Peace Be Unto You

“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you,” John 20:21.

Oreaching Jerusalem the two disciples enter at the eastern gate, which is open at night on festal occasions. The houses are dark and silent, but the travelers make their way through the narrow streets by the light of the rising moon. They go to the upper chamber where Jesus spent the hours of the last evening before His death.


Here they know that their brethren are to be found. Late as it is, they know that the disciples will not sleep until they learn for a certainty what has become of the body of their Lord. They find the door of the chamber securely barred. They knock for admission, but no answer comes. All is still. Then they give their names. The door is carefully unbarred, they enter, and Another, unseen, enters with them. Then the door is again fastened, to keep out spies.

…a voice which is no other than the voice of their Master. Clear and distinct the words fall from His lips, “Peace be unto you.”

The travelers find all in surprised excitement. The voices of those in the room break out into thanksgiving and praise, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.” Then the two travelers, panting with the haste with which they have made their journey, tell the wondrous story of how Jesus has appeared to them. They have just ended, and some are saying that they cannot believe it, for it is too good to be true, when behold, another Person stands before them. Every eye is fastened upon the stranger. No one has knocked for entrance. No footstep has been heard. The disciples are startled, and wonder what it means. Then they hear a voice which is no other than the voice of their Master. Clear and distinct the words fall from His lips, “Peace be unto you.”

     “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And He said unto them, why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet.” . . .

     At the birth of Jesus the angel announced, Peace on earth, and good will to men. And now at His first appearance to the disciples after His resurrection, the Saviour addressed them with the blessed words, “Peace be unto you.” Jesus is ever ready to speak peace to souls that are burdened with doubts and fears. He waits for us to open the door of the heart to Him, and say, Abide with us. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” Revelation 3:20.



This article is part of our 2018 July / August Issue
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ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlineboks.




Promised Victory in Revelation

Open the pages of the Bible’s prophetic end time missives to discover God’s message for you.

We’re living in a time that is distinctively different than anything we’ve seen or witnessed before. The prophetic words of Jesus that describe the events surrounding His Second Coming are expeditiously coming to fulfillment. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”1

Jesus has won! 

Christ returneth! 

Hallelujah! 

Hallelujah!

Amen!

Over 2,000 years ago, Christ foretold what our current world would resemble, and truly His words are coming to fruition. We are inundated with the threat of war. The menacing frequency of natural disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and volcanic activity are commonplace. Terroristic attacks, school shootings, and gun violence plague us everyday. Death, disease, and destruction are rampant. Allegations of sexual assault are on the rise as countless individuals have joined the “#MeToo” Movement” in response to the abuse they’ve received at the hands of others.

And while all of the aforementioned eschatological events must come to pass, God, in the Book of Revelation, has given us assurance that we, His people, will have ultimate victory through Jesus Christ! In fact, Revelation is all about Jesus! When we read the opening words of the book, we’re told that it is the “Revelation of Jesus Christ,”2 and that God gave Revelation to Jesus; Jesus gave it to an angel; an angel gave to John; and John wrote it down and gave it to us!3

Don’t Be Alarmed.

Given its end time emphasis, Revelation is also a prophetic book. It’s our New Testament prophetic book, while Daniel is its prophetic counterpart in the Old Testament. Yet, many people are uncomfortable reading Daniel and the Revelation because either they don’t understand these books, or they get fearful when considering the lions, bears, beasts, and symbols in these books. They say, “I don’t know what all those symbols represent. Daniel and the Revelation make me scared!”

But “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”4 And when you understand all of the symbols and animals, you will discover that the books of Daniel and the Revelation are books about God’s love revealed in Jesus, and the fact that Jesus wants to save us!5

Revelation then is not a closed or sealed book! God wants us to read it!6 In fact, the very word “Revelation,” by definition, means “to reveal.” To reveal is “to expose. To uncover! To make known. To tell!”7 Revelation reveals Jesus, but it also exposes Satan and his demonic and deceptive nature. Therefore, Satan doesn’t want us to read, hear, or keep Revelation. Hence, in Revelation, we are faced with the question of “Who will we give our loyalty and worship to – God or Satan?” One of the three angels of Revelation 14 admonishes us where to stake our claim, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”8

We Win!

