SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

6TH SUNDAY IN EASTER, ASCENSION SUNDAY

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MAY 13, 2018

Title: The Beauty of Motherhood.”

Text: Proverbs 31:28-29

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and praised her saying: 29 Many daughters have done worthily, But thou excellest them all.”

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 31: 26-31.

 

The story is told of a mother who gave her life for her son.  When the California gold fever broke out, a man went there leaving his wife in New England with his boy.  As soon as he got on and was successful, he was to send for them. It was not long time before he succeeded, and at last he got money to send for them.  The wife’s heart leaped for joy. She took her boy to New York, got on a Pacific steamer, and sailed away to San Francisco.

They had not been long at sea before the cry of “fire! Fire!” ranged through the ship, and rapidly it gained on them.  There was a powder magazine on board, and the captain knew the moment the fire reached the powder, every man, woman, and child will perish.

They got out the life-boats, but they were too small! In a minute they were overcrowded.  The last one was just pulling away, when the mother pleaded with them to take she and her boy. 

“No,” they said, “we have got as many as we can hold.”  She entreated them so earnestly, that at last they said they would take one more.  I know anyone would think she leaped into the boat to leave her son to die. No, this loving mother saized her boy and gave him one last hug, kissed him and drop him into the boat.  “My boy,” she said, “if you live to see your father, tell him that I died in your place.”

This is a faint picture of how Jesus Christ lay down His life for us.  He died that we might live. This is what this mother did for her child.  What would we say of that young man if he ever speaks evil of his mother! She went down into the watery grave to save her son.  There are countless stories of how mothers have made sacrifices for their children. This is why God says in Isaiah 49:15, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on her son?”  Here God is weaving Himself in the hearts of mothers. This is the beauty of motherhood, when God presents His love for us in the parallel of a mother’s love.

The one who wrote this wonderful book full of so much wisdoms brings this tremendous book to a close with a fabulous description of a great woman who is also a good wife and mother.  It is believed that these words must have come from the mother of a king as she gave him guidelines concerning his future wife (Proverbs 31:1).

In this text, one would see that a wife of noble character, a wife of gentle noble birth, a wife of impeccable character is declared to be worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10) and is worthy of the praises of both her children and husband.  On this mother’s Day, it would be easy for us to be sentimental as we think of our mothers, but it would be more profitable for us to make a contribution toward helping mothers to see the beauty of motherhood in the eyes of Scriptures.

I would make no distinction between a wife and a mother.  A wife is a mother. I would also submit to all of us this morning that it is a great feat to be granted the opportunity of giving birth.  It is also a great feat if one has not given birth, but contributes the life of a child, be it in his or her upbringing or a simple word of encouragement.  A great feat would also be when a mother becomes a good mother, providing her children with guidance and encouragement and leading them toward maturity and independence in this dark world..  But the greatest feat is when we understand God’s handiwork in the fashioning of a mother’s heart; in how God weaves or knits himself into who mothers are by showing us His mothering nature. I want you to walk with me this morning as we learn together the beauty of motherhood by understanding how God brings forth the treasure of motherhood.

In our text, it tells us that “her children rise up and call her blessed.”  This brings up the fact that mothers are great people. In Proverbs 31:11, mothers are described as trustworthy.  In this text, we are made to understand that mothers are blessed with a character wherein they can be depended upon.Mothers are reliable and responsible.  Mothers are blessed because of the fact that fathers and children can put their confidence in them and their children know them to be dependable.

Proverbs 31:12 continues with the description that mothers are folks who are benevolent.  Mothers are blessed because they demonstrate the word love by their act of giving and helping their children, husband, and the community at large.  Proverb 31:31 lifts the beauty of motherhood by calling mothers industrious. In the pre-Christian and in this age and time, mothers are not completely confined to the household (verse 16, 18, 24), but those whose work continue from sunrise to sunset (verse 27).

Mothers are compassionate people. They are move with pity by the circumstance of their children, husbands, and the community and act towards it by words and deeds.  The beauty of motherhood is that God has blessed them in making constructive use of their tongues. Mothers are cheerleaders who encourage their children as they face the pressure of growing toward maturity in a difficult and dangerous world.  

One other beauty of motherhood is the blessing of having a good self image(Proverbs 31:23).  No wonder, the great Abe Lincoln said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”     

Having looked at all the beautiful things of motherhood, let us for a moment look at how God in Scriptures knits Himself or weave Himself into explaining the beauty of motherhood. In God’s love for us, He shows His mothering nature by saying, “…How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her children together under her wings.”  From this Scripture, God shows us the beauty of motherhood by uplifting motherhood as a protective shell. God references Himself as a protective mother. He pours His compassion into a mother’s heart. God loves us so much that one of His greatest deeds was to have compassion upon the wickedness of men by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. In motherhood, the same love is depicted.  In motherhood, the love and compassion that transcend our understanding is amazing. On this mother’s day, should we not show the same love and compassion for our mothers? Should we not be thoughtful to our mothers? Should we not be considerate of her person? Should we not be someone that our mothers would be proud of? Should we not be grateful to our mothers and show appreciation for the many things she does to make our lives purposeful?

The story is told of a young man who had an interest in a young woman. He had been paying attention to a young lady, who was very worldly. He had been brought up under Christian influences, his mother being an earnest Christian woman. It is said that one Sunday evening he had called upon the young lady in whom he was interested. Though it was Sunday evening, the girl’s mother proposed that they play cards. The young lady’s mother urged him to join in the game, but he refused. The young man said, “When I was invited to play cards on a Sunday evening, the thought came to me, ‘What if I should and my mother should hear of it. It would break her heart.’”

How many a man is kept back from doing things he would otherwise do by the thought of how it would grieve his mother if she should hear of it. But there is One who is more keenly sensitive than the purest mother, who is grieved at the slightest departure from the path of right as no mother even is grieved, that One is the Holy Spirit. He goes with us wherever we go. He sees all that we do. He hears all that we say. Yes, He sees the most secret fancy of the heart, and if there is an act or word or thought that has a taint of impurity or selfishness or sin, He is deeply grieved. To me this is one of the mightiest incentives to a careful walk.

Oftentimes when some evil thought is suggested to us by the enemy, the thought that should come to our mind is, “I cannot entertain that thought for a moment. If I do, the Holy Spirit, who sees it, will be deeply grieved, and I cannot bear to grieve this ever-present, faithful Friend.”  We honor our mothers when we remembered their kind words to us and act on it to be better folks.

Jesus Christ said seven words before he died.  The third of those words were to his mother and His brother.  Jesus told told His mother to continue to uphold the beauty of motherhood.  One of the beauty of motherhood is that mothers aren’t perfect people, but committed people.  In the Scriptures, Jesus mother and his brothers had gone to look for Him while He was teaching, doing God’s business.  When He was interrupted and told His mother and brothers were looking for Him, He asked, “Who is my mother and brothers?”  He pointed out that those who do God’s will are His mothers and brothers. His mother was not perfect, but she submitted to the will of God.  She heeded God’s call carry the baby Jesus. A decision that brought redicule to her in Jewish culture, but exaltation in the name of God. Let us know this morning that motherhood is a gift from God.  It is a beautiful gift to be a mother or to touch the lives of children. God demonstrates that beauty by weaving Himself into the heart of motherhood. In Zephaniah 3:17 His word says, “He will exult over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love.  He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” This “Quiet love” is a moment that shows a child and mother together in closeness. It is a moment when a child draws strength from the proximity of his mother. Indeed God knows how to usher us into the wellspring of motherhood.

 

 

 

 

 

https://firstchurchnewton.org/sermons/1596/

“The Reality of the Devil”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

6TH SUNDAY IN EASTER, MAY 6, 2018

 

Title: “The Reality of the Devil”

Text: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

Scripture: Ephesians 6: 10-18

The story is told about two friends who love boxing.  One of the friends was the renowned American writer, Wilson Mizner. The other friend was boxer “Mysterious” Billy Smith.  They both visited a San Francisco entertainment center where Mizner started a fight with some Longshoremen. At the end, only one longshoremen was left standing.  Although Mizner rained punches at him, he stayed obstinately upright. When Smith noticed what was happening, “Leave him alone Wilson,” he shouted. “You knocked him out five minutes ago.”  On closer investigation, it turned out that a punch from Smith had indeed knocked the Longshoreman out cold, but had also wedged him vertically between two pieces of furniture.

This is an accurate picture of Satan, an already-defeated enemy of Christians.  Satan has been defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but he still stands trying to take anyone who gives him the chance.

The idea of Satan has virtually disappeared from the beliefs of many people.  Our world of rationalism has dismissed the idea of a devil. Perhaps the reason for the denial of the devil comes from humanistic concepts of Satan.  He has been pictured wearing a red suit, carrying a pitchfork, and having horns and a forked tail.

One would wonder where this idea originates?  In my studies of Scriptures, no one can find this description of Satan in the Bible.  This weird description of the devil comes mainly from medieval theology , the writing of John Milton, and the imaginative artists of the Middle Ages.

