His Grace is Sufficient

Until last week, I had never had any type of surgery; nor had I ever spent the night in the hospital.  For that matter, I simply never went to the doctor.  However, I had a couple of hernias, one older (umbilical) and one fairly recent (inguinal).  I had been asking God to heal them supernaturally.  I was touched by God and relieved of the pain associated with them, but the protrusions were still there.  I enjoy working out and lifting weights and didn’t want to give that up, so I decided to get the repairs done.  God answered prayer just to get the insurance coverage.  It was denied at first as pre-existing, but I prayed and called them; after being placed on hold for a long time, the rep came back and said that it showed in the computer that an exception had been granted.

I had the surgery on the 16th; it was outpatient.  Everything went well.  I went home that night and couldn’t urinate.  This continued into the next day and I finally let Debbie take me to the ER on Thursday night.  They placed a catheter and kept me until the following night.  I was sent home with the catheter with instructions to go to the doctor’s office on Monday to have it removed.  It was taken out but the urination problem wasn’t resolved.  Ultimately, I was back at the ER at 2 in the morning.  Another catheter.  I was very discouraged.  Downtrodden.  My wife told me that I was letting this defeat me and she was right.  I broke away from the “poor me” mentality.  I am still in the middle of the circumstance, but I have God’s peace.  I also have faith that God is manifesting the healing in my body that I need.  But I have also, upon reflection, came to some conclusions, indeed, revelations.

    • We serve a God of compassion.  He cares about every single thing in our lives.  While there may be a billion people who have suffered more than me, His love and compassion don’t filter through a ranking system.  Jesus didn’t say to the man with the withered hand, “This is nothing… I healed a man who couldn’t walk yesterday.” His compassion for the man as an individual flowed out of him and healed the man.  Our needs and hurts matter to God.  While many others, even in our small church, have suffered much more physically, it was still the most painful thing I have experienced.  I am thankful for His great love for me.
    • Having the deepened revelation of God’s compassion, I want to translate it into my ministry to others.  Translation is a huge key.  My wife talks about being a vet and also being a dog owner.  Last year, she lost a very special dog that had got into her heart.  She said that after that, she identified more with people who were brokenhearted after losing their pet.  That’s translation – translating your own experience into how you respond to others who are hurting.  But translation is a much greater gift than that.  God wants us to be able to translate the pain and hurt of a different experience into ministry to others, no matter what they are going through.  In other words, what you felt during the death of a loved one can be used when ministering to someone with marital problems. The same Healer who touched you wants to flow through you to help heal the other person.

It is not that I didn’t “know” these things before, but it must go beyond just knowing.  I know from the Holy Spirit that God has given me a greater connection with those in pain.  I want the healing compassion of our Father to flow through me into the lives of others.  When I minister to someone, I want that person to feel that what they are going through has Abba’s undivided attention, which, of course, it does.

I will be past the physical aspects of this trial soon, thanks to Jehovah-Rapha, but I am thankful that God was able to speak into my life and deepen my love for Him and others. Oh, and I never received this deeper revelation of God’s compassion until I stopped feeling sorry for myself, so stop letting the enemy manipulate you and trust in the Lord.

Psalm 42:5

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

The Cross: Vindication of the Righteousness of God

Vindication of the Righteousness of God

Most sermons preached on the Cross focus on the substitutionary work of Christ; that is to say, He took our place and paid the price for our sin that we may be forgiven. However, there is another aspect of the Cross that is very important for our understanding of the finished work of the Cross in this great blood covenant.  The centerpiece of this other aspect is found in Romans chapter three.

Romans 3:

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

The Law was given to condemn the world of sin (3:19).  Under the Old Covenant, there was a system of animal sacrifices for the nation of Israel.  The blood of innocent animals was used as a type of the blood of Jesus, until the perfect Lamb of God – Jesus – came.  Hebrews 10:4 says that it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.

Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of animal sacrifice and placed it on the mercy seat covering the Ark of the Covenant.  This was to provide atonement for sins of Israel for one year.  However, the word atonement simply means “to cover.”  Their sins were never removed, only covered or bypassed due to the forbearance of God.

