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In a Fallen World

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The Edwin Hawkins Singers "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say"

Sometimes we ask, "If God is love and all powerful, why do horrible things happen and to people we judge as good?" I have found in my life when I am asking God a question and he doesn't seem to be answering, the problem is that I am not asking the right question. An example of a wrong question or a question that can't be answered is, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" If you say no, the next question will have to do with why you haven't stopped. If you say yes, you may be admitting you have been beating her when you haven't. The question only works if you have been beating your wife and the other person knows you well enough to know it and cares enough to ask if you have stopped beating her. Perhaps a better question might be, "If God is love and all powerful, how did the world get to be in this mess?" That is actually a question that can be answered. God who always has been love wanted fellowship with beings complex like he is but he wanted those beings to have free will so they could choose to have fellowship with him (or not). He made us, humans, and everything was good. He gave us free will and just one law; don't eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You can go to Genesis 3 to see how that turned out. God, in order to keep us from being freeze-framed in our disobedience forever (as Han Solo was frozen in Star Wars temporarily) set up a roadblock to prevent it: Genesis 3:24 "So [God] drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep and guard the way to the tree of life." (Amplified Bible) How was life outside the Garden of Eden? The first family had just two kids, Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel and God made Cain a wanderer with some protection from being killed himself. Maybe the Lord let Cain know, "Double don't even think about Eden!" So the first couple now had no kids in residence and birthed Seth.

The problem with the world is that it isn't as God made it or intended it to be. God is trying to redeem the world. Don't you hate it when someone says, "I tried to call you." Did you actually try or you just thought about it? So if God is trying to redeem the world, where's the hold up? If he's God, can't he just snap his fingers and redeem it? Back to square one. God wants to have fellowship with beings that have free will and can choose to be with him and do what he asks (or not). He chooses to redeem the world through us. He chose an average guy (Abraham) who had a bunch of problems but he did get what God wanted and got faith right. (Genesis 15:6). Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. He told him to leave his relatives but he brought Lot (his nephew) with him. So it has been on and on throughout history. Isaiah says, "All we like sheep have gone astray." (Isaiah 53:6) Some more astray than others we think. When some people in history try to be define theologically what the problem is, people get upset and call them depressing. For instance, John Calvin wrote about the "total depravity of man." We might think of him as a spoilsport except that Isaiah also said, "All our righteousness is as filthy rags to the Lord." (Isaiah 64:6) Maybe Calvin was closer to what the Bible records than we want to admit.

We think of ourselves as good people because we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions. When we see others living in a way we judge to be bad, we distance ourselves from them in thought and deed, imagining we do better. We totally miss God's point that we all have been kicked out of the Garden. We are not getting back in except under his terms. His terms are our wrongdoing, even the mild wrongdoing we imagine we are guilty of, must be paid for, unfortunately, with our death. Now is the time to cheer up because, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) So he sends evangelists out to tell the Good News that all our wrongdoing has been paid for and Jesus' substitute payment is ours for the asking. So ask. Even if we do ask and enjoy a new life in Christ, we do not live perfectly and others without Christ aren't living perfectly. So we have a fallen world meaning we ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23) the wonderful life in the Garden. It is not right to judge anyone including God by our own wrongdoings. If I kill, do I blame my father? Didn't I choose that? Did Cain blame Adam for Cain killing Abel? Adam didn't know about it for a while. So is it right to blame God who is our Father, he who made us, for the evil we do? We should not because that blame is misplaced. There is all kind of wrong done in this world. When it happens to you, you may be shocked or cynical. It has been said that the mills of God grind exceedingly slow but exceedingly fine. This means he will take each one to task at some point and no one will get away with anything, but in his time. I used to think I would have to wait for Judgment Day for some wrongs to be made right. But I have carefully watched and many wrongs are righted and we either don't perceive it or he doesn't let us ever know. I have discovered we are all on a short leash, a far shorter leash than we ever imagined. I try and keep my life tidy. I ask someone if I have offended them if things seem different. I apologize and ask their forgiveness. A pastor once said, "It's better to take yourself to the woodshed than to have God take you to the woodshed."