If we doubt the reality of the devil, I submit to you this morning that the devil is real.  He actually exists. To believe the devil is real, one needs to be conscious of the immense power of evil and wickedness in the world today.  There are very wicked crimes committed in the world today that can be attributed neither to man nor to God. We all know that the first report of Satan activities came from a garden.  Since the initial spotting of the devil in the garden of Eden, you can trace his murderous footsteps through the pages of history.

What concerns me this morning is knowing who he really is to be able to resist him in every term, so as to prepare us in our spiritual journey with God.  To understand Satan, we must know him for what he really is. We can know the nature and work of Satan by a close study of the Bible, for Scripture gives valuable insights into who the devil really is.  Walk with me as we learn together this morning, “The Reality of the Devil.”

The first thing we must understand is that Satan is not just a thing that someone believes to be real but only exists in their imagination.  Wherever the Bible presents Satan, it seems that he has personality traits.

In reading two biblical account of Satan’s presence, we can see his personal qualities. In the Bible book of Genesis, when Satan came to Eve, he talked with her.  Then when Satan encountered Jesus in the wilderness, he talked and reasoned with the Master. From these two accounts we can deduce that Satan has intellect and will.  So, we can conclude that Satan has personal qualities.

Another thing we can see from Scripture about Satan is that he has names.  There are many passages in the Bible that that show that a person’s character is reflected in his or her name. The Bible uses many names for the leader of evil: devil, Satan, Beelzebub, evil one, serpent, dragon, murderer, father of lies, angel of light, and many others.  Let us notice what kind of person Satan is by looking at two of his names. First, the name Satan means adversary or opposer. Wherever you find Satan you will see one in opposition to God. Second, the name devil means slanderer or false accuser. The devil seeks to slander the good name and character of God.  There are many names ascribed to the devil. Studying these names will help us to understand or yield an adequate description of the kind of being he is.

The second thing I want to lift up for our understanding is that Satan has a purpose.We will also be able to know the purpose of Satan by looking at the names the Bible calls the devil.  Knowing the devil’s purpose helps us prepare ourselves to do spiritual warfare against him. Wherever you encounter the devil in Scripture, he is seeking to hinder the work of God.

Satan is always trying to prevent repentance.  He tries to keep people from opening their lives to Jesus Christ.  Paul said, “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:4). Satan uses various steps to hinder belief or trust in Christ.

Satan works to hinder spiritual growth and commitment to Christ.  After one becomes a Christian, Satan is not finished. This is how the struggle is: There is a constant battle of the flesh and the Spirit. Satan seeks to prevent people from obeying God’s will.  Satan even tempted Jesus with three attractive proposal. In the early church, Satan was active and often cause disturbances. On one occasion Paul said, “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again: but Satan hindered us” (1 Thess. 2:18)

To accomplish his purposes, Satan uses crafty procedures.  What we should realize is that he has the power.

Paul warned the Christians against the wiles of the devil.  In our text, Paul urges Christians to put on the armor of God to be able to stand up against all the craftiness of the devil.  Satan always uses distortion. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  The word devices here could be a high level of reasoning. Satan first gets people thinking in a distorted or doubting manner. In the case of Eve’s encounter with Satan, she thought that she would become like God by following the suggestion of Satan.  There would not have been any other plausible proposal that Satan could present to the Messiah then the three. Satan trick is to distort the truth. He owes nothing in this world, but he told Jesus he would give him the whole world.

Satan always comes disguised to detract a person from obeying God’s will.  The Scripture tells us, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away in his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14).  Though Satan is not mentioned in this verse, his procedure can be seen. He seeks to get mankind away from God with the destructive elements of this world.  We need to be aware of Satan’s cunning devices to draw us away from fellowship with God. He has the power to do such things. Paul compares him to a roaring lion.

A casual observation of life around you will convince you of Satan’s power.  He is called “the prince of this world.” We need to understand the biblical facts about Satan’s power.

Jesus Christ defeated Satan on the cross of Calvary.  Paul said, And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15).  John described the procedure that persecuted Christians used to defeat Satan. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11).  Satan has only a limited season. Between Jesus’ resurrection and the Lord’s final return, Satan has the time and the power.

In all the wickedness he continues to perpetrate, he has a designated day of doom.  God has marked a day on the calendar when the complete overthrow of Satan will be manifested.  When the Lord comes for the final consummation of history, Satan’s doom will be pronounced.

There are many fictional movies that have been produced.  There movies starred actors like Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, or Arnold Schwarzenegger.  In many of these movies, the excitement always keeps us on edge. We are concerned most with the time during the viewing of these movies, “what would happen to the good characters?”  “Is Chuck Norris going to survived, we often wondered.” But we all know what will happen in the final scene. The good actors always survived. When we think about what will happen to the bad characters or criminals, we know what their end will be.

Christians know how the world will end.  In this world, the bad guy Satan is going to lose. We can read the last chapter, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10)

Satan is real.  He opposes God. He is the accuser of the brethrens.  We need to get on the more enjoyable side of life, the Lord’s way.

 

 

“The Necessity for Rest”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

5TH SUNDAY IN EASTER

APRIL 29, 2018

 

Title: “The Necessity for Privacy”

Text: “And he said to them. ‘Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest awhile’” Mark 6:31

Scripture Reading Psalm 46:8-11.

The story is told of how one man challenge another man to a wood chopping contest.  The man who challenged his friend worked very hard, stopping only on occasions. The other man took many breaks and had a good lunch. When the day came to an end, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other man had chopped more wood.  “I don’t get it,” he said. Every time I checked, you were taking rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did. “But you didn’t noticed,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest.” It is easy for one to think that by being busy a lot is being accomplished. It is good to take a break occasionally to reflect and evaluate our progress.

It is easy for a person to conclude that the Bible is all about work.  It speaks against sloth and idleness (Proverbs 6:6-11), but speaks positively about work and labor (Ephesians 4:28)  On the contrary, our text today talks about rest. Jesus is telling His disciples to come with Him to a lonely place to ‘rest awhile.’  This signifies the importance of rest. In fact, the Old Testament is filled with illustrations of God’s instruction to the nation of Israel about rest, solitude, or privacy.  God Himself rested after He labored for six days creating the universe and humankind. The Scripture tells us that God rested on the seventh day (Sabbath) and blessed it (Genesis 2:1-2).  Verse three of Genesis 2 clearly points out that the Sabbath was meant for rest. God instructed the children of Israel to observed the Sabbath as a weekly observance for rest (Deuteronomy 5: 12-15).  It is obvious that God approved rest on a regular basis. 

Resting was not only for the Sabbath.  God gave the children of Israel many other days to rest.  In the Book of the Law (Leviticus), God gave Israel many Jewish holidays. According to the website ccel.org, God gave Israel approximately 70 days during the year as a time to rest. A few of these are the The Feast of Unleavened Bread with 2 days of rest (Lev. 23:5-8; the Feast of Harvest with 1 day of rest (Lev. 23:1); The Feast of the trumpet (1st day of the seventh month) with 1 day of rest (Lev. 23-25); The Feast of Atonement (10th Day of the 7th month) with 1 day of rest (Lev. 23:26-32).  There are other days of rest illustrated in the twenty third chapter of Leviticus that God set aside as times of rest for the children of Israel.  While these days of rest are ascribed to the children of Israel as a period of rest, God meant for us to take lesson from it because the Old Testament was given for us to learn from it.  This morning, let us learn together on “The Necessity of Rest, Solitude, Privacy.”

Jesus’ words as read in the text above describes Jesus’ actions and activity.  Whenever Jesus spoke, He spoke words that were followed by actions. Jesus said in John 9:4, “We must work the works of Him who sent us while it is day.”  Here Jesus underscores the value of work. Yet, in our text He also said, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” Jesus Christ was a person who worked to meet the many needs of humankind, but He recognised how limited our human body is and the need for constant relaxation.  It is important for each of us to find a place of solitude for the purpose of rest and relaxation to determine our priorities and to communicate with God. In “The Daily Study Bible Series,” William Barclay calls it “the Rhythm of the Christian Life. According to Barclay, the Christian life is not a sprint but a marathon. It is an ongoing process of ushering oneself into the presence of God away from the presence of humankind and vice versa.  In order for a person to work effectively, the person needs adequate rest. Likewise, to have a good rest we must work till we get tired. However, Barclay reminds us that to live the Christian life, one must find time with God.  The problem with our lives is that we make no time to listen to God. We also do not give any opportunity for God to speak with us, because we do not know how to sit still and to listen. Psalms 46: 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” We give no time to God in waiting on Him to feed us through His Holy Spirit.  How can we face the harsh realities of this life, when we do not contact God who can take our burdens? How do we do God’s work when we do not contact God who gives us the strength? We seek fellowship with God through rest to enable us to prepare to serve humankind more fully.

