True Divine Justice

In Psalms 89:14, it states, “Righteousness and justice and the foundation
of your throne. . . .”   It is the foundation of God to have righteousness.



There is a story that took place some time ago about the victorious Duke
of Wellington. After his retirement, he used to invite the officers who
served with him in the Battle of Waterloo to a yearly banquet, where they
discussed the exciting experiences of passed days.




At one of these annual events, the Duke produced a lovely jewel box
encrusted with diamonds. The box was passed around the table for the
guests to admire. After some time, the Duke asked for the return of the
jewel box. Everyone wondered who had it. They looked around, they looked
on the table, they looked on the floor, and no one could remember who had
held the jewelry box last. A careful search revealed nothing. At this
stage in the proceedings, someone suggested all the guests present should
be searched. Two raised objections to this proposal – one who would not
agree to being searched; the other the Duke himself, who flatly refused to
have his former officers searched, or humiliated in any way.




The banquet ended with the box still missing. The guests departed,
including the one who had refused to be searched, and consequently, was
regarded with suspicion. Some days later, the Duke found his jeweled box
in an inside pocket of his coat. It had been returned to him on the night
of the banquet, and, he had picked up the  box without thinking and slipped it into his inside pocket.




At once the Duke set out to find the guest who had declined to be
searched. He found the officer living in the poor section of the city,
nursing his sick wife. After informing him that the missing box had been
found, the Duke inquired, “Why did you object to being searched, thus
drawing suspicion to you?”




The officer replied, “In my pocket that night was a large portion of my
meal. I simply slipped it from my plate to a paper sack, so I might take
food to my sick wife.”




There are so many times when, in our mind, we are quick to judge and
quick to want to dispense some kind of justice but we may not know the
whole story, the whole truth.




As spiritual people, we seek to be on an even keel with our beloved, non- judging God.




It is the foundation of God to have Divine justice higher than human
justice. When we think of justice, it is natural to think in human terms
of justice or rewards, and of punishment. The idea of justice is lifted to
a higher meaning when we realize God has provided us with the best
possible outcome for all.




God’s Divine justice is not a system of reward and punishment, but rather
it is a law that will ensure God’s perfect order is being demonstrated.
When you align yourself, your mind, and your heart with this Divine law
of God, you are shown the way how to live within God’s system of
spiritual righteousness.




Many people feel they have been wronged in some way. Maybe something has
happened to them and they feel they have been wronged and justice has not
been served. When we turn to God in prayer and ask for understanding, we
then find peace.



Do you feel or have you ever felt in some way you are being falsely accused? It may begin as simple as a silly argument.  Again, if you turn to God, a Divine love will be within you, no matter what people may say  about you. It will sustain you through every moment of life.




Unfair circumstances may often seem to disrupt the order and harmony in our
life. Yet, we know that even the most carefully planned life has a road
map with some detours along the way. Still, because of our faith, we
hold tightly to the knowledge that God is actively at work within us.  We
trust in God, even when everything is going against us. We trust in
God and  relax, and we flow with the experiences instead of resisting them.
We do not struggle against apparent wrong. Rather, we know that good is
always present and our positive approach will bring God to us and allow
God to reveal the good to us.




Truth of God will keep you poised during those dark nights of your soul.
It will keep you confident. This is the truth; God is in charge of your
life and all is well. You hold to that in prayer and you know that no
matter what human beings say about you, God– my God and your God – is the
God of just outcomes, true, divine justice.




Here is a  story of Paul and  Silas in prison. (Acts 16:16-18) “One day, as we were going to the place  of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought  her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed  Paul and us, she would cry out, ‘These men are slaves of the Most High  God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.’ She kept doing this for many days.


But Paul, very much annoyed. . . .”




Can you imagine? Here is this woman following Paul and Silas shouting
these things. After a couple of days, Paul is ready to take justice into
his own hands. He turned to her, and he also turned to God.




