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Friday, July 6, 2007
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"Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them--do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish" (Luke 13:4,5).
The other day I was scanning the headlines on an online news source and read of a farming accident in Virginia involving several deaths due to methane gas in a manure pit. I grimaced as I considered such an awful way to die. It turns out that among the dead was Amous Stoltzfus, a farm hand who had once worked for my friend Jesse.
Last night I listened as Jesse shared about the tumult of emotions he felt at the viewing. (Amous' family is originally from this county and the bodies were returned for burial.) We discussed how difficult this must be for his immediate and extended family. As a minister these are among the hardest times to share comfort with those left behind in such tragic accidents. Truly I was lacking for adequate words that would make sense of this tragedy. Sometimes the best you can do is just prayerfully sympathize in silence.
Our daily text has always intrigued me. Jesus is using a contemporary news event to illustrate a vital spiritual truth. There had been an accident regarding a tower in Siloam that fell and eighteen had perished. I've always wondered if it was a construction accident. Obviously then, as now, such events are on people's minds and talked about for quite some time.
I find it interesting that Jesus does not address the question that's foremost in people's minds when such things happen. And in this passage recorded in the Scriptures He provides no comforting words. When things like this happen we want to know "Why did it happen?" or as believers more specifically, "Why did God allow it to happen?" Really, in our hearts, we want to know how an unexplainable tragedy relates to God being in control.
Jesus does not provide an answer to these "why" questions, but He clearly rebukes the simpleton mentality of people who have the view that those who died "were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem." I have occasionally witnessed this kind of attitude when a judgmental believer sees suffering in someone else, essentially asserting that the suffering either must be due to the Christian's "lack of faith" or "there must be some underlying sin that caused the problem." This is a profane form of spiritual pride. We are all sinners and we all have deficiencies in our faith.*
Jesus deals with the bigger and more important issue. Hear the words of our ever truthful Lord. "But unless you repent, you too will all perish." The emphasis of our Lord is in preparing people's hearts for eternity. Have you repented of your sins? Are you ready to meet your Maker right now if it's your time?
God doesn't always act according to our expectations or our time table and that's a critical test of faith, particularly when we deal with the great "why" questions. But He is always in absolute control even when the situation we experience seems contrary to that truth.
Today I want to encourage each reader, especially those of you who are facing an agonizing situation where you lack understanding. May the Lord give you a deep and abiding assurance of His steadfast love and care as You seek Him above all. Indeed He is in control!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Expressing ourselves to God in prayer is how we begin our new lives as Christians. I know most readers have already done so and for you this prayer will be an affirmation of your present faith. But I earnestly pray that anyone reading this who has never prayed the prayer of faith will do so today. This will be the beginning of your life with Christ and your preparation to meet your Maker. You may express this in your own words or here's a common prayer that expresses repentance to God and faith in His provision of salvation. I urge you to pray this prayer from your heart today.
"Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner and desire to turn to You in repentance. Forgive me of my sins. I believe that You came to this earth and died on the cross as a substitute for me. I place my faith in You and what You have done for me. I receive You into my life and choose this day to follow You. Thank You for hearing my prayer."
* Of course some tragedies are a result of specific human sin (i.e. a drunk-driving accident).
Luke 13:1-5 - The entire context of today's passage.
An online report concerning the Virginia manure pit accident referenced above.
Recommended reading: Here is one of the most insightful books I have ever read on the topic of God's control and the mysteries of His providence.
The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good? By R.C. Sproul
In a world steeped in anguish and evil, how can God be in control? Do all things really work for good? With head-on honesty and biblical insight, Sproul examines the difficult doctrine of divine providence. Discover how your Lord lovingly guides the events of your life without creating human wickedness or destroying human freedom.
Today's suggested music: We would like to share audio links to two different songs both titled "God Is In Control" MP3 #1 MP3 #2
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
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