Our world is a mess. Let’s take that a little closer to ourselves… our nation is a mess. We can go closer than that, our state is a mess… do we agree? Are we still on the same page? How about this? Our city is a mess… how about now still got agreement? Our neighborhood is a mess. Do you agree? Our families are a mess… wait now pastor now you’re getting too personal… well how about this? We are a mess. Yes I am including myself in that statement because we are all a mess. "Pastor how are you going to say that about me?" You might be saying to yourself… "You don’t know me that well." You’re right. I don’t know you that well, that is part of what makes us a mess isn’t it?
I saw some very disturbing pictures this week and unfortunately, it is something that is causing quite a stir, and even is being laughed about… or exploited into being something it is not… take a look at this. “Share a Coke with Isis”? Really, are we so quick to judge that we don’t research anything for ourselves anymore? It took me all of 3 seconds to find information as to why this picture exists and I will share it with you. Although the name "Isis" does not appear on Coca-Cola product labels shown on the United States' "Share a Coke" page, this photograph is indeed real. A company spokesperson told Snopes in an email that the "Share A Coke With Isis" cans were available in the Netherlands during the 2014 campaign: This is not one of the 1,000 Share a Coke names available in the U.S. It is a popular name in the Netherlands and was used in their 2014 campaign among 2,500 of the most common Dutch names. It is unfortunate that it took on another meaning while the campaign was in market. The name is no longer available in the Netherlands.
It should also be noted that the word "Isis" depicted on the bottle is written with an initial capital letter followed by lower-case letters, while the terrorist organization's name is an acronym (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and thus is rendered in all capital letters. Since the picture displayed shows it as "Isis" with lower case letters, they reference a person named Isis (similar to the Egyptian goddess) and not a militant Islamic group. But just think of the buzz this one picture started on Facebook and other forms of social media.
This is something we are publishing and people are joking about it, or are threatening boycotts about it…
how about this “Caitlyn Jenner.” How do we celebrate this and fill the news and social media about this when there are so many other things we should be talking about?
What about Josh Duggar? That story has been in the headlines for a while as well.
How did we get here? Why do we focus on such drama, when it is such a mess?
I have my theory and of course I am going to share it with you because that’s what I do!
God is on time all the time… In our reading through the Bible plan this week, on Monday as a matter of fact, I was reading through the first four chapters of Hosea. In Hosea chapter 4, I ran across this text in verses 1-10…
“Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel, For the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no faithfulness or kindness Or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, And everyone who lives in it languishes Along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, And also the fish of the sea disappear. Yet let no one find fault, and let none offer reproof; For your people are like those who contend with the priest. So you will stumble by day, And the prophet also will stumble with you by night; And I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of My people And direct their desire toward their iniquity. And it will be, like people, like priest; So I will punish them for their ways And repay them for their deeds. They will eat, but not have enough; They will play the harlot, but not increase, Because they have stopped giving heed to the LORD.”
Does any of this sound familiar? There are so many different ways we can go with this text. I think we can look at the last few verses and see how prevalent this is in our life today." Yet let no one find fault, and let none offer reproof; For your people are like those who contend with the priest. So you will stumble by day, And the prophet also will stumble with you by night; And I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of My people And direct their desire toward their iniquity. And it will be, like people, like priest; So I will punish them for their ways And repay them for their deeds. They will eat, but not have enough; They will play the harlot, but not increase, Because they have stopped giving heed to the LORD.”
How many of the "popular" preachers are preaching the "prosperity message?" No condemnation, only happy thoughts... Like people, like priest... My God is a just God, one that reproves His children when they have gone astray and welcomes them with open arms when they repent and ask for forgiveness...
I was talking with a family member at our family reunion while we were on vacation and I think we solved all of the world’s problems… at least for a moment or two. We started talking about the pledge of allegiance. Sarah and a couple of her cousins were talking about how God just isn’t a priority in so many lives in our country today. And then of course I interjected as I was walking past them by saying “We’ve removed God from our lives so much that it seems like a lie to say that we are one nation under God.” Don’t get me wrong, I know that we are under God as far as proximity and as far as He is the one in control but we have removed Him so much from our everyday lives as a nation that I find it difficult to think that we are not in the same boat as Israel was in the book of Hosea.
To me, the problem is very elementary and simple. It goes to what I said at the beginning in that the fact that you and I don't know each other that well is part of what makes us a mess.
