The Sunday Message at Lincoln United Methodist Church
There is a difference between a dream and a vision, between a wish and a will. If you can see it – you can be it; if you can conceive it you can achieve it.
We are in the season of Kingdom Time – that is the time when God reveals his Kingdom, the truth of His creation – and it is the time when each of us – both the powerful and the poor – has to decide between His Kingdom and the mess that man has created out of arrogance and selfishness, out of lies and greed.
Yet not everybody can see the Kingdom of God. Jesus told his disciples that “what you know, what you understand, many rich and powerful men would give everything to know and to see.” For Jesus had shown them a vision of the Kingdom of God and shown them the Way they should live in order to live in that Kingdom, now, here on earth.
Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a pearl, that when you find it, you will give up everything you own to have it. Living in the Kingdom of God, now while you are on earth, is living in a relationship with God, of harmony with his creation, with His purpose, that brings you power, brings you wisdom, brings you peace, brings you real and faithful love – and brings a people who are oppressed the unity they need to gain justice.
But to receive the Kingdom in your life you must see it. If you can see it, you can be it; if you can conceive it you can achieve it. And Jesus also taught that to see the Kingdom of God you must become as a child. The world we live in, which is so disfigured by the arrogance of man, is at the same time the World that God created – but the confusion of our lives prevents us from seeing it as it is, as it was created.
Today, my vision is very clear. We are in Kingdom Time, when each must make a choice between evil and the Kingdom of God. But Harvest time is just around the corner. Those who oppose God will soon be shown His judgment and they will run like mice across the floor when the lights go on.
We ask god to teach us to see the world as it really is. In Washington D.C. we learned that Obama had finally responded to the demand we have been making for six months, the demand to use his executive powers to stop the deportations and separating of families. He responded in a public letter that he “would continue to enforce the law as he had been doing.” In other words, he said NO to the cries for justice of millions of people, people who had elected him and given him the powers of the Presidency.
Gutierrez responded by getting arrested in front of the White House – and that gave him a platform to expose Obama’s lies. For Obama did lie. Obama had said he did not have the power to do what we asked. And that lie was exposed. On the floor of the NCLR convention the people interrupted the President’s speech and chanted “Yes You Can” – You do have the power.
In the world of politics, Gutierrez won the war. Obama now stands exposed. He has deported 1 million people, separated hundreds of thousands of families and destroyed the futures of thousands of young people. That is on him. He cannot blame the Republicans on the law or anything else. He stands naked before our community.
Gutierrez was brilliant in the last few days – as he has been for the last six months. And he was courageous, willing to stand alone among the members of Congress who abandoned him. Just as Jesus stood in the praises of the Children when he did good deeds in the temple, so was Gutierrez elevated and Barack laid low in the eyes of the people. For the truth came from the children.
There were many interviews by the Press. One of those was with Rosalba Valdez. They asked her why she had written her famous song. She said she was inspired by the stories of Elvira and Saul and by the stories of the families in suffering separation in our church. She said the government is separating families because they don’t have a piece of paper: how ridiculous is that!
And that is the truth that comes from God. In the Kingdom of God the bond of a family, working hard, raising their children in the ways of the Lord is the Way God created it to be. All the laws, all the debates, all the politics – these are just words on a piece of paper. And how could not having a piece of paper displace you from the Kingdom of God. God does not look at a piece of paper, he looks into the hearts and souls of the people and gives them life.
You see, Rosalba, and all the young people and children with their signs and their dances and their songs: they spoke God’s truth – they saw God’s Kingdom.
James says there are two kinds of wisdom. There is the wisdom that comes from bitter envy and selfish ambition. That shows you the way to political power. But it has no truth in it. “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” Look at the government today. The richest country in the world is about to default to the banks. Its economy can not employ its people. Disorder is everywhere.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow n peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
If I see what is right, teach me to do what is right: James says this: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from Wisdom.”
You cannot see a mountain unless your feet place you in a position to look at it. You cannot see the Kingdom of God unless your actions, your deeds, follow in his Way.
That is why James teaches us today to control the tongue. The tongue is the most dangerous part of our body. With it we speak before we think. We are led by words we say, that we did not mean to say, and those words once spoken destroy families, friendships and organizations.
Everything you think is true doesn’t have to be spoken. Why? Because we are not perfect. We don’t see ahead the consequences of what we say. What seems to us to be true is often only a reflection of our anger, of our hurt, of our selfish ambition. It is not really the truth.
It is better to think before you speak. You speak words that hurt and separate you from someone you will need later on, someone who deserves your help later on but won’t ask you.
How can you speak of Godly things with the same tongue that you speak division and hatred and selfishness? James asks “can both fresh and salt water flow from the same spring?” You speak about unity of our people, about love and family unity for the sake of the children – these are Godly things = but in the next moment you say things, spread rumors, react in anger words that destroy the unity we need, the love we need. And words cannot be taken back. They leave a trail of bitterness that poisons our lives.
If you discipline yourself, you will be able to walk on the Way God makes for you. You will be able to see the Kingdom of God and you will know its power. As it says in the Psalm, “I am still confident of this, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Kingdom Time is the time of choosing. God offers but some don’t see his offer. They are blinded by their ambition and their stubbornness. God will show them his judgment
Jesus tells us the Kingdom is like a wedding banquet. The Father of the bride invites all the important people in town to come to the wedding banquet – but they are too busy. They decline his invitation. So he tells his men to go out into the fields and get the poor people and he seats them at the banquet. Jesus says, in this way the first will be last and the last will be first. That is a judgment on the rich and powerful who will not respect the Kingdom of God.
Now is the time to be strong, the harvest is coming. How many times did Pharaoh deny the Israelites their freedom? Even after plagues, and even after the death of the entire first born of the Egyptians, Pharaoh stood against them. Barack is such a pharaoh, stubborn and arrogant – who denies the people what God has promised them. His arrogance keeps him from seeing that he has lost the support of the people because he has opposed God’s creation.
It is Kingdom time and Barack will have to decide between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom in Washington D.C… -He cannot and he will not prevail against us If we walk in the Way God has created for us. We will show him the Kingdom power of God’s creation – the power of the ocean and the mountains and the rivers and the trees. Against all of Creation, Barack cannot stand. What will happen?
In the harvest time which is coming soon, Barack has lost the support of the People because he has turned his back on God. His advisors are whisper ring I his ear, “Don’t worry, they will come back. We can buy them with money.” But God will show him His judgment. Listen to these words from the prophet:
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.
What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches? Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives or fall among the slain. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.
We will claim our victory in the time of the Harvest. We will “see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living/” But we must keep our eye on the Kingdom, choose the Kingdom, choose the Way of righteousness with each other and in standing up to the world. We will do our best and God will do the rest.
Kingdom Time 2 Scriptures
11 Teach me your way, LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
1 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
2 to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
3 What will you do on the day of reckoning,
when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches?
4 Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives
or fall among the slain.
Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
his hand is still upraised.
James 3: 3-12 Taming the Tongue
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
James 3: 13-18 Two Kinds of Wisdom
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.