Let’s be on the winning side! Jesus’ side! In Him, we win! He is victorious over Satan,9 and will reign forever!10 Satan is defeated and Satan is a failure! He failed in heaven against Jesus! He failed when he tried to kill Jesus in infancy! He failed when he tried to tempt Jesus in adulthood! He failed at the cross against Jesus! And He’s going to fail at the Second Coming of Jesus!

Despite the eschatological overtones of our present day, remember, Jesus has won! Christ returneth! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen!11

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CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1 Matthew 24:6-8, NKJV

2 Revelation 1:1

3 Revelation 1:1-5

4 2 Timothy 1:7

5 Revelation 22:7, 12

6 Revelation 1:3

7 www.merriam-webster.com

8 Revelation 14:7

9 Revelation 20:10

10 Revelation 21:1-4

11 H.L. Turner, “Christ Returneth,” Hymn, 1878.



This article is part of our 2018 July / August Issue
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When We Know Better, We Do Better

What You Need to Know (and Share) About Revelation 14’s Second Angel

His zeal was undeniable. Standing at a major Los Angeles intersection, he was screaming at passersby, “Better give your heart to Jesus, or you’re going to burn in hell.” Yes, his zeal was readily apparent. Nonetheless, his unprofitable enterprise presented a prime example of the Bible’s “zeal without knowledge.”

Although, sincere, the young believer proved himself to be less of a danger to Satan’s plans, than he was to his own. Uninformed Christians, face very real and possibly fatal consequences. God says so in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

To remove any excuse for our being lost, the Lord expanded our knowledge base regarding “last day” events through the messages of the three angels in Revelation, chapter 14. Having previously explored the first angel’s message, we now turn our attention to the message of the second angel in Revelation 14:8: “And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen … because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

BABYLON REDUX

Since literal Babylon was destroyed long ago, which Babylon would command our attention on the stage of prophecy? Among commentators and scholars, many have wrongly labeled the Church of Rome as Babylon. However, a careful study of the text helps us to know that this prophetic Babylon could not possibly represent either pagan Rome, or, papal Rome. We can be sure of this, because we’re told by John that Babylon is now in a fallen state. This suggests that at some point this Babylon had been in good standing with God. However, that has never been the case for Rome in either of its forms.

Uriah Smith in his book, Daniel and the Revelation, pp 664, offered this insight: “From the beginning of their history, Paganism has been a false religion, and the Papacy an apostate one.” Therefore, the second angel’s warning of Babylon being fallen could not apply to Rome. Then, to whom?

Revelation 14:8’s pronouncement must appropriately point to a religious body that at some point in time had been pure, but whose doctrines over time had become corrupted. Furthermore, understanding that this second angel’s message follows the “judgment hour” message of the first angel, helps us to know that these are “last days” messages. As such, these messages are intended for the sons and daughters of God. They are not divine instructions for those who blindly follow false religions.

The gospel message ringing out from Calvary has long been the call to leave the false teachings of men and to become invested in the true religion of Christ. Therefore, we are left with the shocking, but true, understanding from Scripture that apostate Protestantism is the Babylon of prophecy. In the “last days,” we may equate Babylon with Christian churches that profess Jesus, but according to Him in Matthew 15:8,9 “… draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Such faith communities are fatally flawed.

COMPROMISE AND CORRUPTION

What is the cause of their deviation from the Truth? The Bible says they have engaged in spiritual fornication with the world. This has occurred as Protestant churches began allowing the world to influence the people of God in their worship of God. While, indeed, offering familial love, warm fellowship, and vibrant worship experiences, these communities of professed faith, have seen fit to reject God’s Word as the final arbiter of faith. Thus, they have committed spiritual fornication with the world by drinking the wines of paganism and error.

