Posts Tagged ‘Justice’


Are you ready to Give up and Grab Hold? The plow is sitting out in the field. It needs someone to grab hold and help steer. God provides the power, but He needs faithful disciples to grab hold. The decision to become a Disciple of Jesus Christ is not a decision you make lightly. Nor is it a decision you can forget about and go on your merry way. David had made a decision to follow God, follow so closely that God’s Heart would become David’s heart. God never let David forget that decision. God used test after test to reveal those things in David’s heart and life that were getting in the way of his Discipleship decision. If you make such a decision, God will do the same to you.

God seeks to accomplish three things in the life of a Disciple. Those three things are revealed in Jer 9:24. They are “hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah”. He delights in these three things. These three things are His “good pleasure.”  As Paul wrote: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.(Phil 2:12b-13). If a disciple is to understand anything about God, it is that He will constantly be working in your life to accomplish these three things, for they are His “good pleasure.” If we are to boast in anything, it is only that we know and understand God, that He delights in these three things.

God used every test that David faced to grow and develop these three things in his life. These three things are the very foundation of God’s Kingdom here on Earth, of Jesus’ Kingdom during the millennium, of the Kingdom that the Church has been charged to usher into this world.

You may doubt the significance of these three things. I hope not. Ever since the Holy Spirit revealed this to me, the Word of God has shouted at me with LIFE! 40 years I have been in the Word, and I just last year saw this. I don’t find anyone teaching this on the internet or in writings. I believe it is truth God wants for our age.

David revealed their importance in Psalm 106.

Psalm 106:1-5 “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His loving-kindness is everlasting. Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the LORD, Or can show forth all His praise? How blessed are those who keep justice, Who practice righteousness at all times! Remember me, O LORD, in Your favor toward Your people; Visit me with Your salvation, That I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones, That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, That I may glory with Your inheritance.”

A. They are the Grounds for Praise and Thanksgiving!

1.  Give thanks for His ‘hesed’ (loving-kindness, unfailing love)– it is everlasting
    • His hesed is the basis of His mighty deeds and bountiful praise. We do nothing to earn it or deserve it.
    • Justice is something we must covet, guard, desire, submit to. It is not of us but of God.
    • Requires commitment of heart, soul and strength. 24/7 diligence.
2.  Keep mishpat (Justice) and you will enjoy blessing
3.  Practice (accomplish) tsedaqah (Righteousness) at all times

B. They are the Grounds for Favor and Salvation!

God’s Steadfast Love (hesed), Justice (mishpat) and Righteousness (tsedaqah), when embraced and exercised, will empower disciples to:

1.  See the prosperity (well-being) of the chosen (Result of hesed changing our Heart’s Desire)
2.  Joy in the gladness of Your Nation (Result of mishpat bringing God’s design into our House and Dependants)
3.  Glory with Your Inheritance (Result of the Victory of Righteousness that produces the Hope of a Godly inheritance)

The rest of Psalms 106 is a revelation of what happens when we resist hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah.

Psalm 106:6-48 We have sinned like our fathers, We have committed iniquity, we have behaved wickedly. Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, That He might make His power known.

Psalm 106:8 Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.

God saved them for the sake of His Name.Yet look at how they resisted Him:

  • They quickly forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel, But craved intensely in the wilderness, And tempted God in the desert.
  • Thus they exchanged their glory For the image of an ox that eats grass.
  • They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt, Wonders in the land of Ham And awesome things by the Red Sea.
  • Then they despised the pleasant land; They did not believe in His word, But grumbled in their tents; They did not listen to the voice of the LORD.
  • Therefore He swore to them That He would cast them down in the wilderness, And that He would cast their seed among the nations And scatter them in the lands.
  • They joined themselves also to Baal-peor, And ate sacrifices offered to the dead. Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, And the plague broke out among them.
  • They also provoked Him to wrath at the waters of Meribah, So that it went hard with Moses on their account; Because they were rebellious against His Spirit, He spoke rashly with his lips.
  • They did not destroy the peoples, As the LORD commanded them, But they mingled with the nations And learned their practices, And served their idols, Which became a snare to them.
  • They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood.
  • Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds.
  • Many times He would deliver them; They, however, were rebellious in their counsel, And so sank down in their iniquity.

Nevertheless He looked upon their distress When He heard their cry; And He remembered His covenant for their sake, And relented according to the greatness of His loving-kindness.

Even in Judgment He Loved them because of His Name! Discipleship is simply the following of God’s Name with all our heart, soul and strength!

He also made them objects of compassion In the presence of all their captors. Save us, O LORD our God, And gather us from among the nations, To give thanks to Your holy name And glory in Your praise. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise the LORD!

The Journey through the Wilderness provides us everything we need to learn about what will prevent us from becoming Disciple’s of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew’s being led by Moses constantly resisted God, and so refused to advance in hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah. 

But before we look at their example, we must see what God did when David humbled himself and cried out to God amidst the ashes of Ziklag…

David Hasaq’d himself in Jehovah Elohim

Last week we left David “hasaq(ing)” himself in Yahweh Elohim. Instead of becoming angry at God because of what had happened, David humbled himself, confessed his sins, and reached up to God, counting on His hesed, committing himself to following His justice and claiming His righteousness!

1 Samuel 30:7

David then called for the Priest, Abiathar, to enquire of the Lord with the Ephod. God gae instruction to pursue the raiders, and God assured David he would overtake them and rescue all of their families. God then led them to find an Egyptian slave who had been left behind due to a divinely appointed sickness. He gave David the intel they needed. They pursued and found the Amelikites scattered and revelling in their good fortune. They were easily defeated by David and his men. And as God had promised, nothing was lost, not even one toe nail of their families and possessions. In fact there was great spoil taken over and above what they had lost.

David and his men, their wives and children returned to Ziklag, and even divided things evenly, even with the men who had been too discouraged to pursue. (This represents a principle of Victory-it benefits everyone, especially those disciples who are weak with discouragement, or are simply feeding or working in the nursery, teaching the kids) Following the Lord in victory brings strength and bounty to all.

I want us to realize (as we’ll see), that with God, Victory results in Righteousness. Righteousness results in Victory. When even a few stand in Righteousness, the whole is benefited. When no one stands in Righteousness, the whole suffers terribly. However, only one kind of Righteousness is truly Victory. That is the Righteousness that comes from God alone. Righteousness which is by Faith alone. There is no room for self-righteousness or self-effort.

David also shared the Victory with all those who had strengthened him along the way.

1 Samuel 30:26-31 Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, …and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to go… saying, “Behold, a gift for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD “

David was back and battling against the enemies of the Lord! He wanted Judah to know it, that they could count on him when it came to battles against the enemies of the Lord. David was also showing his thankfulness to God and the people who had been a source of encouragement all those years.

When we are zealous for the Lord, we will be zealous in our gratitude for those who encourage us.

Unto the elders of Judah—These were the persons among whom he sojourned during his exile, and who had given him shelter and protection. Gratitude required these presents.[1]

1 Samuel 31

Meanwhile, a real battle was raging on Mt Gilboa, between the forces of Saul and the Philistines. The Philistines prevailed. Saul’s sons, including Jonathon, were killed. Saul was mortally wounded, and fearing what the Philistines would do to his body, fell on his own sword after his armor bearer refused. When the Israelites saw their King dead, they knew the battle was lost, and fled. The Philistines took over the area, and

The Philistines, finding Saul and his three sons among the slain, strip them of their armor, which they put in the house of Ashtoreth, cut off their heads, send the news to all the houses of their idols, and fasten the bodies of Saul and his three sons to the walls of Beth-shan, vv. 8-10. Valiant men of Jabesh-gilead go by night, and take away the bodies; burn them at Jabesh; bury their bones under a tamarisk tree; and fast seven days, vv. 11-13.[2]

2 Samuel 1

An Amalekite comes to David, and informs him that the Philistines had routed the Israelites; and that Saul and his sons were slain, vv. 1-4. And pretends that he himself had despatched Saul, finding him ready to fall alive into the hands of the Philistines, and had brought his crown and bracelets to David, vv. 5-10. David and his men mourn for Saul and his sons, vv. 11, 12. He orders the Amalekite, who professed that he had killed Saul, to be slain, vv. 13-16. David’s funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, vv. 17-27.[3] Look how David honored Saul and Jonathan:

2 Samuel 1:23-27 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, And in their death they were not parted; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions. “O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, Who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. “How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places. “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful Than the love of women. “How have the mighty fallen, And the weapons of war perished!”

Here is David, expressing a heart that holds no bitterness for the way he had been treated. Here is a grateful heart, a heart that is submissive to God, and so he can praise King Saul with an upright heart. God’s hesed was certainly at work in David’s heart!

