Friday, December 18, 2009

Free at Last, Thank God Almighty, Pt. 1

After 35 years, James Bain has been set free, thanks to DNA testing which exonerated him of crime he did not commit.

Whne asked if he was bitter, he said [and I quote]:

"No, I'm not angry," he said. "Because I've got God."

He's going home. He had always said he was innocent, and the DNA test proved it.

That is so awesome - because the man inside was saved by God's love, even though the world and all its devices said he was guilty.

Last night I joined several volunteers to spend three hours giving Christmas gifts, singing Christmas songs and sharing the message of the Christmas story with a few hundred inmates at DuPage County Jail.

I was given a Bible and made the leader so I used the two-three minutes I was given to speak directly about all our need to have a savior - and the kindness and humility of God to provide one in Christ. I was able to point to Mary's amazing faith in trusting God: being pregnant BEFORE getting married was terrifically shameful in the 1st century; you would be publicly humiliated if not stoned to death for adultery. In any event your social future - your hope of being a wife and mother? - it's GONE, baby.

Joseph was a good man. He was going to divorce her quietly, discretely. He KNEW he wasn't the father, but he cared about Mary. He did love her.

An angel stopped him. The angel told him to not get all freaked out. God was at work. "What is born in her is of the Holy Spirit!"

Mary had NOT cheated on him. God had chosen her to be the mom of the world's messiah. And Joseph? Well, God chose HIM (by waiting until the two were betrothed before Mary was made pregnant) to be the foster dad of Jesus.

Mary was innocent. Joseph was obedient. Guess what that got them socially? Not too far.

Later in the Bible we hear of Jesus being referred to as 'the son of Mary' in Mark 6:1-6. Not 'the son of Joseph' folks - which is proper in their culture - the son of Mary, the woman - which meant they still remembered her untimely pregnancy.

Small communities have LOOOONG memories. ;)

So does God.

Not only did He have His only begotten son through her, He made sure Mary got back all she thought she would lose:
Joseph married her anyway - because he too listened to God.

She gave birth to the Savior of the World - the dream of many Jewish women - and furthermore two of her other sons became godly leaders in the early church - James and Jude.

And boy, did she have KIDS!

[Sorry devout Catholic brothers: Mary was not a perpetual virgin. God was honoring her faith in Him. He REALLY 'opened her womb'!] See the following:

Mark 6:1-6
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

"Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.

Well, people are pretty easily offended when you speak God's words and got a fairly humble background.

But that's Jesus problem.

Ours is whether or not we will believe the testimony we've been given or we'll join the unbelieving crowd.

I know I have been blessed again and again by placing my faith in God, not men.

If we have faith in God, we must hold it tightly. It IS a gift, indeed. (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9)

And as James Bain and Mary and Joseph found out, no matter what everyone else says, you know the truth that you trusted God.

"..and the truth shall set you free!"


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