Our text explains that Jesus and he disciples had done so much work.  Jesus desired rest for Him and His disciples. But there was great need among the people.  So the rest Jesus wanted for he and his disciples could not be granted them. Any ordinary person would have resented this kind of intrusion. Jesus’ privacy was invaded.  But Jesus Christ was full of compassion for the people. In our Christian walk, we sometimes feel tired, stressed out, but we are tempted to keep going because of the need for our church. Let us in the wisdom of God seek rest. In it all, let us get the necessary rest to set our priorities.

There many instances in which Jesus Christ took time off to be by himself.  He went into solitude to set His priorities. In Mark 1:12, the Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ was propelled by the Holy Spirit to a place in the desert.  Jesus Christ was led under a sense of divine constraint or force into a lonely place, into the desert, into a place all by Himself. It was a time when Jesus was under divine influence to go to a place that he might make some decisions.  Perhaps it was the making of a decision about accomplishing His redemptive mission. This was a critical period in the life of Jesus. Jesus had come to earth on a mission. The mission was to be His death on Calvary, so that the world would have eternal life.  This mission was a blow to the plan of Satan. It would be a defeat to Satan. At this crucial moment, Jesus needed to be by Himself.

It was a crucial moment for Jesus because His disciples also misunderstood His redemptive plan. Verse 46 of chapter 6, and the parallel passages of Matthew 14:22-32 and John 6:15-21 give us the impression that the crowd that had eaten the miraculous loaves were being led by Jesus’ apostles in an effort to make Jesus king.  In this scenario, Jesus compelled His disciples to get in the boat. He then went up the hill to pray. It is evident that our Lord Jesus was disappointed that even His most intimate followers still did not come to a full understanding of the nature of His kingdom. Jesus Christ needed divine reinforcement for this time of discouragement.  The one way He knew how to do it was to seek a private or quiet place to meet with His Father. The is a necessity of privacy in our Christian life.

In our Christian walk, there are times when the world around us keeps us so busy.  There are times when the chaos surrounding us can be a total distraction. There is a time when we face oppositions.  But I submit to you this morning that even in military warfare, a successful general knows when not to fight, as well as when and how to fight a battle.  In any opposition or any struggle, there comes a time when retreat is in reality a good option. When life becomes difficult and perplexing, we need to search for a private place, so that we might make sure that our thoughts and values are in balance.  The Scriptures tells us in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  When we allowed ourselves time for privacy, to think our problems over, to think our joys over, carefully submitting our request to God through prayers, God will guide us. In verse 7, Paul says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Let us not look upon ourselves as machines of perpetual motion.  Let us recognize that the Sabbath was made for man. People need to be workers, but they must also rest if they are going to be effective workers.  This was true for our Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples, and it is just as true for us today. Perhaps it is true more for those of us who have full time jobs, families, community, and other obligations.  We need a time to rest for communion with our God.

When we look back at Mark 1 verse 35, the record tells us that it was very early in the morning, in the darkest period of the morning, Jesus Christ rose and went to a place all by Himself and He began praying.  It was a solitary place. It was a place of privacy. Jesus need a solitary place. It might not be a possibility for us to find the time in the busy situations of our lives to talk with or listen for God’s direction.  It might not be possible to find the time in the bustling life of this world. And there are times, we may not even find a private place in the great outdoors like Jesus, for communion with God. The fact here is that we all have the same need for God.  But like Jesus, even in the midst of a crowd, we must come away to a lonely place, or we must draw aside to listen to what our Lord would say to us (Isaiah 26:3).

The questions for us this morning; Are you in a rush all the times, coming and going, doing and being?  Do you feel at times that you are at the end of your rope and that there is a possibility you are going to have some kind of emotional breakdown?  Perhaps you need a regular does of solitude or rest. Please try to find a time during the day when you can turn off the world and get alone with God.  Find a quiet place in your home or yard where you can be alone with God. There you can meditate on His Word, evaluate your circumstances, and rededicate your life to Him.  Jesus Christ did, you and I must!!!! Amen.

 

“We Are More Than Conquerors”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, APRIL 22, 2018

 

Title: “We are more than Conquerors!”

 

Text: “But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speakest.  What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?  In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).

 

Scripture Reading: Job 2:9-10

 

Our reactions when disappointments come crashing into our lives are important.  Job’s experience tells us how to react in such a time. Unlike Job, many would expect to receive good things all the time and not bad things.  We would expect to receive good things in life, and not calamity. One of the most profound statements in all the Bible was made by job when he ask, “Shall we accept good from God , and not trouble?” Job 2:10.

If Job is right, then it is not fair to take the good of life for granted and then complain about the bad.  This statement is Job’s reply to his wife’s suggestion about how he should respond in trouble times. Job was a good man and did not deserve what was happening to Him.  If anyone knew that, it was his wife. This was more than she could take. In her disappointments, she suggested that that Job “curse God and die” (2:9)

Job knew that all sunshine and no rain makes a desert and that we cannot have mountaintops without valleys.  Job had accepted the good in life with a grateful spirit. Now he would try to endure the bad in life with a gracious spirit.  He would take his loses with quietness and courage. He would not grow bitter. In his response, Job teaches us that we can conquer disappointment. In all of life’s situations, we are more than conquerors.  This morning we would learn together on the topic: “We are more than Conquerors.”

We can choose to be like clay and respond to the heat of life by letting it harden us and make us bitter, or we can choose to be like wax by letting the heat of life melt us and shape us into new patterns.  What are our options?    

 

Job found himself in this very difficult situation.  He did nothing wrong, but found himself being attacked from all walks of life.  In life, we will go through tough times and difficult situations. In these difficult situations, we often turned to bitterness.  I have seen first hand how the clay response can corrode the spirit of an individual and turned him into a very bitter person.

As a pastor, you always build good relationships with your parishioners.  In fact that is what a very good pastor will does. When you have good relationships with your congregation, it troubles you when a person get diagnosed with an illness.  It is more troubling when a person lose all hope of being cure of an illness. You prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and one day a parishioner tells you, “you can pray, but it won’t do any good.”  It is not that the person does not have faith, but a circumstances of life can destroyed a person’s faith. During these critical stages of our Christian walk, we can choose the clay response. This is when we wind up as a bitter and harden person.  In our text, Job’s wife choose the clay response.

There are people who will choose the wax response.  Like Job who had a heroic spirit, they will simply refuse to be overcome by the circumstances of life, or the harsh realities of life.  In Job situation, Job said, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).  In today’s idiomatic expression one would say, “When life hands them a lemon, they make lemonade.” The Bible is filled with examples of such positive responses to negative experiences. What examples do we find in Scriptures that challenges us?   

David was one of those who would make a lemonade if life handed him a lemon.  David wrote, “I will bless the Lord at all times” (Psalms 34:1) David had every reason to complain and become a bitter person.  King Saul purposed in his heart to kill David. His son Ammon committed adultery with his sister. David’s son Absalom betrayed him.  And his son Adonijah tried to grab the throne just before David died. David lifted up his heads at all times and praised God. He said, “His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalms 34:1).  David made it a fact of life that he once was a young man, but even as an old man, he had never seen the righteous forsaken. Those who followed God are never forsaken.

Jesus Christ was another lemonade maker.  He was no stranger to hardship and disappointment.  Again and again, what Jesus worked so hard for was being destroyed by Satan.  But Jesus never allowed the Devil to take a foothold in his ministry. Jesus never allowed His life experience to drive Him to despair.  When Jesus hung on Calvary, He died never with a whimper on His lips, but with a victorious shout.

One other experience of a lemonade maker challenges us.  Paul letters to the churches at Philippi, Ephesus, Galatia, and Colossae challenge us.  These prisons epistles clearly show that Paul must have been frustrated from his frequent imprisonments.  How easy it would have been for Paul to become bitter and hardened. But never once did he mention the poor food, the deplorable living conditions, or the inhumane treatment of the guards.  Rather, Paul talked about how God was using his experiences to inspire others and advanced the gospel.

Church many Christians have learned not to be sorrowful about their troubles.  Rather, they have come to learned how to turn every stumbling block into a stepping stone.  THEY ARE ALL CONQUEROR!!! We can do the same thing if we choose to. What is the secret that frees us?

One important question that we must all ask this morning, “How were all these people able to respond so creatively to hardships and disappointments?  What is the secret of this resilience that enables some people to pick up the pieces and start anew, rather than going to pieces under the impact of some tragedy?”

The secret lies in how we visualize God’s relation to our lives.  Job’s wife had a faulty view of God. She had a distorted view of God.  I really can’t explain why she said what she said to Job, but I know she was going through difficult times dealing with her husband illness.  We all go through times like that, when we deal with the illness of a child, a wife, a relative, or a close friend. Probably Job’s wife must have been spoiled by the good life and had come to feel that God owed her a troubled-free existence.  When all the good life ended for her, she blamed God. She felt that God was acting unjustly. But Job, this great lemonade maker had a different view of God. Listen as he speaks, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eyes seeth thee” (Job 42:5).