2 Samuel 2

David, by the direction of God, goes up to Hebron, and is there anointed king over the house of Judah, vv. 1-4. He congratulates the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead on their kindness in rescuing the bodies of Saul and his sons from the Philistines, vv. 5-7. Abner anoints Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all Israel; over whom he reigned two years, vv. 8-10. David reigns over Judah, in Hebron, seven years and six months, v. 11. Account of a battle between Abner, captain of the Israelites, and Joab, captain of the men of Judah; in which the former are routed with the loss of three hundred and sixty men: but Asahel, the brother of Joab, is killed by Abner, vv. 12-32.[4]

After 10 years of being on the run, going through every test a disciple could imagine, David is ready to reign as King. The Kingdom is still divided. Abner has put one of Saul’s sons as King over the Northern tribes. But for the next 7 years, Saul’s house will decline, while David’s will increase.

Why did David Succeed where Saul Failed?

It began as a young shepherd who fell in love with God and His Law. As he meditated on the Law, God brought all these wonderful insights into his life. He observed and learned the Ways of God.  The Law became the Psalms. The statutes became testimonies of God’s Word in David’s life! David saw the importance of hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!

Psalm 19:7-11 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

David’s very life became a testimony to God Law and the mishpat that it contains. “The mishpat of the Lord is true and righteous, more to be desired than honey, or even fine Gold. In keeping His mishpat there is great reward,” and Victory!

Have you made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as His Disciple?

I am not talking about your decision to ask Him into your heart. I am talking about your decision to abandon everything this world offers, and cling totally to Jesus Christ.

  • NASB Luke 14:33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
  • NLT Luke 14:33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
  • ESV Luke 14:33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

You say “I need to hang on to my possessions to use them for the Lord. After all, who is going to provide clothes for the naked, food for the hungry and water for the thirsty?”

  • Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

If that is the reason you place such great store on your possessions, you are sadly mistaken. God knows the motives of your heart. He sees the greed, the lack of trust that is revealed by what you cling to. Whatever you do for the Lord, the test will be “did you do it because you are a disciple, or did you do it because you feel guilty?, or you feel it helps you, or it makes you feel good?” If you do anything for the Lord while clinging to your possessions, you have already lost your reward. The only way to keep the reward of Jesus Christ is to be a Disciple, and serve because He is Lord!

  • Matthew 10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

That was the reason He told that group of ‘do-gooders’ to “depart, I never knew you!” They were doing good, they were saying “Jesus things”, but they had never given themselves completely to Him.

Are You Ready To Give Up and Grab Hold?

Understand the Lessons of the Tabernacle and the Wilderness Journey:

A. God’s Hesed is in the Centrality of the Ark

1.  Ark of the Covenant.-Law was added as a witness against them.

Deuteronomy 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

2.  Covered with the golden lid- kappōret – the mercy-seat.

Exodus 25:21-22 And you shall put the mercy-seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

The Ark was the testimony of God’s Covenant with His people, symbolic of His protection, provision, and blessing. Through the mercy-seat God could have a personal relationship with sinful man. It symbolized His unfailing love to a very fallible and failed man.

God made a covenant with His people. He was building a Nation, centered around the theme of REDEMPTION, bringing them into a Promised land, a land of milk and honey, a land where He would be their God, their King, their protector, and provider. It represented a victorious land, a land where the enemies of the Lord would be vanquished. Those enemies represented the flesh, sin and Satan.

B. God’s Mishpat is in the Centrality of the Tabernacle

1.  Wherever the Hebrews would go, God’s Justice was to reign as the Law of the land.
    • His justice would guide everything
    • Tent of Meeting became the Tabernacle located in the very heart of the Hebrews.
2.  Justice was centered around the Word and Worship of God.
    • Justice is not Political but Moral.
    • Morality comes through a change within, not from without. True Morality is not legislated.
3. The Tabernacle represented the mishpat of God. It was in the center of the 12 tribes.

As the Lord lays out in detail his design for the Tabernacle, he says, “Set up this Tabernacle according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain” (26:30). The word translated here as “pattern” is, in Hebrew, mishpat, which ordinarily means “justice” or “ordinance.” The unusual use of mishpat in this verse underscores the authority of God’s design. Moses and the Israelites were to be guided by the divine pattern when they set up the Tabernacle[5].

4.  The Temple was designed and built according to the “mishpat” of God.

1 Kings 6:38 And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.

 The high priest wore a pouch called the breast piece of justice, containing the Urim and Thummim by which decisions were obtained from the Lord (Ex. 28:30). Doing what was right and just in the Lord’s eyes was far more important than presenting sacrifices to Him (Gen. 18:19; Prov. 21:3, 15).[6]

  • He executes justice [mishpat] for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. Psalm 146:7–9
  • The LORD your God . . . defends the cause [mishpat]of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the immigrant, giving him food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:17–18
  • Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8

C.  God’s Righteousness is Seen in His Victories!

Deuteronomy 6:24-25 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’

God promised His people Victory in everything they did, if they followed His mishpat. He termed this victory “Blessing” He assured them that Blessings would pursue them, the image being of a linebacker pursuing the quarterback, only in a good way.

1.  Righteousness is Victory from the Lord, from His Strength

The oldest meaning of tsedaqah, as judged by its use in the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:1-31), appears to be ‘victory’.

Judges 5:11 To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the LORD, the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel. “Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.

1 Samuel 12:7 Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers.

When God and Israel mutually fulfill their covenant obligations to each other, a state of righteousness can be said to exist – that is, things are saddiq, ‘as they should be’.

2. Israel’s triumphant victories over her enemies were seen as proofs of the sidqot ’adonay (Victories of God)

In other words, God has bound himself by covenant to ‘make things right’ for his people, and to do so by acting unilaterally on their behalf. It’s true, the “range of meaning” of the word tsedaqah incorporates other meanings, but this meaning is particularly stressed in the Old Testament. .[7]

3.  Righteousness was Promised in Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute mishpat and tsedaqah in the earth.

The strongly soteriological overtones of the term tsedaqah can be illustrated from a number of passages in which ‘righteousness’ and ‘salvation’ are practically equated, particularly in many passages within Isaiah:

I will bring my tsedaqah near, it is not far away, And my salvation will not be delayed. (Isaiah 46:13)

How Then Should We Pray?

Isaiah 5:7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment (mishpāṭ), but behold oppression (miśpāḥ), for righteousness (ṣedāqâ), but behold a cry (seʾāqâ)[8]

We should be as the widow woman who came everyday to the unjust judge. She cried out for JUSTICE! In Isaiah 5, God looks for justice (mishpat) but sees only mispah or oppression. God looked for righteousness (tsedaqah) but found people crying (tseaqa). It is a play on words, for God sees the opposite of what He desires on earth. The word for “cry” is the same word in Genesis 19:13, which depicts the outcry against the sin of Sodom against the Lord. God is searching our country, hoping to find justice and righteousness, but instead He hears the cry of the oppressed and the sinful.

Genesis 19:13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”

What Should be our Response to Jesus’ plea for Disciples?

We should literally transfer ownership of everything we own, every dream we have, every hope in our heart, and lay it all at the foot of Jesus Christ. He is Lord, and we should hold nothing back. We should then cry out to Him to see Justice and Righteousness here on earth as it is in heaven! We must confess our fleshly attitudes, our bitterness, our temporal values and our moral impurity. We must get rid of every ‘besetting’ sin or habit or item that will hinder us from pursuing hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!

Lift up the Name of God in your Life, You House and your World!

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

When we resist the Grace of God, we hinder God’s hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah from working in our lives. When we resist the Grace of God, we are being like the Jews in the wilderness, who were overcome in the wilderness, because they failed to believe God’s Word, failed to trust completely in God, and failed to obey God. They failed the Discipleship Test. The following chart illustrates how the Father of Lies works through our stubbornness and sinful resistance of God. Satan even has counterfeit hesed, mishpat & tsedaqah, based upon man’s wisdom and man’s self-effort. Satan does not want us to Honor the Name of God!

Our only decision should be to join the battle of the Name of the Lord! He needs our full and undivided support! He needs us to join Him in fighting the Father of Lies. He needs warrior who are Mighty in Spirit, exercising hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!


[1] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 Samuel 30”.

[2] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 Samuel 31”.

[3] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “The Second Book of Samuel”.

[4] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2 Samuel 2”.

[6] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 687.

[8] James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “6818”.

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My dad was not always a godly man. It wasn’t until his early 30’s that he started going to church. My mom was the ‘religious’ one. Even when we switched churches when I was 14, his religion was more of a Sunday thing. Our Christmases were as secular as the next door heathen families.

