselves,  how and why do we demand that others respect us?

The word reminds us in 2 Peter 2:20-22   New International Version (NIV)

20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”[a] and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

Though this scripture is speaking of false leaders and teachers it all reminds me about the condition of us as a people who once knew and followed the truth.  This Truth we learned from God’s word about who we are and why we were created, allowed us to escape the corruption of the world by our knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   But we as a people seem to have forgotten the God who brought us out.  It would have been better off to not have known freedom, than to be in the place now were we freely surrender our freedom for the sake of political and/or ideological correctness.  We need to get back to basics!

 

As always your comments are welcome and appreciated.

 

 

 

 

Sitting-in vs Standing up?

Open Letter to Congressman John Lewis (D-GA-5)

June 23, 2016

Representative John Lewis 343
Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3801
Fax: (202) 225-0351

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter to you.   Having grown up during the Civil Rights Era and seeing first hand and participating first hand in that epic struggle, I have a real clear sense of what we were fighting for.   We were fighting for the right to be full participants in the American society.   We were fighting to ensure that the rights that the Constitution enumerated would be enjoyed by all American regardless of their race.   As you well know despite what the Constitution said there were many, many laws that had been passed by the legislature that for all practical purposes made null and void these Constitutionally protected rights.   Representative Lewis, we fought and marched so that any and all laws that infringed upon these rights would be changed and or abolished. I admired greatly your principled stand back in those days and took great note of the courage and passion you showed in the actions you took to address the inequality you saw in our Country.   That is why it bothered me greatly to see you on the floor of the Congress the other day using the ‘Civil Rights card’ as a justification for what can only be called shameful and irresponsible behavior.   What ‘injustice’ are you protesting?  Is it ‘unjust’ for the Congress to refuse to take up a vote on a law that had already been defeated because they ‘believed’ it violates or ignores the Constitutional right of ‘due process’? Isn’t that your job as a lawmaker?   Isn’t it job one to make sure that whatever laws are made, that they are in agreement with the Constitution of the United States of America?

From the rhetoric I hear coming from those who are pushing for ‘more gun control’ you would think that the problem is ‘guns’ and that we need ‘more laws to control access to guns’.   On June 22, 2016 Congresswoman Pingree (D-ME) laid out the case (that I believe you subscribe to) that we need more laws to ‘keep guns out of the hands of terrorists’.   (Congressional Record article 8) She said, “…the NRA has taken control over the debate on guns to such an extent that we cannot even vote in this Chamber on whether we should keep guns out of the hands of terrorists.” (emphasis added) Mr. Lewis, you and I both know that the issue is not whether or not we should keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, but more importantly what is the best lawful way to do that! Furthermore, Ms. Pingree goes on to say, “Over the last 10 years, people on the terrorist watch list tried to buy explosives or firearms 2,233 times. Over 90 percent of the time, they were successful. This is wrong. The American people know it is wrong, public health officials know it is wrong, and nearly every single law enforcement association in America knows it is wrong, which is why they are all in favor of closing the terrorist gun loophole.” (emphasis added)

“Terrorists gun loophole”? Am I the only one who finds it unacceptable that our government knows people who are on ‘terrorist watch list’ that were successful 90% of the time in their attempts to purchase firearms/explosives yet to my knowledge we have no record of them being arrested, jailed or deported? What kind of watch list is this? Are they just on the list so we can WATCH them buy firearms/explosives?   What is this loophole she is speaking of?   Why aren’t these suspected terrorists dealt with by the laws we currently have on the books?   Why aren’t they prosecuted to the full extent of the current laws?   Why after 2,233 times is there still NO remedial ACTION by our government officials?   Why do we have so many people on the Terrorist watch list?   Who are these people? What is being done about them?   Are there that many terrorists lurking about in this country that we have to resort to keeping multiple lists?   What are we doing about that? How does a person get on such a list? How do they get off such a list?

