Brother Stephen A. Green
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Scripture: 1 Kings 17: 8 – 24
Brother Stephen A. Green
Rev. Jonathan V. Newton
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Scripture: Galatians 1: 6 – 12
Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor
Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, May 25, 2013
Scripture: Romans 5:1-5
Towards the end of the Apostle Paul’s ministry and life, he writes this letter to the Christians living in the great empire of Rome. Like all of us, his life’s journey had had its share of pain, hurt and suffering. History tells us that, in Rome, before Paul would go off the scene of life, there would be more suffering and pain yet to come.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, to help us understand this concept, Paul is very explicit about how tedious the journey and task has been, and that his life has not been marked with all roses and ease; here’s the direct quote: “Been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea; I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked…”
That’s quite a journey! Elsewhere in Paul’s letters he further elaborates on the strain placed on his daily life and how he pressed forward to live each day and to minister for Christ each day along the way.
From time to time in some of Paul’s writings, he confesses his personal challenges, and both his spiritual and physical weaknesses before the Lord are apparent to the recipients of his letters. He asked if only the Lord would remove the affliction from his body, he might be able to do more.
But in all of his letters, particularly in these verses to the Roman Christians, we gain a sense that whatever is presented to him on the table of life, each day, Paul, with his hope and faith in God, steps out, standing tall with a courage to live.
And for a few moments let’s reflect on a theme, “The Courage to Stand Tall and Live.”
Last week I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Dr. Louis Hutchinson III. In his book, Restore Together, he writes about, what he calls the “theology of the city.” In that chapter he describes what all of us, in some aspect, in one form or another, have to face and encounter each day. I have taken the liberty to mesh some of his thinking with my own thoughts:
“Vulnerable human minds; violence in our streets and homes along with a police response of violence; human trafficking; a sense of living in harm’s way; abject poverty in many of our communities; greedy executives on Wall Street; bombs being dropped by robotic planes killing innocent victims; constant world crises; world and local homelessness and hunger; unjust and disproportionate incarceration of minorities; an American educational system that seemingly is failing our children; poor housing; lack of health care and the [highest] jobless rate in the African American community compared to any race in the country.”
I could go on with this list. Admittedly, most of us under the sound of my voice might consider ourselves far removed from the actual realities of all of the above, but I guarantee all of you this morning that, in some way and in some aspect, all of the above is impacting our daily lives. It has its impact on our jobs – if you have a job; it is impacting our children and our grandchildren, our family members in some way or another; it is impacting where we live and how we live; it ought to have, if it does not have, a real impact on our faith, and on when, where and how and how much we worship. Few of us will ever face the severe obstacles of life that as the Apostle Paul faced, but life itself will strain our living; life itself will make some hard demands on us; life itself comes with a certain degree of hardships, tests, suffering, and trials and what this text offers us is the encouragement to “Stand Tall and Live.”
I think that it is the Army that at one time had the slogan, “Be all you can be.” Paul, in these verses assures us that in Christ we can become all that God desires for us to become. This is verse 1 from the Message Bible translation of the scripture: “By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God, because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand…”
The scripture is saying that, despite the obstacles; regardless of the challenges; however hard and difficult it might be; even if your load in life is not that heavy but you are living with something, here is a salient thought, (1) Get it together with God!
Get it together with God! There are some witnesses in here and out there in the streaming audience who can testify that when you get it together with God, when you get your life right with God, you can become all that God desires for you to become. Somebody can testify that, in spite of and despite the challenges and obstacles of life, God will give you the courage to stand tall, live and face it all—look at Mother Teresa, Richard and Sarah Allen, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, William Wilberforce, Joshua at the Wall of Jericho, Daniel in the lion’s den, Moses at the river, a whole lot of our grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers coming up through Jim Crow, coming out of slavery, suffering through civil rights. When they got it together with God, they stood tall with courage and God helped them to become more than they would ever become. And I don’t want to miss this — Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to me. Because of Jesus, I got my life together and everyday I am becoming…I’m becoming…I’m becoming! Had it not been for the Lord on my side…where would I be.
In his homiletical perspective of this text, Richard Sheffield draws a piece from Peter Steinke’s work, Healthy Congregations: “Don’t waste the pain. We waste suffering if we gloss over, deny, avoid, or neglect its message…If, however, we can learn from pain it is not wasted but a source of life and health.” Hold on to this thought: (2) Though sometimes hanging by the thumbs, with courage, stand tall anyhow, and use every bit of stuff life puts in your path to give glory and praise to God. Don’t waste it, don’t gloss over it, don’t deny it – I know you wish you could get around it – but don’t avoid it nor neglect it. Rather, with courage stand tall and use your pain to the glory of God.
Paul tells the Roman Christians and us that, in God, and with faith can produce some “good stuff “for living – stamina, patience, endurance, character, and hope. Paul talks about “boasting in your manure,” making the best of your trash, hoping when absolutely there is no glimmer or ray light. This is the Message Bible: “Out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praises…shouting our praises even when we’re hemmed in with troubles. A whole lot of us can do the holy dance and clap our hands and pat our feet; we come to church smiling and happy, that’s one type of life that’s easy. It’s alright when you can shout like that and give God the Glory. But when you are hemmed in with trouble – when you are “between a rock and a hard place” – can you still praise and shout?
Brothers and sisters if this scripture does not take you back to Good Friday, nothing else will. After all he suffered, after all he endured, after all the torment, after all the pain and suffering, after the 70 lashes, after the crown of thorns on his head, Jesus used every bit, every ounce of it and, with courage, though hanging, he still stood with grace and courage giving glory and praising God. “Yeah though they slay me…yet will I trust you!”