When I was planning for college, Dad seemed to change. He wasn’t religious anymore. God wasn’t a Sunday thing anymore. All of a sudden, it was Jesus Christ. All of a sudden everything he did was all about Jesus. Jesus owned everything he had. Christmas was about Jesus Christ. I liked it, because Jesus had become real to me as well. I was going off to Bible College. It was as I was getting ready to leave that he came to me and with tears in his eyes (my Dad never cried) he said that God was giving him a second chance. In fact that became one of my Dad’s favorite sayings, that God is the God of second chances. Anyway, he asked me to forgive him for not being a good father to me.

Holding Benjamin

Just 3 ½  years after that, I fould myself with a one month old baby boy, back at home celebrating Christmas with my family and my 18 year old wife, Lydia.

That Christmas morning was overwhelming, as my Dad read the Christmas story by candlelight. Here I was, a new daddy, holding my baby boy as my Dad read the story of Mary and Joseph becoming new parents. So let’s join my Dad as he and Mom listen in as I now read the Christmas story with you.

Luke 2:1-38 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Most people stop the Christmas Story here, but Dad kept on reading…

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

As Dad read the part of Simeon holding the baby Jesus and proclaiming Jesus is the light of revelation to the Gentiles, I understand that Jesus had revealed that light to my Dad, and now my Dad wanted me to see that light, so that I could be a good father to my son, Benjamin. The greatest gift I ever received from my Dad is the light of the reality of Jesus Christ. That light burns in my heart and life today 37 years later, and it burns in the heart and life of the son I held in my arms that morning.

Did I make mistakes? Too many to count! Has the light always burnt brightly in my life? No! But the Light was always there drawing me into His presence. Is my family perfect? No, but the Light of Christ is at work in my family, and I pray He is at work in yours.

I only remember a few of the gifts my parents gave me. But I will always remember the gift my Dad gave me that Christmas, the Light of Christ from his life to mine, to guide me as I fathered my children. He had passed that light to me, and now I am passing it on to my children and grandchildren.

When the magi visited the infant Jesus, they presented gifts to Him, treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The amazing thing about those gifts, is that this morning, Jesus is re-giving them to you and me. That’s right, the greatest gifts you will ever receive at Christmas, are not sitting under a tree, but they are here, in this Bible and they come from Jesus Christ.

Matthew 2:10-12 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

I know in American culture it is customary for us to give gifts to the one whose birthday we are celebrating. But in may cultures (Asian, Burmese), if it is your birthday, it is a day for you to serve or buy a meal or give gifts. The more you serve and give the better your next year will be. Jesus is going to have a great year next year, because He is giving us some amazing gifts.

Let’s open OUR presents from Jesus this morning.

Gold

The first gift that Jesus gives us is gold, pure gold. Pure Gold represents the pure unfailing Love that Jesus loves us with. Gold is a good representative if Christ’s Love, because Gold is almost impossible to destroy. It is impervious to most acids. Gold is very dense and heavy, a massively solid material. Just a 3 x 3 cube would weigh over 36000 pounds. Yet as solid and dense as Gold is, it can be stretched and used to cover anything. It can be beat on thousands of times until it is microscopicly thin, yet it is still Gold. Paul prayed that we would know the height and depth and length and breadth of the Love of Christ. His love is so solid that it can dash any problem, so yielding that it can take any thing we can throw at it, so flexible that it can cover any sin we could ever commit. His love is never failing.

This Gold was in the Garden of Eden, in the land of Havilah, and the river Pishon flowed around it. Pishon means spreading, and is a picture of the Holy Spirit taking the Love of God and spreading it throughout the world.

Havila means stretch of sand. Abram in Genesis 13:2 was described as being rich in gold.  God promised him a house with descendants as numerous as the grains of sand. Certainly the unfailing love of God extended to every descendant of Abraham. The Love of Christ knows no limits. It knows no boundaries. The love of Christ seeks every sinner, no matter how great their sins. The love of Christ, symbolized by the gold, comes from the ‘hesed’ of God, the mercy of God. When God instructed Moses in how to build the Tabernacle, as God’s House on the earth, he told him to construct the innermost room covered in Gold. This room, the Holy of Holies, is where the High Priest would offer the sacrifice as atonement for the sins of all of the Jews. The ark was covered in gold, which formed the “mercy Seat” Here the offering would be presented before Holy God in utter darkness. Everything in the room was covered in gold, picturing the mercy and love of God. God would see the sacrifice, and His love and mercy would flow upon the Jewish people. The reason His love and merices could flow is because God knew one day, His only begotten Son would hang upon the cursed cross on Mt Golgotha, and there, Jesus would demonstrate His unfailing love for all the sinners of the race of Adam, as He would become their sacrifice, and take upon Himself all their ghastly and dastardly sins. There on Mt Golgotha, the golden love of God was poured out upon the sands of mankind, as His Son satisfied the Holy demands of God’s Eternal Law!

The veil before the Holy of Holies was forever rent in to, from top to bottom, showing the world that God’s unfailing love was now upon the world, because of the forever sacrifice of His Son.

God’s Holy Spirit calls whosoever will to come to the Cross of Salvation, and humble yourself before this unfailing Love, pictured by the purest of Gold! Only at the cross can you receive this gift of forgiveness, right standing and Hope of eternal Life in Jesus Christ.

The spirit of Babylon has corrupted this gold. Indeed, many choose the gold itself instead of the love and forgiveness it represents. One day, Babylon will fall…Jesus Christ who reigns in Heaven above, is clothed in a golden sash across His heart. He will judge the world on the basis of His pure Love. Anyone not found in His heart, anyone not found in His Golden Love becasueof their rejection of Him, will live for all eternity without His Love, in a place where there is no love! They have followed the spirit of Babylon, which decieves with a false gold, a false love:

Revelation 17:4-6 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”

This Golden Gift of Christ is Salvation, the New Birth, the True Wealth that only God gives to those who have Faith to Trust Him!

All those who receive the Golden Gift of Christs Love will one day walk in a city whose very streets are pure gold. We will forever walk held up by the unfailing Love of Jesus Christ

Glory to God in the Highest! God’s Hesed is everlasting!

Frankincense

The next gift that Jesus gives us is  Frankincense. Frankincense is tapped from the scraggy Boswellia tree by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. Frankincense trees have the ability to grow in extremely harsh environments. They can even grow directly out of solid rock. How they can do this is still unknown, but the Boswellia trees that grow on rock develop a swollen disk like trunk which prevents it from being torn away from the rock during violent storms. The tears from the trees which grow on solid rock are considered superior for their more fragrant aroma.[1].

  • Frankincense comes from the Hebrew levonah, meaning “white”.[2]

Frankincense was the main ingredient in the holy incense used in the Tabernacle and Temple Worship of Jehovah.

The altar of incense was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. It was situated in the Holy Place near the curtain before the Most Holy Place. The high priest burned incense when he tended the lamps (Exodus 30:1-9).

Once per year, on The Day Of Atonement, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and burn incense there before The Ark Of The Covenant.

Frankincense was used in the grain offering (Leviticus 2:1, 2:16, 6:15, 24:7), but was strictly excluded from the sin offering (Leviticus 5:11)

Incense was used to symbolize or accompany prayer (Psalm 141:2, Luke 1:10, Revelation 5:8, 8:3).

Jesus is our High Priest, ever living to offer prayers on our behalf.

Every morning and evening the sacred incense was burned. (Ex 30:7, 8; 2Ch 13:11) Once a year on the Day of Atonement coals from the altar were taken in a censer, or fire holder, together with two handfuls of incense, into the Holy of Holies, where the incense was made to smoke before the mercy seat of the ark of the testimony. (Leviticus 16:12, 13.)

Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 7:24-25 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Through His Intercession, Jesus secured our Justification!

Jesus gives us the gift of His Justice, secured by His stripes, His blood, and His tears. He is interceding daily for us before His Father. His prayers are being offered even now for us, that we would honor God’s House, that we would continue His work and build a House that honors God!

Through the Frankincense of Christ, our sins, though they be a scarlet, are “white” as snow.

“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool’” (Isaiah 1:18).

and being made white as snow, we are brought into God’s House of Justice. Frankincense is never used in the sin offering, for Frankincense is the Holiness of God’s Justice, secured by the blood of Jesus Christ. For by His stripes we are healed.

This incense was placed upon the golden Altar of Incense by the High Priest to be burned before the Lord. It was to be a sweet odor unto the Lord. Through Jesus the stench of our sinful life is converted into a  beautiful fragrance before God.

Myrrh

Myrrh is harvested from the Commiphora myrrha tree in a process similar to frankincense. The myrrh is the hardened resin produced from the taps of the bark. Myrrh means “bitterness”. It was used in perfumes, but most of all it was used to embalm the dead. It also had a numbing effect so was used as an antiseptic and pain killer.  A cousin tree  produced the famous “Balm of Gilead”.