Many broken people have "come to Jesus." Some are so violated that it seems even Jesus can't do anything. Offering hope to a sad spirit is like chewing with broken teeth. Yet Jesus is the one who can sensitively pick up the pieces. His job description is in Isaiah 61. He can take your ashes and return to you beauty. He can set the captive free. It really bothers me when I see a friend being mistreated. I almost take it harder than if it happened to me. I have to remember to turn it over to the Lord. "Vengeance is mine says the Lord, and I will do it." (Romans 12:19) You can prevent God from taking vengeance by taking it in part or whole yourself. If you want a good and happy life, let God take his promised vengeance. God knows how to do it far better than you do and he can do a thorough job. Also, we are extremely grateful when God is slow to anger with us. Why can't we let God be slow to anger with others? After God is slow to anger, at the right time, he can take his devastating vengeance. It is not for nothing the martyred saints in the Book of Revelation ask God, how long until you avenge our deaths? (Revelation 6:10) You can talk to God all you want and pour out your heart. He gave up his Son to a cruel death on the Cross for all of us and each individual. Talk about pain. What King or President have you seen give up his son to die for you? None! The great mitigator of all the trouble we have caused on earth, the one who can hear and answer prayer, should be honored and thanked and prayed to rather than blamed. It might be good to read Proverbs as some nuggets of Solomon's wisdom given by God are in it to help you and me along in life. You might do well to say, "I am crushed, Lord, but I am taking a rain check on blaming you which is the best I can do at the moment. Can you please do something, I don't even know what, to help clear this/me up?" Take off your watch and take a deep breath and let go and let God. If you can't do that and want to scream in anger at God, many will caution you not to do this, but God already knows how you feel and can take your honesty. My rule of thumb is if you are really talking to God, go for it. You may be surprised at how he answers. In the movie Bruce Almighty, Bruce asked God for a sign. Suddenly, a truck full of signs cut in front of him. All Bruce could see was a truck that cut him off. He didn't relate the truck full of signs as relating to his prayer for a sign. He only began to wonder when his cell phone was run over and in pieces when it God continued to beep him with a message. Learn to say, "This is terrible, but God is love and it's not over yet." Joyce Meyer just said on TV, "I am going to say things are going to happen just as the Lord said." This even if she doesn't know how it will happen or see any evidence that it will happen. This is the faith that God said made Abraham righteous in his eyes.

My favorite rendition of "I Heard the Voice of Jesus say" is the Bill Gaither CD (with clickable audio clips) which currently you must purchase. For a little more you can get the DVD. This is not to be confused with the rendition by the Bill Gaither Vocal Band which is of lower quality and doesn't do it for me. You can listen to it over and over if it helps you.

There is another melody for this song and many wonderful renditions on YouTube. I chose a few for your enjoyment.

A man sings with guitar and flute (video clips)
A man sings showing how to play it on guitar
A man plays on guitar with photos and words
A man plays the guitar with photos that match the clear wording
A woman sings with words scrolling and photos of ocean and cliffs
A woman sings with guitar background

Please forgive God if there's no other way you can let your pain drop. He knows what you mean! That's what I had to do!

The Edwin Hawkins Singers "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say"

I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
Horatio Bonar, 1846

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto me and rest;
lay down, thou weary one, lay down
thy head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
so weary, worn, and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
and he has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Behold, I freely give
the living water; thirsty one,
stoop down and drink, and live."
I came to Jesus, and I drank
of that life-giving stream;
my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
and now I live in him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am this dark world's light;
look unto me, thy morn shall rise,
and all thy day be bright."
I looked to Jesus, and I found
in him my Star, my Sun;
and in that light of life I'll walk
till traveling days are done.

Last updated: 01/15/2015