These are the questions that we the American people need to get answered and fixed! Before we debate whether or not we need more/better gun control laws, we need to debate, and resolve the issues on why our current laws (guns, immigration, etc.) are not be enforced. If we are not willing or able to enforce our current laws how does creating more laws fix anything?

Speaking of lists, why are there so many people on the ‘No-Fly’ list? I believe you have personal experience about how arbitrary, ineffective and borderline Constitutional this list is in a free society. What is Congress doing to address this very serious encroachment upon our free access to ‘public accommodations’? How is it lawful, to block someone’s access to a public accommodation (flying), without due process?

Lastly, I find it sad and troubling that you Mr. Lewis who ‘used to be’ a noted fighter for ‘Civil Rights’, by your actions appear to be completely co-opted and compromised by your allegiance to the Democrat party and its ideology.  I hope that I am wrong about this.   Need I remind you that the very ‘freedoms’ you marched in Selma for are the ones you are now seeking to ‘legislate away’ for the supposed purpose of keeping ‘us’ safe.??   A wise man once said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”   I realize that there are those who debate the meaning of this statement, but for me the meaning is clear. When presented with the option of giving up our Constitutional freedoms for the purpose safety/security, we should say no, never EVER!  History has shown that if we fail to hold the line that freedom must be first, over safety/security,  the end result is we end up having neither safety or liberty.   I know that you understand this, hence my consternation with your position and actions in these matters.

Mr. Lewis, you more than anyone there in Congress should know that to allow the Government to make laws that are in direct violation or in open disregard of our Constitutional freedoms is to pave the road for oppression and slavery. What has happened to you? How can you so blindly go along with this attempt to subvert the Constitutional freedoms that you once Championed?   How can you betray the very principles that you once fought and risked your life for? I don’t get it? Don’t you realize that you are paving the way for the day we all will be returned to the government plantation?  Why are you helping to enslave us again by a system that promises freedom but never actually delivers on that promise?   Why are you and your fellow lawmakers working so hard to undermine our fundamental freedoms?  Didn’t we already have a time in this country when that was done?  I don’t know about, you but I never want to see those days again!   Congressman Lewis, you should know better. I believe you are better than this!   It is time to do better than this!  Now is not the time to ‘sit-in’, it is time to ‘STAND-UP!’

Regards,

Bishop George W. Manigault, II
Presiding Prelate
Judah Ministries, International

 

Ye Did Run Well?

Ye Did Run Well

Ye did run well?

Gal 5:7

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Church at Galatia, asks a question about having been set free from the strangle hold of sin, and having begun the race of Christian service what now hinders them from obeying the truth?

I would also ask that of Black people today. Having been set free by the power of God despite barriers of racism and having begun this race for freedom, what now hinders us from obeying the truth that once made us free?

Speaking of truth, I read an article recently that a Presidential candidate told African Americans at a Baptist church in North Charleston to be afraid because they face barriers in economics, health and education. This candidate said also, “we have to be honest about systemic racism which is still a problem in America.” The audience roared with applause! This statement indicates that the responsibility for the problems that plague our community ( high level of crime, high level of poverty, high level of drug abuse, high level of fatherless/broken homes, high level of incarceration, high level of illiteracy, etc.) are all due to ‘barriers’ that have been placed in our way by ‘others’. Or in other words we are not succeeding because ‘others’ are keeping us from achieving the same rights and privileges that they are enjoying. Of course this Presidential candidate promises to bring down these barriers if they are elected.
Is this assertion true? Is what the candidate said ‘honest’ about what the problems really are in the African American (Black) community?

Are we in the condition that we are in due to ‘barriers’, and systemic racism? While it is true that racism and barriers still exist, are they the reasons that many African Americans (Black) families are failing to achieve success in America? I say NO.

Dr. Thomas Sowell notes the following: 

  •  If poverty among blacks is because of whites (racism, barriers, etc.), why has the poverty rate among black married couples been in single digits every year since 1994, despite far higher poverty rates among other blacks?
  • When the imprisonment rate of blacks with a college education is a fraction of the imprisonment rate of other blacks, does that mean that white cops check out the education of blacks before they decide to arrest them?

