Read Mark 14:43 – 52, Matthew 26:47 – 56 and Luke 22:47 – 53 and you will discover how one of Jesus’ disciples named Judas betrayed him. Join us in our brief study in these Pastoral Reflections the final days of Jesus Christ our Lord’s life and ministry leading up to the cross. I often wondered why Jesus selected Judas Iscariot knowing that he was a thief and a devil as his disciple. The fact is Jesus handpicked each of his disciples. So one wonders why did he select Judas? Judas was the treasurer in the group and according to John 12:6 Judas protested when Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus had taken spikenard, which was very expensive oil and anointed Jesus’ feet. Judas claimed that they could have sold it and given the profits to the poor. But John reported that Judas really didn’t care for the poor. He kept the money and stole and spent whatever he wanted on himself. So again, I raise the question, why would Jesus select a man like Judas to be his disciple? I believe Jesus did that for our benefit. Jesus selected Judas to demonstrate to us that the Devil is real. The Devil is not some medieval creature with horns and a tail breathing fire. The Devil is evil and he uses people as he used Judas. Jesus is teaching us that the Devil comes to church because anything he can’t stop, he joins! Judas was a disciple. He was never saved but he held the title of disciple. Now don’t wonder who’s saved and whose not. Just be sure that you’re saved. And then Jesus is teaching us that he is able to defeat the Devil. Jesus destroyed the Devil at the cross. He arose victorious. Jesus conquered Death, Hell, the Grave and the Devil at Calvary. Judas received a scathing judgment. Jesus said in Matthew 26:24 that if would have been better for Judas not to have been born than to betray the Son of God. Jesus Christ defeated and destroyed all our enemies. And for that we can forever praise Him!
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” John 1:29 NKJV.
John the Baptist was the only human being in recorded history born filled with the Holy Spirit. God called him into prophetic ministry. He was called to introduce and announce to the world the coming of the Son of God, Israel’s Messiah Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Our scripture for today are the words recorded which John the Baptist spoke when he saw Jesus coming to be baptized. John called Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is also the only human being recorded in history who was born with a reason to die. He was born into the world for the purpose of saving all humanity as a perfect sacrifice for our salvation and redemption. Through his death, burial, and resurrection, the penalty of Divine Justice was paid, the requirements of Divine Holiness were satisfied and the standards of Divine Righteous were fulfilled.
We’ve entered into the season that we as Christians celebrate as the Lenten Season. During the Season of Lent we acknowledge the reality of our own mortality. The season begins on Ash Wednesday and it ends on Resurrection Sunday. This season marks the last 40 days of our Lord’s life and earthly ministry. For now, all roads lead to Calvary and the Empty Tomb. This is the holiest season in Christendom. As we reflect on the service, sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ our Lord during this time, let us do so with appreciation, adoration and renewed commitment and dedication to Him as disciples. Many people are led to make personal sacrifices by giving up something and reflecting as they are led of the Holy Spirit. Personally, I spend special time in prayer, Bible study, and meditation as I retrace “His steps on the Road to Calvary”. I challenge you, read one of the four gospels and spend quality quiet time in prayer as we celebrate Lent, it will bless your life! Be blessed.
Historically Evangelicals were defined as Christians who adhered to the five basic tenets of our faith. First we believe that the Bible is the revealed word of God. That it contains the mind of God revealed to humanity. In it is the message of salvation which is the only hope of redemption and that it informs our faith and is our guide point and mainstay and our only source of divine truth. Second, Evangelicals believe that the miracles, sings and wonders recorded in the Bible actually happened, literally. Third, we believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. He was crucified on a cross where he suffered, bled and died, but on the third day, God raised him up. Fourth, we believe that through his suffering and death all humanity is saved from the penalty and control of sin. And finally, we believe that one day Jesus Christ is coming back again to judge the world in truth and righteousness.
This is the faith once for all delivered to us by the Holy Apostles which is recorded in our New Testament. This is the foundation which distinguishes us as Evangelicals. Yes I consider myself an Evangelical. And if you believe these five basic tenets, so are you! Number 45, the man who presently occupies the White House has redefined the word “Fake”. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines fake as “A person, act or thing that is not genuine, or authentic: a sham, a counterfeit”. Thus he has labeled every news report or article in print that exposes his hypocrisy, dishonesty and deception as fake. When the media exposes him for the liar and cheat that he is, he calls it fake. And the nimble minded, empty headed minions who believe him believe it. Now we have a group of people who claim to be Evangelical who support 45 and a disgraced judge in Alabama who is a candidate for the United States Senate.
