benevolence

The Lowest

Proverbs 29:23; Matthew 23:12; Luke 1:52; James 4:6 – ESV.orghttps://www.esv.org › …For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from … Therefore it says,“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Poor in Spirit

There are people at the low end of the social scale because of their jobs, their vices, or their mental health. They and their children lead lives as outcasts to one degree or another. But what they are not is “prideful”. God cannot relate to prideful people because they relate only to themselves and not to others and especially God.

Mary and Elisabeth

This is part of The Magnificat, sung or recited by Mary when her cousin recognized that she was favored by God to carry the Christ Child even as Elisabeth herself would soon bear Christ’s forerunner.

(Luke 1:50-53 WEB) 50And his mercy [is] on them that fear him, from generation to generation. 51He hath shown strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52He hath put down the mighty from [their] seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent away empty.

Worldly wisdom seems to be overturned by God Himself. When God created Adam and Eve He planned for them to have these same attitudes. But they sinned and adopted the worldly system that Satan sought to rule. In Satan’s world it’s people that use worldly methods to succeed. And pride is the attitude that gives people their direction in life. And their direction in life starts with themselves.

Elisabeth had been barren and was past childbearing years. She was disgraced as a result. Mary came to visit her because now she was pregnant outside of wedlock. It was not the rich or nobles that God’s angels visited, but the lowest in their society. They had no pretense to be prideful, and thus were humble which was God’s criteria for using them to fulfill His plans. People who are humble and Godless are stuck where they’re at. But humble and Godly will have success; although not always recognizable to worldly people.

These are examples #1 and #2 of God using humble messengers to the greatest event in the history of mankind.

Shepherds

From the South Platte Sentinel comes the following commentary.

The shepherds that witnessed the angels at Jesus’ birth were extraordinary shepherds. They were called “Levitical Shepherds”. They had been chosen and trained to attend the flock of sheep that were to be used as sacrificial lambs in the Temple. Sacrificial lambs had to be “spotless and without blemish.” They required special treatment and observing. According to the laws of the time, the sheep that were used for the offerings had to be a one-year-old male sheep that had been outside for 365 days (one year). When they were ready, they were taken to Jerusalem to be sacrificed on the Sabbath in the Temple.

When the mother ewe was preparing to give birth, she was taken to a special birth place, or to the only cave designated, to give birth to the sacrificial Iambs. This cave was kept sterile and clean for the arrival of newborn sacrificial Iambs. The newborn lamb was immediately wrapped in clean swaddling cloths to protect them and keep them from blemish and danger. Swaddling clothes described in the Bible consisted of a cloth tied together by bandage-like strips. When the declaration was made to these Levitical Shepherds that watched their sheep in a special field full of sacrificial lambs, they apparently knew exactly where to go to discover that Baby. There were apparently many places that held mangers, but they comprehended immediately where to go to find the babe… to their cave, where their sacrificial lambs were born and wrapped in “swaddling clothes.”

The Birth of Jesus

To set the stage, Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem, before Mary gives birth. They would not return to Nazareth for 2 years or more. Time for suspicions to die down about Mary being pregnant out of wedlock. However, one has to wonder why there was no one in Joseph’s home town would put them up in their home.

(Luke 2:4-7 WEB) 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling-clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Notice that just as the sacrificial lambs were put in swaddling cloths, Jesus was also put into swaddling clothes. And they also went to the very cave that was used for the sacrificial lambs.

The shepherds, although Levites, still followed a lowly profession, albeit being responsible for the sacrificial lambs. They were not destined, by worldly standards, to be making prophetic declarations.

Shepherds see & hear Angels

(Luke 2:13-16 WEB) 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men. 15And it came to pass, when the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us. 16And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The shepherds didn’t quite know what to expect when they went to the cave. But when they saw Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus, they just couldn’t be quiet about it. Their excitement turned them into heralds of a momentous occasion.

This is example #3 of God using shepherds as humble messengers to the greatest event in the history of mankind.

(Luke 2:17-19 WEB) 17And when they had seen [it], they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard [it], wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart.

And what was it that Mary pondered in her heart? Were they the same thoughts we had as we read this passage of scripture (repeated)? How could this little baby grow up as a man to be the greatest influence in world history? Could anyone duplicate His results today or in the future?

