Psalm 9:1-4 “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. For you have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.”
David wrote these words to be sung somberly and mournfully. To the tune of “The Death of a Son.” It could have been written in response to the death of his first son by Bathsheba was dead and he had fallen into despair. These words were sung in response to heavy grief. Things were not going well. Times were tough. There was discord in his Kingdom. It was not to be a light and airy piece about shouting from the roof tops the praise to God. Life while comfortable, was full of disappointment and unrealized expectations. To borrow a line from a 60’s TV show, “Gloom, despair, excessive misery, if it were not for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” 2020 and 2021 have not been the best for us all. Masks, shots, and social distancing seems to have taken the zest from life.
Yet today, I will not be overcome by the dirge of the world and simply “give thanks with all my heart, for all that God has done. I will sing the praises of God. I will keep on keeping on; always looking forward and not back.
Matthew 7:13,14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
The sermon is about over. Jesus is concluding. It is a place of determination. We have a choice. Each one of us on the grassy hillside listening and make application of the words of the Rabbi, must decide. Jesus sums it all up with a choice between two gates. A wide gate leading to destruction or a narrow gate that leads to life. And what strikes me the gate we choose is dependent upon the path we take in our present. We are all walkers. We are all on a journey toward a gate. There are only two gates at the end of our paths. The difficulty of the path determines the number of people taking it. It is best to take the road less traveled by. Only one of the two gates are worth the journey. God’s choice for us is to take the gate that is small. Narrow or wide is the ultimate choice.
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Much like the Oliver Twist we state sheepishly to God, “please sir, I need some more.” We come, we petition, we stand in line with the expectations of another scoop of gruel. The portion allotted to me must get better. I look toward tomorrow in hope the scoop will be bigger. As I start my day with a cup of coffee in my cave like study, a portion is supplied, each with some pleasure, and some trouble. Not always in the same proportion. At issue on the side hill is along with the want of more, comes a specific want. “Tomorrow I want more of the good stuff and much less of the not so good.”
Today is also be supplied with the grace and mercy for today. Enough of God’s provision to overcome the not so good. And not enough to carry over for tomorrow. For today, it is enough, I don’t need some more.
Matthew 6:28-30 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
The world has become bi-polar. Everything is poured into one of two buckets. Everything seems to be either good or bad. There is no middle ground which allows judgement. One bucket is much larger than the other. The smaller of the two is filled with the good, pure, lovely, heartwarming, and beautiful. But these wondrous things barely cover the bottom of the bucket. The sides of the bucket are rarely wet. The problem is that it is easy to give into negativity. It is hard to see the good in world. The hilltop lecture is telling me to be more cognizant of the beauty of life. God loves beauty. He created beauty. I may not as well dressed as Solomon or seen as beauty in your eyes. Yet, God delights in the adornment he supplies. I am a new creature born in beauty before God. It is filling my good bucket today. God supplies me with everything I need to do what God has for me today.
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake, Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you”
Not everyone believes the same way I do. If they did there would be no need for me. There are those who disagree so strongly they cast arrows of disdain and rejection in my direction. There have been times when I had to patiently bear disgrace, persecution, malice, defamation, mockery, privation and ignorance. I write into oblivion in the slow meanderings of my own river of life and I am content. I am blessed. I am at peace. I am well assured of the ultimate end of my personal flowing. If there is no other reason to have joy and gladness it is this: there is a reward in Heaven for me.
Take time and listen to the blessings and reasons for life. I feel the same breeze that Jesus felt on the edge of a mountain. A breeze that cools the brow. Yet, Jesus knew there would be a time when that cool breeze of refreshment would become a storm. A storm filled with revulsion, slander, lies and a cross. But first he had to tell us it is OK. I sit at his feet and listen; it is enough for now. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.”
Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the light of the world…”
The world that we know is in turmoil. I am in a black room with no window or door. I try to bring figure it out. I have tried philosophy to understand why I am in this room. I have tried psychology to determine my thinking process of living in a dark place. I have tried education to learn enough to know all the characteristics of the blackness. Medicine has no hope to lighten my room it only lengthens my lives in this blackness. Drugs to enlighten our surroundings create shadows, but they do not last. Politics do not seem to help; they have no program of support for the dark. I can depend upon myself with a humanistic outlook and say “to thine oneself be true”, but it is still black. I can feel for the sides of the room and slid down the wall and give up. Agnosticism in a dark room says there is nothing more. A realist would say, “what is, is.” The only answer to the world’s bewilderment of total blackness is Jesus. Any other answer is simply darkness.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jesus, The Prince of Peace, at the end of his disciplining of his disciples. He knew there were terrible times ahead. He knew that He could not keep them by his protecting, loving, caring, gentile, patient arm. He had to go. And if he had to go, Jesus would impart something to them and to me: Peace.
I am a believer in Jesus. I put my full confidence in a loving God. I am thankful in every circumstance because of a gift presented to me in love. I have an inner calm that dominates my soul. Only a believer will ever experience this inner peace. Despite all the cares, woes, and raging tempests around me, I have peace. No one outside of Christ will ever be able to fathom this peace. To most, it will remain a mystery. They will look and marvel at the peace that passes understanding. I pray that those who don’t have it, will come and partake of it.
John 5:21-23 – For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
Jesus is totally just; there is no injustice in Him at all. I look forward to the time when righteousness and justice will be the order of the day and injustice will be banished forever. My concern is in the delivery system. I often would like to either speed it up or slow it down.
God delivers justice in different ways. There are times of conviction and resulting repentance. Occasionally justice is served through routine personal and peaceful interaction. There are times when confrontation following normal church procedures result in a just solution. And sometimes justice will not be revealed until after our deaths, recognizing that God sees an eternal picture that we cannot comprehend while wrapped up in our temporal, earthly matters. But do know this: God will bring about justice. Maybe it won’t be as dramatic or as timely as our expectation. But in the end, God’s justice will most certainly be done.
John 5:26-30 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
In the world today, I sense a tension between the implementation of Justice as man sees it and justice as demanded by a God. One a man-centered approach and the other a God-centered approach. The vision of the current man-centered justice is one of bringing a utopia through policies. To see government as the savior to all the world. They would legislate morality, through laws and regulations.
The God-centered approach sees Jesus as savior. Jesus bringing heaven to earth when He returns. At His return, Christ will restore all things and execute perfect justice. In the meantime, I will express God’s love and justice by showing kindness and mercy to those who are less fortunate. I will be the hands and feet of Jesus to my little world around me.
Luke 16:10-13 He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous 1awealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
My belief includes a concept of stewardship. I am called do many things in the name of my God. One of them is to give to others. If I have a Christian heart for the unborn, I can support charities that promote the sanctity of life. If I have a Christian heart for the hungry, I can work in a food pantry distributing food. If I encounter someone who is broken down along the road, I can stop and see if I can provide assistance. If I am prompted to mow my neighbor’s lawn because she can’t physically do it, I can pull the lawnmower out. I listen to the voice of God, that little, small voice within me revealing my responsibilities. It is not the responsibility of the local government. It is not justice warriors standing on the steps of the capital holding signs for justice who dictate my love. It is not those people or the sum of all these people that dictate to me what I can do for my neighbor. I do because that is what God expects of me. It is not your picture of justice, or some politician. Lord give me a heart for those you want me to help.