God Sees Us

If you all are like me, you all are still searching and asking questions about the events that shocked our nation on Friday [the Newtown school shooting]. Why did so many young children have to die? Why did that man do that? You search the news articles and listen to the TV or radio, hoping to find something that will put you at ease…something that will make the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fit together…

Yet sadly I don’t think the pieces will ever be put back together properly….

Well, not by us.

You see, we are at war with evil. This is not a metaphor or a churchy saying designed to create emotions. This is reality. We are at war.

The forces of darkness and Satan are playing twisted games with humanity – clouding their minds and darkening theirs souls.

St. Paul puts it this way in Romans 1:21, 28-32

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

This is why a 20-year old man gets to where he can walking into an elementary school and start shooting…this is why a parent can kill their own children…why people can steal babies, little boys and girls and sale them into slavery to be raped over and over and over again…this is why people can teach a six year old to kill and murder as is happening across Africa and the Middle East.

Christians feel as though this darkness is why people lie and cheat at work…why they look at porn sites like https://www.hdsexvideo.xxx/ so regularly or have one night stands…why they foster hatred and bitterness, forgiving no one, but always seeking revenge…this is why families are torn apart and people – men, women, adults, teenagers, kids – cry themselves to sleep…

It is a grim picture…one full of death, pain, heart-ache and darkness…

Yet it is into this darkness – into this life of pain and death and destruction and murder and lies and greed and evil that God stepped into – fully into. He didn’t keep one foot clean while dipping His toes into the water. He took upon himself the very nature of humanity – he experienced the pain of betrayal, the string of a fist, the hurtful words of friend…he was born amidst the cries of a massacre as all the young boys born near his birthplace was killed…murdered at the hand of a mad man…. Yet, throughout the cries of sorrow and hurt, God was there! He did not leave; he did not go back up into heaven. He walked with us; he stood by our side and joined with our pain and sorrow…why?

“So…he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” –Hebrews 2:14-15

Jesus was born on Christmas not simply so that we can have a nice holiday in the middle of the winter…he came to join with us in our suffering so that He could BREAK the chains that bind us!!

The author of Hebrews goes on to say that “since he [Jesus] himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. –Hebrews 2:18

Now before you disregard this scripture or throw it away due to the word “tempted”, please note that we are not talking about being tempted to take a candy bar or an ink pen at the local store. To be tempted is to be trapped!!

Every day each of us are walking through a minefield of traps – each of us has the choice to respond to the crap of life in hatred or love, bitterness or forgiveness.

Jesus suffered as he walked on earth – it wasn’t a cake walk. He was born into a poor family with very little…and I’m talking about very little! A first century family in Israel didn’t have much in the way of material items! They most likely had one change of clothes, one blanket and a house in which they kept their animals at night (for the extra body heat). Jesus suffered the loss of his father – think about it, Joseph disappears from the Scriptures – why? Well, I doubt he went on vacation. Most likely he died when Jesus was a teenager.

Yet even though Jesus knew he would have to walk through all this pain and sorrow, He came anyway. He chose to come and walk this life of pain so that we might live!!

“…where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” –Romans 5:20b-21

This is message of Christmas!!

Grace as increased; God himself came down and walked with us so that we might have freedom!! Today is the Sabbath day – the day of rest and freedom from bondage!

Just like the lady whom Jesus meets in Luke 13 who was crippled for 18 years. Here she, in the synagogue – or in our times, at church on a Sunday morning – seeking God, crying out to God – asking questions, wondering why the bad things were happening…

Think about it, she could have given up. She could have stopped going to church, stopped seeking the Lord and just got mad at him. I doubt anyone would have faulted her for it – after all, she was in constant pain and could not stand up at all. In fact, folks most likely would have liked for her to stand home as seeing her most likely reminded them of the pain and sorrow in the world. Seeing her each week would have meant being reminded of all the hardship and evil they – we – try to forget through movies, entertainment, work, food, buying things, sex, family…

Yet there she was… in the synagogue once again. This time, however, God showed up!!!! Amen and Amen!

12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. –Luke 13:12-13

Jesus saw her in her pain and bondage just like he sees us:

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8b

We are not left alone to wonder through this dark world. God didn’t turn off the lights and walk away from this earth in disgust. NO!!! A thousand times no!! He saw us! He heard our cries and he answered them!

He saw us and called to us – “come, come to the foundation of life! Come and drink of the life giving waters!” And just like this lady, we have a choice – we can either walk away in our pain and sorrow, choosing to keep our addictions, hatreds, bitterness, sorrow, and grief – for they, after all, are ‘good companions’ who do that leave…they are ‘friends’ which whom we have grown accustomed to…we can, as we read earlier in Romans 1, think it not “worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God.”

Or…and this is a big “or”…we can heed the call of Jesus, the one who stands at the door and knocks, and walk over to him. And he will say to us, “You are set free from your infirmity!”

And the pain, sickness, the bondage of sin and evil is immediately cast off – you, me, we become new creatures – transformed into the people of God!!

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[c] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:14-39

Nothing can separate those who bow their knees to Jesus form the love of God! Yes, there will be people who will try to stop you – people like the religious leaders in Luke 13 who got made at Jesus for healing on the wrong day. These people will try to stop you – they will tell you that you can make the decision to follow Jesus at another time – at a more “proper” time. Shoot, these people may actually be inside your head!!!

To them – to all those voices telling you not to follow Jesus, not to give up your sorrow, grief, pain, bitterness, and addictions… to these voices I say, “Do not be afraid for what is to come is better than what is left behind.

To not be afraid of the future for we…

“…do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” –Hebrews 4:15-16

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