Lord, I like the way the Message Bible closes out here in verse 5: “Keep alert for whatever God will do next…We’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.” Yes, there is a lot to complain about, but who wants to hear your complaints – folks will go the other way when they see you coming. The other night here at church, Dr. Daniels talked about “the dark ghettos.” Yes, there is a darker ghetto than the once dark ghetto. Yes, there are trials dark on every hand, but we who are of Christ are called to take up our courage and stand tall in the midst of our despair and hopelessness and even in our pain and suffering – we need to find hope, and then give hope. Somebody is worse off than you. Somebody needs to know the joy that you have while going through your “stuff.” Somebody needs to hear you say: I serve a living savior.
Here is the final thought for this morning: (3) If we stand tall with courage in the Lord, God will not shortchange or disappoint us. If we stand with courage in the Lord, we can go through anything; if we stand tall with courage in the Lord, we can get through anything; take anything; live with anything.
Last week, the tornado hit Oklahoma, and I was watching the news and I saw this stocky white gentleman standing in the midst of his house; nothing but rubble, no house, no nothing. Then the cameraman came; they put the camera on him, wide-spanned the rubble, then they put a mic in front of his face, and then they asked the man a dumb question: What happened? How dumb can that be, “what happened.” The man said “the tornado came, I grabbed my wife I took her to the bathroom; and all I could say to her is that we are in God’s hand.” The reporter said: “You lost everything?” The man said: “No, I got my faith, God will take care of us.” The reporter puts the microphone in the man’s face again and asks: “where will you go, how will you make it. The man said: “I’m in God’s hands; God will take care of us!”
Brothers and Sisters, be not dismayed; stand tall, take courage, know that God will make the way for you; when you open your door, he’s already opened His door. Tell somebody to STAND TALL WITH COURAGE AND KNOW THAT GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU.
I know it gets heavy sometime, but God will take care of you. Our young boys and girls go through a while lot more than we went through. But God will take care of you if you stand tall, and have courage.
Scripture: Romans 5: 1-5
Scripture: Romans 5:1-5, NIV Translation: Peace and Hope. 5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Scripture: Romans 5: 1-5, The Message Bible Translation: Developing Patience.
5 1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor
Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Scripture: Acts 2:1ff
Jesus surrounded himself with a small group of men who, in every sense of the words, brought little or nothing to the table. They did not have a lot of education. Their people skills were limited. They were not well travelled; and one could say that their knowledge of life in general was limited to just a few subjects. They were fishermen who made a living from the sea and the land. These were men of very modest means whose hopes and dreams were confined to the area around the Sea of Galilee.
For the last three years of Jesus’ life, these men lived everyday with Jesus. Where he travelled they travelled. They ate their meals together; they fellowshipped with each other and eventually they came to learn and believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Emmanuel of God. They marveled at his knowledge of the scripture; Jesus kept them spell-bound as he taught them and those who would come to hear and be taught. They were stunned and amazed at the miracles and wonders he performed. After the resurrection and the several appearances of Jesus, there was no doubt in their minds and spirits that Jesus was truly the Son of God and, as Linda Thomas, in her perspective of this text describes him, “Jesus the human had supernatural connection with the God of their ancestors.”
The death of Jesus, as death can have the tendency to do, had a severe impact on their lives. After the resurrection, things were not clear; their futures seemed dismal and uncertain; there were no directions and guidance. Seven weeks had passed since the resurrection and in the words of Linda Thomas, “A disheveled and mournful band of eleven gathered in the home of one of the disciples. They came together as the group with whom Jesus had had intimate time… Although they were dispersed, they decided to gather early in the morning to worship. They wanted to support each other because they were a religious minority and lived a faith that the majority in Galilee did not.
Luke, our writer, records that while they were in worship, a strange and unusual phenomenon occurred. Brothers and sisters, it is hard to explain and put in words strange and out of the ordinary occurrences. The awesome power of God fell on that room and on those who had gathered in that space. Possibly they were hoping for it but were not expecting it at that particular moment in time. However it was, what I like to call, “A God moment in time.” Luke tries his best to explain it in words we can comprehend, “It sounded like the rush of a violent wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting…Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them…” Listen to the language of the Message Bible, “Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks and they started speaking in a number of different languages…”
Again, Linda Thomas writes these words, “There was a noise so loud that it could not be ignored. So startled were they that they lost control of themselves—their sensory systems were flooded with adrenaline so that their minds and bodies processed intensely the sound, energy, and feeling of the coming of the Holy Spirit.” Here is a salient thought, (1) “Live everyday open to the awesome power of the Spirit of God moving on and in your life.” Hope for it; look for it; expect a move of God on your life everyday. Can you imagine the unexplained energy and adrenaline that would fill our minds and bodies as we went about our daily tasks? What if we release control of our lives and turn our living over to God—“Filled with His goodness and lost in His love…” What would be the impact in our families, with our neighbors, co-workers and friends if they could see and feel God’s power moving on and in us?
Such openness to God’s power would cause the dynamics to change when we are present. Attitudes would change; behaviors would change; conversations would change. Because these eleven people were opened too and filled with the awesome Spirit and power of God, look at the impact they had on the large crowd that gathered in the streets. The Message Bible says that the crowd was “Thunderstruck.” The Revised text reads, “There were devout Jews from every nation under heaven, at the sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered…amazed and astonished…” The dynamics had changed.