He said, “… I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of
her.” And it came out that very hour.” (Acts 16:18)




She was calmed instantly, she was infilled with God. “But when her
owners saw that their hope of making money was gone. . .” (Acts 16:19)




This made her owners very mad. They said, ‘Sure she was sick, but why did
you change her?’ She was making us money. Now she is no good to us at all.   How dare you do this! They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the  marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the  magistrates, they said, ‘These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews  and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.’   The crowd joined in attacking them. …. ….” (Acts 16:19-22)




As humans, we can easily enter lowest areas of our mind, which is almost
animal nature, and action. One or two people joined together in the mind of animal  nature can become a lynch mob. Or, we can join one or two together in the  mind of God, and  can create great things for us and for our world. It
is always our choice.




The crowd joined in attacking them and the magistrates had them stripped  of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had  given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the  jailer to keep them securelyFollowing these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and  fastened their feet in the stocks.” (Acts 16:22-24)




Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever had a time when your family did
not understand you? You knew what you were doing was right.




Sometimes it may have seemed those around you not only locked you in a
prison cell of their personal beliefs about you, but put you in the innermost cell where  you would never find a way out. Not only that, but they wanted to keep you in your place so they put your legs in leg irons. I know some here can
relate to that because we are  human, and we live with humans. There
will be people who love us, people who don’t love us, and some people will
want to put us in a place, in a category in their minds, where we don’t
belong; and it is unfair.




What do we do about it? First choice – “I’m going to take revenge. When I
get out of here, I am going to say this and that and I’m going to try to
ruin their life in every way I possibly can. I’m going to make their life
miserable.” Does that win? No, it never wins. There is only one person who
we make miserable and that is ourselves. We have to go to God.




This is a story is about two human beings. They are in the innermost cell
and they are in leg irons. You would think they would be complaining,
shouting, and thinking, “How can God do this to us? How can these people
do this to us? We are going to call all of our people and we are going to
make sure they are hurt like they hurt us.”




“About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying. . . .”(Acts 16:25)




That is significant. What happens at midnight? It is begins a new  day. It is a new day in your life. Every time you pray, it is going to be  a new day for you and for your world and for your life. “About midnight,  Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners  were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake. . .” (Acts 16:25-26)



An earthquake shifts, it changes, and  moves things.   “. . . so violent that the foundations of  the prison were shaken. . . .” (Acts 16:26)



Every foundation in our own life can be shaken by God Almighty – NOT by humans, but by God.



“. . . .And immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains
were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide
open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed
the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, ‘Do not harm  yourself, for we are all here.’” (Acts 16:26-28)




Divine justice is good for all, not just for you. It does not seek revenge;
it seeks God’s good FOR EVERYONE.




“The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling
before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what
must I do to be saved?’ They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you  will be saved, you and your household.’ They spoke the word of the Lord to  him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night, he  took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were  baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food  before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced before them; and he  and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.”  (Acts 16:29-34)



That is one part of the story and here is the next:



But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, ‘Let those
men go.’” (Acts 16:35)



Again, it was a new day with new thinking. Paul and Silas did not have
any contact with the magistrates, yet they had a change of heart.




When you go to God in prayer, you are changing your entire world.
The change in thinking and the other person may be immediate,
and sometimes, it may take years. BUT there will be a change of human thinking.   The main thing is that you have spiritually changed.





You are filled with the presence of God’s love and you are trusting by letting
go and letting God. You are no longer in prison by what happened to you
unfairly. You are released. You are no longer held captive by your hate.




“And the jailer reported the words to Paul, saying, ‘The magistrates have
said to let you go; now therefore come out and go in peace.’ But Paul
said to them, ‘They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are
Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now cast us
out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.’ The police
reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they
heard that they were Roman citizens; so they came and apologized to them.   And they took them out and asked them to leave the city.” (Acts 16:36-39)




When a you or anyone holds fast to God’s Divine justice, people who hated you; who wanted to do great harm to you will come and  say to you themselves, “I did wrong.” But you do not care; that is outside you, because you have already been released inside.  Once you have been released from the prison (the leg irons) in your own mind, no one else can put you back into that prison.