Dr.  Sowell goes on to cite other examples that contradict the narrative that the failure we see in Africian Americans to succeed in this country is due to ‘barriers’.   Just looking at the example given above,  I ask how it is that black married couples, and blacks with a college education are able to avoid/overcome the barriers, and systemic racism that we are constantly told is the reason Black people cannot make it in America?

The truth is that the barriers that do exist today are nothing like the barriers that existed in this country fifty years ago when systemic racism was much more ingrained in public accommodations, public education, social, and corporate institutions. No one who lived during those terrible times could ‘honestly’ argue that the ‘barriers’ and ‘systemic racism’ are worse today that they were then. If the barriers are not worse, then what is the reason for the present predicament?

How did those that came before us manage to feed their families, clothe and educate their children, in the face of such heinous systemic racism, but we today are unable to do the same?

Back then ‘when ‘we were Black’ we took responsibility for the problems that plagued our communities no matter what the cause was? We did not believe that we could not achieve success in America unless someone else helped us. We believed that God would help us no matter what obstacle or barrier was in our way. (“We shall overcome some day…”) Because back in those days we did not rely (could not rely) upon the government, to take care of us, (free healthcare?) to clothe us, to feed us, or to educate us and our families.

Today that has changed dramatically. Now a very high number of Black people depend upon the help of the government for the basics of living and have come to believe that they are ‘entitled’ to this help due to the terrible legacy of racism and discrimination that still plagues our society today.

How did this happen? We did run well, (made a good start) but what now hinders us?
The lack of knowledge of the truth is what hinders us. It is time to tell the truth the whole truth, nothing but the truth? The truth is, we have left and lost our faith in God and placed it mistakenly in man (government) and political systems. This change in mentality now is what hinders us in our pursuit of the freedom we fought so hard to achieve.

But can we handle the truth? I pray that we learn to embrace the truth if there is ever a time we need to do so, it is now. We find ourselves back in bondage, not because of systemic racism, or barriers but because we have not been walking in the truth that has been revealed to us by God!Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

 

We have been disobedient to the Lord who brought us out of bondage. We did not abide in His word. We sought our abode in words of men. We need to remember why we started. This struggle was not for us be treated ‘differently‘ or ‘special‘ by society, but it was a struggle to be treated ‘equally‘ ‘the same’ as others. This is consistent with the Biblical truth that we should love God and love our fellow man.

The struggle was to be no longer judged by the ‘color of our skin’ but by the ‘content of our character’. Unfortunately for many of us, the ‘content of our character‘ as a people is very much in question, and the judgement is harsh. Our character has been ” weighed in the balance and found wanting….” Our forefathers would be ‘ashamed‘ of how we have strayed so far from the truth, squandered the opportunities they gave us and destroyed the legacy that they left us.

Isaiah 55:7King James Version (KJV)

7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

It is time to repent people! Let us return to our God and He will have mercy upon us.

Bishop G. W. Manigault, II
Judah Ministries, International
bishop@churchnetworks.org

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The Church: The Salt Of The Earth

 John 8:12
Matthew 5:14-16

In this portion of the Scripture we find significant truths taught by Jesus to His disciples in what is widely known as “The sermon on the mount”).   In the text Jesus says that we the Church are the light and the salt of the earth.  As salt God uses His Church to combat the rottenness and wickedness that sin has brought into the world. As  the Salt of the earth, we are called upon by God to retain our unique relationship with Him admist a world of people who don’t want to believe that He even exists.

As salt we are not supposed to lose our unique place in this world, because other folks won’t or don’t believe in our God.  Just as salt impacts every thing that it comes in contact with, so should our lives make an impact upon everything that we come in contact with.  Our influence here in this world, in this country, in this city , in this community, and certainly in our very homes should be a unchanging ever present force for God and for good.

