Sun, 28 July 2019
Two weeks ago Hurricane Barry threatened South Louisiana with the potential for historic floods. The waters in the Gulf of Mexico were unusually warm which typically energizes a storm. The tropical storm was inching northward slowly which meant that any rains would likely be prolonged and drenching. The Mississippi River was already above flood stage even before Barry’s landfall.
Everything was set up for it to be another “perfect” storm that would devastate our area.
But then something really unexpected occurred. A “dry air mass” materialized and covered Louisiana. It became a virtual storm wall that held Hurricane Barry’s torrential rains at bay. The catastrophic floods predicted for our area never arrived.
Meteorologists were left scratching their heads at this unusual phenomenon. What happened?
Let me offer an explanation: God’s people prayed and, in response, God stilled the storm (it wouldn’t be the first time). In anticipation of the storm, one weatherman had tweeted, in effect, that our best hope was prayer—and he was right!
Someone might counter, “But didn’t God’s people pray in 2016 when the flood waters ravaged our area?” Yes. Of course we prayed back then too. And God answered those prayers as well, though not, perhaps, as we expected or hoped. Though he did not hold back the waters, he brought us through them—and he taught us through them! Both experiences worked together for our good and his glory!
The important thing is that, by prayer, we fellowship with God. By prayer we partner with him in the ushering in of his kingdom and are molded more into his image.
More than once in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus impresses on his disciples—upon us—the privilege and power of prayer! This Sunday we’ll look at the “big a.s.k.” that he instructs us to make—ask, seek, knock. Join us!
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (7:7).
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened (7:7-8).
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!(7:9-11).
Sun, 21 July 2019
There is a Bible verse that our culture at-large loves! Even folks that may not be committed to Jesus as Lord are likely to embrace it. They may not know a lot of the Bible, but it’s likely that they’ll know this verse and can probably even quote it.
Here it is: “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).
Why, do you suppose, it’s such a favorite? What about us, what about our culture, and what about that particular verse makes it so popular?
A clue might be found in the results of a survey that was recently conducted. Young adults aged 18 to 40 in the US were asked, “What is the greatest virtue?” You might expect the top answer to be love, or integrity, or humility. But it was none of these.
The number one response was autonomy. Autonomy says, “I will do whatever I want. Nobody can tell me what to do or what not to do.”
Coming in as a close runner-up was tolerance. Tolerance has traditionally said, “Let’s allow for differing opinions or permissible behaviors, even if we disagree.” But now, that traditional definition has morphed to a new stance that says, “Not only must you allow for what I do in my autonomy, you must approve of it.” If you don’t, let’s face it; you’re a hater. You’re intolerant. And, in our day, that just might be the worst sin of all!
These two “virtues” have joined forces. Together they have become a battering ram for behaviors and choices that, frankly, fly in the face of what God has designed and decreed.
Yet this is where Matthew 7:1 comes in so handy. If an action or an attitude is called into question, that particular Bible verse is often trotted out as a foolproof defense: “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
Is that a legitimate use of those words of Jesus? Are we not to “judge” anything, at any time, in any sense? How are we to understand rightly and apply these words of Jesus?
We’ll try to answer those questions this coming Sunday morning at Istrouma. By doing so, we’ll learn how to live better in community with one another under the loving Lordship of Jesus.
If you can’t be with us in person, join us on Istrouma Baptist Church’s Facebook livestream or at www.istrouma.org. Messages are also archived there and can be watched at any time.
“Jesus on Judgment”
Judge not, that you be not judged(7:1).
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye (7:2-5).
Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you(7:6).
Sun, 14 July 2019
Put on Your Life Preserver
Isaiah 43:1-2 and 21
“Whenyou pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; whenyou walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (43:2).
“When you pass throughthe waters, I will be with you; and throughthe rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk throughfire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (43:2).
“. . . the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (43:21).
Sun, 7 July 2019
Stop Worrying Start Living
Is Jesus enough?