You are free with the freedom of Christ. You wish nothing for that
company, that situation, that family member, except love. You love them
in a God-given way.




It happens in you as you give yourself to God in prayer and release your
prison thinking about the situation and the person or persons involved.
Just watch what happens. Pray for people who do not like you or perhaps have
thought wrongly about you – not to change them, but to change you.


Remove the leg irons.  Release yourself from prison.



Let us pray.

Dear God, I thank You for being with me at all times, even when I am in
the valley of the shadow of death.  When I feel as if I am so alone, and I have no one standing with me, I know You are with me.


And, Lord,  I pray for Divine justice, and by dong so, I release others and also in so doing, I release the leg irons and  release myself  from my innermost cell.


In Christ’s name…. Amen






From Bitterness to Sweetness

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in eerything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God
then ………….. Psalm 100:4 – 5 Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courtts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.




The preacher placed two identical jars on the table next to the pulpit. He quoted 1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. A human looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”




“These jars came from the same factory, were made of the same materials, and can hold the same amount, but they are different,” he explained.




Then he upset one and it oozed out honey. He turned over the other, and vinegar spilled out. “When a jar is upset, whatever is in it comes out. Until the jars were upset, they looked alike. The difference was within, and could not be seen. When they were upset, their contents were revealed.




“Until we are upset, we put on a good front. But when we are upset, we reveal our innermost thoughts and attitudes for ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.’ Luke 6:45”




What if someone “tipped you over” today? What would flow out? Would you reveal the “honey” of grace and patience and overwhelming gratitude to God, or the “vinegar” of anger and sarcasm? Above all, love each other deeply, because “love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8   Let’s all focus this  week on l restoring the interior of each of us, from bitterness to sweetness.




Have you ever read the whole inscription that appears on the Plymouth Rock Monument in Massachusetts: “This monument marks the first burying ground in Plymouth of the passengers of the Mayflower. Here, under cover of darkness, the fast dwindling company laid their dead, leveling the earth above them lest the Indians should learn how many were in the graves. History records no nobler venture for faith and freedom than of this Pilgrim band. In weariness and painfulness, in watching often in hunger and cold, they laid the foundation of a state wherein every human through countless ages should have liberty to worship God in his or her own way. May their example inspire thee to do thy part in perpetuating and spreading the lofty ideals of our republic throughout the world.”




Daily  why not to celebrate the greatness of God’s good. Beginning early Sunday morning, as we dress for church, ready to worship the Lord, we can look at the beauty of our earth and celebrate His Greatness.   We recognize God in our lives, and we will feel good. We will express our gratitude to God through praise, and we are going to see the good everywhere. We will know that God will provide, and everything will be fine.  And with a joyful heart, we can repeat that every day.




I want to share a story with you that takes place in Bethany. This particular day was hot, dry, and dusty, with a hot wind blowing. I don’t know of anything more miserable to the human spirit than a hot, dusty wind. You are all clean, you go outside, and a hot, dusty wind hits you in the face. The air seems so thick with dust that it is difficult to breathe. You feel down because of the environment.




A group of people were really feeling down. They were grieving. They were clinging together as grieving people often do. They were weeping and mourning outside a cave in Bethany that was serving as a tomb for Lazarus (the brother of Martha and Mary). He had been dead for four days. Those in the grieving group were talking as Jesus approached. They were saying things like, “If He had come earlier, this might not have happened. He could have healed our brother, and everything would have been okay. But look, He comes now when Lazarus has been dead for four days.”