Let me shift gears here. The second salient thought comes in the form of a warning. When the dynamics of your life changes because you are living your life open to the move of the power and the Spirit of God, (2) live expecting to be held in suspect. Hear the accusations, “It ain’t all that…he/she ain’t for real…that’s fake…” Here is Linda Thomas’ theological perspective, “Some mocked the eleven. There was no plausible explanation for what happened. It makes sense that a few people found relief by saying that the disciples were drunk. Such talk provided comic relief in making fun of their inappropriate behavior…”
In Christ, strange and unexplainable things can happen in your life and with your life. In your presence and out of your presence there are those who will hold you in suspect. They will mock your living; make you a source of comic relief; and live daily holding your life in contempt. Let me tell you one thing: Be for real in your faith walk. There is nothing worst than a phony, fake, pretend, make-believe Christian. Expect to be held in suspect, but if you are the real thing the power of God will change the dynamics.
The awesome power of the Spirit of God changed the dynamics of the group; it changed the dynamics of every life in that room that day. Remember that motley band of disheveled and mournful disciples hustled and gathered in a small room with no direction; a seemingly bleak and dismal future; of modest means; limited education and learning. With them, God literally changed the dynamics of the whole world. Here is the third and final thought, (3) possibilities are unlimited and unimaginable with the power of God. Let me say it another way, “You can’t put a cap on God.” Time magazine just came out with a new issue, “100 Ideas That Changed the World.” Some excerpts: “There is no doubt that Jesus Christ is one of the most significant individuals in history…Today some 2.2 billion Christians believe…In its first years, amid grotesque persecution, Christianity was spread across the Roman world through the inspired testimony of the disciples who had known Jesus. By the fourth century, it had become the empire’s official religion. When Rome fell, the Catholic Church became the repository not just of Christ’s teachings but of civilized values as well… Today, more than 20 centuries after Christ’s death, Christianity remains one of the most potent forces in the world.”
How many times does the Bible tells us that, “With God all things are possible? How many times have we witnessed unexplainably the dynamics of a situation change? We ought to stop trying to put limits on God; stop trying to put a cap on God. Open your life up to the power of God’s Spirit….
Rev. Dr. Marie Phillips Braxton
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Rev. Aisha Karimah
May 12, 2013
Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor
Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Scripture: Acts 16:9-15
The crucifixion and the death of Jesus were fresh in the memory and heart of the Apostles and those who followed Jesus. In the scripture, the resurrection had occurred. This text is post-resurrection and Peter, Paul, and the Apostles were about the work of the church doing what we call in our language: “kingdom building.” Following the command of Jesus to “go ye into the highways and hedges of the world,” the followers of Jesus are doing just that; and as they moved, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, God also moved.
Up until this point, in the history of the early church, the message of Christ and the ministry of the Apostles had been geared to and tailored for the Jewish community, the household of David, the “circumcised” community. These are they whom Jesus came to save first, and these are they who rejected Jesus. It was the aim of Peter, Paul and the other followers of Jesus to continue the work of salvation for those who rejected Jesus. And so here in the scripture text, they go out to the household of David to win and convert the Jews.
As it happened to Peter in Acts chapter 11, in our text it happens now to Paul. Peter had a vision laid out before him of all kinds of meat spread before him, and he is told to kill and eat. In view of his Jewish background, he declares the meat unclean and says: “I cannot/will not eat. But God says to Peter, “What God has made clean, let no man claim unclean.” This was Peter’s sign to venture outside the gate and open up the ministry of Christ to anyone and everyone who would listen, believe and follow.
In another region of the country, the Apostle Paul is called upon to venture beyond the gate of the household of David and extend his ministry to any who would hear, believe, repent, be baptized, and follow Jesus. In the text, just like with Peter, Paul has a vision, and he sees and hears a man calling him to, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Paul was immediately convinced that this was the sign of a call of God and he set out to venture beyond the gate of the inclusive community. You know we all have “inclusive communities”: This is my church; my choir; my friends; these are the people I hang with; this is my crowd. If you aren’t an Alpha; you aren’t much. Kappas, Omegas, Deltas, AKAs are no better. And if you don’t dress like us and talk like us, swing like us, you can’t be a part of our community. This is what is meant by “inclusive communities.”
In the scripture, Paul hears and sees a man who is not in the inclusive community who says, “Come over to Macedonia and preach to us.” Here’s a salient thought that needs to be highlighted at this juncture: (1) Venturing beyond some gates to get to where God wants you to be is seldom a straight, clear, direct and easy path. To get to where God wants you to be in your life, or in your church, is seldom a direct, easy path. Acts, Chapter 16:11ff says: “We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day we went to Neapolis and from there to Philippi. We remained there in the city for some days.”
In his work, The Inward Journey, Howard Thurman writes,
“Thomas á Kempis reminds us that it is the nature of life and man’s experiences in it, that there be what he calls ‘war and affliction.’ This is not a note of pessimism and futility—it is rather recognition that conflict is a part of the life process. Whatever may be the plan that one has for one’s life, one must win the right to achieve it. Again and again in the struggle, a man may experience failure, but he must know for himself that, even though such is his experience, the final word has not been spoken. Included in his plan must be not only the possibility of failure but also the fact that he will not escape struggle, conflict, and war.”
The hymnologist put it in these words, “Are there no foes for me to face, must I not stem the flood…”
This one thing I know and I can witness to this personally: when divinity and destiny converge in a human life, there is no telling what paths one will be called to travel; what mountains one must climb; what rivers must be crossed; what crosses one must bear; or what strife one must suffer. When your life and God’s divinity hook up together, there’s no telling what mountains you will be required to climb. When you and God meet up together, there’s no telling how deep the river you’ll have to cross, there’s no telling how many crosses you’ll have to bear.
Here are some words from a hymn I doubt that most of you know, “Jesus calls us over the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea…Saying Christian, follow Me…In our joys and in our sorrows, Days of toil and hours of ease, Still He calls, in cares and pleasures Christian love me more than these.”
