A few weeks ago I received an e-mail copy of a "Letter to the Editor" that was published late last summer, in the Wall Street Journal, in response to an article entitled, "Where's the Outrage?" This letter appeared even before the last election took place, but the handwriting was on the wall then, and the frustration and outrage has only increased since. I am going to read the letter in its entirety because I think it is important to this sermon to get an emotional sense of the outrage.
Really. I can tell you where the outrage is. The outrage is here, in this middle-aged, well-educated, upper-middle class woman. The outrage is here, but I have no representation, no voice. The outrage is here, but no one is listening for who am I?
I am not a billionaire like George Soros, that can fund an entire political movement. I am not a celebrity like Barbra Streisand, that can garner the attention of the press to promote political candidates. I am not a film maker like Michael Moore or Al Gore, that can deliver misleading movies to the public.
The outrage is here, but unlike those with money or power, I don't know how to reach those who feel similarly in order to effect change.
Why am I outraged? I am outraged that my country, the United States of America, is in a state of moral and ethical decline. There is no right or wrong anymore, just what's fair.
Is it fair that millions of Americans who overreached and borrowed more than they could afford are now being bailed out by the government and lending institutions to stave off foreclosure? Why shouldn't these people be made to pay the consequences for their poor judgment?
When my husband and I purchased our home, we were careful to purchase only what we could afford. Believe me, there are much larger, much nicer homes that I would have loved to have purchased. But, taking responsibility for my behavior and my life, I went with the house that we could afford, not the house that we could not afford. The notion of personal responsibility has all but died in our country.
I am outraged, that the country that welcomed my mother as an immigrant from Hitler's Nazi Germany, and required that she and her family learn English, now allows itself to be overrun with illegal immigrants and worse, caters to those illegal immigrants.
I am outraged that my hard-earned taxes help support those here illegally. That the Los Angeles Public School District is in such disarray that I felt it incumbent to send my child to private school. Every time I go to the ATM, I see "do you want to continue in English or Spanish?", that every time I call the bank, the phone company, or similar business, I hear "press 1 for English or press 2 for Spanish". WHY? This is America , our common language is English and attempts to promote a bi- or multi-lingual society are sure to fail and to marginalize those who cannot communicate in English.
I am outraged at our country's weakness in the face of new threats on American traditions from Muslims. Just this week, Tyson's Food negotiated with its union to permit Muslims to have Eid-al-Fitr as a holiday instead of Labor Day. What am I missing? Yes, there is a large Somali Muslim population working at the Tyson's plant in Tennessee . Tennessee, last I checked, is still part of the United States . If Muslims want to live and work here they should be required to live and work by our American Laws and not impose their will on our long history.
In the same week, Random House announced that they had indefinitely delayed the publication of The Jewel of Medina, by Sherry Jones, a book about the life of Mohammed's wife, Aisha due to fear of retribution and violence by Muslims. When did we become a nation ruled by fear of what other immigrant groups want? It makes me so sad to see large corporations cave rather than stand proudly on the principles that built this country.
I am outraged because appeasement has never worked as a political policy, yet appeasing Mahmoud Ah-mad-in-ejad is exactly what we are trying to do. An excellent article, also published recently in the Wall Street Journal, went through over 20 years of history and why talking with Iran has been and will continue to be ineffective. Yet talk, with a madman no less, we continue to do. Have we so lost our moral compass and its ability to detect evil that we will not go in and destroy Iran's nuclear program? Would we rather wait for another Holocaust for the Jews - one which they would be unlikely to survive? When does it end?
As if the battle for good and evil isn't enough, now come the Environmentalists who are so afraid of global warming that they want to put a bag tax on grocery bags in California; to eliminate Mylar balloons; to establish something as insidious as the recycle police in San Francisco. I do my share for the environment: I recycle, I use water wisely, I installed an energy efficient air conditioning unit. But when and where does the lunacy stop? Ah-mad-in-ejad wants to wipe Israel off the map, the California economy is being overrun by illegal immigrants, and the United States of America no longer knows right from wrong, good from evil... So what does California do? Tax grocery bags.
So, America, although I can tell you where the outrage is, this one middle-aged, well-educated, upper middle class woman is powerless to do anything about it. I don't even feel like my vote counts because I am so outnumbered by those who disagree with me.
(Alisa Wilson, PhD. Beverly Hills, California)
She then signed it with her name and supercilious credentials, PhD., Beverly Hills, CA.
I am only making a point of her signature because it subtly draws attention to my concern for us in this sermon!
Although she clearly makes the case for the subterfuge taking place in our country, and the cataclysmic turning from justice and liberty, her conclusion is her powerless frustration she finds in being outnumbered by those who disagree with her ....even though she is a well educated upper middle class woman with a PhD., who lives in Beverly Hills.
