Photo by Ev.

Sometimes, my devotions send me in the wrong direction.  If you read the Daily Bread devotional booklet, you might remember the one entitled “Jesus in Disguise” by James Banks.  (August 13, 2019). Mr. Banks told the story of his son participating in a “homeless simulation.”  He basically camped out on the city streets for a couple to days to help identify with homeless people. That sounds very noble, but I wasn’t so convinced and so my mind wandered.  The point of the devotional was to be like Jesus and care for people.  That I agree with, but the real issue we have is why are people homeless and does camping out with them really help you identify the problem? 

So I go to the word to see what does the Bible have to say about this subject?  Here are a couple of Biblical references to see God’s mind on this issue.

Deuteronomy 15:7, If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother.

Psalm 41:1, Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

And there are many others text we could reference here.  God expects His people to be compassionate.  He expects us to help those who due to circumstances beyond their control need a hand up.  God also says…

2 Thessalonians 3:10, For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

Proverbs 6:6, Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise.

God expects those who can take care of themselves to do so and to have the wisdom to plan for the future.

God isn’t sending us mixed messages here.  He expects people to work hard and not depend on others for their existence.  He also expects us to help those who are helpless.  We see both sides expressed to us in the book of Galatians. 

Galatians 6:2, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:4-5, But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.

It seems to me that the issue within modern Christianity is that we are not addressing the right problem. In Jesus day, people were poor or even homeless because of circumstances beyond their control.  A widow in the ancient cultures may well lose all. An orphan had no one to care for him and thus become a beggar.  Drought and famine could take the prosperous farmer to a state of homelessness, as could injury or disease. It seems to me that we need to realize that the poor and the homeless of Jesus’ day wasn’t exactly the same as in our modern culture.  Our problem is drugs and alcohol from which homelessness is a result. The vast majority of the homeless in our culture are homeless because of drugs. Yes, there are some who become homeless because of adverse circumstances not of their own doing, but that is a very, very small number.  If you watched the documentary “Seattle is Dying,” you can’t miss the point.  Drugs are the problem.  It seems to me as long as we continue to identify homelessness as the problem we are missing the real problem and so come up with the wrong solution.  You will not solve the homeless problem in America until you first deal with the drug issue; and you won’t solve the drug problem until you deal with the heart problem. 

So when someone “pretends” to be homeless in order to better identify with the homeless, I tend to be skeptical.  Until you know the power of the drugs, the overwhelming urge to stay high, and the bodies longing for the next fix, you aren’t really identifying with the homeless.  You may realize some of their hardship, but you really can’t identify.  If I was homeless and someone was out there pretending to be homeless, I’d resent it.  I’d feel like it was demeaning, besides the fact that it’s basically a lie!  I don’t want to question this young man’s heart or his motives.  I’m sure they were pure, but I feel they were misplaced. 

So what can we do?  Well, we can follow the Biblical mandate.  Take care of our own lives first so we can care for others.  Don’t covet and don’t horde.  Take care of your family, don’t expect the government or the church to do so.  Take care of those in the body that may need help if you can.  Take care of your neighbor. Help the helpless.  Realize that if we are talking drugs, alcohol or mental illness you can’t fix this.  Throwing money, food, clothing or even housing at the problem won’t fix this.  In fact, it may make it worse.  In these cases we have to deal with the core heart issues or mental issues that are beyond physical Band-Aids. 

Why the Violence?

Christopher Lemercier photo.

A few days ago, America was rocked by yet another mass shooting.  Everyone is asking why, what has happened to America?  In my opinion, we are missing the obvious answer. God’s Word is clear why this happens.  Romans Chapter One gives us a clear picture.

Because of the nature of man, vs.18

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Ungodliness’ is living like there is no God.  It’s simply doing our own thing and telling God to take a hike.  It’s loving our sin more than reverencing God.  God hates sin!  God judges sin.  We sin because it’s our nature, but it’s also our choice. In Genesis Chapter Four, we see that Cain chose to murder his brother because his brother displeased him. He lived and acted like there was no God. He chose to murder his brother.  When we yield to the fallen nature, the result often is violence.  We see it in the smallest child to the grown man who abuses his wife.  We are sinful by nature and by choice.  When we accommodate that nature, violence often happens. 

