VIDEO When The Saints Go Marching In

July 26, 2006

On May 13, 1938, Louis Armstrong and his orchestra recorded the New Orleans’s jazz classic, When the Saints Go Marching In. I don’t know when the video is from, though, I would guess in the 1950s.

TV was not always in color.

Are You Down With It?

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” Luke 6:27

In the early hours of the morning, five drug dealers kidnapped Buster Soaries and drove him to a vacant lot. They dragged him out of the car and jammed a shotgun in his face, a .45 to the back of his head, and a rifle in his side. Just as they were about to do him in, the driver noticed a police car parked on a nearby highway. Afraid that the police would investigate the gunfire, they forced Buster back into the car. Nearly five hours later, their gang lord ordered the kidnappers to let him go. They made it clear to Buster that they would get him later.

Talk about enemies! Buster had every reason to hate those guys. And he resolved to get even with them in a way that probably would have landed him in death row. But God had a different path in mind—one that involved salvation instead of incarceration.

Buster encountered Jesus and began to learn what it means to live by His ways, not the ways of the street. On the street, payback is king. But Jesus taught something completely opposed to the idea of avenging our enemies. Jesus was, as they say on the street, “down with it” when it comes to loving our enemies. In Luke 6:27-36, He said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

If you think His take on love is extreme, you’re right. And Jesus lived out exactly what He preached. Jesus had a lot of opportunities to hate and destroy His enemies. But He loved them instead. The most incredible example was displayed when He was brutally crucified for something He did not do. He prayed for the men who were crucifying Him, even while they were doing it! He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

I think Jesus made it clear that He didn’t want a bunch of vigilante Christians running around trying to give our enemies a dose of their own wickedness. When I say “enemy,” I’m not just talking about the guy who used your stolen credit card to buy Cubs tickets. Enemies can be our bosses, parents, spouses, or even our own children, and sometimes, they are the hardest to love.

Jesus’ calls us to be really different—to return grace for hurt, mercy in the face of malignancy, and kindness for cruelty. And this requires absolute faith in God’s promise found in Romans 12:19: “For it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” In essence, we have to “chill out” because the Lord is saying, “Don’t worry; I’ve got your back.”

Several years after the attempted murder, Buster (who by the way is now Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey) encountered one of his kidnappers in a crowd at Madison Square Garden. He stood there, stunned as he looked into the eyes of the man who had once held a gun to the back of his head. Once again, fear washed over his heart. But what did he do? He went over to his enemy and shocked the guy by hugging him! He told him he loved him, and said that if he needed anything he would be happy to help him. Because of Jesus’ example, Buster had the power to embrace a man who once wanted to kill him.

Buster took the “Jesus way.” And I wonder, are you down with it too?

YOUR JOURNEY…

– Spend some time journaling about your philosophy of love. How does it compare with what Jesus taught about loving people who hurt and mistreat us?
– Meditate on the text in Luke 6:27-28 and Romans 12:14-21. What do you think will happen if you follow these instructions?
– Make a list of the enemies in your life—people who need to experience your love and forgiveness. Commit to praying for these people once a week. Maybe you’ll need to pray for the boss who passed you up for the promotion or the entire Republican or Democratic Party!

Learning to Obey Him

Romans 8:2-4

When did you last hear a sermon on obedience? The topic doesn’t typically draw large crowds, as it sounds too much like following orders or submitting to laws and commandments. After all, didn’t Jesus come to set us free from all that? No, not really. As today’s passage tells us, He came to set us free from the law of sin and death “so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us.” In other words, He set us free from disobedience. Christian liberty frees us to obey our Father’s commandments.

In Still Higher for His Highest, Oswald Chambers expresses it this way: “True liberty is the ability earned by practice to do the right thing.” Doing the right thing is obedience. Hebrews 5:8 says that “although [Jesus] was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” We have to enroll in the same school of thought and practice.

At first the lessons seem simple; we just do what our teachers tell us. But then we learn to discern the Shepherd’s voice for ourselves. He tells us that we must live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). Under His guidance, we study the Bible and find to our amazement that some passages we had swept under a doctrinal rug are being applied to us by the Holy Spirit. We are often confused, thinking certain passages applied only to Israel, the church, or the end times. We squirm and wiggle, but with patient persistence, the good Spirit bears down until we finally obey God’s voice. The Lord is patient—slowly but surely teaching us how to be obedient to His voice.

Elisha’s Bears

“And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” (2 Kings 2:23-24)

This account has occasioned much criticism by skeptics, charging Elisha with petulant cruelty in sending bears to kill the little children who were taunting him. Actually, it was God who sent the bears, not Elisha.

The fact is, however, that Elisha did not curse little children at all. The Hebrew word for “children” used with the phrase “little children” can be applied to any child from infancy to adolescence. The word for the 42 “children” torn by the bears, however, is a different word commonly translated “young men.” Actually, both words are used more often for young men than for little children.

The situation evidently involved a gang of young hoodlums of various ages, led by the older ones, with all of them no doubt instigated by the pagan priests and idolatrous citizens of Bethel. The bears that suddenly emerged from the woods “tare” (not necessarily fatally in all cases) 42 of the older hooligans.

The jeering exhortation to “go up, thou bald head” was both a sarcastic reference to Elijah’s supposed ascension, as well as an insult to God’s prophet. This was actually a challenge to God and could not be excused. So God made good—in miniature—on a warning issued long before: “And if ye walk contrary unto me. . . . I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children” (Leviticus 26:21-22). It can be a dangerous thing, for young or old, to gratuitously insult the true God and His Word. HMM

Behold the fowls of the air… consider the lilies of the field

Behold the fowls of the air… consider the lilies of the field.— Matthew 6:26, 28.

I WAS in the act of kneeling down before the Lord my God, when a little bird came and perched near my window and thus preached to me: “O thou grave man, look on me, and learn something, if not the deepest lesson, then a true one. Thy God made me and the like of me; and, if thou canst conceive it, loves me and cares for me. Thou studiest Him in great problems, which oppress and confound thee: thou losest sight of one half of His ways. Learn to see thy God not in great mysteries only, but in me also. His burden on me is light, His yoke on me is easy; but thou makest burdens and yokes for thyself which are very grievous to be borne.

Things deep as Hell and high as Heaven thou considerest overmuch; but thou dost not consider the lilies’ sufficiently. If thou couldst be as a lily before God, for at least one hour in the twenty-four, it would do thee good: I mean, if thou couldst cease to will and to think, and be only. Consider, the lily is as really from God as thou art, and is a figure of something in Him—the like of which should also be in thee. Thou longest to grow, but the lily grows without longing; yes, without even thinking or willing, grows and is beautiful both to God and man.” JOHN PULSFORD.

Shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?

Shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? Ruth 3:1

There remaineth … a rest to the people of God. — My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. — There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. — They … rest from their labours.

The forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavv laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. — In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Hebrews 4:9. Isaiah 32:18. Job 3:17. Revelation 14:13. Hebrews 6:20. Matthew 11:28- 30. Isaiah 30:15. Psalm 23:1,2.

I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, the Spirit of truth

I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth. John 14:16,17

It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if l depart, I will send him unto you.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. — Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. — The Spirit … helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. — Hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Hereby know we that we dwell in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

John 16:7. Romans 8:16. Romans 8:15. Romans 8:26. Romans 15:13. Romans 5:5. 1 John 4:13.