Her outrage grows out of the devastation of the pride of her power!
This letter is just one of hundreds of disturbing articles, letters, videos, and the like, that are e-mailed to me; that I see on the Internet; or that I see and hear on the television and radio every week, declaring the downfall of the nation at the hands of those in charge. Some are the truth, some are all lies and some are somewhere in between. But they all strike an emotional cord with each and every one of us as we see man's last best hope of liberty and freedom rushing back into tyranny!
But there is something subtly more troublesome at work here! Even for many God has called, and expected to live and act according to the truth, God, His plan, His purpose and His outrage seem to be secondary, even if only in our minds, to the pain of lost stature, man-made freedoms, liberties and ideals! Just as this woman noted toward the beginning of her letter, she is outraged because, as she said, "I don't know how to reach those who feel similarly in order to effect change!" We may be feeling a very similar outrage and feeding it with all these truths, half truths and out and out lies that bombard our thoughts daily. This type of outrage may be leading us into direct opposition to the plan and purpose of God, if not in our actions at least in our thoughts. We may very well be working out a reasoned and determined love of the world, or in this case love of country.
At this point, I would like to string a few scriptures together without too much commentary, but
asking you to keep in mind what I have just said.
I John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
John 17:15-19 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
Tying these verses together with Philippians 3:20, which proclaims our true citizenship, places us in a position that must be outside the realm of this world's foolishness and pride! As we look around us and see all the contention and finger pointing, we must remember as we are told in places like Proverbs 13:10; 14:3 and 16:18, that this contention grows from pride and the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride, which leads to destruction. Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25, tell us that these are ways that seem right to men, but end in death. Proverbs 14:15 and 16, tell us that the simple will believe every word: but the prudent man is careful in what he takes in, and the wise man fears and departs from evil as the fool rages and is full of confidence.
There is a great deal of raging, with absolute confidence, going on out there right now that says, "this country belongs to us and it has been the breath of freedom and liberty to the world because of the excellent righteousness bequeathed to us by the founding fathers." But herein lays the trap for us!
What happens if we get caught up in this prideful contentious debate, even if only in our minds? Will we end up in the place God intends for us to be? Just what is really going on in the nations of Israel today? To find the answer please turn first to Proverbs 16:
Proverbs 16:4-5 The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom. Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.
Leviticus 26 is the parallel chapter with Deuteronomy 28. I chose to read from here instead of Deuteronomy because here, God is speaking in the first person, and by applying the principle here to modern day Israel, God makes it clear beyond any doubt that all has been done and will be done by Him.
Leviticus 26:13-33 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright. But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit. Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate. And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins. And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied. And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you. I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.
Brethren, read all of this and Deuteronomy 28, while keeping in mind that God's purpose is to bring all men to repentance, as we are told in II Peter 3! He will destroy the pride of men's power, because pride has been the problem from the beginning, and we most certainly can not allow ourselves to get caught up in the contentious mind of this day, even vicariously!
Please turn with me back to Proverbs and a stern warning for us, within our present circumstances.
Proverbs 24:19-22 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the wicked; For there will be no prospect for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out. My son, fear the LORD and the king; Do not associate with those given to change; For their calamity will rise suddenly, And who knows the ruin those two can bring?
That word "meddle" means 'give pledge to'; 'invest yourself in.' How much time and effort are we investing of ourselves in bemoaning the downfall of the nation and paying attention to those who are spreading the word, whether true or false, as they try to change things back to the good old days and, to paraphrase an old saying, "To the glory that was America"? Instead of looking forward to what God is doing and what we, as His people should be doing about it!
Please do not get me wrong. I, too, feel deeply as I watch one of the closest things men have ever had to real liberty, justice, mercy, prosperity and peace come falling down around us in an avalanche of abominations.
Just as I was finishing preparing this message, I heard that President Obama, in his quest for 'fair play' through empathy rather than law, is considering two lesbians as candidates to fill the Supreme Court vacancy! It was another abominable reminder of what we had, and what we have thrown away because we have all sinned and failed to live up to the responsibilities we were given.
But the point is, we cannot let the foolishness of men become the bane of our existence. We have a job to do now, and we had better be doing it. So what is it that we should be doing?
First, please turn with me back to Proverbs 6, and we will see again what is going on today, and what we do not want to do.
Proverbs 6:12-19 A worthless person, a wicked man, Walks with a perverse mouth; He winks with his eyes, He shuffles his feet, He points with his fingers; Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord. Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy. These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
We clearly see here seven things that God hates and finds to be abominable, and these are the exact things that mark the end of this age. However, in Proverbs 9, we are given several hints to find out where to go to help us do our job at this time.
