Sunday Message August 14th, 2011
This is the fifth and last week in the season of Kingdom time. We started this season talking about perseverance. We said perseverance in the face of difficulty and injustice would perfect us as human beings, as a people. Today we will see that perseverance is power – PERSEVERANCE IS POWER.
This is also the season of decision. For perseverance to work, for us to be able to persevere, to have the power of perseverance, we must make decisions – and now is the time for us to make decision. In fact, there are four kinds of decisions we are asked to make
First there are decisions of NECESSITY: decisions of how you are going to pay your rent, put food n the table, pay for medical care. Then there are decisions of LOYALTY: Decisions about loyalty to your family and friends, your church, your people and their struggle. Third there are decisions about DESIRES: We have to make decisions as to whether we are going to follow our desires, without regard to their cost. Finally there are decisions about the VISION Go gives us of what our future could be and there is the decision to honor or disregard that vision.
The Bible says, in Proverbs 29, “Without a vision the people perish” – but when we embrace God’s vision, it lifts us up. To embrace that vision we must face our necessities, respect our loyalty to each other, discipline the desires which make us quarrel and fight with each other and then God will give bind us together so that we can persevere, he will heal what is broken and afflicted and work through us to achieve the promised victory of the vision.
Think about James, the brother of Jesus. His older brother has been crucified by the Romans through a conspiracy of the religious and governmental leaders of his own people. In his mind he can still see his brother hanging on the cross. He is bitter – but trying to carry on his brother’s ministry.
He wants to give his people hope – and yet they keep quarreling with each other. He is fighting for their right to be families, to be a people, and yet they are tearing each other apart right before his eyes. He writes to them in the dispersed communities telling them their rich oppressors are doomed, as well as those who have betrayed the people.
He tells them they are still chosen by God and still have the power of God with them when they come together. So he tells them, gather together in prayer and you will see the miracle of healing. You see he gives them a vision that lifts them up, if they will honor their loyalty, stop their quarreling and discipline their desires, God will meet their necessities – and they will persevere until the victory is won.
James asks his people to embracing the vision that God gives them and we are asked to embrace the vision that God gives us today. James talks about the future of the rich oppressors. Today we see the policies of enforcement and marginalization. Both political parties are intent on deporting 1100 people every day, breaking up their families. Both parties are more concerned with locking up young people from our community in prison than in giving the decent schools.
And both parties are pushing trickle -down economics, which is really “stealing up” economics. Both parties say “Let the rich keep their money and they will create jobs. Obama saved the banks and said that would create jobs. It isn’t working. For when they get more money they keep more money. What they are really doing is stealing money from those who produce the wealth, starting at the bottom, and pushing the wealth up.
We have two parties of self-destruction, two parties that are destroying this country out of greed, saying the same thing! We see it in immigration: One with hate and self-righteousness; the other with a broken promise and blame for the other party. Who speaks for the people: where are the people speaking? Where is their voice?
James also talks about the future of God’s people, of the poor. Today, there is destiny in our growing numbers, there is a people living in prophecy. If you could listen in to their conversations, in the White House, in the Republican headquarters, in the Board rooms of the big corporations, you would see that both parties know that something very powerful is being born, something that in time they will have to submit to. They know the Black and Latino communities are growing in numbers every day. This will soon be a majority Black and Brown nation. They are hoping that they still have time to enjoy their injustice – but they know the door is closing. They know it. But do we know it?
Our voice is in our perseverance: that our families, our people persist and grow in numbers and in faith: made more perfect by our perseverance. It is our perseverance that gives us our strength and our power, that is making us the majority.
And Perseverance is a GOOD FEELING. When you are running and you feel like you can’t go on but you do and you get a second wind and your legs feel light and strong again. When you are tired and working in the morning and feel like you can’ t make it through the day, but you stick with it, you talk with your fellow workers, you laugh, you pray – and you finish the day’s work with ease.
Still, like James, we see that necessities defeat us, our disloyalties demoralize us, our desires make us quarrel and break apart. And that is why we must make our decisions and lean on our vision. We need to be about making our decisions.
We need to face the decisions about the Necessity of organization based on commitment and self-reliance. It is harvest time and we are going to see the wheat separated from the chafe. Those who are working out of commitment will stay – those who were there for the money will leave because the money is gone. We don’t control the media – in order to mobilize to defend ourselves we are going to have to organize Familia Latina Unida in committees of 5 to 10 families each. We are going to have organizing groups in every high school and college. That is a decision we must make now.
We need to decide to be loyal to each other and to the church, to the movement and to our people. But Loyalty must be accompanied by with discernment. We want to be loyal, but we can’t be dragged down by others who have given up because of loyalty. Don’t judge – but don’t tie yourself to a sinking ship.
Desires planted and cultivated by the enemy must be disciplined, must be put under control. We buy things we don’t need. We turn our backs on our families to go after something strange. We have to decide, desire by desire, not to let these desires lead our lives and determine our priorities.
Today, we ask you to lean on the Vision, see it, feel it, you are part of history, part of God’s salvation history. Your perseverance is your power, and perseverance is working in you.
Now remember that James ends his letter by calling us to come together in healing: God shows his blessing. James says come together and pray for each other. Pray for the person who is sick and they will be made well. Pray for the sinner, and they – and you – will be redeemed.
We are fighting cases one at a time – and winning: that is God giving us a sign. Many are denied health care, but we are winning that battle one at a time: that too is a sign from God. He gives us these signs to give us confidence and encouragement to that we will live out the vision he has given to us.
We must also come together, pray for each other and with each other, and heal our broken families, our broken friendships, our broken church, our broken organizations of faith. God will heal us if we try to heal each other. And these signs will give us all strength so that perseverance can perfect us.
And our perseverance is our power. We are coming to the harvest time, the harvest time, this year, of perseverance. It is beginning to come into focus. I want you to see it – see what this harvest time will bring. Stay strong in the Lord and you will see something wonderful, you are running and you are about to get your second wind, you kept on walking through the storm and you see the warm sun breaking through, the harvest is inside you, like a seed that God planted, and it is about to come to fullness in you and yours. Harvest time is here!
Kingdom Time 5 Scriptures
James 5: 1-6 Warning to Rich Oppressors
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
James 5: 7-11 Patience in Suffering
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5:13-20 The Prayer of Faith
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.