The truth of the matter here is Job saw God as God is.  He saw God as immutable (the same yesterday, today, and forever).  He saw God as the same God who blessed him with children, cattles, and all kinds of material wealth.  He saw God as an existential God and not a situational God. Job did not see God as how he Job wanted God to be.  Church, God does not owe us anything. He does not promise us a life of ease. God is not the one to be blame for all the trials that comes our way.  The Scriptures teach us that because of God’s presence, whatever happens to us will not be too much for us. During the Genesis of my ministry at Newton First, Eastside, and Walton UMC’s, I admired the courage of one of my parishioners who was involved in an accident.  After prayers, I would call him to check with him. All he would say is I thanked God because it would have been worse. Today, God has restored him to health.

Some point out that the essence of despair is bringing God down to the past.  It important for Christians to believe that God is still at work in the world and in our lives today.  One attribute of God is that He is immutable. The anonymous writer of Hebrews says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  God never changes. His sovereign purpose will ultimately be fulfilled.

Not everything that happens to us originates solely with God.  Some things that happen to us come straight from God. There are others that come from Satan or as a result of our own wrong decisions and only permitted by God.  Some things come from our disobedience to God. God saves us through our difficulties.

One important fact we ought to learn today from Scriptures is because of God’s omnipresence with us, whatever happens to us will not be too much for us.  The good will of God will be present in these troubles. God can be counted on for this. It is obvious that this is how we overcome problems rather than being overcome by our problems.  

In the most difficult of circumstances, when you feel abandoned by God, you need to remember that the feeling and the fact are not the same thing.  I submit to you that in difficult times, when you feel yours prayers are not getting above the ceiling, please do not worry. God can come down below the ceiling.  Church, God is not deaf. God has not abandoned us. God is not limited. He is like a puppet master quietly controlling the events of our lives. He is working silently and redemptively no matter what.  So, when life comes crashing in, don’t give up in despair, don’t become angry at God, don’t feel sorry for yourself, don’t complicate your heartaches, don’t let bitterness consume you. Fights these attitudes and temptations with all your heart.  When disappointments seem to engulf you, say with Job, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worm destroy my body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25-16).

 

“The Great Commission”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

3RD SUNDAY IN EASTER, APRIL 15, 2018

 

Title: “The Great Commission

Text: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19 RSV)

Scripture Reading: (Matthew 28:16-20 NIV).

  1. Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.  18. Then Jesus came to them and said, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20. And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the the age.”

 

On the resurrection morning, Jesus Christ gave the women at the tomb the command to go and tell the good news that He had resurrected.  This is a charge we have to keep. As the hymn writer puts it, “A charge to keep I have; a God to glorify, a never dying soul to save and fit it for the sky,” we all have a command to go our and win souls for Christ.  Our text today brings to the fold Jesus’ command to his disciples and to His church to make disciples of all people of all nations. It includes both Jews and Gentiles, and people to the outermost parts of the world. I submit to you this morning that the emphasis is not on the going ; the emphasis is on making disciples.  The only imperative in these words is “ make disciples. The word translated “go” is actually a participle with the force of an imperative. It means that in our going about from place to place, we are to concern ourselves with making disciples. So, what is discipleship? What is it to make disciples?

To fully understand Jesus command, we must understand who a disciple is. Elementary Greek tells us that the Greek word translated “make disciples” is matheteuo.  This word comes from the root mathetes.  It means a learner or pupil. In Jesus days, the disciples were learner or students who learned from Jesus. So for us Christians, disciples communicate the same idea. The disciple is a believer who is learning to obediently follow and serve Jesus as his master.  Discipleship is more than accepting Jesus; it is going and working hard; making a long term commitment to discovering what it means to be devoted to Jesus. This can be accomplished through regular exposure to Scriptures, commitment to the communities of faith, and the direct involvement of mature believers in our lives.  This is how Jesus say who a disciple is: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciple, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” John 8:31-32. Being a disciple of Jesus is a continue spiritual process. I will submit to you here this morning that one salient element of discipleship is reproduction. A disciple is in the business of creating new disciples.  Discipleship includes the work of sharing the gospel and baptising those who respond in faith. We then help the new disciple to become better student of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. It then become a life-long process of committing ourselves to Jesus. As a young disciple in the late 1980’s, I was involved in hospital and prison ministration of the word of God. One day while ministering to a man at the John F. Kennedy Medical Centre,Monrovia, Liberia, the man told me that it was the happiest day in His life.  He had heard about Jesus, but accepting Jesus brought a whole new joy to him. But I could not follow up on him because of the lack of resources. I told him about Jesus. He accepted but I could not nurture him. I committed him to Christ to lead him on. Christians should be empowered to make disciples. We get that power from God.

In verse 18 of Matthew 28, Jesus came to them and informed them that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” The word translated authority means “the power to command, the power to issue orders or requisitions, the authority to take charge.”  Jesus Christ was a unique person. His death was sacrificial. After death, He had a victorious resurrection. He did not only resurrect, He ascended on high and seated at the right hand of God.  Because of all of these events, Jesus Christ proved that He has authority.  So on the resurrection morning, He used that authority to command the women at the tomb: “Go, and Tell.”  

It was a command to go and tell the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was a command to go and make disciples. In a world where there is a declined in church related activities, we need Jesus to help us. Today’s disciples need to recognize and respond to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus is not only our Savior, He owns us.  He has the right to lay claim to all that we have. Jesus should be the figure of authority in our lives. In this age and time, we cannot be successful in making disciples unless we emphasize Christ’s authority. We need to emphasize His love and devotion. The love and devotion of Christ was demonstrated when He died on the cross for us sinners.  It bears a powerful message. It this through it Jesus reveals His continuing redemptive plan.

In our text today, God has shown that He has been a missionary God from time immemorial.  When Abraham was well past his age, He called Abraham to go out on a missionary trip. He called the people of Israel out of Egypt that they might be the instrument for His redemptive purpose.

Studying the Psalms and the books of the prophets, we will see indications of how God work continuously to communicate His love for them.  God communicated with boldness, the depth, and the range of His love for not only the children of Israel, but for all people. God commanded that everyone should “go and make disciples of all nations.

The book of Jonah is a missionary book.  In that book, God seeks to tell the prophet Jonah and people, how concern He was about the sin of the world.  The book of Jonah was a rebuke to the people who claim to love the country they dwell in. It was a rebuke to those who separated themselves from God spiritually. So God sent Jonah to make disciples of the people.

God revealed Himself those those who were outside the nation of Israel. Jesus for an example give the Water of Life to the despised Samaritan woman. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus did not stop short in lifting the good works of the Samaritan who ministered to the man left for dead by robbers in the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus Christ also heard the prayer of the Phoenician woman as she prayed for deliverance for her daughter. Jesus Christ also sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost as a preparation for the disciples for a ministry to the entire world.

The call by Jesus Christ to His disciples to go out to make disciples is the Great Commission.  Many people have made this call a professional endeavor. They want to place this call only on the clergy.  This is a complete disservice to the follower of Christ. This Great Commission to out and make disciples is a heritage for all Christians.  It is an opportunity of service for all. Some people have made it only applicable to foreign missions. This is not the case. A closer examination of the text is indicative of the fact that each Christian is charged with the responsibility to evangelize, where ever we find ourselves.  God set forth this redemptive plan as a means for us to go out, without fear and favor, and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. In commanding His disciples, Jesus Christ promised His personal protection to all who undertake this cause.

In verse 20 of our passage, Jesus told His disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  We see here that Jesus Christ promised His personal protection. No one who endeavor to preach the gospel, obeying this Great Commission would ever be alone.  We will enjoy the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus to bless with His presence, those who give themselves to the task of witnessing. In this age and time, it is a fearful thing to do.  For some, it is an embarrassing thing to do. I submit to you that the abiding presence of Jesus will bring you great joy and comfort in fearful times. The abiding presence of Jesus can motivate us to do our best.  The abiding presence of Christ can give us boldness. Jesus Christ is with us always as we serve Him and minister to others. All we need to do is have complete confidence in Jesus.

In the 1970’s the San Diego Chargers had a quarterback named Fouts.  In one particular game, both Fouts and the Chargers were having a real bad day.  With two minutes remaining in the game, the chargers were down 14-0. Everyone on the team was frustrated.  So the coach pulled out Fouts and put in the backup quarterback, Bobby Douglas. Douglas grabbed his helmet.  He strapped on his helmet in great anticipation and headed for the huddle. Midway through, he stopped in his track, turned to the coach and yelled, “Coach, do you want me to win the game or just tie it?” What a statement?  With all the odds against this team, it was a great statement by a quarterback. Do we have that kind of confidence in Jesus Christ? Do we have the confidence to carry out the Great Commission? Do we have the confidence to recognize  and respond to the lordship of Jesus as we carry out the Great Commision? Do we have the confidence to carry out the Great Commission to people of all races and creed? Do we have the confidence to carry out the Great Commission knowing that Jesus Christ promised us His personal presence and protection? May the Spirit of God guide us as we make disciples for our church.  AMEN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Witnessing the Resurrection”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2018

 

Title: “Witnessing the Resurrection”

Text: John 20: 11-18

  1. Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying.  As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14. At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.  15. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for? Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, i you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16. Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”) 17. Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.  Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18. Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he said these things to her.

