2412 Griffith Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011   (213) 748-0318   info@secondbaptistchurchla.org

SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES

Inspirational messages for Sunday July 12 through Saturday July 18, 2020

Remembering What Faith In God Had Done For You

21Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:  23That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. 24Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. 25To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. 26Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.”   27Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? 28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”    Isaiah 40: 21-31

 Sunday July 12, 2020

Introduction

21Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: Isaiah 40:21-22

Let me remind you of the role of prophets and prophecy.  Prophets interpret the activity of God in the history of the world and in the lives of people.  Prophets remind people of God’s past activity as they interpret and reinterpret the meaning of that activity for the present time.  Prophets interpret the will of God in times of crises.

It has been said that the book of Isaiah is a miniature of the bible.  The Old Testament has 39 books chronicling the consequences of choices that ruin our lives.  The first part of Isaiah has 39 chapters delineating the decisions we make that disrupt the safety, security and success we seek.  The New Testament has 27 books which record the activity that makes a marvelous change of circumstances about redirecting the course of our lives and living.  Isaiah's second part has 27 chapters reminding people of what they have forgotten or misinterpreted from their history while reorganizing their activity positively to circumvent their circumstances courageously.


Isaiah begins here with a word to persons who are disappointed, disgusted and disillusion with the recent developments.  Their current mood and condition were caused by their circumstances of captivity.   Chapters 40-66 contain prophecies and proclamations that were designed to comfort God's people when they found themselves in Babylonian captivity. Though Isaiah himself did not live during the period of Babylonian captivity, as a prophet he was able to speak words of comfort to those who would experience that difficult time of Israel's history
 
We are faced with a pandemic that has altered our lives immeasurably with uncertainty.  We are caught in limbo hoping and waiting for the best while managing the worst.  There is the political partisanship that is wreaking havoc seemingly destroying the cherished values on which our democracy of equality, fairness and rights for everyone has been built.  There is the systemic racism woven into the warp and woof of the fabric of American culture which has reached recognition through police brutality exposing racist threads which are woven into the structure of every aspect of American society. 

Consider what it means to be reminded about what you have known and heard about who God is.  


Monday July 13, 2020

21Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:  23That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. 24Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble."  Isaiah 40:21-24

It was part of Israel's history that the people experienced the reality of the Presence of the Lord.  Whether it was a call or commission for something special e.g. Genesis 12:1; Exodus 12:14 deliverance from bondage, captivity and/or oppression.

No image made by humanity could ever portray the greatness of God.  Whether you use expensive precious metals or wood, whatever you craft is ridiculous.  The greatness of God cannot be captured by any image.  The unparalleled magnitude of the Lord simply makes it impossible to symbolically represent who God really is and what God is really like.

The image of the phrase the Lord sits high but looks low seemingly came from this picture of Isaiah that the Lord sits on the circle of the earth seeing and watching what's going on with the people living therein.   While the Lord is above all, still the Lord is with all in what they experience. (e.g. Psalm 113:4-7 and 138:6).   

A few scriptural references for those who believe in Christ, e.g. John 15:16 - "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you."

I Corinthians 1:28-29 "God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."

I Peter 2:21 "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."

Consider how you have experienced the reality of the Lord's presence in your life. 


Tuesday July 14, 2020

25To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. 26Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.”   27Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?  Isaiah 40:25-27

There are times when people want to know if the Lord is present to them.  There are conditions that cause people to ponder that their way is hid from the Lord.   This is what Jacob/Israel has been saying. “My way is hidden from Yahweh, and the justice due me is disregarded by my God.”

When you consider the many atrocities that are so prevalent in the world and society, it would seem reasonable that you would question whether or not the Lord is aware and whether the justice due you is disregarded by God.   I guess it does appear that the Lord is absent at times, ambivalent at other times and moreover ambiguous oft times.   We just can't understand why things are as they are at times.   We say with Job "oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!  I would order my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments (Job 23:3-4).  We say with Habakkuk 1:2, "How long, Lord must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save.  We say with psalm 13:1-3, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul and have sorrow in my heart?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?" 

Consider when you questioned whether the Lord was absent, ambivalent and/or ambiguous in your life.  

 
Wednesday July 15, 2020

28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding."

Isaiah 40:28

Isaiah reminds the people again to remember what the Lord has done repeating the refrain 28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

We celebrate the history and culture of African Americans.  You may remember that this all began with the efforts of Carter G. Woodson who deemed it necessary to educate African Americans about their heritage. National African American History Month in February celebrates the contributions that African Americans have made to American history in their struggles for freedom and equality and deepens our understanding of our Nation's history.

Negro History Week was launched in 1926.  The second week of February was chosen between the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, which evolved into Black History Month in 1976.  Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History in 1915, founded the Journal of Negro History in 1916

"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his "proper place" and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary."
                                                           -- Dr. Carter G. Woodson, "The Mis-education of the Negro"Author of the book, "The Miseducation of the Negro", published in 1933.