Then the group is absolutely dumbfounded as they see Jesus kneel down, and with a smile on His face He begins to give thanks to God. Can you imagine? Imagine if I was performing a funeral service for someone you loved, and instead of grieving with you, I had a huge smile on my face and gave thanks to God. Can you imagine how dumbfounded, and possibly angry you would be?




Let’s look at John 11:38-44: “Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’  So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.‘”




I imagine the people standing around were no longer a crowd, but were now
a mob. I imagine they were getting more and more angry at Jesus.




When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”




A man is lying dead, and his friend is giving thanks. Everybody just looked at Jesus. Then, with His next breath, Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come out!” At this point, you can imagine how the atmosphere is electric. I am sure time was such that a few seconds seemed like an hour.




The “dead” man came out to them. What did that crowd feel? There was joy, shock, fear, and disbelief. But He gave thanks, and that set the miracle into motion.




A man in A. A. told his story. “God caused me to be raised from the dead.” This meant he had the power to give up drinking. Then he looked at all his friends – birds of a feather, people of like mind – and then with tears in his eyes he said to them, “You are unbinding me. Do not leave bound what God has unbound.”




God is constantly unbinding us. God is constantly telling us to come forth. If, after looking back at the past and what God has done in our lives, we hold that in our minds, we will have the incredible intelligence in our mind to give thanks in advance. We know, no matter what we face today, that God is with us. No matter how difficult it is in the moment, we can say, “Thank You, God. I know I am connected with You. I am not separate. I know that when I work with You as a partner, everything will work out all right.”




And I ask God to give me the power to unbind myself – not holding myself bound by the thoughts of the past – and I ask that my family and my friends not bind me, either, and that I have the power to go on.




Every week, we need to begin that feeling. Yes, we are always thankful  for what God has done in our lives in the past. But we are also thankful for the things that we have not seen as of yet. We are thankful because we know we have a God who responds. We know that everything will be fine. No matter how great our mountain, or how great our difficulty, God is a God who answers our present challenges, instantly, in a way that is beyond anything we can imagine.




Because this is Jesus’ way of prayer, a woman in need of her own healing placed a chair opposite her with a picture of Jesus Christ on it. Then she started to give thanks to God and to every part of her God-created body, starting at the top of her head.




She was in pain. Things were not going well. Our human reaction is to curse the things that are not quite right. Instead, this lady gave thanks to the body parts, for God working in the body parts, and brought them into new life, regenerated in the God-Truth that was already prepared for her. We can do the same with any situation in our lives. She gave thanks and unbound herself.




I am going to close with scripture from Romans. As you thank God for all He has bestowed on you in the future, I ask you to remember this:




“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.    For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,  nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:37-38].




Let us pray:


Thank You, dear, wonderful God, for beginning this week and very  week in gratitude for all the blessings  bestowed upon my whole family and all my friends.. Thank You for bringing joy to my heart, and helping me to recall all the things to be thankful for. And thank You, in advance, for all the things I cannot yet see with my physical eyes, but that I know, through faith, Your blessings will come forth. I thank You in advance, and will do so all week.

In Jesus Christ’s name . . . Amen.




Ties that Bind

Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and
supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.”
Philippians 4:6




Is Life Overwhelming? I’ve heard some people say in the past; they don’t want to bother God unless it is a crisis emergency situation. Some have said that God’s help is not to be used for small things.




Sometimes, life can become overwhelming. No matter how much we plan, or how much we prepare for it, sometimes things happen, and we feel out of control. We feel as if we don’t have the power that we had before. Something has happened, but we don’t know exactly what.




We all have at least heard of the story of the giant in “Gulliver’s Travels?” Here was a  person, like us, who was all-powerful. Here was a person who could walk above problems. Here was a person who seemed undefeatable, but the giant’s thoughts were working against him.




The giant in “Gulliver’s Travels” falls asleep on the beach. While he is sleeping, all these tiny, little people come, put strings over him, and then stake down the strings.