Myrrh gum is commonly harvested from the species Commiphora myrrha, which is native to Yemen, Somalia, and eastern Ethiopia. The related Commiphora gileadensis, native to Eastern Mediterranean and particularly the Arabian Peninsula,is the biblically referenced Balm of Gilead.[3]

Myrrh is much different from the valuable gold and frankincense gifts. Myrrh symbolizes suffering, trials, tribulations, and afflictions. The church of Smyrna is known as the “Suffering Church”. The name “Smyrna” comes from myrrh. Suffering and persecution is something that Jesus experienced from the beginning of His life, from the flight into Egypt to avoid the wrath of King Herod, to the end of His life, to His wrongful crucifixion. In fact we are told that suffering was such an integral of Jesus’ life that, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

Jesus never escaped the myrrh, the persecutions, throughout His entire life. No one has suffered more unjustly than He. And just as He was given the gift of myrrh by Wise Men, so we too, along with the gift of gold (salvation), and the gift of frankincense (holiness), are to receive the gift of myrrh (suffering) from the hand of the Lord, the wisest of men. It is not done to destroy us, but to teach us obedience. Suffering, trials, tribulations, persecutions are a natural part of this life. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11)

The sufferings of Jesus produced Righteousness for all who come to Him. Indeed, we cease from sin as we suffer with Him.

Of these three gifts, only myrrh is mentioned at the beginning and end of Jesus’ life.

“Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews” (John 19:39-40).

Gold – symbolizing the (hesed) unfailing love of God which leads to our being born again, is a one time gift.

Frankincense – symbolizing the (mishpat) justice of God applied to our life-our justification-is given to us all at once when we are born again.

But myrrh – symbolizing (tsedeqah) righteousness, must be experienced all our life. Our righteousness is in Christ, but only as we learn to die to sin and to Satan and to the flesh, and that will be a life-long journey.

As we experience the myrrh of life, we will have the gold of His unfailing love sustaining us, and the frankincense of His intercessory prayers encouraging us.

The end result is that we step forth clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ for all eternity! We walk forever on streets of the Golden Love of God, forever in His House, living and developing as His children!

These three gifts that we have unwrapped this morning are Christ’s forever gifts! But just as He has re-gifted them to us, so we should re-gift them to others!


[2] Klein, Ernest, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of English, The University of Haifa, Carta, Jerusalem, p.292


As a young boy, David prayed to the unseen, invisible God who met with him out in the fields near Bethlehem, as David kept watch over his father’s herds of goat and sheep. It was an important job, but a dirty job nonetheless. David would not be able to worship at Jerusalem, for most of the time he would be unclean due to the bloody and dirty duties of a shepherd. Most families hired out this job, but David volunteered. His older brothers said, sure, go ahead and be a dirty shepherd. We will go off to fight a war with the Philistines.

It was there, in the loneliness of the fields, that David grew to know this awesome, invisible God.

One day he got into trouble. Perhaps it was wild animals, perhaps it was thieves, but he found himself in danger. In that foxhole of danger, this young boy looked up to heaven and cried out:

Psalms 25:1-5 (NIV) 1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; 2 in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. 3 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. 4 Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

David declared His trust and hope in this invisible God. He declared that this invisible God was his Savior. However, David wanted much more than salvation, much more than deliverance from a treacherous situation. David declared his lifelong devotion to know and understand this awesome invisible God.

He cried, “Show me your ways O Lord, and teach me your paths”.

David said, “I not only need saving right now, I need to know your paths for my life. I want to understand your ways O Lord, so that I can walk in your paths”.

I have often said that the decisions you make as a young man or woman will determine where you will end up when you are in your 50’s. Those decisions have life altering effect.

Here is this message in video:

Little did David realize what he was asking for, how much trouble and pain he was going to endure to know the ways of God. God showed this young man His ways. Moreover, David records a summary of what he had learned, something that I have been talking about the last couple of weeks.

Psalms 33:5 (ESV) He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

Psalms 89:14 (ESV) Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

David saw that the ways of God center upon hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah. Little did that young boy know that by asking to know the ways of God, and to walk in his paths, that those paths would lead to the Throne over all Israel. Moreover, because of that one little decision that David made as a young boy, this is what God’s Word says about David’s reign:

2 Samuel 8:15 (HCSB) So David reigned over all Israel, administering justice and righteousness for all his people.

In addition, because of that young boy’s decision, he would one day lead his “House” in declaring:

Psalms 106:1-3 (ESV) 1 Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise? 3 Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

From David’s Last Words

2 Samuel 23:5 (NKJV) “Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire (ḥēp̠eṣ), will He not make it increase (ṣemaḥ)?

  1. Heart (For all my desire)
  2. House (A Covenant with me and my House)
  3. Hope (He will make it Grow)

Discipleship MUST FOCUS on three areas of your life:

  1. Your Desire. (For this is all my salvation and all my desire)
  2. Your Dependants. (Responsible for your House)
  3. Your Development. (Will He not make it grow?)

God’s Plan for Discipleship…

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV) 23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Discipleship requires a Choice…

The spirit of Babylon is diametrically opposed to being a disciple. The spirit of Babylon will trip you up on your journey to gain Christ!

Wise Man – Boasts in Wisdom – Splendor (God employed wisdom as His master craftsman to create all things[1] (Psalms 104:24 (ESV) O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.)

Mighty Man – Boasts in Might – Status

Rich Man – Boasts in Riches – Success

Here God takes direct aim at the spirit of Babylon and says it has no place among His people. These cannot be any part of His Discipleship plan! Then He says, if you are going to boast, boast in this, that you understand and know me, that you know what I delight in!

Discipleship should lead us to delight in what God Delights in, to knowing and understanding God!

David’s First Words

He Desires to be a Mighty Tree

Psalms 1:1-6 (ESV) 1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Walk not in the counsel of sinner – Do not get seduced by the ‘splendor of this world and its wisdom and beauty’. They will infect your heart and your desires.

Do not stand in the way of sinners – do not be caught up in what they think brings status and worth; do not hang around them and what they go after. You may think that it is just a little fun, that no one will get hurt, or you deserve it. But do you want that in your HOUSE? Will it bring your HOUSE closer to God?

Do not sit in the seat of the scorners-do not think because you have success that you can scoff at God. When you sit in the seat of the scorners you no longer develop the virtue of Christ, you no longer have Christ as your Hope. You become worthless to God!

Like a REDWOOD TREE

The root system of the redwood tree is surprisingly shallow, especially given the great height the mature tree attains. There is no taproot and the other roots may reach no deeper than 6-12 feet. The major roots are about 1 inch in diameter. And they typically spread 50 to 80 feet. One way in which the trees are able to remain upright for millennia is by growing close together with other redwood trees, intermingling root systems. In the picture below, a number of redwoods crowd together in a typical grove.[2]

Chose to be Disciple or become Worthless to God

2 Samuel 23:6 (NASB) “But the worthless (belîya‘al), every one of them will be thrust away like thorns, because they cannot be taken in hand;

Belîya‘al. Worthlessness. Belial from belî and yaʿal: “not, without” and “to be of use, worth, or profit”. This concept of Belial became a proper name for the prince of evil, Satan, in the pseudepigraphal literature, the Zadokite Document, and the War Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls. See also 2 Cor. 6:15 and 2 Thes. 2:3[3].

What Does God Delight in?

  • Lovingkindness – Hesed
  • Justice – Mishpat
  • Righteousness – Tsedaqah

‏These are God’s Covenant Virtues

חֶסֶד‎ HESED

Hesed is the active force of God whereby he actively seeks to come to the aid of those with whom He has established a relationship. He displays His strength in showing mercy and loving kindness in a steadfast way. His love and mercy never fail because it is impossible for God to be weakened to the point of failure. (Unfailing Love)  

This word is used 240 times in the Old Testament, and is especially frequent in the Psalms. Is that any surprise since the Psalms were written by a man after God’s Heart.

Hesed has three components working together: “strength”, “steadfastness”, and “love”. Take one away and His hesed is not complete. Any understanding of the word that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness.

Ḥesed implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law.

Marital love is often related to hesed. The prophet Hosea applies the analogy to Yahweh’s hesed to Israel within the covenant (e.g., Hosea 2:21). Hence, “devotion” is sometimes the single English word best capable of capturing the nuance of the original. The RSV attempts to bring this out by its translation, “steadfast love”.[4]

However, ḥesed is not only a matter of obligation; it is also of generosity. It is not only a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy. Hesed describes God’s devotion to those He has a relationship with. It is an active, seeking love that is based upon strength and resolve. It is devotion of the heart. Hesed comes from the very heart of God! It is His desire for His people!