Let me put it another way: Every now and than, beyond the gate, you’ll have some tears to cry. I know God has made a way for you to get to where God wants you to be, but every now and then, you’ll have to cry along the way.
It took Paul a while to get to where God wanted him to be. Then the text says in verse 13: “On the Sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer…” Here, beyond the gate, Paul seized the opportunity to witness to a woman named Lydia. He may not have known at first glance that she was a Gentile; she a wealthy entrepreneur, accustomed to dealing with the elite class, and she herself lived beyond the gate: she was head of her own household. She had it going on, she didn’t need a man to take care of her. She had her own house, her own wealth and income; she was an independent woman. If you commit all to God, God will set you up, to live beyond the gate.
It was uncustomary for a man to talk to a woman, but Paul was venturing outside the gate. And outside the gate, Paul blessed this woman and this woman in turn became a major blessing to Paul and his ministry. (2) Here is an (A) and (B) significant thought: (A) Never turn your back on an opportunity to be a blessing in someone else’s life. You have no clue down the road of life as to where that blessing is going to take that person, and be clear that somewhere down the road of life that blessing will fall back on your own life. When you help somebody else, it will come back to you. When you do something for God, it will come back. (B) Beyond the gate, you are required to do your thing, and if you do your thing, you can rest assured that God is going to do God’s thing.
In verse 14, the text says that the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to listen. Of the many things I have learned in this life one thing stands out: If you work at what God calls you to do with all your heart, mind and strength and make every effort to do the right thing, where ever you come up short, God will work it out for you. You won’t do it right and perfect all the time. You won’t dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s, but God has a way of coming behind you, and cleaning up all that stuff. They may not call your name, sit you on a pedestal, get the promotion, sing the solo, the church may not recognize your service, but leave it to God, and God will give you the reward. And sometimes you think you’ve gotten to a point where you can’t go any further…and God will take you over that!
Sometimes God can take us on some strange journeys, in our family lives, in our church lives, in our business lives. Sometimes God bids us to travel in some uncharted and unfamiliar places. Sometimes all you can do, beyond the gate in your daily living, is live with a spirit of conviction and decisiveness and trust that God is at the helm of your life and, as the scripture says: “All things work together for Good to those who love and trust the Lord.” Romans 8:28. You can’t always see the answer down the road; there are some detours down the road. But if you put your hands in God’s hand and move with a spirit of decisiveness and conviction, God will work it out.
Here is the third and final salient and significant highlight to be underscored in this text. In his theological perspective of this text, Ronald Cole-Turner writes, “It almost did not happen, this meeting of the businesswoman and the missionaries, and surely would not have happened were it not for the inexplicable convergence of human faithfulness and divine guidance. Paul and Lydia and the Holy Spirit all work together in this event, this ‘chance’ encounter by the river.”
Here is the thought: (3) When our faithfulness and God’s guidance converge and blend themselves as one, God can take us to new vistas, to places we never thought we could go. When God hooks up with us and we hook up with God, miraculous and seemingly impossible things can be accomplished in our lives for God.
Brothers and sisters, when you hook up/align your life with God, there are no limitations in your life. We ought to stop talking about what we can’t do, about what is impossible to do. God opens doors you never knew existed. God doesn’t always bring mountains down, but he gives you iron legs to climb the mountain. God won’t let you drown in the waters of life, He won’t let you burn up in the fires of life, but when you and God hook up, blessings come down, mercy drops fall down, goodness falls down, praise falls down, love falls down.
My poor mother of humble means, raising two children by herself, used to get down on her knees and sing the song: “There is no secret what God can do…” I’ve lived long enough that my mother’s testimony is now my testimony. “There is no secret, what God can do….”
I’ve been through enough and witnessed enough to sing it now for myself. When you step beyond the gate and your finite faithfulness converges and blends with God’s grace and guidance, God can do more than you know he can do. God can take you places you never thought you could go, can open doors you never knew existed, can open up heaven and pour blessings on top of blessings, so that you get scared because you don’t know how so many blessings can come your way. All you can do is say thank you Jesus, not just for all you have done, but for all that you are doing in my life.
Every now and then, when you think you’ve made it, when you think you’ve got it all together, when you are ready to put the period behind the sentence, when you are about to close the chapter and say “I got it,” God says: “Don’t put a period there, because I want you to step out in a little deeper water, there are more mountains to climb, more souls to save. Step out!”
God call us to go beyond the gate. Gun control: go beyond the gate. Our young boys and young girls are on the pipeline to prison: Go beyond the gate. Stop talking about what you can’t do, and look at what you can do. Drugs are running rampant in our community: Go beyond the gate. We still have a high teen pregnancy rate right here in the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia still has the highest rates of HIV AIDS. It’s not enough for us to sit up in here Sunday morning and clap our hands and go home. God wants us to step out, venture out, go out, beyond the gate.
Sing: I’m on the battlefield for my Lord, I promised Him that I would serve Him til I die, I’m on the battlefield for my Lord!
Scripture: Acts 16:9-15 – New International Version (NIV)
9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor
Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Scripture: John 13:31-35
Whether we are in the process of transitioning from one job to another job, from work to retirement, from one home to a new home, from single life to married life, or the reverse, sending a child away to college – almost every day we are transitioning from one thing to another. In the process of transitioning, there is a lot of planning and preparation. Moving from one thing to another is seldom an easy task, and if you don’t adequately prepare to transition, mess up will trump show up.
In the scripture, Jesus was about to transition from his earthy ministry. He had spent three tedious years working and living with his disciples. He taught them everything he wanted them to know. He made every attempt to show his followers that word without deed was vain – in simple terms, he taught them that, what they preached, they had to live.