In these last-days, fallen communities of faith have become guilty of permitting the world to influence what believers believe. We see clear evidence of this as Christian churches teach contrary to “thus says the Lord.” Among the examples we find are churches teaching: renunciation of the reality of hellfire for the unrighteous, belief in once saved-always saved, claims of the immortality of the soul, and rejection of the validity of the entirety of God’s Ten Commandment Law.

And this is just a partial listing of how Protestant churches have veered from God’s path of righteousness. More than zeal, the redeemed need God-ordained knowledge of truth versus falsity that is being taught in many Christian communities, today. Knowledge is ours, if we but ask (James 1:5).

UNIFIED IN CONFUSION

Sadly, we’re also seeing the embrace of ecumenism by Protestant churches. This crafting of a false sense of unity has been nurtured by the Bishop of Rome. And, it finds the people of God forming alliances with Rome, while following the directives of men, rather than the Word of God.

Since the time of Nimrod, Babylon has represented confusion. Throughout Scripture, false and apostate religions have worn the label, Babylon. Just as Belshazzar demonstrated his contempt for the God of heaven by drinking wine from the Temple’s sacred vessels, apostate Christian communities show their contempt for God by defiling His law, His name, and His Holy day through the substitution of man-made teachings for the pure Word of God. The institution, which is responsible for leading humanity into obeying erroneous doctrines and becoming allies with the church of Rome, is apostate Protestantism, which wears the label, Babylon.

LET GO. COME OUT.

The importance of knowledge is underscored by the fact that the fallen condition of Babylon is repeated in Revelation 18:2-4. And, this time, the Lord declares grave consequences for those who persist in embracing Babylon: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen … And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and … receive of her plagues.”

The Father extends His invitation of grace to each of His children. Come out of Babylon and come into the Kingdom of glory. That’s knowledge worth sharing.



This article is part of our 2018 July / AAUgust Issue
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DONALD L. McPHAULL, M.S.W., has enjoyed 30 years of ministry and is currently the senior pastor of the Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church in Los Angeles, California.




Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone, and Other Hazards of Heredity

Sin Recovery Principles. Holy Spirit Makes Us More Aware. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, August 27, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 08.27.2018” on Spreaker.

Today’s Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 9:34-38

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number four of 12: “We are submitting to an honest self-inventory as the Holy Spirit makes us more aware.”

Come to Grips Sooner Rather Than Later

I know from experience what it’s like to suffer internal struggles due to heredity. Every person who was born of a woman, whether you know her or not, has to face the reality of your ancestors. This reality is that they struggled with pride, rage, hatred, pessimism, over ambitiousness, promiscuity, alcoholism, drug abuse, greed, envy, doubt, etc. The sooner you admit that to yourself, and that this accounts for half of your struggles, the other half being habits you have cultivated yourself, is the sooner you will be in a position to experience victory.

If your dad was an angry man, acknowledge that his anger may have had a negative impact on you. Acknowledge your mother’s crack addiction, that it may have had some negative impact on you. If your grandmother was a woman of the night and could not see a handsome man go by without soliciting him, acknowledge that this may have had some negative impact on your life. If your grandfather abandoned his family, accept the fact that this had a negative impact on your life.

I say all this not to give you a way to make excuses for maladaptive or sinful behaviors. I say this so you can take an honest self-inventory and perhaps identify some of what makes you tick. Yes, there are great qualities we also inherit from our foreparents, but obviously, we do not need to overcome those.

Parental Effects

What do you do once you recognize the impact of your ancestors on your life? Do you wallow in it? Is someone else to blame for your poor choices? Do you throw up your hands in despair because you feel like you got the short end of the stick in this thing called life?

Let me share an idea with you. Ask God to show you what negative impact the decisions and habits of your foreparents still has on your lifestyle choices today. Ask Him to nullify the effects of heredity to that drives you to do evil. God will manifest His love in your life so much that you learn to make right choices as a matter of consistent habit so you can bring Him glory. Ask God to adopt you into His family and give you a fresh, godly bloodline through Christ. Ask God how to be of service to the next generation.