Those of us who have received the impartation of the Holy Spirit ought to in turn be able to make an undeniable impact upon the world.  The impartation we have received should give us the ability to influence the world for God and for good!   I want to encourage you today to allow the Lord to continue to make you what He created you to be.  Ye are the salt of the earth!

 For salt to do what it does best there are two things that have to happenFirst, the salt be at full potency!  Or as Jesus puts it, “ ..but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?”  Salt is unmistakable in its nature and insoluble even when mixed with the most pervasive of solvents.  In other words, salt cannot easily be watered down.  You can put just a pinch of salt in a glass of water and the taste of the salt permeates the entire glass.  Put enough of it in anything and it will literally take over and overpower  the very thing that it is placed in.  We need to have the pervasiveness of salt and the penetrating power of salt in this world that God has placed us in.   We need to posess the unchanging nature that is salt for that is the source of its real power.   When Jesus uses salt as a metaphor for the Church He is describing for us the very special nature that the Church ought to have.

 A Christian who makes no impact on the world in which he or she lives is like salt that has lost its savor!  As Christians in the midst of a sin laden, and sin filled world, we are designed by God to be the salt, the catalyst for change in the world even as we like salt overcome the world.

Yes, Smokey Robinson, there are some sad things known to man, but there is not too much sadder than a Christian who has lost His savor, or potency!  A Christian with out power is as useful as the finest lamp with no power to operate it!  A Christian without power is as useful as a sail without wind!   The reason that many Christians have no power can be summed up in one word worldliness!   We are warned many times in the Scriptures to guard against worldliness.

1 John 2:14-16  King James Version (KJV)

14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Titus 2:11-13 King James Version (KJV)

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

We cannot change the world if we allow the world to set the standard for our faith and practice.   The more that the Church conforms to the ways of the world the less power we will have to change it.   That is why the Scriptures tells us in Romans 12:1-3, 12 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

For salt to do what it does best the second thing that has to happen is that is must be placed in or on that which it is expected to change.    Or another way of saying it is that the salt is no good if left in the salt shaker.   It must come out of the salt shaker and placed on to the meat!   It has to be intricately and intimately mixed with that it is designed to change.    That is why we as Christians must NOT shun the world entirely, but why we must wholeheartly seek to be  IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF THE WORLD.   Being in the world means that we seize each and every opportunity to influence those that are in the world for God.   It is not a matter of forcing our views or values upon others.   It is a matter of simply holding true to our views and values as directed by God.  He is the source of our power, and the source of our ability to effect change in this world.   We can do nothing of ourselves, but with Him we can do mighty things even to the pulling down of strongholds.

Being out of the shaker, means when whe leave the comfort of the four walls of our churches,  we remain  true to our nature as salt, by NOT allowing the world to change who and what we are.   It isn’t about preaching and lecturing people about how they should live.   It is about living a life so clear, open and honest that your life becomes a sermon and message that cannot be denied.

Salt does not have to try and be salt, it just is salt.   Salt doesn’t need to prove to others that it is salt.  It just is salt.  We don’t need try to be world changers,  we by our very nature are world changers.  Eph 2:9:10 says this,  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” And Titus 3:8 reminds us,  “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”

I want to encourage you today to allow the Lord to continue to make you what He created you to be.  Ye are the salt of the earth!

What Prayer and Praise will Do!

In the text God used Paul and Silas to interfere with the enemy’s program.  They were on their way to the temple but this day they stopped to minister to a woman who was being expoited for money.  We as Christians are called to interrupt the enemy’s routine and to be careful that we are never too busy doing our thing that we forget that God has positioned us to stand in the gap for our brothers and sisters.

Even though Paul and Silas were on a mission to preach and teach the Gospel,  they were not ‘too busy’ to stop and minister to this young woman who was being exploited by others.  When will we get to the place where we will be willing to interrupt our routine, in order to interfere with the enemy’s program?  It is time to move beyond the routine and reach out to our brothers and sisters right where they are.  In fact is past time to do this!   Paul rebuked the enemy and cast out the spirit of divination that was being used to exploit and abuse her.  We too must live our lives in such a manner that when we too can have power with God!