Hesed is the Active force of God whereby he actively seeks to come to the aid of those whom He has established a relationship. He displays His strength in showing mercy and loving-kindness in a steadfast way. His love and mercy never fail because it is impossible for God to be weakened to the point of failure. (Jim Tompkins)

Hesed is the Heart & Desire of God

Jesus Christ on the Cross is the visible expression of the Heart and Desire of God! Discipleship begins with our Heart and our Desires committed to following God’s Heart and God’s Desires!

The Spirit of Babylon (Satan) seeks to steal your devotion away from God by corrupting your heart by the foolish wisdom of man and the corrupted splendor of the world. He wants you to desire what this world has to offer! He wants you to think your desires are OK and actually wise!

When Satan tempted Christ to turn the stones into bread so He could eat, Satan was using the most simple, basic splendor of this world to cause our Savior to sin. However, Jesus demonstrated the hesed of God when He refused, Matthew 4:4 (ESV) But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”  Our Life is not in the Splendor of the things that this world has, even basic splendor like Bread.

Our Life is in the Splendor of God and His Word, for it expresses the Hesed of His heart! So when your Heart and your desires desire God’s hesed above all, you will begin your discipleship journey!

‏מִשְׁפָּט‎ mishpāṭ

Mishpat is God’s Kingdom design in place within man through the reign of Christ in our hearts. His Kingdom design must grow to encompass our life, our family, our church –  our ‘House’. (Justice)

Mishpat begins in the external and transforms the internal (Describes the design and function of the Tabernacle)

God has a Kingdom in His heart, a kingdom of justice, of order, a kingdom that is at work in heaven and his desire is for it to be so on earth.

The Tabernacle was an earthly type of the Justice that God seeks on the earth. (Exodus 26:30; 1 Kings 6:38; and Ezekiel 42:11 this word is used in reference to the design of the tabernacle, the temple of Solomon, and the future temple prophesied by Ezekiel, respectively. Significantly, in all these passages it refers to the design or arrangement of God’s dwelling place.)

When His Son came to earth, He did what was necessary to empower this justice on earth. One day He will claim this inheritance and establish God’s Justice on earth. Until that day, we as His children, have an earthly tabernacle in which the Holy Spirit dwells. God can establish His justice in our lives. His Son can reign in our hearts and everywhere our foot trods. Mishpāṭ, as justice, i.e. rightness rooted in God’s character, ought to be an attribute of man in general and of judicial process among them (Psalm 106:37).

Mishpat expresses the nature of God and the demands of God. He desires His mishpat to reign on earth, and to reign in the hearts of mankind. His mishpat is what condemns us; His mishpat is what Jesus Christ satisfied upon the Cross. When God’s mishpat reigns in your heart through faith in Jesus Christ, you stand before God uncondemned. You have standing before God. You have the very ear of God because you delight in the mishpat of Jesus Christ!

Your standing in mishpat is for the benefit of your House, for your dependants. Jesus died to bring many sons to salvation. Jesus desired to bring mishpat to His House, this earth, and right now is building mansions for us to bring to the New Earth where He will rule over His House in mishpat!

mishpāṭ. This justice is primarily an attribute of God all true mishpāṭ finding its source in God himself and therefore carrying with it his demand. “When therefore the Scripture speaks of the mishpāṭ of God, as it frequently does, the word has a particular shade of meaning and that is not so much just statutes of God as the just claims of God. God, who is the Lord, can demand and He does demand” (Koehler, OT Theology, pp. 205-206). All the right (justice, authority, etc.) there is his, “because Jehovah is the God of justice” (Isaiah 30:18, cf. Genesis 18:2

Satan tempted Christ to throw himself from the tower overlooking Jerusalem. Certainly, God would honor His word and protect His own son, as Psalms said. Satan was saying, OK, if you live by the Word of God, let me see if you really believe. However, Jesus responded by quoting Deut 6:16, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test”.

Jesus realized something that we need to embrace. God’s mishpat reigns! God desires to order this world according to His mishpat. It begins in our heart and our life. It is not to be scoffed at, questioned, and argued with. God is not someone you can trifle with and presume upon His mercy (hesed). God’s Justice is certain.

Even Jesus, the only son of God was not about to presume upon God’s mercy if He fell from the tower. Jesus knew that His Father was Just, and His Mishpat would reign.

You must understand that God delights in Justice. He delights in proper standing with Him. We have no proper standing with God. We have no special status with God. God’s justice is totally blind, even when it came to his son. So for you to seek after status and hope it will put you in better standing with God is ridiculous. You are tempting the Lord God. You have no concept of what He is about. You are doomed, and your house will be in shambles!

When the mishpat of God is the standing and status you seek for yourself and your house; your dependents will be established along with you in the House of God! When you desire Right Standing before God, this is the beginning of discipleship!

Tṣedāqâh

Because of our right relationship with God, we are free to embrace His righteousness. His righteousness transforms our lives and our environment. The righteousness of Christ within prevails and causes us to outwardly triumph!

Right Behavior and Attitudes that grow from a Right Relationship.

Conquering Righteousness In Action

Tsedaqa begins in the internal and transforms the external.(JT)

The difference between mishpat and tsedaqa is that mishpat begins in the external and transforms the internal. God’s justice becomes ingrained in our character. Tsedaqa begins in the internal and transforms the external. The justice of God in our heart becomes righteousness that transforms our lives and our environment. Inner righteousness prevails and causes us to outwardly triumph!

Tṣedāqâh implies relationship. A man is righteous when he meets certain claims which another has on him in virtue of relationship”. It is that which “triumphs and prospers” deliverance, salvation or triumph — tṣedāqâh (reaches, relates, rewards– delivers, saves and causes to triumph) The word describes the attitude and actions God had and expected His people to maintain. He is unequivocally righteous;

Satan’s third temptation was to show Jesus all the Kingdoms of the World and their glory. Satan would give all these to Jesus if He would fall down and worship him. Jesus. Matthew 4:8-10 (ESV) 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve”.

Satan was offering Christ “SUCCESS” without the sacrifice of the Cross. God was going to give Jesus all the Nations, so why not go ahead with what Satan wanted.

Christ had a purpose, to worship His Father God with His life. Christ came to serve His Father in fulfilling His will. That was SUCCESS to Christ, serving His Father, whatever it cost, even his life. Success is in Development into what God desires for our life. Success is based upon being conformed to the Hope of Jesus Christ!

So let us build the Foundational Wall of David Discipleship.

A Disciple is one whose Heart is given to God, whose Status is in Christ, whose Life is Developing into Jesus Christ, and every aspect of his life is based upon the Hope of Jesus Christ.

The World says Seek Splendor, all the beauty and bling the world can offer. The world says to promote yourself, seek status even if it means the sacrifice of your family. The world says seek success and display it to the world, the more you have the more successful you are. You can be a Christian without being a disciple.

We find Jeremiah 9:24 in the New Testament as well.

Jer 9:24 is in SALVATION: Ephesians 2:8-10

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  

‘By grace you have been saved’ is God’s hesed, ‘we are His workmanship’ is his mishpat, ‘good works…walk in them’ is His tsedaqah! These are the foundational virtues of His Covenant of Salvation through the Blood and Body of Jesus Christ!

Jesus Puts Discipleship in perspective:

Discipleship is a Feast that you must sacrifice to attend

Luke 14:12-33 (ESV) 12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” 15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him,(Status) ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, (Success) ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, (Splendor) ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor (success/righteous) and crippled (standing/justice) and blind (splendor/singleness of desire) and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ ” 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

The ones that were initially invited to the feast gave excuses which corresponded to the three ‘Spirit of Babylon’ components. The three temptations of Christ focused on those very same things. In response to the declined invitations, the servants were told to go and seek poor people, for they are open to the success of God through His righteousness. They realize they have no righteousness of their own. They invited the crippled and lame, for they realize their need for God’s status, for they have no standing of their own. Then they invited the blind, for they would be most open to seeing the Splendor of God. They are not distracted by the splendor of man.

Many ask to be excused because they have been infected with the ‘spirit of Babylon’. Discipleship begins with a heart given totally to God and His desires. There can be no ‘hold backs’! There can be no hesitation. Discipleship begins with a need for Jesus Christ to be our life!

Discipleship begins with a Decision to Yoke and Learn

Matthew 11:25-30 (ESV) 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Rest which is given –  Rest which must be found

Discipleship is never given. It is granted only as you let go of those thorns of Babylon and take His yoke, and learn of Him!

If you try to put the yoke on and still have some thorns, that yoke will hurt. It will be so uncomfortable. You will not last. However, if those thorns are cast down, you will discover his burden is light, his yoke is easy.

