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Sermon 10/1/06
  Decisions  - Numbers


 Audio Sermon


The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations” (Numbers 14:18)

Today’s Scripture is presented in various forms in the Old Testament, leading many to think that God will somehow harm innocent children because of what their parents have done; an idea that is offensive to us all. Most who love the Lord, choose to think about OTHER verses – not these. Many have cried out: “How could God allow this to happen to my child?” or “How could He allow this to happen to me?” It’s a great concern, and we should take a look at God in relation to what happens in this world. One of the great problems for all humanity is to come to grips with the CHARACTER of God. Once we decide that He is real and then begin to discover that He is indeed All-Powerful and All-Knowing; then our next concerns center around the problems in our lives. We reasonably ask: WHY are things the way they are? A partial answer is – humanity does it to itself.

Last week, we were in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the USA, where we visited the campuses of Focus on the Family and the Air Force Academy, and toured the beautiful “Garden of the Gods.” We traveled as far south as Blanca, not far from the New Mexico border and went north to Denver. We read the Colorado Springs “Gazette” each day and found an interesting article in that newspaper, entitled “Research Ties ADHD to Lead, Smoking.” The article reported on a study that connects “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” to cigarette smoking and/or childhood exposures to lead.” Amazing – If you and I smoked when our children were being formed in the womb, they may have ADHD as a result. Also, on the Internet you'll find that prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to many difficulties for unborn children, including mental retardation, seizure disorders, asthma, and more. The parent who has such a child, might wonder, “Why me? Why my child? And the truth is, we often don’t know. Your decisions and your actions may have been the best and STILL the problems occurred. Sometimes, like the Agent Orange herbicide used in Viet Nam, what happened in your grandparent’s lives may jump generations and attack your child. But remember: God loves that little one and He loves you. The other day, our friend Barbara Davenport, who has been paralyzed for many years, made this interesting statement: “Often these things happen in your life to see if you will go to God.

It should be noted that we make decisions in life and we tend to excuse what we do by thinking of certain actions as “victimless crimes.” We might think, “If it hurts anybody, it’s only me, and it’s my business anyway!” Actually, our smallest actions can have profound effects in the lives of others, often in sad ways we don’t expect. And the human tendency, when problems do arise, is to blame others, especially God, for what went wrong.

Last week, in Colorado Springs, we decided to take the “Cog Railway” train to the summit of Pike’s Peak. Now, I KNOW from the past that I don’t do well at high altitudes. One time, at 12,000 feet, I had a lot of difficulties and know very well that un-pressurized heights are not for me. Yet off we went, up from the relatively low 7,500 feet or so above sea level at Colorado Springs, to the 14,110 feet atop Pike’s Peak. I made a decision and we went up the winding tracks through the beautiful passes of the mountain in a slow-moving railroad car. Now, nothing really terrible occurred. I simply had difficulty breathing; I felt considerable pressure in the center of my chest; had a bad head and neck ache, and while there, experienced a profound uneasiness. But something COULD have happened, and I should have known better. The experience at 12,000 feet was an indication that my heart and lungs aren’t suited for heights like 14,110 feet. And if something did happen, it would not be just about me. I am called by God to be a husband to my wife, a father to my children, “grandpa” to my grandkids, and more. I am called to prepare these studies and sermons, not to mention praying for those who are in need. We’re to be friends to those we meet, and we all should be the best and the healthiest we can be, not just for ourselves, but also for others. We’re to serve and to help those who are around us, but God allows it to be OUR DECISION as to whether we respond to that call or not.

It’s amazing that many of us as parents have smoked, imbibed questionable substances, involved ourselves in dubious behavior, and seldom gave a thought that our decisions might result in difficulties for the children we did not yet have, and others yet future to us at the time. Governments thoughtlessly behave in a similar manner, dumping garbage into canyons and then allowing homes to be built on the hills of trash that were created by previous generations. We wage war on one another, using weaponry that can harm our children. The atomic bomb is an example. Another is the “Agent Orange” used in Viet Nam. It was intended as an herbicide to kill the vegetation that hid opposing forces. It was also a deadly substance that entered the drinking water and filled the air. It was taken into the bodies of soldiers and civilians alike, and it seeped through lungs and intestines into the very genetic structures of people on all sides of the conflict. Thousands died during the war, but millions continue to be damaged by Agent Orange at this time. Maladies like “spina bifida” afflict the CHILDREN of those who were or are in Viet Nam and surrounding countries - it is a concern that children will be damaged at least “to the third and the fourth generations” by war. The decisions of a few can cause problems for many.

The bullets and artillery shells used in “modern” combat are jacketed with “spent uranium,” which offers low level radiation “to the third and the fourth generations” of those who are or have been in places where wars have occurred. Children are scarred by war, and they are also VERY scarred by “invisible” wounds inflicted by the “wars” of their parents. World War III is occurring right this minute in many homes and marriages, as children, born and yet to be born, are injured by the three “A’s” of adultery, abuse, and alcoholism.

What should we do? Well, for one thing, let's quit blaming God for what goes wrong in our lives. And it’s not always true that you should blame yourself or other people. Sometimes your situation was caused by something you don’t know about that happened three generations ago. Don’t waste your time with anger. “The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression” and He sent Jesus Christ into this world, so that we might be changed into people who begin to forgive.

Father, we pray for this world, for we are at war in our hearts and it is damaging to our children and grandchildren. Let our decisions be Yours instead of merely our own. Please forgive us; heal our hearts and heal our little ones. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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