The Woman of Samaria

(John 4:7-9 WEB) 7There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith to her, Give me to drink. 8(For his disciples had gone to the city to buy provisions.) 9Then saith the woman of Samaria to him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

Jesus tells the woman that He could give her “Living Water” and she would never thirst again. When she asks for this living water, Jesus confronts her with her sin (The fact that she came alone in the afternoon was a clear sign she was considered a sinner by the people in Samaria).

(John 4:16-19 WEB) 16Jesus saith to her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said to her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband: in that thou hast spoken truth. 19The woman saith to him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

After discussing the differences between styles of worship between Samaritans and Jews, Jesus explains how we are to truly worship for Samaritans, Jews, and Gentiles.

(John 4:24-26 WEB) 24God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him, must worship [him] in spirit and in truth. 25The woman saith to him, I know that Messiah cometh, who is called Christ; when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26Jesus saith to her, I that speak to thee am [He].

The disciples came back and while they were talking (not fully understanding what Jesus was saying) the woman left and told the people in the city about finding the Messiah. And not only that, but that Jesus knew all about her sinful life.

This is example #4 of God using a sinful woman as a humble messenger to the Messiah, King of Kings.

(John 4:28-30, 39-42 WEB) 28The woman then left her waterpot, and went into the city, and saith to the men, 29Come, see a man who hath told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 30Then they went out of the city, and came to him. … 39And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, who testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40So when the Samaritans had come to him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41And many more believed, because of his own word; 42And said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard [him] ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

Often people with checkered pasts come into a church and receive a cool welcome. We should be excited, not turned off. There won’t necessarily be an instant transformation; but if sinners come into our midst and are surrounded by a group of people willing to support them, it may result in an instant transformation.

The song that I chose brings out the desperation that people dealing with sin engenders. Submitting to God is their way out. But even if they know a little about God, their view is skewed. That where there support of church members is crucial. And that support must start with listening. After that discernment is needed as many people with serious sin issues are strictly looking for hand-outs and not hands-up. Nonetheless it is our effort that is important to God; the results are the decision of the sinner.

The Demoniac Cured

(Luke 8:26-29 WEB) 26 And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. 27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, who had demons a long time, and wore no clothes, neither abode in [any] house, but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, [thou] Son of God most high? I beseech thee torment me not. 29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For often it had caught him, and he was kept bound with chains, and in fetters: and he broke the bands, and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.)

This demoniac seems bizarre to us today. But the reality is that many homeless people are mentally ill , including PTSD*

*Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it.

(Luke 8:30-31, 35-36 WEB) 30And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many demons had entered into him. 31And they besought him, that he would not command them to go out into the deep. … 35Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man out of whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 36They also who saw [it], told them by what means he that was possessed by the demons was healed.

(Luke 8:37-39 WEB) 37Then the whole multitude of the surrounding country of the Gadarenes, besought him to depart from them: for they were taken with great fear. And he went into the boat, and returned. 38Now the man out of whom the demons had departed, besought him that he might be with him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39Return to thy own house, and show how great things God hath done to thee. And he went away and published throughout the whole city, how great things Jesus had done to him.

This is example #5 of God using a demon possessed man as a transformed messenger for the Messiah, Jesus.

The demoniac was transformed and was free. Only God can grant true freedom. And when people experience this kind of transformation; they’re not able to constrain themselves, because they have found peace and contentment in Jesus. They have a feeling (and a certainty) of God’s protection and innumerable blessings to come.

Aim Low to be Lifted

(James 4:6-10 WEB) 6But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners, and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double-minded. 9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.

The key in all of these stories is the difference between self dependency and God dependency. Men struggle harder to get on God’s page because they’re raised to be self dependent.

But let me ask you – on what is it that you stand? Are you standing on the rock that can’t be moved? Or are you convinced that building on sand is less work, quicker, and fits in with our current society better? After all the comparisons of what a “man is”, can’t you see that it only holds for one person. There’s no room for anyone else albeit friends, wife, or children. A “real man” is capable of supporting others; especially his family, church, and community.

And the main theme in this post, it is the transformative power of the Gospel that turns a man into a beacon of light for lost souls. A man who is dedicated to bringing others into god’s Kingdom.

wayocross

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