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TITLE: A Symphony of Miracles Chapter 31 Pride leads to Excuses
By Richard McCaw

Target audience: High School, College, University students or anyone battling with the “Existence of God” or “Evolution.” Positive statements are fine, but negative statements to improve the text are more than welcome. I improve by constructive criticism. This is not a biography, although biographic illustrations are interwoven to flavor the text.
Chapter 31

Pride leads to Excuses
When Samuel heard the bleating of sheep and tried to correct King Saul by rebuking him for failing to carry out the Lord’s instructions, Saul began to make excuses by blaming the people, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.”  Then he tried to defend himself, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.” For a second time he kept passing off the blame, “The people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal!”
His unwillingness to receive correction sprung out of his pride and rebellious spirit.
When Naaman, captain of the king of Syria’s army, who was a leper, sought out Elisha, the prophet, he arrived with great pomp and circumstance with horses and chariot and stood at the prophet’s door. Elisha did not even come out to greet him, but sent a messenger out to tell him, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.”
But Naaman became furious, and went away complaining, “Indeed, I said to myself, He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy!”
Naaman immediately slipped into defense mode because of his great pride, and refused to obey the word of the Lord through the prophet. “Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So, he turned and went away in a rage.
Thank God for the witness of his humble servants! For his servants came near and spoke to him, and pleaded gently with him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” They advised him to surrender his pride and obey the word of the Lord. So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Not many people can receive correction from the Word of God humbly. Jeremiah, the prophet, almost lost his life preaching about sin, righteousness and coming judgment that was already speeding towards Jerusalem. Here was a patriotic man of God, whose message was not borne with sweet, positive words. While the false prophets were prophesying positive blessings upon Jerusalem, he was hated and labeled a prophet of doom and conspired against by his fellow citizens, including his own townsmen. Then he was beaten and put in the stocks. Nevertheless, he continued to proclaim God’s warning of terrible judgment about to fall upon a nation that wanted to go its own way. He was imprisoned several times, and at one time thrown into a stinking dungeon, where he sank down into mud. After forty years of ministry, he was stoned to death.
When John the Baptist rebuked King Herod for his adultery with his brother’s wife, he told him, “It is not lawful for you to have her!” Later, he was beheaded in prison. Sin hardens the conscience of many people so that they become savages, controlled by their own lusts, who will do anything to have their own way.
When Stephen, one of seven deacons in the early church, preached to unbelieving Jews, he spoke plainly of their sins. “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
Hearing these things, they were cut to the heart, and gnashed at him with their teeth. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord, cast him out of the city, and stoned him to death.
Solomon, to whom God gave much earthly wisdom, once wrote, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him.  But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God!”

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