Here, in the final few hours with his disciples before his crucifixion and death, he has a farewell conversation with those closest to him. In verse 33, he says he has run out of time, and that all eyes will be on them and they will have to step up to the plate. In this “transitioning” moment he gives them a format for going forward, a format for daily living.
I’d like to speak to you today from the theme: The Jesus Format for Daily Living.
As Christians, we can become inundated with church doctrine, Sunday morning rituals, seemingly outdated dogma, so that we don’t have a clue as to what’s right or wrong – we just go through the rituals – communion, baptism, reading in of new members. Most church theology, what to believe, what not to believe, is an endless maze of confusion, and all we do is just go through the motions.
Jesus knew his followers would become the “show piece” and the major lead players to show the world how God expected people to live their daily lives. Up to this point in the text, the disciples had been in the “minor league” mode; but at his departure, the disciples were thrust into the “major league,” and they had to step up to the plate. All eyes would be on them; they could no longer hide under Jesus’ wings. People would not just be listening to them, they’d be watching their actions in their daily lives as well.
Every day, our world around us is looking at us. The people we live with in our homes, the people on our jobs, the people that we fraternize with in our leisure time, our neighbors, and even those who don’t care a hoot about us – they are all watching our daily walk. We have become God’s showpiece; we are the major league players in the faith today. We are constantly called upon to step up to the plate to tell and show the world, Jesus.
In the scripture, Jesus is giving his followers a format for daily living. Here are three steps from that format for you to practice and exercise daily.
Step 1: Your Living has to be God-focused and God-centered. It was clear that God was at the focal point of Jesus’ daily living. Jesus was so familiar with the word of God, and he was always seeking will of God for his life, that he never entered a transitional moment without first going to God. God was at the center of his life and it could be seen, witnessed, and felt by all in his daily living – not just on Sunday morning, not just at Bible Study.
1) Here is the 1st step of Jesus’ format for daily living: If we are to step up and live for God, if we are to be God’s show piece, our daily living must be God-centered and God-focused.
My wife has a meditation book by Sarah Young entitled: Jesus Today: Experience Hope Though His Presence. One of the meditations reads:
Keep your eyes on me; I am with you, taking care of you in the best possible way. When you are suffering, my care may seem imperfect and inadequate; trust that I know what I am doing, that I can bring good out of everything you encounter and everything you endure. Don’t let your present suffering contaminate your view of the future. I am the Lord of your future, and I have good things in store for you. I alone know the things I am planning for you.”
How critical it is to keep our eyes on God, to center our living on God, to make God the focal point of all things in our lives. Our paths, whatever we are going through at any moment, the prospect of our future, can contaminate our daily living, our witness, and our lives. It is so easy to be so focused on other stuff when you get up in the morning, that you lose sight of God. When trouble, crisis, stress and anxiety are all we can focus on, we can lose sight that God is watching over us.
It is so easy to lose sight when those all around you are chattering about everything. You get so full of the world, worrying about the bills, the children going to school, someone on the job, and you can lose sight of God. Only when God is the focal point and your eyes are glued to Him, can you daily walk with faith knowing that whatever comes, God will take care of you.
The followers of Jesus had to quickly warn the people: never take your eyes off God. In the scripture, a storm came up. Winds started blowing. You could not see your hands in front of your face. The disciples spotted Jesus walking on the water. Peter jumped out of the boat and began walking on the water. He had his eyes on Jesus. There is so much gong on that sometimes you try to walk on the “stuff” the world puts in your way. Peter walked on water when he had his eyes on Jesus, but as soon as he started focusing on the chaos around him and took his eyes off the master… he sank.
The television ministers can try to make it seem easy, but there is nothing easy about daily living and walking with the Lord. It’s a struggle every day. But the one thing I have come to realize is that, when God is at the very center of your life and you stay focused on God, when you can give God all the glory for everything in your life, then you can pretty much move through life with a certain ease, comfort, and assurance, that God will take care of it and of you. Whatever you are going through, stay focused and make God the center.
Here is the second step to Jesus’ format for daily living.
Step 2: In all things, practice, live, exude, love towards each other and towards others. The foundation of this new community that Jesus is leaving behind was to be rooted in love. In verse 34, Jesus says: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. By this everyone will recognize you as belonging to me.”
Eugene Peterson writes in his commentary on this scripture: “The bible is not consumed with getting us to believe in God. It assumes that everyone, more or less, does. What it is interested in is our response to God.” I submit that Jesus submits that the most appropriate response to God is that we love one another, and that we show it in our daily walk. We can talk all the holy talk we want to talk. We can sing all the holy songs we want to sing. We can worship and go through all the holy rituals we want, but unless we practice love, unless we show love, unless we exude the love of God for each other – first, right here in the church, we have missed the mark. Sometimes church can be one of the most unlovely places on the face of the earth. We can talk all the holy talk. We can sing all the holy songs. We can preach all the holy sermons. We can go though all the holy rituals, but unless we exude the love of God for each other in the church and for those we come in contact with in our daily lives, we are missing the boat and we are striking out at the plate.
Don’t tell me how many people you fed unless you did it with loving hands, and a pure heart. Don’t tell me about what you gave through your tithes and offerings unless you did it with the love of God. Don’t tell me about your holiness unless you can love the one who doesn’t give a hoot about you. This is Jesus’ format for daily living: Unless we can love our children, our husbands and wives, our relative who is a drug addict or alcoholic, unless we can do that, then we miss the boat.
