The Birth of Christ: Joseph Was a Believer (Part 2)


When a Sermon lingers in my mind, I know the Lord is trying to tell me something.  I felt compelled to share the Pastor’s Sermon on this blog on this Christmas Eve weekend.  A fuller sense of the Sermon I described in Part 1 yesterday is provided in this post.  

While focused on Joseph, the importance of believing as Christians was expressed as well by Dr. Coates in the Advent Sermon at his DC area church.

Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, Delman Coates Ph.D., Senior Pastor.

  • Sermon theme: Standing on a Promise
  • Scripture: Genesis 3:15 (God’s promise), Matthew 13:20.

Below are key points in that Sermon on December 10, 2017:

  • “Joseph believed, Mary conceived (Immaculate Conception), and Jesus Christ achieved“.
  • “Faith is an attitude”.  Believers like Joseph had this attitude.
  • Don’t trust what you see, trust what God said”.
  • Stand on God’s promises, not doubt.  “If you hear God’s voice, know he’ll ‘pay the invoice’ “.
  • God’s ways aren’t always our ways, so believe that ‘some how, some way’ he’ll deliver on his promise. Therefore, don’t worry about time. Trust he’ll make a way.
  • The first promise of the Redeemer lies in Genesis 3:15.
  • I’m acting as if it is so, even though it ain’t so, in order for it to be so“.

Merry Christmas from 66 Assurance Way

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The Birth of Christ: Joseph Was a Believer

I’m acting as if it is so, even though it ain’t so, in order for it to be so.


As part of a well-crafted, well-delivered Advent Sermon in Clinton, MD recently (12/10/17), we were told that Joseph believed, Mary conceived, and Jesus achieved. As the first part of a three-part Sermon Series, at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, Delman Coates Ph.D. spoke on how Joseph was shown to believe.

The Black Baptist church has a membership of over 8,000 members. The choir sung as powerfully as their Pastor would later preach.  The Senior Pastor, Coates, gave a Sermon that was well received and, I suspect, remembered long after the congregants left the sanctuary.

  • Sermon theme: Standing on a Promise
  • Scripture: Genesis 3:15 (God’s promise), Matthew 13:20.

The third (11:45 am) worship service, which I attended with my three siblings, ended with the words which led this post. As Coates uttered them he realized, based on the reaction of those in attendance, that he had hit a nerve. He masterfully repeated them several times. It pulled together everything he had stated earlier in his Sermon – on the second Sunday of 2017 Advent. Only in the DC area for the weekend, I regret I will not be able to hear the other two parts of the Series!

What are the words that a Christian disciple who, like Joseph, believes in God should meditate on?

  • I’m acting as if it is so, even though it ain’t so, in order for it to be so.

Merry Christmas from 66 Assurance Way

God is love, yes God is love (1 John 4)


Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

1 John 4: 7 – 21 NIV


God is love. 3 words.

If you observed the sad 2017 events in this nation at Charlottesville (white supremacist rally), Sulphur Springs TX (church shooting), and Las Vegas (mass shooting), you’d wonder if some people have lost sight of this fundamental guiding principle of believers. If you observed the nagging presence of ugly white supremacy and situational male supremacy (sexual harassment), God is love seems far afield. Sadly.

Love, don’t hate, others. 1 John 4 of the Bible conveys this concept very well. In a world where this concept was universally practiced there’d be no racists, mass shooters, bullies, or violence. God is love; abhor hate.

 


Photo credits:

Holding hands – Joe Brusky/flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

God is love –  The High Calling/flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Love sculpture – Via Tsuji/flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

Sermon Says: Hopefulness, God’s Presence, & Racial Harmony

If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality

that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be.”

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Keeping the Courage to Be: Your Hopes, Your Dreams

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am personally the victim of deferred dreams, of blasted hopes, but in spite of that . . . I still have a dream, because, you know, you can’t give up in life. If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream. I have a dream that one day men will rise up and come to see that they are made to live together as brothers”. [Emphasis added]

These words are from the last Christmas Sermon (December 1967) that King delivered, prior to his assassination in 1968. The importance of having hope and having dreams are expressed in this sermon by the embattled civil rights leader.   Racial harmony is based in all people really ‘living together as brothers’.   Therefore, simply uttering the word Unity in a single speech doesn’t mean that a diverse, divided country is magically transformed!  In the 1960s, when I was a young child living in New York, or now.

Sadly, in 2017, nearly fifty years after the death of MLK from an assassin’s bullet, we’re still a nation that judges people too often on their color – not their character.   Men of God like the other man who I showcase in this post, Rev. Noah Van Niel, give me hope that MLK’s dream is still possible.  A deferred dream, not an impossible dream.  

