When Jesus went public with who He was, his vocation from His Father, He chose a remote synagogue, but the import of His words were not missed…and it threatened them. He concluded reading the scroll of Isaiah, the portion we know today as chapter 61, with “Today, in your hearing, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”
The Year of the LORD’s Favor
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;[a] he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;[b] 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.[c] 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. 5 Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers; 6 but you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast. 7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. 8 For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong;[d] I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed. 10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. Read these words closely. It’s clear what God is saying to us – what He loves, cares about, His character, nature, and what He hates – He uses that very word.
Now read this article:
Five Facts You Need to Know about Poverty in America
by Tim King 10-26-2011 01:36 pm
What you don’t know about poverty can hurt you, and the nation’s poor. I’m guessing there are quite a few people who don’t know that the poverty line for an individual is just 22,314 a year for a family of four and $11,139 for an individual. Or, that three out of four poor adults have jobs and half of them are working full time. They also might not know that one in four children under the age of 5 live in poverty. This morning, the Center for American Progress released their first annual report to track progress on the goal of cutting the poverty rate in our country in half over the next ten years. There is a lot in there that more people need to know. Here are my top five quoted from the report:
- Between 1964 and 1973, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the U.S. poverty rate fell by nearly half (43 percent) as a strong economy and effective public policy initiatives expanded the middle class. Similarly, between 1993 and 2000, shared economic growth combined with policy interventions such as an enhanced earned income tax credit and minimum wage increase worked together to cut child poverty from 23 percent to 16 percent.
- In 2009 the earned income tax credit lifted 6 million people—half of them children— out of poverty. The child poverty rate would have been nearly a third higher without it. The credit is also a powerful work incentive for single parents as research shows that 60 percent of increased labor force participation among single mothers from 1984 to 1996 can be attributed to an expansion of the EITC.
- Since 1970 real wages have not kept pace with employee productivity. Since 1973 worker productivity has nearly doubled, and Americans 25 and older have achieved higher levels of high school and college educational attainment. Unfortunately, increases in these areas have not translated into increased wages for workers across the board. Only workers with already-high wages experienced big wage gains.
- Between 1979 and 2007 overall direct expenditures by the federal government on education, training, and employment services fell by half, from 8.8 percent of GDP to 4.3 percent. Increasing high school and college graduation rates and investing in job training for middle-skill workers must be a part of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy that also includes major economic reforms and incorporates wages, nonwage benefits, and other components of job quality.
- High poverty rates among families with children cannot simply be explained by low work effort. Low-income parents work more hours than those in many other developed countries, but a parent working full time (40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year) earning $10 an hour would only bring home only $20,000 annually—less than the official federal poverty level for a family of four and not nearly enough to pay for decent housing, food, child care, transportation, and health care. That’s why “work support” benefits such as earned income tax credits, child care assistance, and public health insurance coverage are a critical component of policy efforts to reduce poverty.
Jesus also had hard words on people who believe (ascend in their thinking, but do not organize (believe enough to change behavior, values, and life compass) their lives with Kingdom (He is a king after all, and not a legislator for our behalf) at center. Matthew recorded Jesus’ words: 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f]you did it to me.’ 41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
There is no mincing, minimizing, or playing with the prophetic words here. Christ calls us to live our lives sacrificially, not from overflow. He calls us to actually behave what we say we believe and to emulate Him, turn our hearts to be like His (Philippians 2.5-11). The real consequences are there… while saved by grace, grace is evidenced by our lives. To “embrace Christ” and not change our lives, is a faux embrace. Despite the 20th century reductionist salvation and Gospel, this is heresy – if you do not follow Christ- the real command of repentance and salvation, then you are a faux follower and the implications are not fuzzy.
May we be His people, radical, scary, reckless in our willingness to follow without domestication.