 

Understanding the circumstances leading the resurrection of Jesus can be explained by the events during the holy week.  The events of the holy week is symbolic of how Jesus works in our life, preparing us to be witnesses to His truth. The holy week began with the celebration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, with crowds cheering and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest Heavens!” Others questioned who he was. It was a short-lived joy, for Jesus would be arrested on Holy Thursday, and brutally killed on Good Friday.

Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus Christ carried out some acts that are worthy of remembrance.  On Holy Monday, Jesus entered the temple and chased the folks who were trading in the temple.  Jesus enters the very temple precinct itself and stirred up the place.  Jesus comes into our life stirring up our temple or body, removing prejudice, old hurts, and anything that blocks His relationship with us.  After cleaning the temple, Jesus began to teach the Word of God. After He had removed the clutters of our lives, he filled us up with the word.  On the third day of the holy week, Jesus began to performed miracles of healing the blind and crippled. Jesus Christ brings us in contact with the supernatural.  He brings us to the very throne room of God, but yet the road ahead seems so gloomy. On the fifth day of the events leading to the resurrection, Jesus Christ had some intimate time with His disciples.  Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples. At this high holy meal, Jesus accentuated His love for His disciples and washed their feet. Jesus assured them of His love, but also reminded them that one of them would betrayed Him.  Before daybreak Jesus had been denied and betrayed. Good Friday is the darkest day. On this day, we remembered the events of the rigged trial, the bloodthirsty mob howling for Jesus’ blood because He failed to meet their patriotic expectations.  We remembered the brutal beating and the savagery of the soldiers. Jesus is on the cross with nails pounded in His flesh. His death meant the death of the faith of His followers, the end of the hope they had in Him. This evil day, this black Friday is filled with cruelty unimaginable.  Holy Saturday came and there was silence everywhere among the faithful believers. It is like that tunnel where we find ourselves when the lights of our faith has gone out. It is like the point in our lives when we go to church, but we no longer believe. It is a time when we say prayers we do not mean. It is a time when there is instability in our Christian faith. But it is a time when something deep down in us brings hope.  It is that time when we revive our hope by witnessing the resurrection. It is this winessing of the resurrection that affirms the reality that Jesus rose from the dead.

The Resurrection is the secret of Christian stability. Actually, the symbol of Christianity is more an empty tomb than a cross.  The empty tomb gives meaning to the cross. Were it not for the empty tomb, the cross would have been a tragedy.

It makes a lot of sense to see that the witnesses of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ were also the witnesses of His resurrection.  According to our text, Mary Magdalene had gone to the tomb early during the Resurrection morning and met an empty tomb. She and the other Mary were the first to received the news of the risen Lord and the first to encountered Him.  They had been at the cross; they had been there when He was laid in the tomb; and now they were recipients of the rewards of love. They were the first to know the joy of the resurrection.

The events of the holy week have been focused on the cross. Some of those in the crowd at the cross were also at the empty tomb.  They were the witnesses of the resurrection. And so we do witness the resurrection, the return to life of Jesus Christ, and the defeat of death.

Let us know first and foremost that witnessing the Resurrection affirms the reality of the resurrection.  Our Christian faith is built on the reality of the resurrection. It does not, alone, prove the deity of Christ, but it is consistent with it.  Because Jesus is Lord, we can believe that he is the resurrected Lord.

Was the resurrection authentic? Josh McDowell, the well-known Christian apologist studied the authenticity of the Resurrection for more than 700 hours.  His conclusion is that the resurrection is “the most remarkable fact of history.” In his book, “Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” McDowell explains that the empty tomb is the most notable of evidences that show Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples did not go elsewhere to preach.  They preached right there in Jerusalem, where the evidence of the empty tomb could not be denied. Both Jewish and Roman sources and tradition bear witness to the empty tomb.  The breaking of the Roman Seal is also evidence of Christ’s Resurrection. The breaking of the Roman Seal was death for anyone. Christ disciples all show cowardice and could not do it.  The Romans soldiers knew the penalty was immediately execution. It could be only the angels of God or the power of God. The Roman soldiers went AWOL. How could they abdicate their responsibilities of protecting the tomb, when discipline among Roman soldiers were exceptional? One way a soldier was put to death for leaving his duty was to take his clothes of and burning him. If one soldier or all of them had emptied the tomb, they would all be killed.  According to McDowell, Dr. George Curie, a student in Roman military discipline explained that because Roman soldiers feared punishment, “they produced flawless attention to duty especially during night watches.” There was no way the soldiers could have done it. Many scholars say that it is the best-attested fact in history. But those who do not believe in the resurrection try to explain away the Resurrection by saying that the women went to the wrong tomb; or that Jesus fainted and later revived; or that thieves stole His body, the disciples removed His body, or the Romans or Jewish authorities took His body into their own custody.  But the tomb is empty! Jesus was resurrected and set loose those in the world.

In the amazing drama of the Trial of Jesus written by John Masefield, there is a passage in which Longinus, the Roman centurion in command of the soldiers at the cross, comes back to Pilate to hand in his report on the day’s work.  The report is given. Then Procula, the wife of Pilate, backons to the centurion and begs him to tell her how the prisoner died. When the story has been told, she suddenly ask, “Do you think he is dead?” “No, lady, Longinus answers, “I don’t. “Then where is he?” she asked.  The centurion answers, “Let loose in the world, lady, where neither Romans nor Jews can stop His truth.” When we have gotten all the facts of the resurrection, what do we do? We tell others about the resurrection.

In our passage, Jesus called the name of Mary.  Mary recognized Jesus. She shouted in Aramaic, “Rabboni,” meaning Teacher.  In verse 17, Jesus immediately told her to go and tell the good news of the resurrection.  The first declaration of the Resurrection was a call to action. Even in the Matthew account in chapter 28:7, the angels said to the women to “go, quickly, tell.”  Church, this is the kind of news you do not keep to yourself. If you were in the hospital room of a very ill relative, the physicians came in and told everyone the crisis is over and the relative will live.  You do not just quietly sit there.  You run down the hall to find the wife, husband, son or daughter.  You run to Mojo’s coffee shop to find the uncle and aunties. You run to the telephone to tell the grandparents.  There are some news you just don’t keep to yourself. The resurrection is that kind of news. It is news that give hope, inspiration, courage: “fear not”; news that give assurance: “He is not here”: news that give joy: “with great joy.”  This is the news that give life. It is telling this news that give witness to the Resurrection!

As we read Matthew and John gospels, we will know that during this difficult period of the lives of the disciples, the appearance of Jesus gave them hope.  During this most difficult period, their young Jewish Rabbi had been murdered. Their only hope, the hope upon which their faith depended, was dead. For a moment, their dreams and aspirations of receiving eternal life were shattered.

If we carefully follow the gospel account, we will notice a change in the disciples who followed Jesus.  If we follow this account to the opening of the book of Acts, we will observed that the lives of the disciples were changed greatly, when they received the news and witnessed the resurrection of Jesus.  

Peter had denied the Lord three times.  He had cursed and sworn as though he had never known the restraining influence of Jesus.  Peter had gone out and wept bitterly. Peter joined the other disciples behind closed doors when Jesus died.  Two pages after this account in the Bible, the same very Peter is standing outside the very upper room of the Last Supper preaching Christ boldly.  After Peter witnessed the resurrection, he defied the same Sanhedrin that had condemned Jesus to death. And he slept in his jail cell the night before he was executed.  What changed Peter? It was his witness to the power of the resurrected Christ.

James later assumed a position of leadership in the Jerusalem church.  But in Jesus’ life time, he did not believe in Him. After the Resurrection this earthly brother of the Lord was transformed from a doubter into a believer just as Simon Peter was turned from fear to courage.  Lives are changed by the resurrected Lord.

This is the greatest assurance of the Resurrection in our lives.  We have met the resurrected Christ, and he has changed us. Then he charges us.  He gives us a job to do and the power to do it.

  

“The Irresistible Love of God”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

PALM SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2017

 

Title: “The Irresistible Love of God.”

Text: Hosea 3:4-5

  1. For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: 5. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.

 

Today, we symbolically celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  It marks a time which fulfilled some of the messianic prophecies of Jesus Christ.  These prophecies talks about Jesus the King riding on a donkey, unlike many kings who ride on horses.  It is a time when palm branches were placed in His path, before His arrest on Holy Thursday, and His crucifixion on Good Friday.  It ends the period of Lent and begins the Holy Week. The prophecy of His entry into Jerusalem is mentioned in Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  It is a time when a crowd went before Him and some followed behind Him shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heavens!  Interestingly, when Jesus entered into Jerusalem, some were asking, “Who is this?”  The answer the crowd gave was, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”  People were too busy to learn about Jesus. Some who knew Him did not take Him serious.