How many times this week did you say hi to your neighbor? And I’m not talking about waving as you drove by in your car. I am talking about physically saying hello to the one that lives next door, to the person at the grocery store walking down the same aisle as you, to people that God has placed in your path. You might say, or think "Well, pastor, that’s easier for you, it’s your job to do that."
Doesn’t the scripture say to love one another as you love yourself?
How about this question? How many of you love God? Don’t do this because you’re afraid the person next to you might judge you if you don’t. Do it only if you mean it. I don’t want you to say something you don’t mean. I want to hear an Amen from those of you that love God.
Remember a couple of weeks ago we spoke about Peter and the three times Jesus asks him Simon Peter, do you love me… He was talking about a full on, totally devoted, no one else comes first kind of love the first two times and then the third time he was talking about brotherly love. The kind of love that says I like you a lot and want to share time with you, I want to get to know you better, you’re my friend and I want to you to like me too. Do you feel that kind of love for God?
Scripture also says that if you love God you must love others because it is impossible to love Him and not others. 1 John 4:20 says this… “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” Now we also spoke a couple weeks ago about who Jesus calls brother, right? Matthew 12:50 says “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother." So does that mean we only have to love those that do the will of our heavenly father? Of course not, God loves all of His creation, we are all His children. God doesn’t discriminate, He loves us all the same.
My friends I think that we just need to look at ourselves to see where the trouble lies. We are our own worst enemies. We want better for our children than we had growing up, but did we really have it that bad? We are hearing today about minimum wage workers wanting $15 an hour to flip hamburgers at McDonald's or stock grocery shelves. Where have all of the good paying jobs gone? In my opinion the fast food minimum wage and the grocery store minimum wage as well as most other entry level minimum wage jobs should be for those that are just starting out in life, still in high school or just out of high school with support from their families to keep them going. We have done this to ourselves as a nation. There were plenty of jobs here in the US until we got greedy. Again, in my opinion, there is no reason a CEO of a major corporation should be making millions of dollars a year while those doing the groundwork are barely making ends meet. How many times have we heard the terms “wage freeze” only to hear that upper management all got a huge bonus, or tax increase only to find out our government got yet another bump in pay? Greed is not something that falls in line with loving one another. Mark 10:21 says to “sell all of your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” This is what Jesus says to the rich young ruler. We have so much here in the US that we don’t truly know what poverty means. Even the poorest of Americans have it better than most in other countries. You’ve seen the pictures, you’ve read the stories or watched them on television.
So why are we such a mess?
Because we’ve lost focus on what is important, not just what but who is the most important in our lives. Not one of us is perfect, we all have something in our life that proves that. The trouble I see with that is that instead of letting scripture dictate our lives, we want to use single verses to justify what we do. We use the verses that help us justify our lives and lifestyles. Yes God is a forgiving God, and He loves us more than we could ever imagine. He sent His son as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of all sin. But just because we are free from sin, we are not free to sin.
We need to take our country back, we need to stand up when our beliefs are being questioned and ridiculed. The less we do, the more our world becomes morally deficient and ignorant about what God has to say.
I can’t even remember how many times I have heard an eye for an eye said out loud. There is even scripture that justifies that Exodus 21:24 says, (read it)… Leviticus 24:20 (read it) Deuteronomy 19:21 (read it)… all of these scriptures justify eye for an eye. What he did to that person he deserves to get punished in the same way… I have said this myself many times. Because we as humans put weight on sin, but God doesn’t. Let’s see what Jesus says in Matthew 5:38-48. (read it)
follow up with Romans 3:21-22
I’m going to ask those singing our song of invitation to come forward.
Earlier I asked that you answer a question out loud. I don’t want you to answer it again out loud, but I do want to ask again, with a couple of follow up questions to help the conversation.
Do you love God?
How much do you love Him?
Do you love Him enough to make Him first in your life and your main priority?
Do you love Him enough to want to make Him first in your life and you just don’t know what that looks like and want some direction?
Do you love Him enough to know that He is your friend and you like hanging out with Him to get to know Him better?
Perhaps you don’t know Him at all and would like to be introduced today.
Wherever you are, there is a next step in your relationship with Him. Let’s pray about that today. Let’s ask God what that next step is and listen for His answer. God has a purpose for every life in this room today. Do you know what yours is? Why don’t you ask Him? Seek His purpose in your life and together we can shift the focus back to where it should be. He is the answer to this mess we are in. He can make it better if we listen to what He has to say. It may be difficult, it may be uncomfortable, it may seem impossible, but if it is what He wants, He will make it easier, more comfortable, and never impossible. The altar is open ask Him what your next step is. Let’s stand