A few strings would be no problem at all. He could easily pull those up, sit up, and go about his way. But these little people worked all night long. Each tiny, little person came up to the giant and placed strings across him.




The giant wakes up and finds that he cannot move his arms or legs, and he can not sit up, no matter how hard he tries because he is all tied down.




You and I have had the same experience, of being all tied up in the thoughts and worries about momentary as well as other circumstances of our lives.




These little people are those little worries, those human thoughts, those little things that scramble around inside of your mind and that seem so uncontrollable. Every time they move across, they take a string with them. Soon you are tied down. Soon you are weak in thought and you don’t feel like you can get up again. Soon you think the weight of life is pulling you down.




You might say, “God, can I ever stand again? Can I walk tall and free? Can
I ever be all I once was?”




You can! You can! With God’s help you can.




Sometimes, the things that happen to us can seem so overwhelming. But
whatever they are, we can overcome them! We have the power-because God has the power and the know-how.




We have the ability to have a transfusion of thought where we totally change our mind; where we have a fusion (if you will) with a Mind that is greater than our mind, God’s Mind knows how to lift us up and out of our problems. When we are free from selfishness, limitation, greed, fear, anxiety, hatred, and inferior feelings we can stand up to anything.




Revelation 21:4-5: “The former things are passed away . . . Behold, I make
all things new. ” [KJV]




Who is “I” in that scripture? The “I” is God. Imagine if God came up to you, tapped you on the shoulder, stood right by your side, looked into your eyes, smiled at you and said, “Don’t let the past burden you. Don’t let it tie you down on the beach of life any more. Don’t worry about those waves. The past is no more. It has passed away and you have a brand new life in Me.”



As I edit this message this afternoon, I am remembering last week and how we all came together, in our prayer group (Thursday evenings). We are free; we do NOT need to be held down with the weight of the strings tied over us and around us. And I thought how free and open we are; we are not tied down. And in order to remain this way, we only need God!




To truly follow Jesus Christ, we have to do this in our prayers and during our personal meditation, (inside  our own thinking).




“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do
he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12




Let’s suppose one day you get fed up with being tied on the beach and you say to yourself: “Isn’t this interesting? I’m tied down. I can’t move my arms or legs. I can’t go where I want to go or do what I want to do.”




Perhaps you feel tied down in your life.  You know in any moment there can be  more. You say: “Wait a minute! I can have more. With God’s help, I CAN be a success. I can do what I dream of doing. I don’t have to play with these limited thoughts anymore. I CAN do it!  I’m not really tied down.”  Sometime, somewhere, when you dream about it,  you can go BEYOND the dream.




You have to go through this again, and again, and again, to get beyond where you are, to go beyond the imagined potential.




If Jesus would have just imagined and daydreamed, He would not have lived up
to his potential and His mission.




Paul and I, mostly Paul, are renovating/remodeling the home we bought a few years ago. Do people or we think – “You really think you can do this?” “Do you have what it takes? Are you really able to do it?” It puts negative thoughts in our minds; there are always people in your life to give you a negative message. They don’t know any better. They are looking just to outer appearances, not knowing about the spiritual help that is available behind the appearances. God is the great “untier” of your life, God is the great “unbinder” of all that has held you down.  As long as we don’t let others or ourselves tie us down, we can accomplish anything.




You can have a Divine indifference to negative messages. You know you can do more because you are not alone. You know you can go beyond-be more, do more – because you have a knowledge of God who is bigger than any appearance that you, and others may see with their human eyes.




Now, to untie, to turn from the negativity, let’s focus on the one word that says it all FAITH!. To be totally immersed, we no longer MAKE TIME for our faith, we now place God first; our faith comes first and we have to make time for all other things. This is a HUGE difference.




Previously, we might have said: “Oh, God, I don’t have time to pray today because I’m so busy. I’d feel better if I had time to meditate, but you don’t know the pressure and deadlines I’m under.” How much better it is to allow faith to come first, to pray, and to meditate, then to move forward toward your deadlines (with calm assurance).