Judge Roy Moore is a disgraced judge. He was removed twice from the State Courts in Alabama because as a judge he is sworn to uphold the Laws of Alabama and the U. S. Constitution. He did neither. When the State and U. S. Laws contradicted his personal opinions, he decided according his opinions not the laws. For that he was removed as a judge, twice. Yet he has emerged as the Republican Candidate for the United States Senate. But several credible women have come forth and testified on the record that as young teenage children, they were molested and groped by him who at that time, he served as the District Attorney. When confronted with these allegations, initially he did not deny them. He was so well known in his community he was literally banned from a local mall. This man is pedophile and a sexual predator. He was a 32 year old District Attorney sexually molesting teenage girls. Now anybody with half a brain would see this for what it is except the “Fake Evangelicals” who claim that this great Christian Judge is under attack by a hostile liberal news media and powerful political enemies.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We object to him becoming a United States Senator because he is a sexual predator, child molester and pedophile. Aside from his politics, he has no moral authority. As a judge he once ruled that a rapists and sexual predator could use an innocent victim’s sexual history in his defense. These Fake Evangelicals should be ashamed of themselves. But you know it really shouldn’t surprise us. These are the descendants of those misguided people who attempted to use Christianity to justify slavery. They actually convinced themselves that the Bible taught them to be racist. And 45 have no moral authority to even speak on the matter given his history of sexual molestation and abuse. I’m just saying.
May 6, 1950 the Saint Paul Community Baptist Church was born. Our congregation started out as a prayer band. The late Rev. Dr. Edward M. Revels prayed in the upper room of a small building at 1612 Ashland Avenue in Baltimore Maryland. He prayed for the Black community, the nation and the world. He had a burden for the unsaved, especially the children. Soon others joined him. It was from that small group that our church was born. Our congregation grew significantly, so in April 1959, they moved to our present location. Pastor Revels served faithfully 29 dedicated years until the Lord called him home in 1978.
On December 19, 1979 at a specially called church meeting, our church extended an invitation of pastoral ministry to Rev. Dr. Gregory B. Perkins of Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Dr. Perkins began his administration on January 1, 1980. God continued to bless our church under his leadership. God is growing us spiritually, numerically and financially. Our ministry now extends far beyond the walls of our sanctuary into the community and throughout our city. We have a Boy’s to Men’s Mentoring and Girls to Diamonds Ministry. We have a Christian Men’s Fellowship, a Women in the Word and a Seasoned Saints (Senior’s) Ministry.
Our young adults are very active and vibrant in our Praise Team and Choir Ministries. All our musicians are home grown members of our church. We also have an Outreach and Media Ministry. We’re partners with the community, i.e. the New Broadway East Community Association, the Eastern District Police Department, the Tench Tilman and Collington Sqaure Elementary schools. We sponsor an annual Community Cookout in June and a Back to School Give a Way outreach ministry in August. We most recently renovated and beautified our church and we were delcared an historic landmark by the Maryland Historic Society and confirmed by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore in October 2009. I’m still excited and optimistic about ministry after 36 years. We thank God for 66 years of worship and praise, preaching, teaching, counseling, service and outreach. To God be the glory!
On Monday, January 19, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. our Jr. and Young Adult Ushers sponsor an annual prayer breakfast honoring the great legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta Georgia. His father the Rev. Dr. Marin Luther King Sr. was the prominent pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta and his mother was the organist. His mother, Mrs. Alberta Williams King was a public school teacher in the segregated public school system of Atlanta. Martin Jr. was born into a family which valued education. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and was admitted to Morehouse College at age 15. After wrestling with the gospel ministry, Martin Jr. accepted his call. The gospel ministry was very much a part of his family. He and his brother, the Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King were third generation Baptist Ministers (their father and grandfather were Baptist Ministers.
