Fear refocuses itself in our world at an alarming frequency. This week, world fear is focused in Kabul, Afghanistan where Taliban terrorists have violently taken over the country. I’m praying for those in imminent danger there. I can watch the news and I can watch my own life and realize that the very most painful carnage always comes as a result of sin. I’m so thankful, in times like these, that my God is a God of the events that have huge worldwide implications (like the Taliban takeover), but He is also the God that knows and works through the individual hurts of His people. While he knows about every piercing of flesh in Kabul, he also knows about every pierced heart in your family and mine. And He cares. I love passages about the least of these. I love that He said that He is aware of the little and “unimportant” ones who believe in Him. In fact he said to the one who would harm those little ones that it would be better for a millstone to be hung around his neck and he be cast into the sea. I love that he said in Matthew 18 that if just one of a hundred sheep had gone astray, He would go and search for that little lamb and rejoice over Him more than over the ninety-nine sheep still grazing under the care of shepherds on the mountain. I’m so thankful He is the God of the little ones and of the one percent, because I am the little one in need. I am the .01!
It is interesting that sandwiched in between the words of Jesus about taking care that we not offend a little one in Matthew 18, Jesus strongly stated that whatever it is that is doing the offending of our souls and the souls of the “little ones” should be severed and cast from us in order to save our souls from hell. Jesus actually says here that the “suffering,” if required, of amputating a limb or losing an eye for the sake of doing right is better than the eternal carnage of sin. Take a moment to contextualize:
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Do you see the sandwich? God (Jesus) is saying here that whatever it is, whatever the cost, whatever the personal pain, it is always worth it to rid ourselves of sin rather than to allow sin to hurt others. Like all of you, I’m very weary of the carnage always left in the path of sin. (I am always most hurt when the sin is my own.) It doesn’t take a Kabul-sized invasion of sin for real pain to occur because of sin. It happens all the time in families and churches in which those who are precious to God (little ones who believe in Him) are hurt by sin in the lives of others. Selfish children do it to godly parents. Selfish parents do it to innocent children. Spouses do it to hurting spouses. Brother and sisters do it to brothers and sisters. I learned many years ago that the hurt and damage of sin is the worst pain of this lifetime. It has held true throughout the years. Nothing compares.
The Digging Deep reveal will be Monday (8/23) at 2 pm. It will be happening from the PTP Spark at West Huntsville church of Christ. I hope you can be there or watch live: https://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women While I’ll wait to reveal the topic, let me say this: If you know someone who is hurting, I hope you can invite her to study along this year. There are large doses of lasting comfort in the passages we will explore together this year. Many of you have discussed with me some pretty large spiritual lesions in your life to which you could apply some spiritual comfort. He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3,4…and I love that passage that has the word “comfort” in it five times!). I hope you can join us for this, my favorite so far (but I always say that) year-long study. This is real Bible study. It is not superficial. It’s deep and it is full of comfort. It is, indeed, personal Bible study!
If you completed the study of The Ten (every single lesson, every single question, every single Bible reading, every single Practically Speaking and every single podcast (Dig-a-bit OR video podcast) send me an email with your name and mailing address at Byhcontest@gmail.com. I want to acknowledge you at the reveal. I cannot acknowledge those who send me other forms of communication, so please send to this email address. I’m working on a little surprise to send to you all. But it may be a few days after SPARK before I have them done. I’m a little overwhelmed this year! I love all of your hearts. You encourage and comfort me!
Also, the other two DD lessons from Spark will be live-streamed from the same spot. So the three of them are next Monday at 9 and 2 and next Tuesday at 9. I hope you are there and invite others. None of these lessons are great for us because they are coming from me, because they are not. The Holy Spirit just speaks with power and comfort. (That’s why He is called the Comforter in the KJV and ASV and others [Jn 15]. It’s an apt rendering of parakletos.)
Finally the Sunday and evening lessons from SPARK will be live-streamed from our regular location: www.westhuntsville.org. That’s seven amazing lessons from SPARK directly to your home (ten if you add the daytime DD lessons). I hope you will be there with us. If I can help you follow the Lord in any way, I would love that. We won’t ever do it perfectly, but we can walk in the light together and the blood will just keep on cleansing us (1 Jn 1:7).