Linger to Hear What the Spirit Says

Sin Recovery Principles. Honesty with Ourselves. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, August 26, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 08.26.2018” on Spreaker.

Today’s Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 9:1-3

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number four of 12: “We are submitting to an honest self-inventory as the Holy Spirit makes us more aware.”

Whenever the Lord honors us with the privilege of seeing ourselves as we are it is a blessing. As we have said multiple times recently, submission to God’s will is essential in these situations. Simply being able to identify and confess where we have strayed is not sufficient. Simply being sad when we have disappointed ourselves, and God is not enough. What we need is a change of heart and lifestyle, and only God can effect such lasting change in us.

Godly Sorrow a Gift

I find it more than a little interesting that in the eighth chapter of the book of Numbers, the people welcomed the reading and teaching of the Word in their lives. They not only welcomed it, but they were also saddened by how short they had fallen of God’s ideal. Their contriteness was an indicator of whose spirit was at work. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to experience godly sorrow for sin. And as the people displayed a contrite response to truth, God rewarded them with a message of hope and rejoicing.

Leaders encouraged the people to rejoice because they had heard and understood the Word of God. They were to celebrate because the joy of the Lord was their strength. God never leaves us in despair when we encounter the reality of our need to change. Their celebration was to culminate in a festival that certainly had immediate relevance, but more than that, directed the people’s minds to the fact that Jesus is presently preparing a place for each of His children, and one day He will return to receive us unto Himself so we can be together forever.

Patience While We Hear and Learn

If I had to cite one takeaway from today’s reading it would be related to how patient the people were, humbling themselves before the Word as they confessed their sins and sincerely worshiped God. They seemed to have no concept of the passing of time (they stood in God’s presence for quite some time). Lingering in God’s presence to learn more about what He expects from us and to receive power from Him is essential to recovering from sin addiction.

Try to incorporate time into your busy schedule; benefit a time of reflection, honest confession, and lingering in worship, looking forward to the day we will finally begin living in God’s presence forever.




Sin Recovery Principles: We Need Miraculous Intervention

Sin Recovery Principles. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, August 5, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 08.05.2018” on Spreaker.

Today’s Scripture Focus: Genesis 16

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number one of 12: “We admit that we are powerless against sin and thus we cannot manage our lives without God’s miraculous intervention.”

This story is chock-full of lessons, but I am going to do my best to target our sin recovery principle here.

Promise versus Self-Preservation

Abram and Sarai were in an apparently impossible situation. They could not have children, yet God promised that they would. This is why I said that they were in an “apparently” impossible situation. Remember with us, especially when it comes to salvation and victory over sin, all we face are impossibilities. But with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Not only did God promise the unfruitful, elderly couple that they would have a child, but that child would become the ancestor of Messiah, through whom all nations of the world would be blessed. Messiah would save His people from their sins—another miracle (Matthew 1:21).

Do you realize what happened here? When God told them that He was going to perform a miracle in their lives, which would bless so many others, their unbelief thrust them into self-preservation mode. So they enacted Sarai’s ridiculous plan to enhance God’s ability to keep His own promise.

Ridiculous Sin

Lest you think I am being hard on them, I am not willing to give them a pass simply because I can relate or might have made a similar blunder. We must be honest and call sin by its right name even if by doing so we indict our own behaviors. It was a ridiculous plan. Abram took the bait and followed Sarai’s plan much like Adam did when Eve offered him that infamous bite of fruit in Eden. Neither Adam nor Abram were driven by lust per se, but they both chose the sin route instead of awaiting God’s power to manifest His miracle.

Abram had sex with Hagar so they could produce a child who, in their minds, would become the miracle God promised. And we all continue to experience the fallout from that decision. Isaac and Ishmael’s descendants clash and contend even as you read this post. This is because Abram and Sarai chose to trust their own abilities rather than God’s Word. I will not go through the entire story. Please go back and read it again when you have an opportunity.