Louis Donaldson says: “The love command that Jesus commands here is typically understood as both the center of Jesus’ teaching or the center of the Christian faith.” Gary Jones writes in his perspective: “Although Christians today are often concerned about who is orthodox and who is evangelical or revisionist in faith, perhaps the more important concern has to do with who most effectively evidenced the love of Christ in their daily lives.” Yes we believe a lot of stuff, but at the root of what we believe, the most significant things are: Do you love your neighbor as you love yourself. After all, Jesus did not say: you will know my disciples by what they believe, but by what they demonstrate.
Thomas Stronger said: “When we allow the love of Christ to take deep root in us so that it flourishes in all we do and say to one another, it is the first step in helping the world to understand Christ.” We give witness to what no purely verbal argument can ever accomplish. A hungry many or woman cannot hear about Jesus until you fill their belly. You can’t tell a homeless person about Jesus until you wrap your arms around them and say: Christ loves you, and I love you.
Verses 31-32 of the scripture say: “Now the son of man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.” The first time I read that passage I said, Lord, that sounds so confusing. Had I not gone to seminary, I would not understand a word of it. My wife said yes it sounds like a riddle; it’s complicated. But allow me to break it down for us in our daily living, in our daily walk. It’s actually very simple.
Step 3: In all things, give God the glory!
This is the 3rd and final step, simply put: In all things, glorify God! Let your neighbor and all your contacts see God living in you. In all things, let the world see God in you. Let your neighbors, let your family, let your job see God in you. Whatever good things come your way, whatever blessings drop from heaven, whatever you are allowed to do, glorify God. Never take the credit; to God, be the glory.
Jesus helps us here. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but he took no credit. He takes the little boy’s lunch, lifts it up and God multiplies it so it can feed thousands, and he takes no credit. When he teaches his disciples to pray, he focuses not on himself, but on his father in heaven: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…for Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory… forever and ever.”
Whatever happens: give God the glory. I got a new apartment – to God be the glory. I feel alright this morning – to God be the glory. I got a new job – to God be the glory. I got a new car, it may be off the used car lot, but to God be the glory. I didn’t get the job I thought I was going to get, to God be the glory. I lost my job, to God be the glory. The doctors game me some bad news – to God be the glory. The doctors gave me some good news, to God be the glory.
This is the format of Jesus for daily living: keep God at the center of your life, keep God as the focal point of your life. This is the format: love one another. I went to the dictionary to look up “exude”. To exude love means to perspire, sweat, pour out, to just sweat love; to just pour out love. And this is the format of Jesus for daily living: In all things, give God the glory – rain, shine, winds in your life swirling all around, when you pay your taxes and have to get an extension, when the doctors give you good news, or when the doctors give you bad news, to God be the glory!
To God be the Glory, is the Jesus Format for Daily Living.
Rev. Jonathan V. Newton, Assistant Minister
Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Scripture: Acts 5:23-33
As you know from hand dance ministry, I love dancing. I used to practice in front of a mirror when I was a child to make sure I got the dance moves right. Now I teach hand dancing here at the church on Tuesday evenings; and as a teacher, I’m much more aware of how people dance in a group versus when they are alone. When people are alone dancing – when nobody’s watching – you’re a whole lot freer. When nobody’s watching, you’re more daring, you can execute moves, you can get lost in the movement and not worry about what everyone is going to see. There are probably some great dance moves that got lost in the mirror, when no one was watching.
But somebody is always watching, evaluating, analyzing, critiquing – especially in the great dance of life. Someone is always making an effort at controlling. If people can define you, they can put you in a box and control you. And as long as you don’t pay attention to what other people think, you can dance like nobody’s watching.
The character Elaine on the long-running Seinfeld show wondered why people were mocking her. She had been to an office party where she “danced like no one was watching.” Her disjointed movements looked like somebody having a “full body dry-heave” to music. But the character Elaine was oblivious to what people thought, and her dance became a big hit on the streets of New York, because she danced like nobody was watching.
In the scripture text, after Jesus’ crucifixion and ascension into heaven, the disciples have entered a different phase of discipleship. This time, despite the threats and admonitions from the high priests, despite being persecuted and thrown in jail, the apostles have begun to “dance like no one is watching.” These aren’t the same disciples who denied knowing Jesus; these aren’t the same people who didn’t understand their purpose – these apostles have begun to walk and to stand tall in the word of the Lord, despite the costs. Because, Brothers and Sisters, there is a cost when you break through from what people say and think about you. There are going to be challenges even though you walked down that aisle and gave your life to the Lord. Obedience can get you into direct trouble. But if you believe in what you are doing for the Lord, then you can dance as if no one is watching.
In the scripture, the apostles had been sent to jail, but here they are, outside teaching, preaching, telling the good news – they have more important things to worry about than what the religious leaders are saying about them. Let’s look at what made them transform.
In this chapter, the Sanhedrin, who were the officers of the high priest of the Sadducees, went to the jail to get the apostles and found the jail securely locked; the apostles were gone and the guards were standing at the doors of the empty cells. The tables had been turned. The guards are confused, and the apostles are out teaching the word of God. God gave the apostles a vision that the religious leaders tried to stop. The lesson here is that God’s purpose for you is far more powerful than what the world has against you. The temple guards were afraid to interrupt the apostles! God can turn things completely around in your life; just when it seems like you are powerless, He will turn it all around; He’ll give you a peace that will make your enemies perplexed, a peace that will make your enemies your footstools.