Romans chapter 3, our text, speaks of the forbearance of God in relation to sins that are past.  Verse 25 says, “To declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” The word for “remission” here in the Greek (paresis) simply means “passing over, neglecting, disregarding.” In other words, God neglected the sin of His people in that He did not judge their sin.  He instead allowed for the blood of bulls and of goats, which could not take away sin, to atone for sin.  It is worth mentioning that this is the only time that this Greek word (paresis) appears in the Bible.  This usage is not to be confused with the word translated “remission” elsewhere in the New Testament (aphesis).  The word aphesis means to “release from bondage” and is used 17 times in the New Testament, including Matthew 26:28 when Jesus said, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for the remission (aphesis) of sins.”

      • Romans 3:25, Remission (paresis) = passing over, neglecting, disregarding
      • Matthew 26:28, Remission (aphesis) = release from bondage

For this reason, because God had passed over sin, God needed to “declare His righteousness” (v. 26).  A holy and righteous Judge had allowed sin to go unpunished based on the promissory note of Christ’s work on the Cross – based on the blood that would be spilled.

The word forbearance in verse 25 is the Greek word anocha and means “self-restraint, tolerance.”  God had tolerated the sins of His people, allowing for the animal sacrifices under the Mosaic Law to cover over the sins of Israel.  In his preaching, the Apostle Paul actually said that during that time period that God had “winked at sin,” meaning He had excused it for the time-being (Acts 17:30).  But now, in the fullness of times, God sent forth His Son to declare His righteousness.

God, the Righteous Judge, had allowed sin to “pile up,” if you will.  But now through the offering of His Son, true justification was provided to all who believe in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross.  As verse 26 points out, this is the only way that God could be just (holy and righteous) AND the justifier of sinful men.  It can only happen through the blood of Jesus.  To be justified means to be rendered righteous in the eyes of God.

Oh what a price that was paid to secure our redemption and justification! Jesus, in His Own body, bore the wrath of God against sin – all sin, past, present and future – on the Cross.  In Matthew 27, Jesus cried out on the Cross in this state of abandonment:

Matthew 27:

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

In order for Jesus to pay the full penalty for the sin of all mankind, the Father had to pour out His judgment on the Cross and forsake His only Son, who was in the bosom of the Father for al eternity past.  Oh what love did Jesus display as He hung on that Cross in our place.

The price has been pain in full!  The blood of Jesus has ransomed us from the prison house of sin! We don’t have to bear the judgment of God for our sin when we come to the Cross and place our faith in Jesus.

The righteousness and holiness of God had been vindicated on the Cross.  We are now made to be the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus through the shedding of His blood.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

God’s Love At Work…

Yesterday before church a homeless man was wandering by the church. My wife saw him and offered him some coffee and a donut.  He gladly accepted. She came and got me and I went out and talked to him about Jesus.  I encouraged him to come into the service which was starting in 10 minutes.  He agreed to.  Near the end of worship, I went up and grabbed the mic and exhorted for a couple minutes about he who has been forgiven much loves much. We then did the last song again and worshiped for about 5 more minutes.  The Spirit of God was so strong it was like a blast of wind. I felt to give an altar call for salvation. The homeless man, sitting on the back pew lifted his hand and I went back to him and prayed with him.  He accepted Christ as Savior as tears flowed down his cheeks.  We had a cookout after church and he stayed around the whole time getting to know people.  I arranged some follow-up with him as he left.

Today, I received a text from a church member and she said that her sister had coincidentally met the man at the park later that afternoon.  He was telling her how he used to have a job and a family but that drugs had ruined his life and left him homeless.  But he told her that he had gone to a church called The River that morning and believed that his life had been changed.  The sister told him, I think my mom and sister go to that church and she described them.  He had sat right next to her mom and sister during the service.  This woman is unsaved and her family has been praying for her to be saved and come to church, and God used this homeless man to plant the seeds of the gospel into her life.

When God begins to work, He does some amazing things that could never be orchestrated by man.  Please pray for Rick, who was saved, and Kelly, who needs to be saved, that God would continue to work in their lives and that The River would be able to help them, both spiritually and physically.  This morning in prayer at the church, the Holy Spirit spoke to me that in the near future we would be having services every night because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the move of God.  I am tired of reading about it happening in other places and I am ready for revival here, at The River.

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