When you do this, you are recharging; you are getting ready; you are going
apart for a while like Jesus did, and then you are coming back into the
world fully powered, super-charged, ready to perform miracles. Nothing can stand in the  way of the Divine power coming in and through you. You are then FULLY  working with God. You are so much of God in action and God’s love in
demonstration that people cease sensing you and they sense God. That is
the Christ working through you.




We have seen, or sensed those in life that manifest this degree. Mother
Teresa and Billy Graham are examples that comes to mind and there are so many more,




Is this a one-time experience? It’s not even a one-time daily experience. It is something we have to constantly decide upon, choose, and do. When we do, we truly follow Jesus, we live up to our potential of all we can do and be.




Jesus told us: “Leave your nets.” These are nets of personal involvement.
What do your nets pick up? If you are putting down your nets in your human mind and catching things, your nets are picking up thoughts of people who are telling you that you can’t build your future, you can’t prosper, that says you can’t rebuild the cells in your body with God’s help to produce new wholeness and life. Those nets are tying you down.




Jesus said, “Leave your nets – and follow me.” What does that mean? OR as we do in the Spiritual Family Prayer Group Thursday evenings, we share and pray for each other and all those needing us and fill our hearts and souls with all the hurts and pains and negativity and ties that bind us and put them at the altar and leave them there for God to manage. Then, we take a deep breath as a smile covers our face  and move forward in His light.




Now, It doesn’t mean to follow Him with just your feet. It means to follow Him with
your head and heart.  Walt Whitman said, “I am not contained between my hat and my shoes”, and neither are you.




You are much more.   Any time you think you are contained, you are like that giant tied down. Any time you sit in a chair and think this is all there is to your life, you are like that giant tied down.




If something is going wrong and you’re depressed and you think this is all
there is, you are like that giant tied down. You need to go to God and untie that mind that caused your problems, in order to heal your problems.




When you do, the strings just melt away. The burdens are no longer burdens
because you have 1000 times the power. You follow Christ to your potential. Christ already gave Himself for you. Now you can set down your ties; you can let those ties that bind you on the shore just melt away. You now can move forward toward the Goal!




Christmas is over.  We have given and we have received.  We have served and been served in many ways.  Let’s think about that for a minute.



It is better to give than it is to receive, at Christmas, in games, and in life. We all   know it is better, but how is it better?




Psychologist and consultant, Peter Block, wrote the book, “Stewardship:
Choosing Service over Self-interest.” Here is a portion of that.




He says: “Ultimately, the choice we make is between service and self-interest. Both  are attractive. Fire and intensity of self-interest seem to be all around
us. We search, so often in vain, to find leaders we can have faith in. Our
doubts are not about our leaders’ talents, but about their  trustworthiness. We are unsure whether they are serving their institutions,  or themselves. When we look out at our peers and our neighbors, we see so  much energy dedicated to claiming entitlements. The nuclear family now  includes a parent, a partner, children, a financial consultant, and a  lawyer. We are no different. We were born into the age of anxiety, and became adults in  the age of self-interest.


“The antidote to self-interest is to commit and find cause; to commit to
something outside of ourselves and be a part of creating something we care
about so we can endure the sacrifice, the risk, and the adventure
commitment entails. This is the deeper meaning of service.”




When we are called to service, the issue comes up for us. It is a tug of
war between two different parts of us – a part of us that is interested
only in ourselves, and part of us that truly wishes to help and care for




In the Bible when Jesus was hanging on the  Cross? There were two robbers on either side of Him.  One of the robbers looks over at Jesus through his pain and says   (paraphrased), “What are you doing here? If you are so great, why don’t
you save yourself?”




But the robber on the other side of Jesus says, in effect, “You’re the Son
of God. My friend and I are guilty; we deserve to be here. But you haven’t
done a thing.”