The high priest and the Sadducees didn’t understand how this “vision” thing works. But we saw it in this church, just last week. Pastor Braxton had a vision of the Silent March to Stop the Pipeline to Prison and End Gun Violence. Everyone said no, it can’t be done; it’s Good Friday. Pastor said, this is what I see: People walking with crosses, in a silent march on Good Friday, from the church to Freedom Plaza. People said no, the church is in downtown DC; you’ll tie up all the traffic, you’ll bother people, Good Friday is not for politics; it can’t be done. But it was done, because we came to proclaim the Good News on Good Friday. Maybe it was a Marco Rubio moment. The message is: when you have a clear sense of where you are going and what God wants you to do, the obstacles before you MOVE.
Obstacles are all you see when you take you eyes off the goal. God wanted the disciples to keep their eyes focused on the goal. There was nothing the Sanhedrin could do to stop it. They said: “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this way!” But the apostles said: “We have to obey God, not men.” The New Revised South Bronx Hip Hop Translation of the scripture says: “Sometimes you gotta talk to the hand; sometimes, you just gotta say: ‘God has given me this word. God has paid the price for my life; you gotta talk to the hand.’” And this is the same “hand” that is raised in praise, adoration and prayer. When you have doubt and conflict, you gotta go to your hand, you gotta go to God in prayer, and the Lord will surely make a way.
These new disciples – these apostles – said: We are witnesses to these things, as is the Holy Spirit. As witnesses, they were saying: “We have seen it.” As a witness, many will deny the truth of who you are, but God has already done enough; you must look back over the things that He has done. He brought us off the slave ships; He brought us through reconstruction; through the civil rights era; He put roofs over our heads, food in our bellies. God has blessed us with more than enough, if you don’t do anything else, we thank you and we praise you Lord!
It’s a simple message: When you look at the doubt, the criticism, the obstacles in your life and you compare it to all that God has done and been for you, then there is no reason to worry about what the world says. We can press on and dance like nobody is watching.
Maya Angelou said:
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
When you look over our history, our people danced like nobody was watching.
Nelson Mandela, Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, Richard Allen – they all rose up to overcome tremendous defeats, and they danced like nobody was watching. We rise because God has empowered us to do it. We can live by popular opinion, or we can live by what the Lord says. We can dance until we are the envy of all the all flowers around us!
The writer William W. Purkey wrote the words:
Sing like no one’s listening,
love like you’ve never been hurt,
dance like nobody’s watching,
and live like its heaven on earth.
If we look around at all God has done in our lives, we can dance like nobody’s watching. I have friends who love me, family who love me, people who love me, and the mercy and love of a God who has all power in his hands! With what we have right now we can stand, we can shout, we can wave our hands and dance like nobody’s watching. I’m gonna dance like nobody’s watching cause God gave me the power to do so! Amen! Amen! Amen!
Scripture: Acts 5: 23-33 (NIV Translations): 23 ”We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. 25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. 27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 ”We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.
“Getting up is What Counts,” Part 1
Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor
Metropolitan AME Church
Easter Sunday March 31, 2013
Scripture: Luke 24:1-12. Jesus Has Risen. 24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
Let me commend to each of you the reading of the Resurrection story in all four gospels. What you will discover is that all four of them tell the story of that first Easter Resurrection morning from their own view and the way they first experienced, from others.
The women who were present and witnessed the entire events of the assault on the life of Jesus and stayed near the cross until the bitter end—Luke is clear that they were the first to experience Jesus raised from the dead. These women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary “the mother of James” and Luke says, “the other women” were there with the others to remove the body of Jesus from the cross, gently wipe him off, wrap him in linen, and then bury him in the tomb. The plan was to wait until the Sabbath had ended and then return to the burial site and prepare the body in a proper way. Things needed to be done—proper cleansing, anointing with oil, suitable wrapping, and an appropriate burial.
But they did not have time to do the proper thing, because the sun would soon set, and all they had time to do was clean Jesus’ body up and hurry to the tomb. Maybe the men were just so stunned that they could not wrap their minds around what had happened and thought the details of a proper burial could wait until later on in the morning. Maybe the women were so anxious and keen on details like this that they could not sleep and, as soon as day broke and the Sabbath had ended, they decided amongst themselves to leave the men and go take care of the business at hand.
Let me suggest that all of them were possibly wiped out. All of them were downcast, sorrowful, broken, heart-wrenched and filled with unbearable grief. In times like that, you can find yourself just “doing stuff” and you don’t even know what you are doing or why you are doing it. These women are to become the first evangelists with the good news of resurrection. These women are the first to proclaim that Jesus lives. They are the first witnesses and the first bearers of the faith. They returned quickly to share it with the men. The Bible says, “The apostles didn’t believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up.” It is at that moment, that the focus is shifted to Peter.
We know Peter. We can all agree that Peter was the closest to Jesus. They were like what we use to call “Blood brothers” or best friends. I suspect that next to Mary, the mother of Jesus, Peter took the last few days of Jesus’ life the hardest. Peter had invested everything in Jesus. He had given up everything for Jesus; possibly Peter, more than the rest, had spiritually connected with Jesus. He was so close to Jesus, yet in the hour of Jesus’ greatest need he pushed back and denied his relationship with Jesus. All of them were in the dumps, down, distraught, completely wiped out and cast aside, maybe Peter more than the others. What had he done; what was left for him; where would he go; what would he do? If you ever get a taste of “better,” it is hard to return to what was.
I am not a big fan of the award shows—the Grammys, Emmy’s, Golden Globe, Oscars and the likes. (If it were up to me, the little girl [Quvenzhane Wallis] would have won the Oscar, or Django would have won the Oscar). Just before retiring for the night, I turned to the closing moments of the Oscars. Since they were wrapping up and about to name the big winners, I stayed tuned. I was intrigued by the comments of Ben Affleck in his acceptance speech. I did a little research on Affleck, only to discover that he could relate to what it means to be in the dumps, down, distraught, completely wiped out and cast aside. He was a product of what society calls, “A broken home.” His acting career went through some ebbs and flows. In 2001 he checked himself into an exclusive rehabilitation center to undergo treatment for alcohol abuse. Two marriage engagements ended before he got to the altar. For a time, his film career and personal life suffered a downward-spiraling twist. It was in Affleck’s acceptance speech, after receiving the Oscar for his award-winning picture “Argo,” that he declares, “Getting up is what counts in life.”
