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Among many human failings the saint of God must overcome is knowiing what is, and what is not, his concern.
It is easy for a man to want to know what God requires of others or, worse yet, to believe he knows and to the point that he believes he should regulate the behavior of his fellow saints.
The truth is somewhat different. While God establishes men as examples for others, no man truly has charge of another. All answer to God...and the questions he answers to the Almighty are rarely anyone else's business.
Among the only times in Scripture when divine power was "small" is recorded in Matthew 13:54-58
And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
The journey to faith in God contains numerous obstacles, nearly all have their root in what we see:
The man whose son was demon-possessed, seeing only his child's torment, had his belief compromised,
Peter, as he walked on the water, saw the boisterous wind, and his faith gave way,
The apostles, upon seeing the Lord captured, scattered and went into hiding.
Indeed, as Jesus said to one who pleaded for a dying child, "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."
God commends faith that is not eye-dependent:
John 20:29 "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
1 Peter 1:7-9 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
So reality is best perceived with eyes ignored. Can you believe?
There is nothing new about children conceived outside of wedlock; it can be found in scripture, as far back as Genesis, even in the house of Judah, who unwittingly impregnated his daugher-in-law, believing her a harlot when he had intercourse with her. Let's just say, of that situation, it was complicated.
Interestingly, the Lord Jesus is a direct descendant of one of the twin boys born of that physical union (see Matthew 1:3 and Luke 3:33). Depending upon how one reads, Boaz, who married Ruth the Moabitess, and was the great-grandfather of King David, may himself been conceived out of wedlock.
Finally, the Lord Himself was not conceived in the usual way, and his mother was thought a fornicator (see John 8:41), and his earthly father Joseph was presumed a cuckold.
It would seem God regards illegitimacy differently than do we, and this is not a new phenomenon. Upon seeing a 13-year-old Ishmael, Abraham's son by her handmaid Hagar) mocking the newborn Isaac, whom she bore to Abraham, Sarah declared that Ishmael would not be an heir alongside Isaac, and petitioned her husband to cast out Hagar and Ishmael.
Perhaps Sarah could not separate the child's conception from how she blieved his life should be, and what it should contain. That thinking remains common even to this day...but it has never been God's thinking.
How we view people, if based upon anything they could not control, says much more about us than it says regarding the person at whom we are looking. The same is true regarding our view of people that overlooks how they handled those things that are in their control.
The Lord, unsurprisingly, has much to say about the raising of children...and most of it falls on either deaf or confused ears.
That many still regard the children given them as reflections of themselves lies at the root of many problems. It is easy and customary to say that a child "looks like" a parent or other family member and somehow conclude that might be an indication of the person that they are. How foolish.
If Adam and Eve were once the same body, yet they had different minds, different souls, and indeed were not the same person, how is it that someone that God fashioned in a womb for some 40 weeks must be like...anyone else?
We do children a disservice, we risk messing up their lives, when we choose to what we want for children and, effectively, blame God's word, rather than do as God says with children, properly raising them...and ourselves.
One things that is widely promoted in the church is the idea of "we". "We need each other", "No man is an island", "You are your brother's keeper", and other phrases are popular sayings crossing the pulpit as pastors do their regular "cat herding" of God's people.
However, the Bible is not so "communal", at all, when it comes to should matter most in the life of any man, which is salvation. I'll discuss why.
The most effective way to address most problems is to stop them at their source....when that is possible. So, how does one address a problem whose source is unassailable?
Human lust has been with man since Eden. While its results are experienced and, sometimes countered, its presence continues. Even when it appears eradicated in one area, that usually means it simply shifts to another.
Interestingly, I cannot recall God calling for lust to be eradicated, or indicating that all lust is bad. Perhaps, instead of trying to remove lust, it is better to simply put it to good use.
I do not like to be repetitive regarding messages on these broadcasts; the Bible is a HUGE resource, with much to say on many topics. However, the persistence of unbiblical teaching in a particular area can call for a repeat address.
Each time I hear or read about someone who will say, "You should forgive someone, even if they don't apologize, to keep that root of bitterness out of you", or "You need to forgive everyone, so your heart can be healed", or similar utterances, I simply cringe.
In more than 2 decades of Bible reading and study, and somewhat fewer years of teaching and preaching, I have yet to find such precepts represented ANYWHERE in Scripture. Yet they persist...and persist.
If we are to be "forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven" us, then it stands to reason that, where God would withhold forgiveness, we are wise and faithful to do the same.
I have not found in Scripture that God ever forgave anyone so that He would not be embittered against that person, or that He forgave anyone to heal His heart as the offended party.
Which begs the question: if God does not forgive unapologetic or unrepentant people to benefit His heart, how did it become godly for people to do what God does not?
In America, poverty is a political football, with competing ideological factions laying out one government program after another, or seeking to modify one government program after another, in an attempt to "help the poor". In all this wrangling, the poor are all but forgotten.
Which is the sin, for God asked people to remember the poor. And God did not give that responsibility to bureaucrats in a far away city, who can only locate the poor if they have an address; that responsibility is a charge to everyone who names the Name of Christ. Nevertheless, we fail on at least two fronts.
The first is that we have largely abandoned the responsibility of caring for the poor to those who do not know them, therefore denying those in poverty the compassionate interaction with those who know and care about their situation; we fail to understand that the caring touch has greater human value than a check.
The second is that we have chosen to believe a lie given us by government: that poverty could be eradicated anywhere. A governments' pronouncement of a War on Poverty did not and could not invalidate Deuteronomy 15:11, or Matthew 26:11, or Mark 14:7, or John 12:8.
God never intended for poverty to go away; He simply expects His people to do something for those who are in that situation.
When the disciples wanted to send the multitude away, to the towns, to the mercy of others, to fend for themselves, Jesus did not suffer it. Rather, He said to HIis disciples, "You give them something to eat", even though they had nothing to give.
Perhaps it is a matter of whether you believe God, or the government, knows best how to address the needs of the poor, and to which one you offer your allegiance.
A challenge we have as human beings is that time, and the little we have of it under the sun, taints our perspective on everything. To simplify matters, we often project the way things are into the past or into the future, assuming that, as things are, that is as they have been and how they shall be.
We do this to our detriment, making the asumption since God does not change, then the unchanging God did not make for variances in the created environment.
But that is simply not the case. Let us return to the foundational portion of all scripture, the beginning that God described to Moses, and seek an understanding of what God has done.
It is all about the event that none of His followers wanted to see, and He Himself asked to avoid. Yet it is the most precious event in world history:the gift of God's Son.
How odd that we celebrate what we hoped would never happened, and still put lesser events before it, when there is nothing that ever mattered more.
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