Jesus replies to the second man, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”




These two men represent two parts of ourselves. The first man represents
that natural, normal “looking out for #1” self-interest who can only see
through his own eyes of pain and suffering.




The second man looks up a little higher and sees that the sacred part of
life that is Christ is totally innocent and recognizes it. He  calls out, and then Christ,  assures him, “This  day you will be with me in paradise;” just by making that conscious contact with God, with spirituality, he was saved. This second part represents our willingness to become larger than the little parts of  ourselves – to give, to commit, to become great. until we become fully one with Christ.  I think we are always in a kind of conflict or war between these two parts of ourselves.




In spirituality, life is about our service to others.  The reward of service is that when we turn our attention to help someone else, we forget our own problems and misery, which was created by our own willingness  to dote on it.




Service gives us the opportunity to look beyond ourselves. But we have to
make that choice. Who are we going to be? Which man on the Cross are we
going to be, today?




“Each person’s work will become manifest.” 1 Corinthians 3:13




St. Francis wrote a prayer that captures this essence of this idea.   He said: “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek  to be consoled as to console; not so much to be understood as to  understand; not so much to be loved as to love.”




The world, as is commonly understood (as in worldly wisdom), is looking
out for #1. This has its value, its place, and its purpose. We all know
that we have to take care of our own needs. I’m not talking about some
type of total sacrifice, where we give up everything we have and lay on
beds of nails.  We are to seek to satisfy our own basic needs; to find ways
of nurturing ourselves and keeping ourselves healthy; and providing means
of expression of our gifts.





But beyond that healthy self-interest, there lies a subtle trap that we all fall into. At some point, we have to stop trying to satisfy the ego and start surrendering the ego. And surrendering is the last thing the ego wants to do.



What do we do?




What happens is we eventually find ourselves in a cage of our own making.
We do everything we already know how to do, over and over again, until
the suffering becomes so great that we are willing to burst out of that cage
and do whatever it takes. It seems like what is being offered to us as an
antidote is to serve.  Imagine that!




Spiritual people always look out for #2.



Romans 14: 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.




For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men




It is true, when we are thinking of someone else, we take our minds off
our own pain, and it seems to magically disappear. What a great thing that
is!  When we actually begin to give of ourselves, we suddenly feel larger.




Why is that?   Because when we give, we literally do become larger because
we experience, maybe for the first time, how great we are. We realize God’s power of love inside of us. When we touch it, tap it, and give from that Divinity, we start experiencing God in the world.




For all our talk in Christianity about prosperity and abundance, we are
still often trapped by our concepts. We are still that first man on the
cross looking out for #1 in our prosperity. We are trying to see how we
can use affirmations and visualizations to capture more for “me,” and we
think we will give a little bit back, later. We don’t get the big picture
of prosperity, which is simply to know that God is here. Prosperity is to
experience that. When we do that, the world is different. We feel so
prosperous. We know that abundance, but the ego doesn’t like it too much.




There is an old Jewish story of how God decided where to put the temple in
Jerusalem. The story goes that there were two brothers. One had a family
and one didn’t. They loved each other very much. They were in the
grain/flour business together. Every night, the brother who had a family
would look at his wife and children and say, “When I grow old I’m going to
have my family to take care of me, but my poor brother is all by himself.”
So he would take as much of the grain he had taken home for personal use,
and he would put some flour back for his brother.




In the meantime, his brother who was at his house by himself would think,
“I’m just fine. My poor brother has a whole family to feed, so I need to
help them out.” So he would take some of his flour back to the business
for his brother. Unknown to the other, they both would continually give
back some of their personal flour.




One day, they met on the road on the way to their business, and they
realized what they had been doing for all those years. That is where God
chose to build the temple.




That is a sweet story. Behind it is the simple message of where divinity
dwells – in the openness, the giving, and the sharing.




