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

SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES

Inspirational messages for Sunday June 7 through Saturday June 13, 2020

 

GOOD NEWS IN A BAD NEWS WORLD

 

But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.       2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.          4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.  Isaiah 9:1-4 (English Standard Version / ESV)

 

Introduction

The back story is one of the long historical domination of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali by those who subjected them the threat of captivity.  They were vulnerable to attack by those who would oppress them.  There was a power struggle between them and those of their kind.  While there was a certain degree of independence there was the overarching control of domination by the broader areas of life.  They were eventually taken into captivity with loss of dignity, freedom and independence.  Their history was one of oppression, subjection and vulnerability.  

That is the story of African Americans as a people.  We have a long disgusting and varied history of captivity, discrimination, oppression and subjection with our struggle for equality, freedom and justice.  There is always that reminder that "we have come over a way that with tears has been watered,  treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered."  (Lift every voice and sing by James Weldon Johnson). 

There seems to be more bad news than good news.  The pandemic crisis caused by Covid-19 corona virus; the social upheavals wreaking havoc due to police abuse and brutality on African Americans in particular; the military being used to disperse persons from exercising their right to protest peacefully.  You name it.  There is a lot of bad news.      

"But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations."  Isaiah 9:1

Psychologist John Gottman at the University of Washington, found that there is kind of thermostat operating in healthy relationships that regulates the balance between positive and negative. He found that relationships run into serious problems when the negative to positive ratio becomes seriously imbalanced. He also found that the magic ratio is five positive to one negative.

Michael Horton has written a book entitled, "The Gospel Driven Life" with the subtitle "Being Good News People in a Bad News World."  He focuses on the breaking news that comes through sacred writ and particularly the word made flesh in Christ Jesus, the embodiment of all that God is and the potential of what we have the capacity to become.   Then he goes on to describe the kind of community which is formed by those who embrace the gospel as good news.  They become good news people.  When you are burned out on the hype looking for hope just remember that God has provided what is necessary to keep you from sliding down a slippery slope /  God has provided what will enlarge your life's scope / God has provided what you need to cope.

Imagine the words of this passage sharing a word of hope in a time when it was awful, reminding those in agony that "there will be no gloom for those in anguish."  Gloom comes from anguish.  The gloom that comes from anguish can be counteracted with the hope that come from faith.   Faith reminds us that the way it is, is not the way he will continue to be.  The gloom will decline and the anguish will dissolve as your faith empowers you to be a part of bringing to past a better day. 

Consider how the hope that comes from faith diminishes the negative of the gloom of anguish empowering you to live courageously to bring to pass a better day.  

 

Monday June 8, 2020

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone." Isaiah 9:2
 
Epiphany is the season of light.  "Light" is regularly a mode of God's presence, so that in the epiphany of Jesus, the presence of God is made visible and available to the world.  That light (God's Presence) is a powerful contrast to the "darkness" of the world. 

The Prophet Isaiah speaks to us about light and darkness. He speaks to us about living in the darkness of this world.  But in his words we have the words of God encouraging us to be empowered and energized by the light God gives. God breaks through the darkness with the illumination that penetrates the darkness with an energy that empowers people to see clearly.  I can see clearly now what God is doing.  I can see clearly now what I must do.  I can see clearly now how to diminished the darkness in all of its covering to make plain the reality of an illuminating discovery. 

Consider how the light that comes from the life of Christ empowers and energizes you to act and behave given the darkness that permeates our culture, society and world. 

 

Tuesday June 9, 2020

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone." Isaiah 9:2

The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali were described as being in deep  darkness for their people were in captivity.  The darkness was deep accentuating the awfulness of the situation with which they had to live.  It was a land of brutality, inequity and poverty.  It was a land of vulnerability without sanctuary for those who were victimized. They lived in fear for their lives. Those who hurt, mistreated and threaten them could do so with impunity without consequences for their actions.  That is what made the darkness so deep. 

William Jelani Cobb writer, author and educator, Ira A Lipman Professor of Jouralism at Columbia University cited the following book, Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America Hardcover – February 1, 2000 / by James Allen (Author, Editor), John Lewis (Foreword), Leon F. Litwack (Contributor), Hilton Als (Contributor) in reference to the loss of life of African Americans by police misuse of force under the cover of authority.   
The Tuskegee Institute records the lynching of 3,436 blacks between 1882 and 1950. This is probably a small percentage of these murders, which were seldom reported, and led to the creation of the NAACP in 1909, an organization dedicated to passing federal anti-lynching laws. Through all this terror and carnage someone-many times a professional photographer-carried a camera and took pictures of the events. These lynching photographs were often made into postcards and sold as souvenirs to the crowds in attendance. These images are some of photography's most brutal, surviving to this day so that we may now look back on the terrorism unleashed on America's African-American community and perhaps know our history and ourselves better. The almost one hundred images reproduced here are a testament to the camera's ability to make us remember what we often choose to forget. 
Consider what it means to live in a threatening situation without sanctuary, a safe space, where you are sheltered from harm, hazards and hurt whether cultural, domestic, societal, etc.  
 
 
Wednesday June 10, 2020
 
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone."