Violence can also happen in cultures that suppress the truth. Genesis 6:11-12, The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

Back in Romans 1:18, the end of this verse is very interesting.  “Suppress” here is the word “ka-tekh-o” meaning to “hold down.”  Isn’t that exactly what we do as a nation?  We ignore God’s word, we reject it, we oppose it!  There are consequences for doing so. When an entire culture chooses to live like there is no God, the culture will suffer, which leads us to our next point. 

Because of deterioration in the culture, vs.19-25

Vs. 19-20, Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

God says, all of mankind is without excuse.  No one can say “I had no idea God existed.” Here is why that is true.

(1) Within every person is a God awareness, the “moral code” written on our hearts.

(2) The creation proves the existence of God, so there is no excuse for not acknowledging God as the supreme authority.  The design of the creation proves beyond a doubt there is a creator who must by definition be God.  The God of creation has reached out to us through His Word, His Spirit and by His Son. 

The text tells us “They knew God.” Everyone who got off the ancient ark, knew God, their descendants knew God.  But along the way, the truth of God was rejected for a lie.  What people tend to do is “change the glory of God” by corrupting the truth of God,  putting the focus on the creation rather than acknowledging the creator.  The theory of evolution is the highest form of this.  It is a belief system! Evolution is the worship of the creation rather then the Creator.  It is the religion of atheism.  This is where the problem in America lies.  We can trace all the ills of our culture back to embracing the origin of our beginning to evolution! 

Romans 3:10-18 quotes various texts in Psalms and Isaiah.

As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;

There is none who understands;

There is none who seeks after God.

They have all turned aside;

They have together become unprofitable;

There is none who does good, no, not one.”

“Their throat is an open tomb;

With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;

“The poison of asps is under their lips”;

“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

Destruction and misery are in their ways;

And the way of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

No fear of God!  This is exactly what embracing the theory of evolution has produced! 

When you lose your fear of God, you devalue human life.  The result is violence!

From this came the sexual revolution of the 60s whose mantra was “God is dead.”

From that came abortion as a method of birth control, which is the modern day equitant of offering our children to Molech.

From this also came extreme Environmentalism, literally making the creation god.  This produces a culture with no moral compass and no respect for human life.

The result is HOPELESSNESS!  With the hopelessness, some have been ostracized.  Young men who have no hope and see no future despair and a certain element become violent.

I believe there is also a dark spiritual element as well. 

Ephesians 6:12-13, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

It is incumbent upon us to be light to this lost world. Don’t get distracted by the politics!  The real issue is morality.  So we must stand for truth! Kneel before God and Stand against sin. Stand up for what is right!

Considering all we learn from the Word of God and observe in our culture, we should not be surprised at evil outbursts in our culture. This lead sus to our next point.

Because we reap what we sow, vs.26-28

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

We see here the results of a culture the does not fear God.  Sexual preversion is one of the results of a culture that has lost its way, and no longer fears God.  So God gives them there way:  Uncleanness, vile passions, a debased mind. That mind rules over them.  It then becomes the norm, and so does violence. 

Vs. 29-32.  Hits the nail on the head. 

Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

This is exactly what we have become. But please realize this is not unusual.  The Church was born under Roman rule, a very similar moral culture to the one we live in.  God has ordained for us, the people of God to shine as light to a hopeless culture. 

Romans 1:16-17!  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Don’t allow the darkness to overwhelm you, walk in light! 

Isaiah 60:1-2, Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.

What can we do?

(1) Pray! The great Welch Revival of 1904 began with prayer!

(2) We can act. Speak out about the underlying moral issues that cause these terrible acts.

(3) We must evangelize!  The only hope for our culture is to turn back to God! 

(4) Turn your eyes on Jesus!