Discipleship – “the intentional process of making the virtue of Christ my own, through submitting to His Lordship and Direction, and the daily Hope of Gaining Christ”

Discipleship is simply gaining by trading (diapragmateúomai)[5];

Do you want to trade your life, your comfort for Jesus?



[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 337.

[3] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “246: ‏בָּלָה‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 111.

[4] William E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1940), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Loving-kindness”.

[5] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “megauploaddiapragmateúomai”.


Harriet Tubman said: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world”.

  • You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis
  • “Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you.” Marsha Norman
  • “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.”
  • “Dreams are like stars…you may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny.”
  • “The inability to open up to hope is what blocks trust, and blocked trust is the reason for blighted dreams”. Elizabeth Gilbert

Nearly two thousand years ago a solitary man hung on a cross, suspended between heaven and earth. His crucifixion was the manifestation of a dream that God had before time began[1]. That dream to restore mankind to God[2] resulted in God Himself being born as a defenseless baby in a forgotten manger, to parents of no standing or reputation[3]. That baby dreamed dreams not of success, not of comfort, not of adventures, but of a horrible death, death on the cross. Instead of visions of fame and riches, he had visions of the floodgates of the sins of all humanity being opened upon Him[4]. Instead of dreams of the love of his father and mother, his dreams were of becoming the vilest creation in the universe, and becoming forsaken by his Heavenly Father[5].

As Jesus hung on the tree, Scriptures says “He became cursed for you and me”[6]. While He became cursed for us, He was beloved by His Father[7], because he was being obedient[8], and He was acting on His Father’s behalf[9]. Jesus had come to earth to set things right. He had come to restore righteousness and justice[10] to a world in the grip of an evil overlord who was bent on enslaving man for himself. He had come to take back this world from satan and from sin, and return God’s Justice to the world[11]. When Jesus ascended to heaven in view of over 500 witnesses, He was holding a huge IOU signed by God[12]. That IOU gave Jesus ownership of the world, of the nations[13] and of all those who trusted in Him as their Savior.

God wrote an IOU to His Son, a huge IOU, and some day Jesus will return to claim it!

The Father is delaying the return of Christ[14] so that more people can be redeemed from the curse. He is delaying the return so that the Bride of Christ can be prepared[15]. Moreover, here we are on the cusp of a new year. Will this be the year our Lord returns to claim His IOU? Will this be the year the vision of Isaiah comes to pass?

Isa 43:19  “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”.

God will do a New Thing, and when it springs forth, the way through the wilderness will open up, and there will be rivers running in the desert.

As we stand on the crest of a new year, I believe God wants us to listen to what His plans are. Behold, God wants us to give ear to Him!

Isaiah 42:8-9 “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them”.

We are so pre-occupied with our life, our problems; our interests that we fail to look to God and see what He is doing. Most of the time we walk around so absorbed with what we have going on, that we lose our sense of God and His plans for our lives. Only when we are in a real bind do we look heavenward and call for a lifeline!

God has been challenging me of late. He has challenged me to lift up my Eyes[16] and Dream, Dream of What He wants to do. I Have A Dream for 2011.

Solomon described the type of church I want to pastor:

Proverbs 14:11 The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.

In order to flourish and thrive, we need to focus on our Almighty God; we need to focus on what His plans are for our church and for our lives. We need to be focused on Him!

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

We need a vision of God, a vision from God, and that vision will grow out of our love for God’s Word.

We need to be little Samuel’s, and say, “Lord, Speak, for I am Listening!” The reason Samuel was born was to restore the Word of the Lord to Israel:

1 Samuel 3:1 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.

We need to have visions from God. We need to have messages from God! We need the Power of God’s Word in our lives and in our church! But He will not speak if we are not listening and willing to obey!

We need to be like Isaiah, that when we look into God’s face and we hear Him say, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

We need to stand and say, “Here am I! Send me!”

When we are dreaming alone it is only a dream. When we are dreaming with others, it is the beginning of reality. – Dom Helder Camara

I do not want to dream alone, so would you listen carefully and share in my dream?

I HAVE A DREAM

Ninety Nine Score years ago, the Son of God, in whose church we stand today, canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. That momentous decree disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities, and shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. (Colossians 2:14-15) The cross has become a great beacon of hope to billions of souls who have been enslaved by sin. Resurrection morning was the joyous daybreak that ended centuries of captivity to satan.

However, one thousand nine hundred and eighty years later, billions still are not free. Mankind is sadly crippled by the manacles of sin and the chains of satan.

One thousand nine hundred and eighty years later, multitudes are enslaved.

One thousand nine hundred and eighty years later, mankind languishes on a lonely island of spiritual poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

One thousand nine hundred and eighty years later, mankind finds himself an exile in God’s own country.

Therefore, we have come here today knowing this world is in a shameful condition.

Our only Hope is that someday Jesus Christ will return to cash in the IOU he gained on the cross. When Christ blotted out our sins by nailing them to the cross, He was signing a promissory note that every man woman and child could be heir to. That note was a promise that all men, by faith, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of eternal life, liberty from sin and the pursuit of God.

It is obvious today people of this world have failed to take this promissory note by faith. Instead of honoring a risen Savior, people have accepted a bad check from Satan, a check they believe promises freedom, but in reality enslaves them to sin and condemns them to hell.

But we refuse to believe that the dream of our Savior is faded and forgotten. We refuse to believe that he has insufficient power to reign over a defeated satan.

We refuse to believe that the bank of Heaven is bankrupt and without resources to bring men to salvation.

So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom in Christ and the security of justification before God!

We have come to this hallowed place to remind ourselves of the fierce urgency of now!

This is no time to engage in the luxury of complacency or to take the tranquilizing drug of apathy!

Now is the time to make real the Promises of Jesus Christ!

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of indifference to the sunlit path of God’s Redemption Power!

Now is the time to lift our neighbors from the quick sands of sin and selfishness to the solid rock of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now is the time to make redemption a reality for all of God’s children!

It would be fatal for this church to overlook the urgency of the moment. This freezing winter of mankind’s sinfulness will not pass until there is an invigorating Prairie wind of forgiveness and freedom from sin. Two Thousand Eleven is not an end, but a beginning.

Those who hope that the people of Pleasant Prairie will be silent and apathetic will have a rude awakening this year. There will be neither rest nor tranquility until we have freed our enslaved neighbors all around us. The whirlwinds of the Holy Spirit will continue to shake the foundations of our community until the bright light of Jesus Christ emerges in glory!

However, there is something that I must say to each one of us who stand on the warm threshold that leads into the Heavenly palace. In the process of winning souls for Christ, we must be conscious of our testimony for our Savior. We must be careful not to satisfy our thirst for God by drinking from the cup of self-effort.

We must forever conduct our struggle in the power of the Holy Spirit of God. We must not allow our passion for the lost to degenerate into selfishness and personal distractions.

Again and again, we must look upon Him who is invisible and rise to the majestic heights of walking by faith. The marvelous Holy Spirit must engulf our church and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, and cause us to rise up with the wings of eagles. Our freedom is inextricably bound in the freedom of the Spirit. We cannot walk alone!

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always press toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. We cannot turn back, we cannot turn aside, and we cannot be distracted. Some of you are asking, “When should we be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as one man remains the victim of the unspeakable horrors of sin.

  • We can never be satisfied, as long as our brothers, backslidden with sin, turn their backs on fellowship with God’s saints.
  • We can never be satisfied as long as the needs of our neighbors go unmet because of our callousness and selfishness.
  • We can never be satisfied as long as children are stripped of their hope and joy by parents who fail to teach them of their loving creator God, and the Savior who died for them.
  • We can never be satisfied as long as our neighbors think there is nothing beyond the grave but darkness.
  • We can never be satisfied knowing our neighbors will face the judgment of God without our Savior Jesus Christ and be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity.

No… no…, we are never satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until salvation rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have faced great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from personal tragedies. Some of you have been battered by the storms of tribulations and others have staggered through personal trials of faith.

May we remember God’s promise: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you”!

I encourage you to count all things as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and to keep pressing toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. May all your trials be the means of knowing Jesus, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death. Every trial and tribulation you endure is more precious than gold!

Let us go back to Belton, go back to Peculiar, go back to Cleveland, go back to Freeman, go back to Raymore, go back to your homes and neighborhoods, knowing that the salvation of your neighbors, of your children, of your grandchildren can and will be achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit. May we never wallow in the valley of despair or defeat.

I say to you today, my friends, even though we face difficulties in the year ahead, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the quest of the Son of God.