When a great teacher of prayer was asked, “How can I feel the bliss of
God?” He answered in one word: “Service.”




There was an extraordinary article in the Toronto Star years ago. The
headlines said: “Girl Weeps as Jet Passengers Give.” Here is a  little piece of that story.




“The little girl wept as big-hearted passengers on a jumbo jet raised the
equivalent of $97,000 in a mid-air collection to pay for a life-saving
operation. Four-year-old Marian Kadash who suffered from a serious liver
condition, was flying to Britain for tests at a top London hospital. She
will need a liver transplant. The pretty, dark-haired child and her mother
burst out in tears as the 450 passengers and crew who heard about her
plight emptied their pockets. Everyone on board threw money into a
suitcase being carried around the jet as it flew over the Mediterranean
toward Heathrow Airport. The suitcase, which was filled after it went
around once, was carried around a second time to cheers and applause.
Astonished crew and passengers gasped with disbelief when the collection
in a dozen different currencies added up to $97,000. The flight was flying
British holiday merrymakers home from Tel Aviv, and a group of British
millionaires helped bump up the fundraising to its final tally.”




What was going on in that place? People were stepping out of their
self-interest and serving and giving. How did they feel? One of the great
secrets to service is the experience you have when you give.




Service is really more of an attitude than it is a job or a specific role.
You can do service wherever you are with whatever you are doing. In fact,
you can do the same stuff you do every day, but shift for whom you are doing
it  . Are you the man on the right side of the Cross or on the left? If
you can start seeing God in the people you work with, and seeing God’s
expression in everything you do, then all of your chores become blissful
prayer. What a secret. Then you start experiencing and feeling the
presence of God.




Service is the finest way of practicing the presence of God. So, when you
are doing service, whether it is washing your dishes, or balancing your
checkbook, or working in your office, or sweeping the steps, you are
really sweeping out the dust from inside your own heart. You are really
cleaning up your own life when you serve.



Service rules because it gives you and me the opportunity to clean up our
acts, to practice what we know, to see God in the world, to feel God
rather than our own petty egos and our little concerns. What a great gift
that is! Every person in prayer and meditation must eventually get up and
begin serving God in the world.




I would like to close with a parable that Bruce Barton tells that sums up very nicely what service is. It talks about the two different  kinds of people there are in the world, and who live inside of us.




There are two seas in Palestine. One is fresh and fish are in it. Splashes
of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch
out their thirsty roots for a sip of its healing waters. Along its shores
the children play as children played when Jesus was there. He loved it. He
could look across its silver surface when He spoke his parables. And on a
rolling plain not far away Jesus fed 5,000 people. The River Jordan makes
this sea with sparkling water from the hills. Men build their houses near
to it, and birds their nests, and every kind of life is happier because it
is there.




The River Jordan flows on south into another sea. Here is no splashing
fish, no fluttering leaf, and no song of birds, no children’s laughter.
Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs
heavy above its water, and neither men nor beast nor fowl will drink.




What makes this mighty difference in these neighboring seas? Not the River
Jordan – it empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which
they lie nor the country around it. This is the difference – the Sea of
Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows
into it, another drop flows out. The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its
income, jealously. It will not be tempted into a generous impulse. Every
drop it gets, it keeps. The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. The other sea
gives nothing. It is named Dead – the Dead Sea.




There are two seas in Palestine; there are two kinds of people in the
world; there are two kinds of persons inside you and me.




Move from survival to significance.  Decide this day whom you will serve.




Let’s close with a short prayer.  Lord, we are here to both receive from God and to give.  Today, Dear God we ask a simple prayer that we can serve more. We ask that we can make a difference because of the  difference you have made in and on us. We are ready and we are willing to be of service now. Help us to give more and be  thankful for what we have received and also now less concerned about  ourselves.




For this knowledge and experience, we are grateful,



In the name of Jesus Christ . . . Amen.


God bless you.