Year 2020 Starts on the Wrong Foot!
But the Word Will be a Lamp unto our Feet
Grace to You and Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sermon Text: Luke 2: 41- 50
1 Kings 3:4–15
Psalm 119: 97- 104
A few months ago, I received a pastoral call after 10 pm from a Middle Eastern refugee woman in the suburbs. The husband had tried marijuana for the first time, and he was having halucinations and a fast heartbeat that caused him excruciating pain. He though that he was dying, her husband said.
As usual, we advised the wife to call 911, but she refused. She said that since he was a truck driver, he may lose his license if the authorities discovered that incident. It took us, my wife and I, 25 minutes to get to their home.
The wife who spoke little Engish was in tears, and had locked up her children in their room so that they would not see what’s going on. His face was pale with pain because of the palpitation and headache he had. As soon as he saw me, he yanked me from my shirt as if he intended to strangle me. His wife panicked, but I was not scared, becasue I saw the fear and anxiety in his eyes. On the contrary, I kept appeasing him and telling him that everything will be alright. Then, I was able to convince him to lie down in bed, and brought some black pepper, and made him sniff it, and had him consume a lot of water.
We flushed the marijuana he had in the toilet, and the guy vowed not to do it again.
I am no doctor, but as I drove there, my wife googled some instructions that helped us deal with the situation.
As we learned later, there are many different strains of cannabis. The same amount of cannabis smoked or ingested from two different cannabis plants can have different effect on the same individual.
Previously, I had some experience with two young men from the Middle East who did marijuana; one of them has been doing his GED for 5 years, with no success. His car was impounded after a cop pulled him over for erratic driving, and discvered marijuana in the vehicle.
His older brother, who taught him to smoke pot thought that he would get rich by selling it, and has so far spent 6 years of his life in prisons.
So, I do not think we would make our roads safer by legalizing pot.
More than 90 people die in car accidents everyday. 3 million people in the U.S. are injured every year in car accidents. Around 2 million drivers suffer permanent injuries every year.
According to CBS News, on January 1, people camped outside Lakeview, IL Dispensary at 2 A.M waiting for the doors to open at 6 am.
I wish people would wait at 8 am for the church open its doors.
Some may say that marijuana is just like alcohol. But this is not true.
In an article on marijuana, based on a scientific study, Jeff Lacine wrote:
“Unlike alcohol, there are many different strains of cannabis. The same amount of cannabis smoked or ingested from two different cannabis plants can have different effects on an individual — even if both plants have the same exact amount of THC (the primary psychoactive chemical in cannabis). Unlike alcohol, marijuana has many different effects on an individual due to its complex chemical makeup. There are at least 113 different chemical compounds (cannabinoids) inside the cannabis plant that combine to cause a variety of effects on an individual when smoked or ingested.
Unlike alcohol, cannabis has not been a staple in cultures all around the world for use in celebrations and ceremonies (like John 2:9). Unlike alcohol, regular cannabis use is strongly correlated with mental health disorders such as schizoaffective disorder. While heavy drinking (alcohol abuse) has also been linked to mental health disorders, moderate drinking has not (…) Unlike alcohol, cannabis was not used by Jesus in his Last Supper, which is to be regularly commemorated by the church (Mark 14:23–25).”
Lacine adds: “(…) the recreational use of cannabis seems to violate the Christian value of sobriety (1 Thessalonians 5:6–8; Titus 2:2, 6; 1 Peter 4:7). As our culture celebrates the casual use of cannabis today, and does so increasingly in the coming days, we should be vigilant not to be deceived as a church. We should not idly stand by as we watch brothers and sisters who profess faith in Christ enter into a mind-numbing, reality-distorting cloud of cannabis. (…) We should be quick to engage with individual members who use marijuana, asking them questions and seeking to understand, being ready to exhort and rebuke them if it becomes apparent that they are violating the biblical standards of sobriety and integrity.”
Lacine concludes: “Jesus’s church, holding fast to his word, led by a team of wise pastors, will be up for the challenge. God will have new mercies for us as we walk together by faith in the age of legal marijuana.”
So, WHY LUKE 2: 41- 52? What does it have to do with legalizing marijuana?
We live in an ugly fallen world, where people are seeking sin, not Jesus.
I ride US 20 a lot and see in Roselle, where I live and another place in Elgin, that striptease joints and adult stores open 24/7…
When I travel the interstate highways, I see a sign that Says: LION’S DEN…it should say: THE DEVIL’S DEN.
I often drive through highways where I notice casinos with full parking lots, and wish the church would have that number of people crowding casinos and night joints.
More people are shot killed in Chicago every weekend than Beirut.
Our nation is sinking deeper and deeper in Darkness; abortion, homosexuality, pointless bloody violence, racial tensions, identity politics, and what have you.
So why Luke 2: 40- 52? It is important because they were the first words by Jesus recorded in the Gospels. NKJ translates better than the ESV. The ESV says:
49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” NKJ says:
“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2: 49) This is closer to the Greek.
What is His Father’s and the Son’s business? It is to…
John 12:28- Glorify the Father’s name
Luke 22:42- Carry out the Father’s will.
John 16:27- Unfold the Father’s love.
John 10:37- Do the Father’s work.
John 1:14-18- Reveal the Father’s character.
John 17:8- Proclaim the Father’s words
So much depends upon God’s Word that without it, as Psalm 119 says, we would be lost.
As St. Paul says in Ephesians 5: 18: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (…).” If we are steeped in God’s Word, we do not need wine or marijuana. So much depends on the Word of God in our Christian life, especially on Sundays.
Martin Luther, in the Large Catechism emphasizes: “No holy day can be sanctified [without the Word of God]. We must know that God insists upon a strict observance of this commandment, and will punish all who despise His Word and are not willing to hear and learn it, especially at the time appointed for the purpose. Therefore not only those sin against this commandment who grossly misuse and desecrate the holy day, as those who on account of their greed or frivolity neglect to hear God’s Word or lie in taverns and are dead drunk like swine; but also that other crowd, who listen to God’s Word as to any other trifle, and only from custom come to preaching, and go away again, and at the end of the year know as little of it as at the beginning. (…) Now, while we have God’s Word, we nevertheless do not correct the abuse; we suffer ourselves to be preached to and admonished, but we listen without seriousness and care.” (Large Catechism- Martin Luther)
This New Year you may have some resolutions like losing weight or something else which may be good…but I ask you this year to ask God for an expectant heart. He will grant it! Consider praying before the service begins. In fact, even on your way to church you might think about the promise God has made to speak to your heart.
Laugh at Satan’s temptation to doubt that God will speak through a human being. Don’t let Satan use trivial quirks or quarrels to close your ears to the glorious and powerful Word of your Savior.
Know that you are in your Father’s House.
Listen intentionally when you come to your Fater’s House. Try to carry you Bible or Tab to church so yo can follow along during the sermon and make notations in the margins. It sometimes helps to take notes and to review them or even journal about them on Monday morning. Ask yourself, “What one thing does Jesus want me to carry away for my life this week?” Sometimes the message will apply to an event in the past—a sin to confess, a word of hope in a dark situation. But sometimes the message will help prepare you for something you’ll face in the days ahead. Don’t overlook that possibility.
Pray for grace to act on what you’ve heard. One translation puts James 1:22 this way: “Don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves” (NLT).
As the Psalmist says: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119: 105
We cannot fulfill our purpose as Christians without abiding in the Word of God.
We as Christians, which measn little Chrits, must Glorify the Father’s name… Carry out the Father’s will… Show the Father’s love… and proclaim the Father’s words.
Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Amen.
Rev. Hesham Shehab- January 06, 2020