He graduated Morehouse College with honors at age 19. He was then ordained to the Baptist Ministry. In pursuit of his education, he entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester Pennsylvania. After recieving his Master’s Degree from Crozer, he entered Boston University where he recieved a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Systematic Theology with honors. Despite his academic achievements, he lived in the segregated south. Jim Crow was the systematic practice of segregating and suppressing the African American community in the south. One of its major tenets was the separate but equal doctrine, which may have been separate but certainly not equal. The races were forbidden to mix and mingle in every area of life, i.e. African Americans could work for whites but not live or interact with them as equals. Martin was no stranger to the racial segregation and discrimination of the south and also the north.
As the newly elected pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama, he led the fight to end legal racial segregation and discrimination in this country. He never sought fame and fortune, nor did he seek recognition or notoriety. It was never his intention to be chronicled in the Annul of human history as some great deliverer or liberator of an oppressed people. He simply attempted to expose, confront, and overcome the evil system of segregation and discrimination which hindered us as African Americans and denied our rights as citizens. With the aid and support of mainly the Christian faith community and other faith communities of good will, he led the movement to desegregate the south and won. It was because of the Civil Rights Movement that President Lyndon Banes Johson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of July 2, 1964. He also signed the Voting Rights Acts guaranteeing every American citizen the right to vote regardless of race on August 6, 1965.
Incidently, the U. S. Supreme Court just recently undermined these laws so that now many Republican led state governemts have passed laws that are severely restricting our rights as African Americans to vote. However, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others along wtih him suffered, bled, and died so that America would become a more perfect union for all of her citizens, not just for whites. He once said that the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat is that on records the temperature and the other sets the temnperature. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a thermostat. He set the standard for America. The Civil Rights Movement changed America and the world forever. However the work that brings justice, equality, peace and prosperity for all citizens is far from done. We thank God for M L King and others who blazed the trail and set the path so that those who will continue striving for justice, freedom, and equality for all people have examples worthy of emulation. We honor his memory and cherish his legacy.
In Acts 10:34 – 35 the Apostle Peter is preaching in the house of Cornelius in the city of Caesarea. What makes this unique is Cornelius is a gentile. He is an officer in the Roman army and Jews were forbiden according to the law to enter the home of a gentile. Yet not only does Peter enter the home of this gentile, but he preaches the message of the gospel. A few days earlier God gave both Peter and Cornelius visions. In Peter’s vision, he was praying but he was also hungry. While hungry, God placed before him a sheet with many animals on it. Then God tells Peter to kill the animals, cook them and eat them. Peter responds, I cannot do that God because these animals are unclean. God says to Peter “Do not call unclean what I have cleansed”. He sees this same vision three times. After the third time, he wakes up but he doesn’t understand the meaning of it. In Cornelius’ vision God simply sends an angel to his home and tells him to send two of his servants to the city of Joppa, to the home of a man called Simon the tanner. They are to ask for one Simon Peter, he has a message for you. He sends for Peter. Peter came, preached the gospel and Cornelius and his entire family, servants and friends were saved. Peter concluded “In truth, I understand that God doesn’t show favoritisim, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him” Acts 10:34 – 35, Holman Christian Study Bible.
Though God does not show favoritism, unfortunately people do. America was built on the premise of freedom and equal opportunity for all people. Regardless of your ethnicity, religion and socio – economic status, America presented herself as the land of opportunity for all people. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free” are the words to one of our national hymns. It seems for many years this was true, as long as the huddled masses yearning to breath free were of European descent. The refugees from Western and Eastern Europe, Germany, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and the like were welcomed as they were processed through Ellis Island. But the refugees of color are facing much more difficulty. If you are Haitian, Dominican, Caribbean, African or Hispanic American citizenship has beome a bit more illusive.
Just this past week, many Republicans in the United States Senate and House of Representatives openly criticized President Barak Obama for his executive order in regards to immigration. Our president took action according to the law as he promised he would do about immigration. The Republican legislators never intended to work with the president on anything. They have been obstructionists since the day he took the oath of office. They vowed never to cooperate with him, on anything. Because of our president’a actions, families will now be allowed to stay together. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of instances where the parents came to this country illegally yet their children were born in this country. If you deport the parents, where does that leave the children? All the president said was if you’ve been in this country five years or more, have no criminal record, and are willing to pay your taxes, you can apply for citizenship without fear of deportation.