What drove Abram and Sarai’s powerlessness was their lack of trust in God to do exactly what He said He would. In other words, they did not believe His Word. Hello? Are you getting this?

Don’t Forfeit Your Fight

Whenever we choose to second-guess God’s Word, we forfeit our ability to do what He commands. We forfeit our victory over sin. The power to live holy lives is in God’s Word! He said that we must be holy as He is holy. That’s His Word. What if we second-guess it? He said that there is no temptation that He has neglected to empower us to resist. That is His Word. What if we second-guess it? He said that we could do all things through His Son who gives us strength. That is His word! What if we second-guess it? He said that the devil is cast down and defeated. That is God’s Word! What if we second-guess it? Do you see the kind of power we forfeit when we second-guess God’s Word?

So today we need to take an honest inventory of our lives and admit the times we have neglected to study, share, and have faith in God’s Word. We need to honestly admit that we are powerless to overcome our sin habits without God’s miraculous intervention. We need to forfeit our right to invent alternate sin recovery plans and submit to God’s instead. It is then and only then that we will receive the miracles God promised as He gives us new hearts and a right spirit. When we begin to trust Him fully, we are well on our way to a full recovery from our sinful condition.




When God Likes Your Singing

“Sing Unto the Lord a New Song: Meditations From the Book of Psalms” Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, July 29, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 07.29.2018” on Spreaker.

“Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings” (Psalms 33:2).

Joyful Noises

Singing unto the Lord is one of the greatest blessings we can enjoy. When we rehearse the great things He has done for us, our delight is to worship Him in song. We may not have the most beautiful sounding voices, or skillfully handle stringed instruments, but sincere worship is acceptable to God.

“O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded” Psalms 22:2-5. When we pour out our hearts before the Lord, and praise Him with our entire beings, the Bible says that He who inhabits praise will deliver us.

Case Studies in Song

Many incredible things occurred for God’s people when they praised Him. I will give two examples of God’s power to deliver in the midst of His people’s worship.

(1) “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed” (Acts 16:25- 26).

(2) “And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth forever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten” (2 Chronicles 20:20-22).

They sang when the Spirit led them to, and the Lord showed favor on them. Let us learn how to praise Him as they did.

Melodies from Heaven

The Lord has shown us how willing He is to dispel darkness at the sound of sincere melodies of worship. He has also shown us how He will deliver us at the last day in the presence of spiritual music. This time it will be melodies uttered by God Himself. Can you imagine what a wonderful day it will be when the melodious voice of God is heard, and the dead in Christ rise? Imagine how beautiful the sound of His trumpet will be in that day of final deliverance (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

It is a great idea to enrich our worship expression with musical praise. The Lord enjoys expressions of praise and dwells with His people when we do so.

Sing unto the Lord a new song. Celebrate the gift of singing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs unto the Lord.




Tired of Getting Torn Up? Turn on the Light

“Sing Unto the Lord a New Song: Meditations From the Book of Psalms.” Light up your life to avoid life’s disasters. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Thursday, July 26, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 07.26.2018” on Spreaker.

“NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105).

Stubborn and in the Dark

The reason some you keep bumping into stuff in the night is because you refuse to switch on the light. You’ve been there before. You were in a rush to use the bathroom, or raid the fridge in the middle of the night. You did not switch on the light and then it happened. You bucked your toe on that steel fire truck your toddler left in the middle of the floor earlier that day. I don’t know if it would have hurt as badly if you expected it or not, but it certainly did when you didn’t realize it was there. Simple solution – switch on the lights!

Truth is, many of us can attest that we run our heads, knees, toes, and other spiritual body parts into immovable objects because we love darkness, and refuse to switch on the Scripture lights. We know that the Bible is there to enlighten our pathways, but somehow fear that it will expose our evil, and thus we inexplicably shun the light. And we have the scars to prove it.