You cannot and will not have any real power if you don’t live out your faith in the crucible of trials and tribulations.  You learn how to to get victory by getting victory.   To get the victory, you have to stay in the battle!  Staying faithful during all failures and remaining trustworthy during all triumphs will give you the power to do all that God has called you to do.   We have to walk in the authority that Christ has given us as believers.  That authority comes not from naming and claiming, but from remaining and sustaining.   Remaining faithful and sustaining our commitment to God in the face of all opposition.  The church has been sidetracked by being overly concderned about health, wealth, and prosperity of the believer. We need to be concerened with the spiritual health, spiritual wealth and spiritual prosperity of the unbeliever.  In a day when people are sick with sin, and poor in spiritual understanding,  and destitute in knowing the ways of the Lord,  we need to be very concerned about that! What good is physical healh when our spiritual health is giving us a death sentence?   What good is physical wealth, when the over emphasis on this causes us to lose our perspective on the importance on having wealth in heaven.  Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also!

What good is earthly prosperity when the focus on it will only serve to doom and damm  our eternal posterity.   You want real power with God?   Learn to trust,  and obey, there is no other way. Paul and Silas were not concerned about themselves their concern was for the woman and her eternal soul.   You have to admire the clarity of their thinking.  Paul and Silas’s did not allow the enemy to co-opt their testimony.   They rebuked the enemy and took authority over him.  We too must not allow the devil to co-opt our walk and our testimony.   We have seen only too recently the absolute devastation that ensues when you allow your testimony to be co-opted by the world.  When the enemy tries to co-opt your testimony and interfere with the work that the Lord has called you to do, our response should not be some luke-warmed over ‘I’ ain’t perfect’ excuse.  We should be ashamed and grieved when we find ourselves in this situation.   The Bible says Paul was grieved in his spirit not for himself but for what he saw the enemy doing to this young woman.   He doesn’t rebuke the woman, he rebukes the spirit that is using the woman to bring a cloud over the work that God has called them to do.    This takes real courage.   It takes courage to make a stand against wrong and to speak out against those who seek to profit from their wrong.    It takes being sold out to God to such an extent where you do not fear what men can do to you.   Your reverence for God should cause you to stand up, speakup and speak out against any attempt to cloud and co-opt what God is doing.

We are tempted to think that when we have done the right thing, that this is all we have to do.    Once you have done the right thing in a world of wrong things, it is never that simple.   After Paul and Silas do the right thing (what God has called them to do) , they are falsely accused, mistreated, misaligned, beaten and incarcerated.  The enemy will try and make you think that he has all this power so that you will be afraid to do what God has commanded!  Paul and Silas did not let fear fool them!   They did not let adversity advert them from their God ordained purpose!  Don’t let fear fool you!   Don’t let adversity advert you from God’s ordained purpose for your life!

I would like to focus on the the jailer for a moment.  When Paul and Silas are brought to prison the jailer is commanded to take control of them.  When the jailer saw what had happened to Paul and Silas, his concerned was not for them but for himself!

He was charged with keeping them under lock and key!  He saw how savagely they were treated!  It would not go well for him if these two men got away from him!  Given this fact, he preceded to put them into solitary confinement.  They were put as we say “under the jail” They were put in the jail of the jail!  When you commit crimes in prison this where you are put!  Paul and Silas had committed no crime at all!  But they were treated like they were a serious threat to society!  Out of fear the jailer reacted harshly towards Paul and Silas!  He not only put them in solitary, but he put their feet in stocks!  Not socks!  Stocks!  Clamps made of metal or wood!  This was done to restrict a prisoner’s range of motion!  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall that night in jail!  I can see in my mind the enemy talking to Paul and Silas!  “Well a lot of good your faith is doing you in here!”  “See if you had just kept your mouth shut and went on to prayer meeting, you wouldn’t be here now!” “Silas, where does Paul get off running his mouth and getting you in trouble too!”  “If God really was with you, do you really think He would have let them beat you like that!”  Oh, I know he must have had a field day with them!

