Attitude a 3 Week Sermon Series
Attitude Part 01
A number of years ago I was shocked to read about the death of Freddie Gray and the riots that followed all of this, and at that time it became overly clear that people were so polarized that journalism disappeared and was replaced by opinion writing.
The journalist clearly showed herself not as a journalist at all, but as an opinion writer, focused on the rioters as protesters and how black and white work together. Then she turned to the police and stated that the young man did not die, but used the word "murdered" and stated that those charged were 3 white and 3 black officers.
It is for me more than a coincidence that the officers were indeed 3 whites and 3 blacks. The peace returned for now, but at what price? Getting what you want by the use of destruction, rioting, civil disobedience to authority, and all that behind masks and bandannas is, in my opinion, showing something illegal.
When you need to get your way in this form, it is indeed forcing somebody to action, otherwise! If we don't do something, then things will get worse; we need to listen to them and do what they want.
Hmm, in Baltimore, we called this protest, on the world platform, we called this terrorism. But what now? The officers are arrested, or placed on administrative duty. Can they show their faces? No, they now fear for their lives, but that is not the important part.
What about this, what about if a judge clears them from wrongdoing? Does it then all start again? That is the threat that is now behind all of this.
What about this, what about if a judge finds them guilty? Does this then pave the way for riots all over the country for people to get what they believe is justice?
This made me think of the question, what is our, what is your, what is my attitude towards all this? Do we trust that the authority of our constitution and our bill of rights is powerful, active, and just enough to deliver a fair resolution to this situation, or do we throw it overboard and bill of rights, constitution, or not, we get them, we get them, we get them.
Who and what do we trust, and who and what do we obey? Is disobedience God's way? Is throwing stones at the law enforcers God's way? Is flipping them off and slinging vulgarities at them God's way?
All questions, and they all bring me to the question of today. What is our attitude? What, is our attitude, towards God! What is our attitude towards His declaration of dependence? What is our attitude towards His Holy Word? What is our attitude towards God?
Our attitude towards God is truly reflected by our attitude towards His Word. Through His Word is how He mostly speaks to each and every one of us. Yes, there are prophetic words, there are visions and dreams, but when each one of them is against His written word, we know it is not from God, but from Satan.
The Word of God, the Holy Bible, is THE standard. Thus, the first question we need to ask ourselves: What is our attitude?
In Proverbs 13 verse 13, we read in The Living Bible, "Despise God's Word and find yourself in trouble. Obey it and succeed."
The Amplified Bible reads:
Proverbs 13:13 (AMP)
13 Whoever despises the word and counsel [of God] brings destruction upon himself, but he who [reverently] fears and respects the commandment [of God] is rewarded.
The Tree of Life Bible reads:
Proverbs 13:13 (TLV)
13 Whoever despises instruction will pay a penalty, but whoever respects a mitzvah will be rewarded.
The next two weeks, I believe this will be the basis of our messages because my heart is so overflowing that I do not believe we can ever push this all into one message, especially because this can become a pretty intense message to each and every one of us.
Thus, we should have some time to chew on this word from God and not go into information overload and shut ourselves off.
What is it to despise?
Merriam-Webster says, despise: to look down on with contempt or aversion, like despising the weak. Or to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful.
Collins Cobuild dictionary for English learners says: If you despise something or someone, you dislike them and have a very low opinion of them.
Wow, to despise is something, isn't it? Thus, if we have "God's word," as The Living Bible says it, or the Amplified Bible "the word and counsel," or as the Tree of Life Version calls it the "instruction" of God, and we despise it, we don't really pay a lot of attention to it because when we see it, it gives us a feeling of aversion; we don't give it too much value, you know, it is just an old book. So many translations, so many opinions, and so many errors, it is just not that relevant anymore for our time and age.