When You’re Ready

Do you want to stop injuring yourself in your times of darkness? I do. Switch on the light. Ask God to teach you how to dwell in the light, even as He is in the light; and if your deeds are evil, repent. It’s just that simple. God is ready, willing, and available to shed some light on any situation, if you are willing to travel the path that the light reveals.

Sing unto the Lord a new song. Celebrate the light of God and His Word, which reveals the pathway to everlasting life.




Stressed and Stretched-How to Apply Bible Promises for Relief

“Sing Unto the Lord a New Song: Meditations From the Book of Psalms.” How to get peace if you are stressed to the limit. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, July 22, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 07.22.2018” on Spreaker.

“My soul melteth for heaviness: Strengthen thou me according unto thy word” (Psalm 119:28).

Unbearable Stress

Have you ever been under so much stress that you could barely move; like you were in the crucible and were melting under the intense heat? Have you cried so much that your bed was wet with tears, and you could not see your way out of your trials?

What did you do? Did you redouble your efforts to seek God’s face? What about praying more–did you try that? Did you trust that the same God who called something out of nothing and breathed life into every living being, could breathe into your situation and lift your burden?

When life gets unbearable, we should become more acquainted with God and all His ancient promises. In your spare time, do a Web search for Bible promises. Be sure to take note of the promises that address your particular needs. Trust God to keep His promises, just like He has done so many times before.

How David Handled Life Stress

In the second half of our theme text, we see two major principles at work: One, we see David asking God to strengthen him according to whatever His providence may indicate. Whatever word or answer to David’s distress God would give would be satisfying to David. Two, we see David claiming God’s promises. He asked for strength according to God’s word; His promise to supply power to meet all of life’s challenges.

God loves to be reminded (not that He forgets) of His promises. He loves when we claim them, by faith. He loves when we call upon His strength so we can bring honor to His name.

Sing and Celebrate the Promises

So, when you feel like you are melting under the heat of oppression, sinful addictions, and trials, call out to God and begin to claim His promises. He will give you strength. He will shoulder your burdens. Trust Him.

Sing unto the Lord a new song. Celebrate God’s willingness and availability to keep His word to those who walk uprightly.




The Samaritan’s Second Coming

 

The Good Samaritan is so popular that he’s crossed over from the Good Book to medical and legal books:

“Good Samaritan laws generally provide basic legal protection for those who assist a person who is injured or in danger. In essence, these laws protect the ‘Good Samaritan’ from liability if unintended consequences result from their assistance. All 50 [U.S.] states and the District of Columbia have some type of Good Samaritan law.” (Emphasis supplied)

Not only are protections offered to Good Samaritans, but in some cases, there might be legal consequences for people that don’t offer help:

“A person is not obligated by law to do first aid in most [U.S.] states. . . However, some states will consider it an act of negligence though, if a person doesn’t at least call for help.”

Who was the original Good Samaritan that inspired so many modern laws?

Let’s read about him for ourselves

Luke 10:30-36, God’s Word:

Jesus replied, “A man went from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way robbers stripped him, beat him, and left him for dead.

“By chance, a priest was traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he went around him and continued on his way. Then a Levite came to that place. When he saw the man, he, too, went around him and continued on his way.

“But a Samaritan, as he was traveling along, came across the man. When the Samaritan saw him, he felt sorry for the man, went to him, and cleaned and bandaged his wounds. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day the Samaritan took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. He told the innkeeper, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than that, I’ll pay you on my return trip.’

“Of these three men, who do you think was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by robbers?”

The expert said, “The one who was kind enough to help him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and imitate his example!”

What do Samaritans look like today?

Interesting who Jesus chose to be the “good guy.” Who are the overlooked Samaritans today?

We can’t afford to miss the irony of the Samaritan being the good guy. Who would be the equivalent of a 21st century Samaritan in America? Perhaps Yemenis, Syrians, Haitians, or Guatemalans? Of course, scorning and suspecting African Americans never seems to go out of style. Even when working in helping professions, black uniformed firemen have to produce ID for bystanders to prove they’re not burglars. Some view African Americans as such a menace that they call for police intervention on our 8 year-old girls for selling cold water on a hot day!