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Your Soul: A Stronghold Against Hate and Fear

Rev. Noah Van Niel

But allow me to offer a little bit of hope, a reminder of what the soul actually is and how it is constructed and valued. It is not external, it is internal. It is not made, it is given. It is not earned, it is instilled. It is not of humanity, it is of God. And as such, it is not subject to the changing winds of culture or politics. It is more stable, more lasting, and more resilient than anything else we possess. Our lives are liable to be molded and shaped by all sorts of forces beyond our control. But our soul—that bit of God that resides in each of us—is unchanging in that it is always pure, and righteous and good and it is always there no matter how much hatred, or anger, or worry, or fear is piled on top of it. And it will, always, have the last word”. [Emphasis added]

In that God has the final say, your soul will have “the last word”.  Period.  End of discussion.  This powerful Sermon was delivered on the Sunday after the recent Elections (11/13/16) by Rev. Van Niel.  I thank my friend Thomas, who I profiled in “When Hate Arises, Silence is Tacit Approval: One Man’s Story, for bringing this Sermon to my attention.  I’ve personally thanked Rev. Van Niel for delivering a message I, and many others, needed to hear!

The eloquence and empathy of this young, white Priest was one of the most calming things I experienced in the days after the candidate I didn’t vote for won.  To this fifty-something Black man in NC (yes, NC . . . Pray for me!), God knew I needed something compelling, spiritual, and anointed to deal with the changes I was enduring.  Reflecting on this Priest’s words was part of my own post-election strategy to not loss hope – when the candidate I voted for lost (in the Electoral College).  

God’s presence in our souls is something no Christian should take for granted.  Your soul is a stronghold like no other!


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Strategies for Dealing with Life’s Storms

Leslie Vernick

The sermons of Dr. King and Rev. Van Niel serve as a foundation for the insightful strategies which Leslie Vernick offers.   In times of disappointment and discouragement, even the most abiding Christians may feel like they can’t go on.  Sermons, without specific coping strategies, may not have had the impact the Lord desired for this post today – my first in 2017.   

In “5 Ways to Stop Discouragement from Getting the Best of You” Vernick offers some spiritual steps that you can take when facing disappointment.   They are in my humble Christian opinion a very good complement to the pulpit-delivered words of King and Van Niel.   

  • After offering four ways that abiding Christians can be discouraged, Vernick offers “five (5) steps you can take when you start to feel the black cloud of discouragement swallow you up“.   With ‘the God in you’ that is your soul, with ‘that courage to be’, and your dreams, you CAN deal with tough times like a champion.  You can go on!   The steps, described poignantly in her article, are:

1. Be honest.

2. Take care of your body.

3. Pay attention to your thought life.

4. Train yourself to “see” life out of two lenses at the same time

5. Press close into God


Link to full Sermons:

 


Our soul—that bit of God that resides in each of us— is

unchanging . . . and good and it is always there no matter how much

hatred, or anger, or worry, or fear is piled on top of it”.

Rev. Noah Van Niel



Photo credits:

Bible – honorbound/fickr  (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson & Rev. King – U.S. Embassy New Delhi/flickr  (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Cross – Dave King/flickr  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

4 Habits of God-fearing Christian Voters (2016 Election Results)

 

The way to God


We’re often reminded to ask ourselves, when we’re at a critical juncture, this simple question: What Would Jesus Do? Frankly, as I’ve reflected on the 2016 US Presidential candidate who was declared the winner, I’ve mused on a similar question: How Would Jesus Vote?  The spiritual voice in my head keeps telling me firmly that the man who prevailed on Election Day wouldn’t have been Christ’s choice.

  • If you feel as I do, this post is for you.  Can we talk?

While our faith in some of our fellow citizens may have been badly battered, we can’t let our faith in the Almighty waver.  We can’t. Scripture tells us that when we’re weak, he’s strong.  In times like these, strive to find comfort in those who voted like you . . . and the one who walks with you and me and ‘makes our path straight’. Acknowledge the Almighty, even on those days when you turn on the TV and see something about politics that makes you want to scream or cry.

  • To put it simply, when abiding Christians are presented with a mountain, they must trust that they’ll have the power to climb the unclimbable. They know they’re not climbing alone.

Four Habits for dealing with your Post-election mountain

How can you successfully deal with the huge mountain that the events of the last 35 days, and the campaign season which preceded it? There are 4 habits, four steps to climb the political/societal mountain that you, I, and those who voted for one of the defeated candidates should practice.

  1. Stay: Don’t flee and run from a challenging situation.   When you do choose to stay, be engaged, not paralyzed due to indecision – like a deer in a car’s headlights.  Those deers don’t fare very well, do they?   Stay engaged and face the situation at hand.
  2. Pray: If you do, a way to deal with the giant may be divinely revealed to you.   Guess what?   With some help from Him, you may even be able to take down the giant without casting a single stone!   The Lord doesn’t utter ‘void words’! (Isaiah 55:11).
  3. Slay: If you haven’t run or avoided asking the Lord for help, you’ll be in a far better position to deal with the situation – slay the giant.   Your ‘walking buddy’ will not leave or forsake you.  David (1 Samuel 17) knew this! You and I should too, right?

ChurchSign_voteLAMB


The 4th Habit is about what you can do for OTHERS.