Yeah, OK, some might be good words, but you know you need to look at it with the eyes of today; things have changed, you know. Or with other words, if you despise this word, what are you truly despising? You are despising what The Tree of Life Version calls instruction. Yeah, wait OK, pay attention: to go to Rome, you need to turn left here, no, not right. Hmm. Hey, you have a half a gallon of gas left; I would stop here and get some gas, the next station is 50 miles down the road. Despise that instruction and you can understand what happens. You are despising what the Amplified Bible calls counsel. You know if you would take a right here instead of a left, you will add another 1500 miles to your Rome destination.
Or, you know, you only have half a gallon of gas left and your car makes 14 miles a gallon on the highway, with the next station 50 miles ahead of you, you will not make it and most likely walk 7 miles back to get 2 gallons of gas and then another 7 miles to the car again. You will be walking 14 miles at about 3 miles an hour that will be 5 hours' loss on your trip and some really sore feet.
Oh no, if that happens, I'll just hitchhike, hmm even now that is aversion and contempt. Wow, The Living Word Bible says you will be in trouble. Hmm yeeeaaahhh, 14 miles is a long distance in dress shoes or high heels. The Amplified Version's translation says it brings destruction. If you have that job interview in Rome and you add 1500 miles to that trip, or you lose another 5 hours because of your stubbornness, then yes, you will not get the job, you will be out of a job, no income, no place to live, no food on the table, and no clothing on your back anymore for the next interview. This indeed is called destruction.
As construction is the building up of something, destruction is the taking apart of something. As construction is building up, as this is growing up, as in, for example, constructive criticism, destruction is the removal of something. As construction is receiving the blessing of the fruit of your labor, destruction is the removal of the blessing, removing the fruit because of a minimum, or no labor, or gift, or inheritance, or or or. Oh yes, I would call that trouble, wouldn't you? Deep, deep trouble. The Tree of Life version brings another light to the matter too.
You might say that this example that I used, the results of this, is because of my own stupidity, but the Tree of Life Version says it is a penalty. A penalty is given to you by the referee, a penalty is given to you by the judge, and it is God who already tells us that if we do not do this or that, the results will be. And we all can fill in an example. A penalty is, however, different; it is not an over-and-out, a penalty provides a way of recovery and rehabilitation. For the wrong direction and the gasoline error, it provides a U-turn in the median, a way to turn away from and turn back. That is what we in the church call repentance. Does it hurt? Oh yes, of course, but at least we heard the cry, "Hey, You LISTEN, you are going to run out of gas. You will not make it this way! Turn around!" Because you know what, our destination is not Rome, or that job interview, our destination is heaven. And if we do not follow God's instruction, we will never make it.
God wants us to be with Him in heaven, but He also has given us free will, and in that free will, He has provided us with our own choices. Choices to act wise and follow His counsel, or choices to act like stupid fools and follow our own. Then the second part of this verse gives us the counsel that we can accept or reject.
The Living Bible version: "Obey God's word and succeed," a very simple sentence, listen to God's word, do what it says, and be successful. We stop, get gas, and we make it to Rome. The Amplified Bible then explains and expresses a bit more: "he who [reverently] fears and respects the commandment [of God] is rewarded." The Amplified version says he that worshipfully or he that with great respect. That implies a great understanding of the power and might and knowledge of God, worshipfully fears and respects. To respect, to know the results, to know the consequences. Have great worshipful respect for the will, the commandment of God. It says that he that this person will be rewarded.
But if we then go to the Tree of Life Version, we see the Hebrew word come up: "whoever respects a mitzvah will be rewarded." In the amplified bible, it speaks about the commandment, almost sounds like if you follow "The Commandment," You WILL BE REWARDED. The Tree of Life Version says A mitzvah, what is it? A commandment, a rule of life from God will be rewarded. Being rewarded is to receive something for achievement, not necessarily for work done, no it says will be rewarded. Receiving a reward. Get a sticker on your attendance paper, and get a medal for coming in first, or for finishing the race. A reward. And the verse makes it really firm; it says not you might be, no it says you WILL BE REWARDED. What is it then that we are truly talking about, a mitzvah, what is it? Simply, over simply stated, a mitzvah is a commandment; you must do something, or you must not do something. And wow, that will already raise the hair on a lot of people; Christians, Judaics, and non-believers alike.