There isn’t an ethnic group on the face of the earth that does not have special celebrations to commemorate their culture and heritage acknowledging that their way seemingly is hid from the Lord.  There is not a single people on the face of the earth that has not faced challenges that were seemingly insurmountable.  In the circumstances that overwhelm people in life their faith provides the impetus to manage the worst that comes with life and living.


George Santayana, "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it and those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." 

Consider how faith in God has sustained us as a people through the challenging developments we have experienced. 

Thursday July 16, 2020

28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:28-31

It was our faith in God that sustained us through the experiences of slavery, reconstruction, deconstruction, discrimination, segregation, systemic racism.  Gayraud Wilmore in his seminal work, Black Religion and Black Radicalism, An Interpretation of the History of African Americans, makes observations too insightful to be ignored.  The religion of the slaves was something more than a dispassionate system of theology and a code of behavior; it was a source which sustained African Americans through the injustices of slavery with faith, hope and love.  In the biblical stories, the psalms, and the accounts of miracles they found the conviction and hope that a better life was possible for them in this world (p. 29).  He cites the relationship between black religion and slave insurrections.  Their religious background fueled their discontent with their situation and inspired them to act to change their condition. 

The book references three generals in the Lord's army.  Gabriel, known as the black Samson, Denmark Vesey, Methodist conspirator and Nat Turner, Baptist prophet of rebellion chronicles their courageous exploits against oppression (pages 77-98).

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist preacher who gave impetus to  a movement that altered the expression of faith in the public square through civic, social engagement and peaceful non-violent protest that brought about unfathomable awareness to the reality of the atrocities which were and are still so rampant in America in particular and the world in general.  Faith in God confronts and engages people with the contradictions of their beliefs and principles while exposing their practices which perpetuate injustices and inequalities systemically. 


Just reflect on your history and what God has done in your past to gain perspective on your present belief and hope for the future.  During the civil rights period of the 1960’s many observers in the South came to appreciate the power of black faith and the way it guided people to act responsibly to abolish discrimination and segregation.  

We have been sustained as a people by our faith.  The song "we have come this far by faith captures it all.  We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in his holy word, He never failed us yet.  Oh’ can’t turn around, we’ve come this far by faith.  Just the other day, I heard a man say, he didn’t believe in God’s word, but I can truly say the Lord has made a way, He’s never failed me yet."

Consider how your faith in God reminds you of how your faith has helped you navigate your way through life.  

Friday July 17, 2020

28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: Isaiah 40:28-30

There is the tendency to ascribe to God what we are feeling.  We do get tired and grow weary.  "I’ve been in the storm so long," is the way one song put it.  I've been in the storm so long, I've been in the storm so long children....Oh give me little time to pray.

This God is the everlasting One.  All else is transient.  Tyrants come and go; God outlast them all.  Troubles come and pass. God continues to last.  God does not faint and neither grows weary.  There is no searching of God understanding.  The Lord gives power to the faint and increases strength.  

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand. 

Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has come my salvation; this is my God , and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. 

I Chronicles 16:11 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.   

Consider when you have ascribed to the Lord the faintheartedness you were experiencing and subsequently discovered that your faith in God strengthened you. 


Saturday July 18, 2020

31But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

God relieves our being faint and increases our strength.  God has varied ways of relieving our weakness and restoring our strength.  No might, patience gone, endurance gone, perseverance gone.  It is almost like paralysis.  The nerve is weakened.  Even the youth shall fail and utter fall.  Those on whom you have relied may also let you down.  Those from whom you expect help do not live up to your expectations. 

The prophet paints a marvelous picture for us.  Wait upon the Lord.  That word upon can be used as an adverb or a preposition.  As an adverb it means on the surface, on it.  As a preposition it means wait on.  Imagine waiting up and on the Lord.  Climbing up on the Lord is quite a metaphor.  That image suggest that we like a child can climb into the arms, the caress, the care, the concern of the Lord as scripture suggests throughout.  There are times that we simply throw ourselves on the Lord.  Then there are times that we simply wait for the Lord.  We wait for the providential care of the Lord to be made known in the unfolding drama of life. 

Then we mount up on wings as eagles, soaring to heights unknown.  We run and do get weary.  We walk and don’t faint.  We just keep on going and going and going.  It is our faith that drives us, propels us and pushes and prompts us to persevere knowing that we are sustained by a source of strength that continues to empower us to endure in spite of the circumstances.    


Conclusion

We have been sustained as a people by our faith.  The song we have come this far by faith captures it all.  "We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in his holy word, He never failed us yet.  Oh’ can’t turn around, we’ve come this far by faith.  Just the other day, I heard a man say, he didn’t believe in God’s word, but I can truly say the Lord has made a way, He’s never failed me yet."