  • Assist others, don’t avoid or abuse them.

This is based in the well-known Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25 – 37).   A Sermon my Pastor (Dr. Rev. James A. Webster) gave on September 18th on this parable revealed how people in life, when faced with ‘man lying on the side of the road’ situations, generally fall into one of three categories:

  1. Assisters (the category God wants abiding Christians to be in)
  2. Avoiders (crossing to the other side of the road)
  3. Abusers

You may be asking now: Who might be someone needing an assisting, Good Samaritan like me? Three groups of people come to mind:

  1. People who are the victims of post-election hate, racism, bigotry, or anti-immigrant hatred. You may be able to assist such people in a way that they’ll never forget. Ever!
  2. Like-minded Christians who need to be reminded to stay, pray, and slay. If this is a racially-diverse group, this has the potential to be mutually beneficially. There is great power in knowing that people who don’t look like you DO share similar feelings.  Even if they aren’t very religious, the things you hear from spiritually-grounded, moral people may make their day – or yours.
  3. Someone who voted for the man who was the victor, but who is now having reservations about the voting choice they made 5 weeks ago. This may be the toughest group to work with. However, what you do could change how they vote and live forever.  You may be the designated angel to convey the benefits of studying the Bible and using the What Would Jesus Do question to guide their life – and future election choices.

I can speak to the amazing power of interacting with those in the second group.   In the next post on this blog I will share a story of someone who helped people (1st group) who were the victims of racist and misogynistic rants.  Who says Good Samaritans only happen in the Bible?

  • A New England businessman, in a rowdy Southern bar on Election Night, got more than he could stand.

Peace be with you.

Greg Silverthorne

66 Assurance Way

 

John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (Poem, audio)


A Love Supreme

I will do all I can to be worthy of Thee O Lord.
It all has to do with it.
Thank you God.
Peace.
There is none other.
God is. It is so beautiful.
Thank you God. God is all.
Help us to resolve our fears and weaknesses.
Thank you God.
In You all things are possible.
We know. God made us so.
Keep your eye on God.
God is. He always was. He always will be.
No matter what…it is God.
He is gracious and merciful.
It is most important that I know Thee.
Words, sounds, speech, men, memory, thoughts,
fears and emotions – time – all related …
all made from one … all made in one.
Blessed be His name.
Thought waves – heat waves-all vibrations –
all paths lead to God. Thank you God.

His way … it is so lovely … it is gracious.
It is merciful – thank you God.
One thought can produce millions of vibrations
and they all go back to God … everything does.
Thank you God.
Have no fear … believe … thank you God.
The universe has many wonders. God is all. His way … it is so wonderful.
Thoughts – deeds – vibrations, etc.
They all go back to God and He cleanses all.
He is gracious and merciful…thank you God.
Glory to God … God is so alive.
God is.
God loves.
May I be acceptable in Thy sight.
We are all one in His grace.
The fact that we do exist is acknowledgement of Thee O Lord.
Thank you God.
God will wash away all our tears …
He always has …
He always will.
Seek Him everyday. In all ways seek God everyday.
Let us sing all songs to God
To whom all praise is due … praise God.
No road is an easy one, but they all
go back to God.
With all we share God.
It is all with God.
It is all with Thee.
Obey the Lord.
Blessed is He.
We are from one thing … the will of God … thank you God.
I have seen God – I have seen ungodly –
none can be greater – none can compare to God.
Thank you God.
He will remake us … He always has and He always will.
It is true – blessed be His name – thank you God.
God breathes through us so completely …
so gently we hardly feel it … yet,
it is our everything.
Thank you God.
ELATION-ELEGANCE-EXALTATION
All from God.
Thank you God. Amen.

JOHN COLTRANE – December, 1964


  • From the liner notes of the jazz musician’s classic, A Love Supreme (February 1965 release).

 

If you’re desperately down, don’t give up! (Faith)

A Must-share story (I’m sitting here with a loaded gun/Enough Tribulations).

When a blog post lingers in my mind for several days, I feel compelled to share it or comment.  Given the way the ‘inspirational post’ began, I was (frankly) a bit apprehensive to keep reading it, at first.  However, I came back to it later and did read it.  I am glad I did!  I thank Minister Gertrude Ferguson for sharing this Grand Slam story in her post.  An excerpt and a link to full post can be found below.

The Enough Tribulations post states, to start the inspiring story of a desperately down man:

“I once heard a story of a man who was desperately down to his wit end of troubles.   In his desperation, he went into his room and loaded a gun. He was about to kill himself!

As he sat there with the loaded gun, he decided that he had to pray before committing this suicide.   He prayed and asked God to intervene to show He’s really there, and if He does, then he would not kill himself.

After praying, the man waited to see what would happen.  Lost in his suicidal thoughts, he was startled by . . . “

  • Link to full post.

JoshSniffen_flickr_9354227995_f8c773e7e6


66 Assurance Way

 Photo Credit: Josh Sniffen/flickr (CC BY 2.0)