In the Bible, there is not one, but a total of 613 thou-shalt or thou-shalt-not mitzvot, or commandments. Now before I continue. Proverbs 13:13 does not say respect the mitzvot, plural, means all of them before you receive a blessing. It says respect, follow, be obedient to the mitzvah, and be blessed. Each and every mitzvah, each and every commandment is followed by blessing. How do I know? Because we just read it.
"He who [reverently] fears and respects the commandment [of God] is rewarded." "Whoever respects a mitzvah will be rewarded." "Obey it and succeed." No question about it. When God says "You shall not murder," oh yeah, right, that is easy, no jail time, freedom, no death penalty for me because I didn't murder anybody.
Indeed, that is truly how simple this is. I'm not talking about the books and books and books full of lifestyle rules that rabbis have written around the rules of God, I'm talking about the Mitzvot found in the word of God. 613 in total, in which we can find a subdivision for priests, for kings, for men, for women, for children.
It is one of the most misunderstood topics in our current-day church environment. So let me restate again our topic for today. What is our attitude? What, is our attitude, towards God! What is our attitude towards His declaration of dependence? What is our attitude towards His Holy Word? What is our attitude towards God, as our attitude towards God is truly reflected by our attitude towards His word.
Often we hear someone Jewish saying, "It's a mitzvah!" usually referring to a charitable, beneficial act performed by another person. However, while its Yiddish parallel "mitzveh" does deliver us this idea, the Hebrew word mitzvah does not mean "a good deed" as stated in that sense.
A mitzvah is not simply a "good deed," for example, to refrain from murdering or stealing. And similarly, the mitzvot which deal with feeding the poor, acting kindly to the stranger, or observing the Sabbath are much more significant in the Jewish tradition than Godly direction on how to be good.
Mitzvot are commandments, coming from God and intended for the Jewish people and those adopted into the people to observe. Those of us who live in the western world are often uncomfortable with the idea of being "commanded" to do something because it seems to deprive us of the right to choose how we behave.
In fact, the Torah itself says that when God gave the commandments, God declared, "Behold, I have set before you the blessing [of observing the commandments] and the curse [the potential punishment for failing to observe the mitzvot]–therefore, choose life!" It seems that even God recognized that the Jews had a choice in the matter and was clearly hinting at the right choice.
So what is it then that the whole broohaha is all about, why do we as Christians think that for us only the 10 commandments are important and even then we do not observe the Sabbath, and we surely do not keep it Holy. After the church service, we turn on the TV with all the influences of the world: political backstabbing, murder, mayhem, drugs, sex, and nudity.
This is truly what it comes down to; we follow the command of God, we are blessed, we do not follow the command of God, we are punished by not receiving the blessing which follows out of this commandment.
Within my studies which I've been working on for the last two or three years on and off concerning the commandments of God, I realized that if we really love the Lord as Messianics, Christians, Holy Spirit-filled people, we already follow most of the laws of God.
What is so hard about:
- To believe in God, and that he created all things.
- Not to believe in anything else other than God.
- To believe in God's Oneness.
- To fear God.
- To love God.
- Not to lust with our eyes and heart.
- Not eating any roadkill, or animals that we found dead.
- Not to blaspheme God.
- Following the 12 laws on unnatural sexual behavior.
And then we can go on and on and on.
The biggest point in all of this is the statement that God made himself: you want a blessing, Proverbs 13:13, you obey my will.
God's will for men is to be successful, to be healthy, to be in a relationship of trust and obedience.
Trust and obey for there is no other way than to be happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey.