…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

A different Christmas .. injustice, loss, grief, .. where is God?

In the light of what  happened this week,
somehow Christmas this year is different ….
like to share some thoughts …

sydney flowers

A Shared Heart

friends, strangers gather,
tears stream into an endless sea of blooms,
…. a massacre,
innocent blooms crushed in their prime

peshawar candle
friends, strangers huddle,

light a candle, under the shadows,
…. a massacre,
far away … our home far away,
innocent children snuffed out in their youth

beyond the last minute shopping rush,
the sales, the glitter, the stuff,
the feast, the drinks, the good cheer

an unplanned, abrupt interrupt,
…. we pause,
…. suddenly, … all else dims,
…. a hush

our heart aches,

our heart hurt,
our heart silently tears
for unknown strangers,
far and near 

we breathe our humanity,
feel our mortality,
see our naked fragility,


a shared grief,
a shared sorrow,
seeking comfort,
seeking peace,
seeking hope

vulnerable, together

a shared grief,
a shared sorrow
transcending culture, color, creed

icy-cold differences spontanously melt,
unknown strangers reach out, meet,

yet, resilent together

silently we cry with the hurting,
gently we hold the abandoned, alone,
quietly we whisper a prayer,
of comfort, peace and hope
praying for others

… out of this dark, sinister hour,
… a relentless flood of compassion, prayer,
sharing, caring, 
kindling warm relief

resilent, resolute

Indeed, light … will shine again,
darkness … will dim,
in our city
                               — bro Lim 12/2014

In the light of what happened this week,
somehow Christmas this year is different

quiet reflection
heartfelt empathy
compassion for total strangers,
sharing their loss, their grief,
overflowing into …. more prayer,

more prayer than previous Christmases,
realizing that we share more in common
beyond  color, culture & creed.

Indeed, there is hope.

During the first Christmas,
there is a dark and deeply sad, disturbing part we seldom share.
But its there ….. an injustice … a frightening massacre

Matthew 2:16-18 (NIV)
16 Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. 17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “A cry was heard in Ramah—

    weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,

    refusing to be comforted,
    for they are dead.”

boys in and around Bethlehem, two years old and under

Its really hard for us to grasp how …
when evil rears its ugly head,
God had forseen it,     (fulfilled prophecy by Jeremiah)
God had allowed it.

In the midst of the wonderful Christmas story, … we’re suddenly brought back to earth,
… for God so love the world,
that He sent His Son … into an unjust, cruel, sinful world,
as a helpless little baby.

to one day,
be falsely accused, .. tried by an unjust court, and
die for the worst of us, … to reconcile us to God,
in God’s mercy and grace.

Yes, … God does fully understand the world we live in.

John 10:10 (NIV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Matthew 8:44 (NIV)
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.
He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

in God’s time, in His way, in His time,
… His justice prevailed,

Matthew 2:19,20
When Herod died,
an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. 20 “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.”

God does feel how we feel .. our sense of loss & grief
… the injustice of it all,
as He witnessed His own Son,
… the perfect expression of His love,
… His ultimate gift for man, .. for you and me,
He was rejected, mocked, and crucified on the cross,

the righteous for the unrighteous,
to justify the unjust
through injustice.

When we cry …. He weeps with us, griefs with us,John1135John 11:33-36 (NIV)
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Luke 7:11-13 (NIV)
11 Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her.
13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion.
“Don’t cry!” he said.

Jesus wept, his heart overflowed with compassion.

And, Jesus himself also experienced first hand the lost of a loved one to an unjust, cruel, wicked massacre, … the beheading of his cousin, John the Baptist … prompted by impulse, arrogance, pride

Matthew 4:12, 14:6-14 (NIV)
4:12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.

14:6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.
Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.

14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

when Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately
…  He grieved for John the Baptist.

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

His heart went out to all in need.