The point is that whoever we look down on in our society is the kind of person Jesus propped up as the model neighbor for us to emulate, but it goes deeper than that!

MLK’s Key to a Deeper Meaning

In a 1955 sermon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  criticized the “The One-Sided Approach of the Good Samaritan.” He stated we must not be content with “patching things up,” but we also need “tear down unjust conditions and build anew.” This was a frequent theme in his preaching.

In his 1962 sermon, “On Being a Good Neighbor,” Dr. King admonished:

Martin Luther King Jr., on being a true Good Samaritan: “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. . . It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

“It is not enough to aid a wounded man on the Jericho road; it is also necessary to change the conditions which make robbery possible. Philanthropy is marvelous, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the need for working to remove the circumstances of economic injustice which make the work of philanthropy necessary.”

In his 1967 sermon, “A Time to Break Silence,” King warned:

“One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. . . It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Was King right? Did Jesus’ model neighbor have a deficient, one-sided approach? Or have we overlooked some aspects of the Samaritan’s plan?

The Samaritan’s Wholistic Plan

The Samaritan Promised to Return

“Take care of him. If you spend more than that, I’ll pay you on my return trip.” The Samaritan didn’t tell the innkeeper the day or the hour of his return, but promised to come back. This hotel owner was given an assignment to house and heal a penniless stranger for an unlimited period of time. How will this affect his business plan? What will the other customers think? How much personal and professional time would this take? What if the thugs who beat this man up come looking for more? Most importantly, can the innkeeper trust the Samaritan to return?

The Samaritan Promised to Repay

“Take care of him. If you spend more than that, I’ll pay you on my return trip.” The Samaritan gave a broad command, with no spending limit in sight. Did the hotel owner have confidence the Samaritan had the ability and the integrity to repay? If he really trusts the Samaritan to repay any expenses, will he seek to create a profit margin by cutting corners in caring for his guest? If he truly believes the Samaritan’s promises, then is the innkeeper actually sacrificing anything for coming out of pocket? Proverbs 19:17 says, “Whoever has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his good deed.”

The Samaritan Prompted Rehabilitation

The Samaritan wasn’t merely a philanthropist. He became an advocate by calling upon the innkeeper to dedicate his time and resources to help relieve the suffering. He entrusted the innkeeper with the ultimate stewardship – a human life. The well-being of this roadside casualty was now in the hands of the hotel owner.

The Samaritan’s promise to return and repay provoked an expectation. The innkeeper was a man of influence, who surely had conversations with other influencers about his mission to restore his new friend to wholeness. He probably appealed to his peers in government and business about the need to eliminate the repetitious episodes of roadside robberies. When they asked, “Why should we be concerned?” He responded, “Because the Samaritan is concerned.” When they argued, “We can’t afford it!” He confidently replied, “Don’t worry. The Samaritan can.”

Doesn’t this Samaritan sound familiar?

Jesus put himself in this parable to identify with the marginalized. Critics sought to insult Him by calling him a Samaritan – basically equating being a Samaritan with being demon-possessed (John 8:48). Instead of seeking to save his reputation by distancing himself from the disinherited, Jesus embraced their slur and transformed it. He proved that we can break the molds others press us into and promote new perspectives for our own lives.

By becoming the Samaritan in the parable, Jesus humbles his critics. They’re called to honor “the other” if they seek to be honored by God. By putting Himself in a story showing what a true neighbor looks like, He also shows what a true follower of His looks like. True followers of Jesus, future citizens of His kingdom, aren’t determined by nationality, race, social status, mistakes, or misfortune.

Rebuilding Jericho Road

Following His example, Christ’s true followers are willing to take on demeaning labels as they help people in need and advocate on their behalf. They – we – I, must remember that when we spend ourselves for others, our efforts will be repaid when He returns. We must also be mindful that the Jericho roads of this world won’t be permanently and perfectly torn down and built anew until the Samaritan’s Second Coming.