When Your Heart is Separated From God

When Your Heart is Separated From God

When Your Heart is Separated from God Obadiah – A Prophet to the Edomites September 20, 2020 Genesis 27 tells the story of Jacob stealing his twin brother Esau’s blessing from their father, Isaac. He’d already tricked him out of his birthright. Jacob had to leave home and find work with his Uncle Laban because Esau was so angry, he would have killed him. Many years later, the brothers reunited. Both had become wealthy and powerful men. Both met and embraced, but the brothers never developed a relationship. Chapter 36 of Genesis says that “their possessions were too great for them to remain together. The land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. So, Esau (also called Edom) settled in the hill country of Seir.” (Genesis 36:7-8) Then in the remaining verses of Genesis 36, you have a bunch of names of people that are descendants of Esau or Edom. The Old Testament storyline follows Jacob’s descendants until we come to the New Testament and we read about a man named Joseph of Bethlehem, one of Jacob’s descendants, who married Mary, the mother of Jesus. But God did not forget about the people of Esau, the Edomites. Just as God had sent prophets to warn the people that descended from Jacob that they needed to turn to Him, God also sent a prophet to the Edomites. His name was Obadiah.  Now you know why the book of Obadiah is in the Bible. This morning, I want to tell you what Obadiah’s message was to the Edomites. When Our Heart is Separated from God,...
Using the Golden Rule to Overcome Injustice

Using the Golden Rule to Overcome Injustice

Using the Golden Rule to Overcome Injustice September 13, 2020 In recent months I have reached out to my African American friends to listen about their struggles with injustice. A mother told me of the fears she has of her teenage son being treated unjustly because of the color of his skin. He said she had a responsibility to remind him that because he was black, there was always the potential that his rights could be violated.  She wanted him to be prepared to respond in the right way so he would come home alive. I’ve listened to a black man as he recalled his father returning from faithfully from serving our country when we were at war.  Despite fighting for his country like everyone else, he was constantly harassed in the community. He received threatening phone calls telling him to move his family, always laced with disparaging language.  He was passed over for promotions at work, even though he was qualified.  He said his father maintained his dignity, loved others, and taught his family to love God through it all. I spoke to another man, a pastor and chaplain, who told me he grew up in Nevada.  He said when you are driving out there, you can go miles and miles without coming to a well-lit area. One night, many years ago, he was driving, and the blue lights came on behind his car.  He wasn’t speeding and didn’t know why he was being pulled over.  But fear immediately became his predominant emotion. He drove until he found a well-lit area to pull over.  When the officers approached,...
Rend Your Hearts

Rend Your Hearts

September 6 “Rend Your Heart” Joel About 45 miles from my hometown is the city of Enterprise, Alabama. Downtown on the city square, there is a monument to an insect, the boll weevil. The monument credits the boll weevil with bringing economic diversification to the Southern United States. The boll weevil came out of Mexico and reached Alabama in 1909. By the mid-1920s, it had infested all the cotton regions of the United States. This tiny insect destroyed the cotton industry and the economic lives of thousands of people. Cotton had long been associated with slavery, as whites owned the land and used slaves to work it. After emancipation, whites still controlled the land. Blacks and poor whites remained at the mercy of those who owned the land, but it was mostly blacks that worked cotton, many as sharecroppers, to earn a measly wage. The boll weevil changed all of that. This year, a Journal of Economic History study found that the boll weevil contributed to fewer lynchings, less Confederate monument construction, less KKK activity, and higher non-white voter registration. http://economics.mit.edu/files/18472 I’ve never heard anyone say that God sent the boll weevil as a judgment on the South for how it treated blacks and even poor whites, but if Joel had been around during the 1920s and ’30s, it’s something he might have said. Joel was a prophet that lived around 800 B.C. during a time when Judah was experiencing prosperity and security. Then the prosperity and security came to a halt. The country was hit by an invasion of locusts that Joel said was unlike anything anyone had...
Rescuing Us From Unfaithfulness

Rescuing Us From Unfaithfulness

August 30, 2020 Rescuing Us from Unfaithfulness – The Book of Hosea With Hosea’s book, we enter the section of the Hebrew Bible called the Minor Prophets. These books are not less in importance, but they tend to be smaller in length.  There are twelve of these prophets with Hosea being the longest at fourteen chapters. When I read about Hosea’s life and ministry, I just have to laugh when I think about his life playing out in the modern-day church.  As we unpack this story, I want you to imagine the gossip that would have surrounded him and his family as details began to emerge. The Old Testament prophets endured the constant pressure, harassment, struggles, and hardships of the ministry, but if their ministries been conducted within a local church, most of them would not have had a job for very long. Suppose the First Church of Samaria called Hosea to be their prophet, except it didn’t work that way.  God did the calling.  Prophets just showed up and started preaching, sort of like a street evangelist. Imagine Hosea showing up with his wife, Gomer at the First Church of Samaria.  Perhaps the people welcomed him into the community at first.  They might even have been given him a nice camel haired tent to live in.  It would have called a “prophetorium.” But don’t you know when the church people found out that the prophet’s wife had a promiscuous history, the gossip mill would begin to turn.   That word would have spread quicker than a sneeze through a screen door. Someone would have said, “I knew those children...
Surrender Control to God (Daniel)

Surrender Control to God (Daniel)

Surrendering Control to God August 23, 2020 One of the greatest prayers ever penned is by Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. It’s become known as the Serenity Prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. https://www.prayerfoundation.org/dailyoffice/serenity_prayer_full_version.htm One thing Niebuhr’s prayer teaches is that there are some things we can control and some things we cannot. I cannot control whether it rains or the sun shines but I can control how I dress for the weather. I cannot control whether my life is hit with indiscriminate, unplanned, hardship, or disaster but I can always choose how I respond to it. Everything I do with my life from the time I get up until the time I go to bed, I try to control. But I usually have to pray Niebuhr’s prayer, because before the day is over, something is bound to not go my way. Can anybody relate? Almost from the beginning of their lives, life spiraled out of control for teenagers Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. In the year 604 B.C., they were carried away in the first wave of exiles into Babylon. Every aspect of their lives was controlled: the language they spoke, the literature they studied, the names they answered to, and the food and drink they consumed. They became a part of a group of men overseen by Ashpenaz, the chief of the court officials for the king. They soon came to understand that they were at the mercy of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. How do you...