I have a dream that one day “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God”. Psalms 86:9-10

I have a dream that one day throughout our nation God will put His laws into our minds, and write them on our hearts, and He will be our God, and we shall be His people. (Heb 8:10)

I have a dream that one day the nations of this world, nations sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of persecution and oppression, will be transformed by your throne, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants”. (Ps 89:14)

I have a dream that my children, their spouses and our grandchildren will one day dwell in the New Jerusalem because their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life!

I have a dream that each of you and each of your loved ones would enjoy the mansion that Jesus is building for you, because your hearts have embraced Him as your personal Savior.

I have a dream that Pleasant Prairie will be a place of giving people because we trust in the power of God to generously provide all we need. We will always have everything we need and plenty left over to share with others.

I have a dream that God will say of our church, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

I have a dream that Pleasant Prairie will be known as a house of prayer for all peoples, and that all who enter here will sense the Joy of God’s presence.[17]

I have a dream that Pleasant Prairie will be a place where husbands learn to love their wives and wives learn to respect their husbands.

I have a dream that Pleasant Prairie will be a place where children can come and find Jesus Christ and grow in His grace and His Word.

I have a dream that Pleasant Prairie will be a place for Families to be strengthened as they grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I have a dream that Pleasant Prairie will be a people of God’s Word, and to God’s Word they turn daily for it is our bread of life

I have a dream Pleasant Prairie will send out gospel teams ministering to the needs of our neighbors in the Name of Jesus Christ.

I have a dream that Pleasant Prairie will send out gospel teams to Africa and Asia and wherever the Lord burdens our hearts to go!

I have a dream that the folks of Pleasant Prairie will simply be willing to GO!

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which we enter 2011. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of uncertainty a stone of precious Hope.

With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of sin and selfishness into a beautiful symphony of the Spirit’s Power.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to witness together, to stand up for Jesus Christ together, knowing that our Savior will be returning soon!

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning,

O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace!

My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread through all the earth abroad the honors of thy name.

He breaks the power of canceled sin, he sets the prisoner free; his blood can make the foulest clean; his blood availed for me.

And if Pleasant Prairie Baptist is to be God’s church, this must become true. So let the freedom of the Gospel of Christ ring from Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church.

Let the freedom of the Gospel ring from the front yards of Belton.

Let the freedom of the Gospel ring from the hilltops of Peculiar.

Let the freedom of the Gospel ring from the rooftops of Raymore!

Let the freedom of the Gospel ring from the backyards of Cleveland!

Let the freedom of the Gospel ring from every hill and valley of our great nation. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we proclaim the freedom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, when we let it ring from every village and every town, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black and white, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and in the words of Psalm 98,

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

And one day, when we finally behold the precious Lamb of God, “every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God our Father!” and we will sing a new song as Jesus claims His IOU!:

“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”

And we will finally be able to shout:

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank Christ Almighty, we are free at last!”


[1] 1 Pet 1:19-21

[2] 2 Tim 1:9

[3] Phil 2:6-8

[4] Isa 53:10-11

[5] Mark 15:34

[6] Gal 3:13

[7] Matt 12:18

[8] Heb 5:8

[9] John 17:21

[10] Ps 37:6

[11] Isa 53:10-11

[12] Rev 5:1-5

[13] Ps 2:8

[14] 2 Pet 3:9

[15] Rev 19:7

[16] Isa 60:4

[17] Isa 56:7

Additional Verses which form the foundation for the Dream:

1 Peter 1:19-21 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Philippians 2:6-8 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:10-11 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

Matthew 12:18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

John 17:21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Psalms 37:6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Revelation 5:1-5 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Psalms 2:8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;

Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 42:8-9 I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

Jeremiah 2:13 “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!

Isaiah 60:4 4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.

Proverbs 14:11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish.

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

1 Samuel 3:10 And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

1 Samuel 3:1 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.

Jeremiah 11:14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.

Jeremiah 6:10 To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.

Isaiah 6:8-9 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

Colossians 2:14-15 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Hebrews 12:26-29 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

Luke 11:4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Isaiah 35:6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;

Isaiah 43:1-2 But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.

Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Psalms 86:9-10 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.

Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Psalms 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

2 Corinthians 9:7-9 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

Isaiah 56:7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Ephesians 5:25-28 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Ephesians 5:33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Mark 10:14-15 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Matthew 4:4 4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Luke 3:5-6 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”

Hebrews 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Psalms 98:1-4 Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power! The Lord has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation! He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel. The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. Shout to the Lord, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!

Romans 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Philippians 2:10-11 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Isaiah 45:23 By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

Revelation 5:8-10 When he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before the Lamb. Each of them had a harp, and they had golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sang a new song and these are the words they sang, “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”


Parable of the Oppressed Widow

1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ ” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8

This parable teaches us five things which are to be an integral part of our Christian walk:

  1. Always pray
  2. Never give up
  3. Pray earnestly for God’s Justice in the world
  4. God will give justice when His people cry day and night.
  5. Praying for justice for the oppressed takes great faith.

What is the connection between Justice and Faith?

Justice is not an easy thing to seek. It seems the closer we get involved with people and neighbors, the more injustices we see. Parents who neglect and even abuse their children. People who are oppressed with addictions. Politicians who seek to line their own pockets and the pockets of their contributors rather than benefit the people. Preachers who bend the truth of God rather than alienate big givers. Manufacturer’s who take advantage of cheap labor, even children in foreign countries. I could go on and on. Most of us have experienced injustice ourselves.

It can be a false accusation, a stinging insult, a theft of something precious, an abusive public official, an inconsiderate neighbor. We even experience injustice within our families, with abuse, mistreatment, mishandling of money, fighting over inheritance.

The is injustice aplenty in this world. People right now are imprisoned, or being forced to work as slaves, or forced to serve as child soldiers, and many are being murdered simply because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

Justice and Faith are Vitally Connected

In Revelations we find a strange situation. Previous martyrs are crying out to God to avenge their deaths. They desire to see His justice on earth. Instead of rushing to see their satisfaction, God tells them to be patient, and to know that several more will die.

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. Revelation 6:9-11

God told them that there were going to be more martyrs. The number was not yet complete. He told them to rest a little while longer.

That is not what we want to hear. We want the injustice to stop. We want the murdering to stop. We want the abuse, the slavery the torture to stop! But God says to REST a little longer!

The connection between justice and faith is that while we long for justice, while we plead day and night for justice, we must NEVER lose faith that God is in control, that God knows exactly what is going on. We must have faith that God cares deeply about the injustices in this world. But God has a plan and that plan will be accomplished in His time!

The Importance of Faith

Revelations reveals further that God has a plan, and we must patiently endure and be faithful to Him, regardless of the circumstances.

If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. Revelation 13:10

Good Samaritan’s must plead and come to the aid of the oppressed, but we must never, never, never lose faith that God is in control! We must be patient and faithful as we wait for His throne to complete His work!

Who is an Intercessor?

The picture of an intercessor is found in Rom 8:26:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

  • An intercessor helps – sunantilambanō, made up of sun, “together with,” anti “over against,” and lambanō, “to take.”

The word speaks of the action of a person coming to another’s aid by taking hold over against that person, of the load he is carrying. The person helping does not take the entire load, but helps the other person in his endeavor.

So, the Holy Spirit who indwells us comes to our aid in our spiritual problems and difficulties, not by taking over our responsibility and giving us an automatic deliverance without any effort on our part, but by taking hold of us, giving us His peace and power and help to allow us to work out our problems and overcome our difficulties.

The word “infirmities is astheneia, “want of strength, weakness.” It is the same word used for the sick people that Jesus healed.[1]

  • An intercessor pleads (huperentugchanō)

 

It is a picturesque word of rescue by one who ‘happens on’ one who is in trouble, and ‘in his behalf’ pleads on behalf of his needs, because he does not know how to express or is too weak to cry out for help.

Are you an Intercessor?

You may say no, but I know you have been an intercessor before. You have had a sick child before, or a sick friend or loved one. You came beside them, comforted them. You cried unto God for their healing.

You may have even done something like what Joyce Moore did in Thailand, throw yourself over someone who was being beaten.

Do not say you can not be an intercessor. An intercessor is simply someone who sees someone weak, in trouble, oppressed, and you come along side them, take some of the load and pray to God or plead with a Doctor, or an authority, on their behalf.

Why is it important that we all be intercessors?

Our eyes will be opened to see God’s power and His role in bringing His Justice to this world!

Let’s see how this worked in David’s life as we read from his Psalms:

  • Ps 69:1-3 – He is in dire straits. He is weary of crying out, he is to the point of giving up on God.
  • Ps 70:1-6 – He needs God quickly, the troubles are still great, but he is exalting God
  • Ps 71:1-5 – He has taken refuge inGod, his deliverer. He is confident of God’s power.
  • Ps 72:1-4, 12-14 – He desires God’s justice to reign in the land. He has a heart sensitive to the needs of the poor and oppressed.