Yet maybe in the midst of busy lives at the end of a Spring break, or in all the upcoming thought about Easter, the real meaning of it may, even unintentionally, get missed. The significance of the palm branches is goodness and victory and was symbolic of the final victory Jesus would soon fulfil over death.  The donkey signifies peace for a world filled with turmoil.  The shout of hosanna signifies that they were hailing Christ as king, the word actually means save now.  The scripture tells us that Jesus actually wept for Jerusalem amidst the praise: that these very people would turn their back on Him and betrayed Him, and crucify Him.  His heart broke with the reality of how much they needed the love of God. This is what brings us to the heart of our message today: “God Irresistible Love.” We will use the story of Hosea’s love for Gomer to illustrate how much this powerful or convincing love God transcends all else.   

 

In chapter one and two of Hosea’ prophecy, the narrative gives an account of a broken home (a broken relationship between a man and his wife) and of a broken nation (a broken relationship between a people and their God).  Yet, there is something unique about this broken home. First, the tragedy is heightened in that the one sinned against is a prophet of God charged with the responsibility of preaching to a nation. Second, the Lord God knew what was going to happen in Hosea’s home even before he commended his prophet to marry this woman, Gomer.  In his sovereign purpose, God used this heartbreaking tragedy to add a dimension of compassion and love to Hosea’s life and ministry that he could never have had otherwise. It enabled Hosea to catch a fleeting glimpse of the unfathomable suffering God experiences when his people sin against him.

In the five verses comprising Hosea 3, the love of God is described and demonstrated in four ways.  We might compare God’s love here with a finely cut diamond having four distinct facets, each of which flashes its fire in a different color or hue.

 

God’s seeking Love.  

Verse one reflects the heart of Hosea’s entire message: God’s love toward those who are not worthy of it.  God was showing Hosea and commanding him to demonstrate a revolutionary concept of the love of God. Throughout the Old Testament era, God’s people had placed a confining limitation on God’s love.  They believed that God’s mercy and love were limited to those who feared him and remembered his commandments; or, in order words, God’s mercy was for those who merited it.

When Jesus came, he redefined love.  Paul expressed it like this: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God commanded His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:7-8. Thus, through Hosea’s experience with his unfaithful wife, Gomer, God was revealing the love of His “new covenant,” a love that seeks all people, regardless of their moral, social, or spiritual condition.

There is no way Hosea could have obeyed God’s command to “go again, love the same woman, Gomer…(now) an adulteress” with human love.  By every standard, Gomer had forfeited her right to any degree of acceptance by her fellow humans. Yet in this command Hope was giving Hosea the first and basic lesson of New Testament evangelism: God’s love goes out to humanity not because humanity is lovely but because God is love.  This, when we say that God loves humanity, we are not saying anything about humanity and their moral qualifications, but we are saying volumes about God and His seeking love. This, then, is the kind of love with which Hosea went out seeking Gomer, and it is the kind of love with which God seeks sinful people.

God’s Redeeming Love

As we gently turn the diamond of God’s love, another facet catches fire: “So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for a homer of barley, and a half homer of barley” (3:2)  Here, we see the redeeming love of God.

Gomer had become a slave, a concubine.  She had voluntarily sold herself. So Hosea bought her back at a prize of a slave.  This is the love that seeks not its own, that takes no account of evil, that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.”  It is redeeming love. When Hosea bought Gomer back from the slave market – a woman who had defiled herself in prostitution – he saw her in a way he had never seen before, through the eyes of God, and he loved her with heart of God. That, again, is New Testament evangelism!

What kind of man was Hosea? He was gentle, sensitive, a man of unquestionable integrity, whose personal life was above reproach.  This makes his redemptive act, his willingness to take Gomer to himself again, all the more meaningful. Had Hosea been of questionable character himself – had he compromised with sin in his own life – he might lightly brushed aside Gomer’s sin. Instead, Homer suffered agony because of her sin.

This is a part of our redemption that we often do not see.  This is why Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweat “as it were great drop of blood” (Luke 22:44).  He was experiencing the agony , the suffering involved in taking to himself our sins. Hosea was not Jesus; he was not perfect and sinless, nor did not take on himself the sin of Gomer, as Jesus took on our sins.  Yet there was within his situation the human counterpart of the relationship between Jesus Christ and sinful humanity. 

God’s Disciplining Love

The third facet is found in verse three, which describes a love that disciplines: “And I said to her, You shall be (betrothed) to me for many days, you shall not play the harlot and you shall not belong to another man.  So will I also be to you (until you have proved your loyalty to me and our marital relation may be resumed)”

Gomer was the prodigal wife who had been bought out of the slave market.  The beautiful and pure flower of chastity and godly womanhood had been torn from its stem and trodden in the dirt.  Now she is told she must remain for a time in seclusion. It will be a period of discipline ; she is not to enter her new relationship with Hosea in a flippant way.  She needs time for reflection, for a realization of where she had been, where she was at the moment, and where she must go henceforth.

Jesus told a man who, in the heat of enthusiasm and excitement, began to built a tower.  But he had to abandon the project before it was finished because he had not counted the cost (Luke 14:30).  There are doubtless many Christians whose spiritual growth and development have been aborted because there was no discipline following conversion.  They needed to have been taught, nurtured, and instructed. Hosea instituted this program of discipline for Gomer, just as the church should consider itself the spiritual custodian of new believers who come into its midst.  This is the discipline of love, which is more than mere sentimentality and emotion.

God’s Triumphant Love.

The fourth facet of our diamond flashes its fire: “Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, inquiring of and requiring him, and (from the line of) David, their King; and they shall come in fear of the Lord and to His goodness and His good things in the latter days.

Here is that which is always typical of our God: the last word is love, not wrath: grace not judgment; return, not exile.  To fear God is not to be afraid of Him as one would fear a tyrant. That kind of fear “hath torment.” Rather it is to stand in awe of Him, to bow reverently before his majesty and holiness.  For God’s goodness places a person under much heavier obligation than evil. If the father of the prodigal son had been hard or cruel, then the far country would have been nearly as tormenting to the wayward son.  But to sin against love, to return evil for good, is a heavy burden for people to bear.

What should be our response to this irresistible love of God? We must remember that a good God is far more to be feared or reverenced, held in awe, than an evil God. For a good God requires goodness of His people, a goodness that is found in His righteousness, which is imputed to them by grace, through faith.

 

 

“Pride: A Landmine Waiting to Explode”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

5TH SUNDAY OF LENT, MARCH 18, 2018

 

Title: “Pride: A Landmine Waiting to Explode.”

Text: Daniel 4: 27-30, 37.

  1. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if there may be a lengthening of thy tranquility. 28. All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. 29. At the end of the twelve months he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon.  30. The king spake and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling-place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? 31. While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee:….. 37. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of Heaven; for all his works are truth, and his ways justice; and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

 

Pride is a very dangerous sin. It engulfs a person without you knowing it. In Isaiah chapter 14, we see a fascinating picture of the first victim of pride.  It is a narrative of how the devil became a devil. The account tells us that the devil was not created a devil. He was created a charming, beautiful angel named Lucifer.  This angel was the highest of cherubims. He was the leader of the heavenly choir. Lucifer was the most intelligent and powerful of the created beings.  God being a just God allows his created being to make independent choices.  Unfortunately, Lucifer made the worst decision to put himself above every other creatures.  Lucifer became so hyper and enchanted by his own beauty.

The account tells us, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!… For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into the heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit above the mount of the congregation on the farthest side of the north; I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’.”  

Lucifer was a wayward angel who spread His prideful spirit on the other angels.  Because of this pride that had enter him, God evicted him from the heavenly court.  God’s sending him to earth gave rise to the human creatures disobeying God and assuming the attitude of pride.  Pride is a self destructive sin. What is pride?

Pride is a form of idolatry.  It is a sin that involves the attitude of me, myself, and I.  The great controversy that involves Lucifer and God brought him down to earth. Ezekiel 18 will further explain the drama that surrounds his fall to earth.  It was the pride of power, the pride of position, the pride of possession, the pride of intelligence, appearance and more. In this final chapter of human history, it is important for us to understand that pride is a sin that will destroy us.  Our inability to listen to the voice of God in these last days will be a serious hindrance to our deliverance. Pride is the invisible sin that Satan used to sway people away from worshiping God. 

The Bible is full of accounts of people who struggled with the sin of pride.  In our passage today, the King of Babylon struggled with the sin of pride. At the zenith of his power, King nebuchadnezzar suffered with this sin.  The accounts tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about a tree from which the entire world was fed. He watched the tree cut down. The worried King sought wise counsel on the meaning of the dream.  The prophet Daniel without hesitations informed the King that the tree represented him. The prophet advised him to turn from his sinful ways, live righteously, and show mercy to the poor. The king was convicted of his sin and made a decision to humble himself for a while.  Under King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon flourished. It’s army won battles. Many buildings were erected. One day the king walked out on one of his balconies to take in the glorious accomplishments of his kingdoms. Realising the many accomplishments, pride took root immediately.  Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” Daniel 4:30.