That’s the true meaning of family values. The president is keeping families together and for this, some are threatening impeachment, defaulting on the national debt, or shutting down the governemt. Please, get a life! I don’t agree with the president on everything, but on this I do agree. He stepped up and took action where congress failed. He did it by “Executive Order”. Was that illegal, no! Do you not know that after the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by “Executive Order.” His “Executive Order” took effect on January 1, 1863. It was called the “Emancipation Proclamation”. Incidentally, the racists didn’t like Abraham Lincoln either. Some of us still believe that all man are created equal and God does not show favoritism.
Jesus said in John 8:44 that the “Devil is a liar and the father of lies”. The Devil has taken a perfectly good and noble symbol given by God and turned it into a symbol of perversion, decadence, and depravity. Such is the case with the rainbow. As the universal flood that came as a judgment of God upon the earth because of sin in the days of Noah came to an end, God promised Noah and all humanity that never again would he destroy the earth by water. After the flood, God made a covenant, a promise with humanity. God promised that the earth would never again be destroyed by water. To seal the covenant, God promised us in Genesis 9:13 – 17 saying, “I have placed My bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I form clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all the living creatures: water will never again become a flood to destroy every creature … This is the sign of the covenant that I have confirmed between Me and every creature on earth”.
God placed a rainbow in the clouds guaranteeing that the earth will never again be destroyed in a flood. However, the Devil usurped the sign. Now the “Rainbow” is the symbol of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, aka the LGBT community. The “Rainbow” represents a community who’s lifestyle God declares as an abomination. And now anyone who wears the colors of the rainbow or in any way identifies with them may be suspected of being a member of that community. That’s sad, so sad. I personally celebrate the “Rainbow” for at least three reasons: 1) I believe the “Rainbow” represents a world community that is multinational and multicultural. The earth is filled with people of different nationalities, cultures, languages, and ethnicities.
2) The Christian community is a diverse community. There are thousands of Christian traditions in the Church of Jesus Christ. Within the Christian family we have Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopalians and Protestants. Within the Protestants there are Baptists, Methodists, AME’s, Pentecostals, Independents, and non denominationals. You name it, we got it. The Christian family is a diverse family. We need not relinquish and surrender a God given symbol of protection and promise to the Devil. 3) I like the colors. God’s creation is wonderful, beautiful and majestic. The colors of the rainbow are awesome. It is high time that we reclaim the Rainbow. We’re not gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. We are African American Christians with a proud legacy and heritage who are members of a multinational, multicultural world and a diverse Christian community. We are the true rainbow coalition, #reclaimtherainbow, #rtr.
The world that we once knew has changed. We’re living in what theologians and historians call the postmodern age. It is called the postmodern age because people today not only question but outright reject authority, all authority. The traditional insititutions that undergirded and solidified society such as marriage and family, the church, and the government have been redefined and sometimes outright rejected. Yet for the most part churches that serve in the urban communities are surrounded by abandoned houses, dysfunctional families, failing public schools, bankrupt city governments, double digit unemployment, drug addiction, crime and violence and a general feeling of hopelessness. In the modern age people accepted authority. They accepted the autthoriy of the government, science, technology and even the church. However today, many people believe and behave according to how they feel.
It is what an Episcopal priest – philosopher named Jospeh Fletcher called “Situation Ehtics”. Situation ethics is when we allow the situation to determine our behavior. For example according to this philosophy, in some situations lying, cheating, and stealing are justified. Again, in situation ethics, the situation defines for us what is right and wrong, good and evil. Today people have placed themselves in the place of God. They have become their own god. Now please don’t misunderstand me. I’m certainly not suggesting that we as Christians follow with blind obedience and total allegiance anybody or any insititution. After all, we are not Lemmings (lol).
We have an informed faith. Our faith is informed by the clear and pristine teaching of the Word of God. The Bible is the foundation upon which our faith is built. It is our only source of divine truth. It is our guidepost and mainstay, not the government, the society, or the cultural norms. In matters of faith (what we believe), morality (standards of right and wrong), conscience (how we live), and doctrine (what we teach), it is “Sola Scriptura”, only the scripture. God is calling for Christian Disciples who are not ashamed of Jesus Christ nor the proclamation of his gospel in a day when the world is in a constant state of kaos and confusion. Jesus said in Mark 8:38, “Whosoever is ashamed of Me before this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man will be ashamed of him in the glory of his Father in heaven.”
Let’s be bold soldiers for the Lord even in this unbelieving postmodern age. Living for the Lord is so exciting!