Proverbs 9:1, 3, 5-6, 10-11 Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars; she has sent out her maidens, She cries out from the highest places of the city, Come, eat of my bread And drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake foolishness and live, And go in the way of understanding. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.
What are the seven pillars that the house of Godly wisdom is built on, and that should be the source of strength to reflect God in our own lives? The pillars could be a number of things, but I think a few hints are here and they should send us in a particular direction.
Matthew Henry's Commentary writes about this Proverb.....
The Word of God is this Wisdom in which God makes known his goodwill towards men; God the Word is this Wisdom, to whom the Father has committed all judgment. He who, in the chapter before, showed his grandeur and glory as the Creator of the world, here shows his grace and goodness as the Redeemer of it.
Wisdom has sent out to call from the highest places of the city and if this chapter on wisdom is indeed pointing to the Word of God, then maybe the seven pillars of wisdom are given to us within the Words of Jesus Christ, as the antithesis of the things that God says He hates, in Proverbs 6.
Please turn to Matthew 5. Here is the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus speaking directly only to those who were truly His disciples, and He tells them how they are to behave in the face of the world of abominable darkness.
Matthew 5:13-16 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Where are the seven pillars of wisdom that should be the strength in our lives? I believe that they are right here, brethren, they are in the verses just before the ones that we just read. In verses 13 through 16, Jesus told us what they are in the previous verses. In the first twelve verses of Matthew, Jesus tells us about the seven pillars.
You look at the Beatitudes and you say, "Okay, but there are nine of them?" But here is the thing, only seven of them are what we can actively be doing to produce the good works to be seen of men for the glory of God! The last two are the ultimate blessings God gives to us if we carefully hold fast to the pillars of wisdom that produce the flame of the righteousness of God in a world that reviles against Him.
Matthew 5:3-9 Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God. [We must always acknowledge, with humility and gratitude, that we deserve nothing of and by ourselves, and it is only through Jesus Christ, and the grace of God, that we have any ability or understanding! It is only through loving submission to Their faithful authority and direction, that we can live.] Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. [We must be sighing and crying for the abominations of ourselves and others that have brought about the situation that we find the whole world in today; learning with all of our heart to understand the grief that we have all caused God; understanding, as King David did, "Against you only have I sinned and done this evil in your sight"!]Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. [We must be easily approachable; Wise as serpents, but harmless as doves, and never, ever posing a threat to anyone.] Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. [We must be desperately seeking to be obedient to the law and following Christ's example in everything that we do. and especially His example of knowing what to do within our roles in the long range plan and purpose of the Father. These are the responsibilities that we have right now, right here, in this time, in this place.] Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. [We must be striving for godly compassion, sympathy and empathy in all our thoughts and actions towards all men. We must be doing good to all whenever the opportunity presents itself, as John Ritenbaugh taught us last week.]Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God. [Pure of heart is being single-minded in our purpose to be focused on constant self examination from the inside out to make sure there is Godly cleanliness in all of our actions and motives. It will not happen overnight, brethren, it will not happen before the end of our lives, but we have to be constantly examining ourselves with a single purpose in mind, always seeking the singleness of God's Holiness!] Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. [We must be constantly working and diligently maintaining peace, no matter what the cost to ourselves; never sowing the seeds of discord, and always looking to create a peaceful environment for those around us, especially those of the church of the living God.]
And then God says to us:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We have the same responsibilities as the prophets did. We are called to do a job now, and we cannot be taken off base into letting our minds wander into this end-time finger pointing.
We see clearly that what is going on around us is God's doing. He is Sovereign over His creation, and He will accomplish His plan and purpose. But this does not give us the opportunity to just sit back saying "Lah de dah, we do not need to get involved, God will take care of it." We do need to get involved, but not the way the world would have us do it.
We have a job to do right now, to overcome our own foolish pride, and to make these seven pillars of wisdom to cause us to shine before men for the honor of God.
These are the seven pillars that Jesus Christ outlined at the beginning of Matthew 5, and He carefully expands in practical example throughout the remainder of chapters 5, 6 and 7. This is something that we need to study all of the time to make sure that we are applying it in our lives.
This is what our focus needs to be today, both in spite of and because of our trials and troubles around us. It is our job before God's throne.
In such a time of great pressure and responsibility, I would like us to end this portion of the split sermons today with a psalm of encouragement and confidence from King David, he too shared much pressure in his role and responsibility.
Psalm 27:1-14 The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD. Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, "Seek My face," My heart said to You, "Your face, LORD, I will seek." Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the LORD will take care of me. Teach me Your way, O LORD, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
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