Sounds like Satan, doesn’t it? Pride has crept into the heart of the king. Irresponsibly, he took credit for everything over which he was given reign.  God watched this stubborn king refused to the plea of the prophet to turn from his sinful ways, and send a striking judgment immediately. Daniel 4:31 tells us, why the words were in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; the kingdom is departed from thee.”  What follows next is amazing. God took away the wisdom, power, and intelligent from Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar crawled around like an animal.  He was insane for seven years.  After seven years God had mercy on Nebuchadnezzar and restored his sanity.

The lesson here is crystal clear.  God will share His glory with no man. This is evident based on what we see happened to the devil in Ezekiel.  All praises belongs to God. He alone deserves our praise. No matter how much money, power, and fame we possess in this world, the ultimate source is God.  When God gives us the ability to influence other people, reach out to others, be a blessing to others, we should not act like we did it on our own. It would be a blessing if we use our money, power, or fame with deep humility.  Nebuchadnezzar refused to do exactly that. He lost everything for seven years because of pride. Pride can also bring a person to a place where we can lose our access to the kingdom of God.

The devil lost it’s access to the kingdom of God. Ezekiel 28:14 informs us, “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so.” Some people grow proud of their position at work and in life. The devil struggled with this issue before he was thrown from heaven. In the Bible book of Proverbs, the writer points out, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the lowly is wisdom.

In the fifth chapter of Esther, one would see Haman as a prime example of self-destructive pride on display. Xerxes of Persia got information that a Jew by the name of Mordecai had saved his life by thwarting an assassination plot.  Xerxes wanted to honor Mordecai, but pride let haman stand in the way. He wanted Mordecai to bow before him. Mordecai refused. Haman wanted to kill God’s chosen people, the Jews. The sin of pride fester in his life. He bragged to his friends “of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king” (Esther 5:11).  Haman wanted honor for himself. Yet Mordecai continued to refuse to show Haman reverence. Pride drove Haman to plan to hang Mordecai. Folks, Pride is a distorted mirror that obstructs clear thinking and reason.  In this condition, Haman only saw himself. Pride makes us only think about ourselves and not others. It makes us think we are more knowledgeable than others, more beautiful than others, much better than others. It makes us exalt ourselves above others.  It makes us lie to cover our sins.This is where we go wrong and bring shame upon ourselves. Haman was hanged on the very gallow he had built for Mordecai.

Even Jesus’ closest disciples were infected.  In Mark 9, Jesus disciples argue among themselves about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  These disciples had heard Jesus’ teachings on “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11, 12).  They forgot all about His teachings. Pride blinded them. Let us not exalt ourselves, while striving for position and honor. God will humbled us then. If we humble ourselves, God will find a way to exalt us. Do you ever feel you have been look down upon because of your economic or social status? Do you think you have been cheated at work of a promotion because of favoritism rather than skill? Do not let it bother you. Be happy to serve where God has put you.  He will lift you up in due time. 

Pride can bring you to a place where you lose access to the kingdom of God. When we take on showing off on the good works we do, it demonstrates the spirit of pride. Jesus explains this in a parable in Luke 18.  Jesus talked about two men who went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a publican. In the parable, the Pharisee full of pride prayed as such, “God I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all that I possess,” while the “publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (verse 11-13). According to Jesus, it was the humble publican who went home justified. The Pharisee was proud of his good works, believing that his deeds earned him standing and acceptance before God. The Pharisee was denied access to the kingdom of God. Pride is dangerous. It is important to recognize it and fight it. How can we combat this deadly sin?

There is only one way a person can combat this deadly sin.  To combat pride, we must choose humility!

The bible admonishes us over and over, God delights in people with humble heart. It teaches, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8

Pride is like a hand with a pointing finger with some fingers pointing back to us.  The Bible does not say we should ask God to humble us, but it repeatedly asked us to humble ourselves (2 Chronicles 7:14).  If it takes God to humble us, He will because he loves us. 

Many of us are excited about living with Christ in eternity. That is never going to happen until we choose to embrace humility.  We ought to be like Moses when he was alive. It is said about this great man of God, “The man Moses was very meek, above all the men who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). It is quite marvelous considering he choose not to live in the palaces of the Egyptians. He could have been a proud king. He could have look at the pyramids glistening in the gold and boast about it like Nebuchadnezzar. Yet he humbly walked away from it because he wanted to serve God.

Let us be like Jesus who humbled Himself and died on the cross. Philippians 2:8, 9 tells us, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.” For your sake and for the sake of God’s kingdom, choose humility today and ask God to help you. Amen.

 

 

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS McCARTHY

4TH SUNDAY IN LENT, MARCH 11, 2018

 

Title: Lust and Envy: The Uncomfortable Truth.

Text: Exodus 20:17

  1. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid servant, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s. 18. And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off.  19. And they said unto Moses, speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20. And Moses said unto the people, fear not for God is come to prove you, that his fear may be before you, that ye sin not.

 

The issue of how we deal with our sins before God is very important.  The question continues to loom. How do we respond when confronted by our sins? How do we respond, when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our wrong doings?  Our response is depended largely on our awareness of the sins in our lives. It is important to know the sin that bothers us. The anonymous writer of Hebrews in chapter 12 puts it this way: …Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth easily besets us.”  This is the reason why during this time of Lent, we must identify the wrongs in our lives and confess to God.  We must consecrate ourselves. This morning we want to discuss two of the sins that are hindrances to our Christian lives: Lust and Envy.

Most often the sin of lust is talked about in terms of sexual desires.  But lust is much more than that. The meaning and history of the word in Greek is “to be hot after something.” Using the word lust in this context simply tells us that it is any sinful desire that goes against the will of God.  It is our inordinate desire for something. It is that excessive desire for something which does not seems right. 

Radio personality Paul Harvey tells the story of how an Eskimo kills a wolf. The account is grisly, yet it offers fresh insight into the consuming, self-destructive nature of sin; the sin of lust.

First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the arctic night. So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue, nor does he recognize the instance at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more and more, until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!

Lust is the desire that creeps up in us.  In this desire, nothing is enough for us. It is when a person is taken over by the spirit of covetousness.  It is a bad spirit. It is the desire to have things we do not have. It is our desire to be someone else or somewhere else.  It is the trick of the devil, who makes the lives of other people look better than yours. Then we begin to wish. It becomes I wish I had this.  I wish I had that. I wish I was her. I wish I was him. It is the seduction of the devil to make us unsatisfied with what God has given us. Lust is dangerous because we will never be happy.  We sometimes lust for us to be like others. We see others flourish and we have to have what they have. Church, we don’t know what goes on in the houses of other people. Stop coveting others for their marriages because you don’t know what goes on in the homes of folks.  

Lust is focus on taking.  Love is focus on giving. Love unlike lust is tied on a greater principle.  It is tied on the principle of godliness. For example, if a person have lust as the reason of entering into a marriage, that person will be focus on taking away from the other person.  When what fascinated the person about the marriage has dwindled, love flies out the door.   If one enters a marriage for the purpose of love, that person gives their everything to a marriage.

We have heard about the lust of the flesh.  The flesh is the human nature corrupted by sin. So the lust of the flesh will be a situation where we allowed our life to be dominated by our senses, rather than be control by the spirit of God.  Lust gratifies our desires for material possession. It is the use of our possessions or our talents in a selfish manner. It is a situation where all our desires is centered on pleasing us rather than please God.  It goes contrary to the will of God for our lives. In Galatians 5:19-24, Paul lists all the desires of the flesh followed by the fruits of the spirit. Paul urges us in Romans 13:11-14 to put on the Lord Jesus and leave no provision of the flesh.

Lust can also be looked at as “Lust of the eyes.”  This simply means we desire what we see. When we look to Scripture, we will see that the eyes are the main organ of perceptions and the main way by which temptation comes. This was the case, when David who should have been fighting for the Lord’s people saw Bathsheba, lusted after her and later committed murder.  David forgot to adopt the principle Job lay down for himself in Job 31:1, “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully on a woman.”

Church, the lust of the eyes describes a person who is captivated by outside show of materialism.  This person sees a new car, must have it. See a new dress, must have it. There is a new position available, must have it.  Car, dress or position itself is not bad to have. What is bad is our excessive or large desire to have them that is sinful. An excessive or large desire to have anything against God’s will is sinful.  It is a fearful thing that people can be “consumed by their own lusts.” Only God’s grace keeps us from the wolf’s fate. Lust is powerful, but the Spirit of God can help us. It is when we harbor those excessive desires then we begin to envy.