The best intercessors are those who have experienced the deliverance of God in their life! Always keep your focus on the power of Christ to change lives, to deliver the lost.

You may have a child in the bondage of sin, you may have a loved one in the bondage of sin, don’t make excuses for your cold heart, get a vision of them crying out in Hell for all eternity, crying out for you, think about that til your cold heart is melted and you are on your knees crying out to God for their souls.

When Jesus comes back will he find faith in the earth?

He will if we take being intercessors seriously!

Why should we be concerned for Justice in the World?

  • Your heart for Justice reveals your heart for God!

Consider what Micah wrote:

6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly (righteousness) with your God? Micah 6:6-8

Jeremiah reveals that there are three things that God delights in, and if we are to boast in anything, it is in that we understand God’s nature.

23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

God DELIGHTS IN Justice

  • Deuteronomy 10:17-19 – For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
  • Deuteronomy 16:19-20 – You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. 20 Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
  • Deuteronomy 27:19 ‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
  • Deuteronomy 32:4 – “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.
  • Psalms 33:5 – He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

We are Commanded to Seek Justice, to Intercede on behalf of the weak and oppressed

  • 3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalms 82:3-4
  • 5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. Psalms 146:5-8
  • 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Isaiah 1:16-17
  • 32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Hebrews 11:32-33

The Good Samaritan did three things that demonstrated the nature of God.

  1. He showed mercy on his wounded enemy.
  2. He demonstrated his own personal righteousness by stopping to offer help regardless of the cost or the consequences.
  3. He used his time and possessions to restore justice to his enemy.

Now think about what Jesus did for you…

  1. He showed mercy on you, wounded and dying from sin, his enemy.
  2. He demonstrated His righteousness by doing whatever it took, regardless of the cost, knowin it would take his total humiliation and horrible death.
  3. He used his time and His total self to restore justice to his enemies.

Our view of the Good Samaritan is hopefully going to produce the following changes in us:

  1. As Christ Followers, we must get close enough to people to see their needs, even those who we would not normally get close to. Our focus determines how we regard our time and possessions. We invest them in showing God’s mercy to the weak and needy. Our focus and investment reveals our heart of mercy.
  2. As Christ followers, we have a responsibility to watch out and protect those who are weak, hurting and sick. Our heart for the sick reveals our heart for our Savior. We invest our time and possessions in bringing righteousness to the weak and needy. If we are righteous before God, we can offer righteousness to the sick and weak and diseased.
  3. As Christ Followers, when we get close enough to people to see their needs, we will also discover the injustices in this world. We share God’s desire to see His justice upon all people. We invest our time and possessions in seeking justice for the weak and oppressed and enslaved. Our focus and investment reveals whether we are intercessors for justice.

Why Does the World need Intercessors?

29 Even common people oppress the poor, rob the needy, and deprive foreigners of justice. 30 “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one. 31 So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them with the fire of my anger. I will heap on their heads the full penalty for all their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” Ezekiel 22:29-31

God despises those who oppress the weak, and rob the land of justice. People who suffer oppression have three forces affecting their state of mind, robbing them of their ability to see God and His power. God seeks people who will stand in the gap and take up the cause of the oppressed, and cry out for justice.

There are three harsh realities faced by oppressed people such as these.

1.  First reality is a state of helplessness.

Gary Haugen, founder of a group called International Justice Mission, or IJM, surveyed seventy religious organizations that operate relief and development programs.

Every single agency polled said that throughout the course of their work around the world they encountered “serious situations of abuse … *including+ forced labor, sex trafficking, corrupt seizure of land, and corruption in the public justice system.”[2] Unfortunately, when aid workers tried to confront the injustices they saw, they received little to no help from local authorities. David drew this observation:

The absence of an effective public justice system blocks every step the poor take to change their social condition. For example, the staff of a renowned aid and relief agency reported to IJM that coercive labor was undermining its efforts in Southeast Asia to enroll kids in school. Young children were being forced to roll cigarettes for seventy to eighty hours per week or to weave carpets in makeshift factories. Though these practices are illegal throughout the region, the guardians of the law look the other way. If they refuse to stop the slave owners, to whom can the children turn for help?[3]

Talk about a state of helplessness! Just imagine if that were your child. Suppose your eight-year-old daughter was denied enrollment in your neighborhood elementary school and was then forced by threat of violence to roll cigarettes for ten to twelve hours a day. And then suppose that when you as the parent rushed to the police chief to register your complaint and demand your child’s freedom and insist that she be allowed her rightful education, rather than jumping into a squad car to go arrest the perpetrator of this injustice, he simply shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

Would you feel helpless?

2.  Second reality is the state of hopelessness.

Joyce and David Moore could have simply been another tourist in Thailand, gone home, and wiped the injustice of that country out of their minds. After all, the situation was hopeless. What could they do?

With Jesus Christ we are never hopeless. They sold everything they had and moved to Thailand. We support Joyce and David as they do what they can to bring the Hope of the Gospel of Christ to boys and girls who were hopeless.

Are they stopping the injustice, the slavery, the abuse? Not totally. But they are making a difference. They aren’t closing their eyes, they are interceding on behalf of the hopeless.

What are you doing? Who has the hope of heaven because of your intercession?

Jesus Christ descended from heaven to earth in order to bring hope to the hopeless, regardless which continent they call home. And I, like you, would feel utterly and completely hopeless if I were staring at the prospect of either starving my entire family or selling one child into slavery. I would feel hopeless upon selling that child as I considered her prospects for the future: What do you suppose becomes of a twelve- or fourteen-year-old virgin who begins prostituting herself lest she face beatings and even death?

These are seemingly hopeless situations.

3.  Third reality is a state of fear.

In 1993, a Pastor Keith Grimes (head of TTT, Teaching Teachers to Teach) visited Kalingalinga, Zambia, and he heard about its great pride: its singing boys. He auditioned scores of them to form a choir to tour the United States. He called it the Zambian Acappella Boys Choir (ZABC).

The choir generated huge donations. One ministry budget statement that CT obtained reveals that the choir in one year brought in $1 million.

The rosy promises made to the choirboys before they left home turned into a nightmare for them in America. For nineteen months, the boys were made to sing four to seven concerts a day. If they were tired or sick, they would be threatened. When not singing, they were made to dig a swimming pool hole at the headquarters by hand. They were housed in a trailer. If they complained about anything, their “boss” would cut off the gas so they could not cook. Denied any medical care, several of the boys became seriously ill. When they were much later rescued and given check-ups, three of the boys proved to have positive tuberculosis.

Pastor Grimes told parents that American donations would fund the construction of local schools. Moreover, their boys would receive cash stipends that they could send back home. While on tour, his staff would provide tutoring for the boys, and upon their return to Zambia, they would be the first students in a newly built schoolhouse.

The boys kept singing in the hope that some of the funds collected were being sent home to ease the poverty of their families. After more than a year of bad treatment, the boys realized that no money had been sent home to their families. They began to resist their “boss” who quickly moved to deport the three oldest boys.

His crime unraveled when the U.S. Department of Immigration officials began to question the boys and discovered what had happened. At first, it was hard for officials to believe that a choir had been caught up in human trafficking and exploitation.

After direct conversations with Pastor Grimes, it seemed the case would be dismissed because there were no signs of shackles or bruises on the boys’ bodies. And because lawful contracts had been signed, even though none of the people who signed them had a clue what those contracts said.

A constant state of fear is all that these boys knew. Fear of being abused if they misbehaved. Fear of being sent back to Zambia penniless if they happened to fall ill. Fear of the temper of a man named “Pastor.” Fear for their families back home. And to think that these fear-stricken boys were ushered from church to church, day after day after day, forced to sing about God’s grace and love and peace—does that idea make anyone else sick?

GOD’S EXPECTATION FOR HOW VULNERABLE PEOPLE CAN BE PROTECTED

Psalm 82:3-4 – “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough, you’ve let the wicked get away with murder. You’re here to defend the defenseless, to make sure that underdogs get a fair break; Your job is to stand up for the powerless, and prosecute all those who exploit them” (MSG).

Defend the defenseless; make sure underdogs get a fair break; stand up for the powerless; prosecute all those who exploit them—these are the expectations that God has of his followers, the church of Jesus Christ: defend, stand up for, prosecute. Sounds like a pretty tall order to me. Does it to you?

Even very small steps can lead to very big progress where slavery and injustice are concerned. We can start small. We just must start. Will you ask God for ONE person you can be an intercessor for?


[1]Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 1: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament.

[2] A.David Batstone, Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight It. HarperCollins 2007, p. 84.

[3] Ibid.