As bad off as Peter must have been feeling; as dejected, cast aside, feeling wiped out and down, in Luke’s account of the resurrection story, when Peter heard the report from the women, the other disciples didn’t believe the women, but the Bible says, “He [Peter] got up and ran to the tomb…” The Message Bible says, “He jumped to his feet and ran…” I want to suggest that from the very moment Peter got up, his life was never the same. Getting up is what counts. Peter could have doubted himself, doubted God, doubted Jesus; he could have just sat idly, passing the moments away; soaking in his disappointment, drowning in his frustration, pitty-pating his sorrow and grief. But the Bible says that he got up. Getting up is what counts.
1. Never stop anticipating the power of God to move in extreme and extra-ordinary ways in your life.
Let me lift three thoughts. The first is: (1) never stop anticipating the power of God to move in extreme and extra-ordinary ways in your life. Peter must have anticipated that God was about something extreme and extraordinary. He jumped up and ran to see what God was about. Nobody, none of the women or men were expecting or anticipating what they found at the tomb. God had moved in an extreme and extraordinary way. Let me back-track a minute. I would like to think that when Moses found himself and the people of God between a rock and a hard place – between Egypt and the Red Sea – he must have anticipated the power of God to move in an extreme and extraordinary way. Let me say it another way: When Queen Esther decided to go stand before the King on behalf of her people, she had to have anticipated the power of God to move in an extreme and extraordinary way.
Remember all of those people who were coming to Jesus for healing, new life and wholeness; they weren’t coming with doubt, with “I wonder can he do it,” they must have anticipated the power of God was going to move in extreme and extraordinary ways—the blind man, the cripple, the man at the pool of Bethesda, the woman with the issue of blood, the 10 lepers, the woman caught in adultery, the mother whose only son had died. Somebody in this church this morning can shout, “You can’t make me doubt him, I know too much about him!” Sometimes, some hard stuff will fall in your life, and if it hasn’t, just wait a little longer. The times may seem long and the rain may never seem to stop. I don’t know when, how He’s going to move, but I do know that you live everyday on the edge knowing, trusting, believing, anticipating the power of God to move in your life in extreme and extraordinary ways. Sometimes you will get knocked down and pushed aside. Sometimes some hard stuff will fall on your life. When the sun stops shining in your life, when the nights are long and dreary and the rain seemingly will never stop, just get up anyway!
2. It is easier to get up when you remember how God blessed your life the last time.
Here is the second lesson for today, (2) it is easier to get up when you remember how God blessed your life the last time. When the women saw the empty tomb, they became bewildered. Peter was even bewildered by what he saw or, rather, did not see. The women must have been moved to a greater low until they were reminded what was told to them by Jesus. When they remembered they got up and one text says that “they ran to tell the men.” It is easier to get up when you remember what happened the last time you were down and out. It is easier to get up when you start remembering how God brought you out and brought you through that last mess you found yourself in. It is easier to get up when you start remembering that you didn’t have enough money to pay your mortgage, but somehow God found a way; when the cupboard was a little bare and God put food on your table. It’s easier to get up when you start remember his promises to you: I will be with you…I will not leave you, nor forsake you…I am the bread of life…I am living water…I am your rock in a weary land…
Life tends to want to keep you down, head down, can’t get out of bed, won’t get up and go out to try to find a job, having a pity party to yourself, talking about “woe is me!” But I got news for you: it’s easier to get up when you remember him saying : I am the bread of life I am the living water I am your anchor in the time of storm. Then you’ll say: I gotta get up, I gotta get out of here, if it’s no more than getting up, coming to church, helping to fix the food basket for the homeless…I’m gonna get up!
3. In the Power of the resurrection, you can get up; you don’t ever have to stay down!
Here is the final lesson, (3) in the power of the resurrection you can get up; you don’t ever have to stay down. And getting up is what counts. The powers of this world thought that they had the best of Jesus. They thought they had him – a mock trial, stood him before the people, put a crown of thorns on his head, whipped him, hung him until he died, put him in a cave – we call it a tomb – then sealed the tomb so he couldn’t get out and we couldn’t get in. They though they had gotten the best of Jesus. That’s what they thought. When he got up, God power, resurrection power, was vested in his new life. I want to say that again: When he got up, POWER, God’s power, resurrected power, was vested in his new life.
If you live every day in God’s power resurrection power, you don’t have to stay down. You can get up. Even if you are crippled or sick, your spirit can get up; your will can get up; your determination can get up. You can get up! Tell somebody sitting next to you: “You ought to get up!” Don’t let the world keep you down, don’t let the devil keep you down, don’t let your situation keep you down. It may not look like you are getting anywhere, it may not look like you are going anywhere, but stop sitting down – GET UP. I don’t care how hard it is – how dark it is – how rough it is – GET UP. And when you get up, POWER, God’s power, resurrection power, will be vested in your life. Get up, open your mouth, say something, do something, but GET UP!
I’m so glad I didn’t let the projects keep me down; I’m do glad I came from a single mother; I didn’t make anything of my life in school, but one morning I got up, and God poured his power into my life. Young people get up; middle-aged people get up; old people GET UP!! Stop making excuses! Stop living for the Devil – GET UP!