Envy is the cousin of lust.  The Webster dictionary defines envy as a feeling of antagonism against someone because of some good, which he is enjoying but which one does not have oneself.  It is an evil desire to deprive another person of what he or she has.  Envy is to want something that another person has. Envy is the emotion all of us feel when the news tell us that someone has won the 500 million lottery.  It is the feeling an experienced fisherman will have when he has not caught any fish, but a 15 year old boy comes holding a ten pound rainbow. For some of us, this feeling can be temporal or instant.  For others it can be a feeling that sticks in our heart. It stays with us and irritates us. When this feeling festers, it can mean trouble. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.  

Dwight L. Moody once told the story of an eagle who was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a sportsman with a bow and arrow and said to him, “I wish you would bring down that eagle up there.” The man said he would if he had some feathers for his arrow. So the jealous eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival bird because he was flying too high. The first eagle pulled out another feather, then another and another until he had lost so many that he himself couldn’t fly. The archer took advantage of the situation, turned around, and killed the helpless bird.

From the story we see that if you are envious of others, the one you will hurt the most by your actions will be yourself.  In the story of Cain and Abel, God accepted the offering of Abel and rejected the offering of Cain. Cain became so angry. Envy began to stewed and broiled in Cain’s heart.  Cain’s heart was troubled. A person with envy is a person with a troubled heart, a troubled mind, and a troubled life. God said to Cain, Why are you angry? Why are you downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” Genesis 4:6-7.  Cain did not heed the warning of God. He refused to examine himself.

The Greek philosopher Plato pointed out that, “An unexamined life is a life not worth living.” When we examine our lives, it helps us to understand ourselves.  It helps us to understand what God’s will and purpose is for us. It is only when we strive to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning and value. Envy is a crippling sin.  It cripples our ability to examine ourselves.

I know we all have come to a point of wondering why others are getting it together and we are not.  In Psalms 73, the writer metaphorically compares the godly with the ungodly. It is a lament of the writer on why does God allows the unrighteous to prosper when the righteous suffers.  Some often asked, “why does God answers his prayers and not mine?” Be mindful! James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you got on your pleasures.”  God knows what you need even before you ask. He knows your needs, your wants, your desire, your aspirations, your goals, your plans. Envy cripples our security and shatter our trust in God. May the Spirit of God abide with you all to overcome the spirit of lust and envy.

 

 

https://firstchurchnewton.org/sermons/1537/

Anger: The Uncomfortable Truth

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS GEORGE MCCARTHY

3RD SUNDAY IN LENT

MARCH 4, 2018

 

Title: “Anger: The Uncomfortable Truth.”

Text: James 1:19-27

  1. My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do. 26. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

 

As we continued the season of Lent, we focus our attention on things we can rid from our lives. We come to God to ask Him of the wrongs we have done. As we reflect this morning, we want to deal with one thing that can be good or bad depending on how well we handle it.  There are many examples in Scriptures that tell us that anger can be good and anger can be bad.  

A friend of mine told me one time that he gets angry easily.  On meeting this brother, you will never be able to tell he deals with the issue of anger.  Like this friend, many people deal with anger. But their anger is hidden under a calm exterior.  The anger ferments where no can see it. Others burst out easily when they are angry.  Some folks turn red in the face when they are angry.  Some folks turn red in the face and begin to tremble.  Yet others become depressed and quiet.  Some people will become vocal and cutting with their tongue.

No matter where we live or where we come from, everyone has to deal with anger one way or the another. Anger is a worldwide issue.  It is universal.  Most of the angers are not good.  No wonder the book of James warns us, “everyone should be… slow to be angry. Anger does not produce the righteousness that God desired,” James 1:19, 20.  James is basing his warning on the fact that what comes out of our mouths when we are angry is tainted with unrighteousness.  It is not of God.  It is simply human rather than godly.

I will submit to you this morning that not all anger is bad. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection we will soon celebrate, expressed His anger many times.  In Mark 3:5 Jesus looked at them with anger because he was grieved by the hardness of their hearts.  Mark clearly explains that Jesus was angry, yet He was angry for a good reason.  There are lots more Scriptures that talked about positive anger.  Psalms 7:11 says, “God is angry everyday.” We just completed the book of Ephesians in our Monday Bible Study.  As I explained in our bible study, Anger is not always bad.  Paul explains it in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and sin not.” Why is anger not always a bad thing?

 

Anger is a God given emotion.  Anger is an emotion planted in us by God.  Everyone loves peace and justice.  Everyone loves fairness.  Everyone loves when the right thing is done.  We have an instinct in us to do right.  If this is true, then this emotion God has given to us must be used for constructive spiritual purposes.  There are so much evil in the world.  A person who does not feel anger for evil that is done to others lacks the enthusiasm to do good. You see church, our text  in James 1:20 tells us that “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”  If Pastor Amos does not hate wrong as a person, it is questionable whether Pastor Amos really loves righteousness.  If a person does not hate injustice, domestic violence, emotional abuse, profanity, it is questionable whether that person wants to be in right standing with God.

Jesus Christ demonstrated positive anger in many ways.  He showed anger by going against everything that was wrong. In Mark 10:13-16, He showed His anger when His disciples tried to send away the mothers and their children.  Jesus Christ was indignant and distressed at the way the disciples were hampering His loving purposes and giving the impression that He did not have time for ordinary people.

Also in Mark 11:15-17, Jesus again shows His anger when he drove “out those who sold and those who bought in the temple. The people were using the house of God as a den for thieves.  God was not being glorified.  Anyone who cannot be angry at the things that hinders God’s purposes is far from loving God.

Godly anger is not explosive, or abusive.  Godly anger does not lose its temper. It is always under control.  The person who demonstrate such anger can control it. An anger that is express in love and for the common good of human is always compassionate and under control.  The Scripture lets us know  in Psalms 78:38 that God being compassionate, forgive their iniquity, and did not destroy them; and often refrain His anger, and did not arouse all his wrath. On the contrary, human anger is deadly.

 

Our text today reminds us that anger is dangerous and deadly.  The Bible warns us against the danger of anger, “Be slow to anger, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desired,” James 1:19-10.  “Put away all anger and wrath and malice,” Colossians 3:8.  “Let all bitterness, wrath, and clamour…be put away from you with all malice, Ephesians 4:31.  “Everyone who is angry with his brother should be liable to judgment,” Matthew 5:22.  We can go on with many scriptures from the Bible warning us against anger.  How is anger dangerous and deadly?

 

I want us to know that when anger takes root in your heart, it can becomes a grudge and an unforgiving spirit, destroying you.  Jesus makes this point clear in His parable in Matthew 18.  This parable is about the unforgiving servant.  The king forgave him of all the debt he owed the king.  This servant will not forgive someone who owed him far less.  The king throwed this servant in jail because the servant was heartless.  He is someone who kept a grudge.  The grudge blinded him from the great lesson of forgiveness that was shown him by is own boss.  

The story is told of how the anger on one player from the Baltimore Orioles caused so much damage in a matter of a second.  In the Spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles travelled to Boston to play a routine baseball game.  But what happened that day was nothing close to routine.  The Baltimore Orioles’ John McGraw got into a fight with the Boston third base. This was a fight that could be avoided if McGraw had not kept a malice for the third base.  Within minutes, all the players from both side had joined the brawl. The fighting quickly spread to the grandstands.  Among the fans from both team, the fighting went from bad to worse.  One angry fan set fire to the stands and the entire ballpark burned to the ground.  The fire did not stop but spread to about 107 other Boston buildings.  The chaos will forever be remembered in the game of baseball.  The anger of one person, caused so much destruction.  Anger is dangerous and deadly when we allowed it to take root in our heart, when we keep a grudge and malice.  It can blow up in our face.  How can we fight against ungodly anger?

Jesus Christ provides the answer when He talks about the servant with the unforgiving spirit.  You see church, the source of the anger and bitterness we carried comes from unforgiveness. The season of rage and bitterness and fed up “I am out of here and want nothing to do with you” spirit stems from our inability to see the love of Christ, which He demonstrated by dying for our sins.  Unforgiveness is the root of ungodly anger.

 

Let understand that human anger which is not bend on supporting or glorifying God is ungodly.  Like depression and other emotional stress, anger can destroy us.  This negative anger can cause us physical problems.  We can be affected mentally, physically and spiritually.  In anger, our relationships with others and our relationship with God can suffer.  Human anger is a destructive emotion that is rooted in hate.  The only remedy for such emotionally bad thing is for us to put away malice and anger.  Let us not remember the wrong people do to us through anger but through love and forgiveness.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. In Romans 12:14-21, the Bible says,”Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I do not know how you handle anger in your life.  But God has provided for us the emotion of anger to express ourselves positively.  The use of our anger should be to oppose wrongdoing.  The use of our anger is to oppose injustice, violence, and profanity.  Let us use our anger to glorify God, and for the purpose of righteousness. Let us remember that anger is dangerous.  The way out of negative anger is to have a forgiving spirit.  People will make us angry at any given opportunity, but love for the righteousness of God will liberate us.