Each and every tear we cry is stored in His bottle …

Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

And, there will come a day, when He will wipe every tear from our eyes

Revelations 21:3-5 (NIV)
… They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

In the meantime, mysteriously … something is happening within us and to us,
… as the material gifts of Christmas lose their glitter,
… as we pause … in the midst of the Christmas rush,
… as we grasp deeper within for things that truly matter.
things that last, … things that truly fulfill

we breathe our humanity,
feel our mortality,
see our naked fragility,
…. and we reach out to touch the One
who is beyond eternity,
beyond death’s door,
Immanuel, God with us,

our hope, our resurrection.

Let’s each personally touch God’s tangible Christmas gift
bringing everlasting hope, peace and comfort to our hearts, and those around us,
this Christmas season.

2 Corinthians 1:3,4 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

A fortnight ago, was blessed to read in the church bulletin,
“Pray for people of all (or no ) religious faith who are suffering persecution.”

but … what about the perpetrators ?

…. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more  
Romans 5:20 (NKJV)

When Jesus was born, King Herod .. heard about Jesus through the wise men, and religious leaders who confirmed the place of his birth.

For Herod the tetrach, … he heard about the God who loved him through John the Baptist.
Interestingly, in Mark’s gospel, Mark noted that Herod the tetrach enjoyed listening to John.

Mark 6:20
for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.

God in his love, was actively reaching out to both these men.

Lets examine another unjust killing in Acts 7 to Acts 9 — Stephen

Like Stephen, … God sents his followers
into the world to declare His glory in the midst of an unjust world.

 ………. firstly, God in all His fullness is present  ……….

Acts 7:55,56
55 But being
full of the Holy Spirit,
Stephen gazed intently into heaven and saw

the glory of God,
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;

56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

being full of the Holy Spirit ..  saw the glory of God .. Jesus standing at the right hand of God

 ………. in the unjust, cruel massacre ……….

Acts 7:57-60, Acts 8:1-3 (NASB)
57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. 58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 They went on stoning Stephen

as he called on the Lord
and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”

a prayer, a cry

6Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice,
Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.

forgiveness, … grace, … like his savior, Jesus on the cross.

Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.

Luke notes Saul’s presence at the stoning, … who later the became the apostle Paul.

………. the grief, the persecution, the pain ……….

And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him.

But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house,
and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.

………. the unintended impact, fruitfulness ……….

Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.

………. God’s grace & mercy upon the persecutor  ……….

Acts 9:1-6 (NASB)
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard

a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”

And He said, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,
but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

………. God’s call ……….

Acts 9:13-16 (NASB)
13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

………. from persecutor, .. to fearless proclaimer of Jesus ……….

Acts 9:19-22 (NASB)
Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,

20 and immediately
he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

………. The outcome/result ……….

Acts 9:31 (NASB)
31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria
enjoyed peace
being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord
and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

Later Paul wrote:

1 Timothy 1:12-17 (NIV)
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.
13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man,
I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—
of whom I am the worst.

1But for that very reason I was shown mercy
so that in me,

the worst of sinners,
Christ Jesus might display his immense patience
as an example

for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

In Jesus words,

Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you,
love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the 

46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

and consistent with what he said earlier in the sermon on the mount,

Matthew 5:9(NIV)
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.

love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

sons of God, children of your Father in heaven

Hebrews 2:17,18 (NIV)
17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted,
he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.15 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.

In times like these ….
let’s pray that … God’s grace would abound in our hearts,
comfort our hearts,
so that we can pray like Stephen with a forgiving heart,
that He continue to touch hearts
& turn Sauls into Pauls,

…. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more  
Romans 5:20 (NKJV)

On a final note … God the Father grieved as He witnessed His son, Jesus rejected, unjustly tortured and murdered by his creation when wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

24 But God raised him from the dead  (Acts 2:23,24 NIV)

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14,18 NASB)

Further reading:

Does God understands us? (click here)

Forgiving | Daily Rice

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
December 19, 2014

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License



This entry was posted on December 19, 2014 by in Daily Rice and tagged , .

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