There is a decisive victory that only God can give.  People of faith recall when all they had was their faith that God would intervene.  God is the only one that can bring people from darkness to light, from oppression to freedom from captivity to liberation.  In a societal context with kings, rulers, politicians and presidents who wield power which appears at times to be unlimited, insistence on God as the ultimate power reframes allegiances, commitments, loyalties and relationships.  God's sovereignty is above all others.  Ultimately victory over life's vicissitudes that victimize can only be had by an intervention of God.  That is what biblical history reveals through the variety of the testimonies of witnesses who attest to the reality of the presence of the Lord as they discovered the Lord operative in the affairs of their lives. 

 
Imagine experiencing the reality of God's presence in the particularity of the predicaments of life.  Biblical history, the histories of countries, and peoples are replete with testimonies of such instances.

Consider a few instances in which you experienced the reality of the powerful, pervasive presence of the Lord and responded as the sweet lyricist of Israel. "If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.  Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as prey to their teeth."  Psalm 124:2-6

 

Thursday June 11, 2020


"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone."

Darkness and light which are the polar opposites describe humanity's recognition of what the Judeo Christian heritage in sacred writ sees as the awareness of God in the midst of life experiences.  God brooded over a wide abyss of nothingness and by the sheer essence of God's presence declared something would be the order of the day with "let there be light." (Genesis 1:3) which is evidence of God's creativeness.

It can be seen again in the rainbow as God's creative completeness which reveals the entire spectrum of light as a sign of God's covenant (Genesis 9:13). The rainbow has the full spectrum of colors.  The white light from the sun consists of seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet).  The  meaning of the number seven in the bible is completeness and perfection. 

It can be seen again in the burning bush that confronts Moses (Exodus 3:2).  Here is a poignant, enlightening experience of one who is ostracized by a dominate society who is engaged by a Presence in a strange phenomenon that defied explanation.  It can be seen again as a pillar of fire that accompanies people through a wilderness sojourn. (Exodus 13:21).

It is said of Jesus, "In him was life, and the life was the light of all people."John 1:4).

Consider how the light from the creativeness and completeness of God coupled with the life of Jesus Christ has illumined your life and dissolves the dimness that would shroud you in darkness.


Friday June 12, 2020

3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.            4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.  Isaiah 9:1-4 (English Standard Version / ESV)

The light that comes to our lives gives us more than sight. Light also gives insight to take initiative to be ingenious.  The representation of God's presence as light is powerful because it appeals to an almost universal human experience, that of being in the dark.  The light in Isaiah is more than being able to see.  Light exposes what's present but what we are in danger of overlooking.  Light energizes our growth potential.  Light attracts in a single direction what it energizes.   It is one thing for God to act.  It is another for God's people to recognize God's action.  When people are in "the land of deep darkness," they can't see how the God who has delivered them in the past is at work in present, and so they seek protection from other gods.  When God acts "to break the rod of the oppressor," light shines to make it plain.  The people recognize God's saving presence and rejoice. 

 

Recognition is more than seeing.  The people don't just see a light.  They recognize who is acting on their behalf.  They rejoice in relief and thanksgiving, as they would at harvest time when survival is assured.  They get it. They know God is with them, here and now. 

 

Consider how you recognize God's deliverance from the darkness of personal and communal captivity and the deep darkness of disappointment, distress and doubt.  

 Saturday June 13, 2020


3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.            4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.  Isaiah 9:1-4 (English Standard Version / ESV)

The reference to the day of Midian (Judges 6) refers to Gideon defeating the Midian army against the odds that were weighted against him.  The people want deliverance from the oppression of the Midianites.  God sends Gideon who seems ill equipped to defeat the oppressor's army.  He was out numbered with limited human resources.   Success can only be had with intervention beyond what Gideon could do.  People need to be reminded of the active presence of God's activity in the past to assure them of God's continuing liberating presence in the present and God's promised presence for the future.  In the midst of the darkness, distress, disappointment, and doubt, trust the God of light again. 

 

"Why Not Trust God Again" / When life seems cruel and so unfair, with each new day it seems a greater problem's waiting there. / For each step forward I take, seems I get pushed two steps behind. / Don't think I'm gonna make it sometimes, / don't think my nerves can take it this time,
as I'm about to call it quits the solution comes to mind. / Why not trust God again;
I know that He can do it if I pray again, / believe again, my God will work it for my good again.
I know that He will see me through it all if I trust in God again.

Is there a mountain standing in your way? / Is there a loved one you're worried about today (worried about today)? / (Ooh) Is there a blessing you desire that seems intangible?

Instead of giving up the fight, / just cling to faith with all your might,
the One that's seen you through before / is still able (able, able, able),
He's still able (able, able, able). / 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, / just to take Him at His word.

Why not trust God again; / I know that He can do it if I pray again,
believe again, I know that God will work it for my good again. / I know that He will see me through it all... / Why not trust God again, / I know that He can do it if I pray again,
believe again, I know that God will work it for my good again. / I know that He will see me through it all if I trust (in God again).

I will, I will, / I will trust in God again.

 

Consider what you know God has done for you in the past and how that can lead you to trust God now to see you through the present into the future.