But precious hearts, because Paul and Silas trusted God!  Because they knew in whom they believed, they were unmoved by troubling thoughts!  They were unshaken by their current circumstances!  They were unaffected by their present problems!  They were undeterred from their primary purpose which was to make the Gospel known to all men!  Contrast Paul and Silas with the jailer.   They were fearless and he was fearful.   You see my brothers and sisters God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of a sound mind!   When others are fearful and shaken by the events that unfold around them we the people of God should be able to stand,  steadfast, unmovable always abounding in the work of the Lord!

The text says that at midnight, Paul and Silas, prayed and sang praises unto God:  And the prisoners heard!  How many of you realize that in order to be able to pray and sing praises at midnight,  you have to be able to pray and sing praises at Noon day.   The Bible says in Jeremiah 12:5,  ““If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses?”  In other words, if you can’t hang in there when the going is easy,  what chance do you have of hanging in there when the going is tough?   Lord, help me to run with horses!   Lord help me to continue to stand even in the swelling of the Jordan!   Lord give me the ability to pray and to prase you even at midnight!

Somebody today is locked in, and locked down today.   You don’t see anyway out and it doesn’t look like you will be able to survive the condition you find yourself in right now!   I want to let you know,  don’t give up and don’t give in!   Just begin to pray and give God praise!   Midnight is a good time to pray!   At midnight is a good time to give praise!   I don’t know what Paul and Silas sang!  Maybe they sang, I will trust in the Lord at all times, and His praise shall continually be in my mouth!  Maybe they sang, I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress… In Him will I trust.  I don’t know what they sang!  But whatever they sang, and whatever they prayed,  and they praised! Can you see God working?  In the midst of your  desperate condition!  Can you see God working!  In spite of the  determination of the enemy to exploitate our every weakness and every short coming, can you see God working?  There may be racial bigotry and hatred blinding the minds of men!  But I can still see God working!  It was Prayer and Praise that saved the day!   The same thing that it took for them to get free, it will take for us to get free!  Prayer and Praise will save the day!    That is what prayer and praise will do!    The Bible says that men should ALWAYS pray, lifting up holy hand without wrath and doubting!   The lifting up the hands  holy hands is the worship and praise that comes from having talked to God and trusting Him with our lives!

When they got through giving God the Glory, and when they got through giving God some praise, the Bible says that there suddenly was a great earthquake, and the foundations of the prisons were shaken.  Immediately all of the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.  Saints of God!  Let’s stop crying about our circumstances and pouting about our problems!  For if we give God the glory He will shake the foundations of prisons!  The prisons of fear will fall!  The prisons of hatred and injustice will fall!  Every door will be opened!  “There is power in the name of Jesus, to break every chain, break every chain!” God will make a way for all men to escape the evil of this world!  He is the open door through which all must enter!  When we stand for God in an ungodly world, He will loose every one’s bands that receive our testimony!  When the world sees us unmoved by our trouble, and unshaken by our circumstances, it will lead them to the question all must ask?  What must I do to be saved?  What must I do to be able to have faith like that?   What must I do to be able to rejoice like this?   When we stand steadfast unaffected by our problems and undeterred from our mission God can use us for His Glory!

I am speaking to someone here today!  It is midnight and God is talking to you!  If you want to be free from oppression, and invulnerable to exploitation!  You need to let God have His way in your life!   God wants to save you!  Saved from hate!  Saved to Love!  Saved from bigotry, and saved to seeing all men as brothers!  God wants to save you!  That’s what prayer and praise will do!   God wants to save you!  Saved from fear to faith!  Come and let God give you courage!  If you need a heart!  Or you need a brain!  Or you need to find your way home!  The answer is not in OZ, but it is in God!  That’s what prayer and praise will do!