Quarterly Journals
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The Other Man on the Cross

“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” – Luke 23:39 KJV

We don’t hear much about the other man on the cross. We know that there were two men crucified along with Jesus Christ, “Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side, and Jesus is the midst” (John 19:18 KJV). We know that the other two men that were crucified along with Jesus were thieves, “then were there two thieves crucified with him, on one the right hand, and another on the left” (Matthew 27:38 KJV). Our Lord is in Paradise and the thief on the right side of Jesus’ cross, who asked our Lord to remember him when Jesus entered into His Kingdom, is in Paradise, “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43 KJV). We know that the other man on the cross insulted Jesus Christ “Let the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with Him reviled Him” (Mark 15:32 KJV).

Can you imagine being minutes from death and still insulting people? And it wasn’t just the thief on the left that was insulting the Lord but both thieves insulted Jesus, “The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in his teeth” (Matthew 27:44 KJV). Jesus Christ fulfilled the thief’s request and took the humbled thief on his right-hand side to Paradise. Why do you think it was the thief on the right-hand side? Jesus sits on the Father’s right hand side (Hebrews 8:1; 10:12). We are seated with Jesus on the right-hand side of the Father (Ephesians 2:4-7 KJV). The thief was a sinner, but in those final moments of his life, he was in the right place at the right time. The other man on the cross was on the Lord’s left hand side. Although both thieves railed and criticized the Lord, the man on the left-hand side was left out of Heaven. Being on the right hand is the right place to be, but being on the left could mean that we get left out. Why was being on the left for this thief on the cross being in the wrong place at the wrong time and a condition that was just the opposite of the thief on the Lord’s right hand side? He never humbled himself. He was being humiliated but the humiliation never changed his mind. The problem that many men and women have is the same problem that the thief on the left-hand side of Jesus’ cross have. It wasn’t the fact that the thief on the right asked the Lord to remember him that got him into Paradise, but it was the fact that he changed his mind first, which changed his heart. If we believe in our hearts then confess with our mouths, we too can be with Jesus.

 

Submitted by Trustee Stanley Ridley



God Always Answers Prayer – Just Not the Way We Want

I believe that our first introduction to prayer, for most of us, is in our youth, when we are taught to, ‘say our prayers’, at bedtime. You remember, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I awake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”

Then we graduate to blessing our food, ‘Father, thank you for this food that we are about to receive for the nourishment of our body. In Jesus Name.  Amen.” And we pray these memorized prayers from a place of not knowing God but recognizing that we ought to talk to Him about our everyday needs. But as we grow physically, we ought to grow spiritually, and our prayers should move beyond elementary in nature, to mountain moving, life-changing, God-Trusting results, as we experience life In Christ, as we move to total dependence on Him, in all things.

If you’re like me, there are times in your life when you feel like God is not interested, nor does He care about what we’re going through. Especially when we pray, and things don’t turn out the way we asked, or expected. I know for sure that I have matured in my relationship with Christ because I am learning to listen more and speak less; and the longer I live, I am learning that God always answers prayer. Just not the way we want! But regardless of the outcome, we must persist in prayer. (“And he spake a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray and not faint.” St. Luke 18:1 KJV).

If we want our prayers to be effective, we must understand that prayer is a conversation. It is fellowship with Christ, like getting together with a dear friend.  Talking to Someone you love. Talking to Someone you respect. Spending time with Someone who respects and loves you. In this relationship, we must set aside that precious time to listen first; then speak. God has given us His Holy Spirit, who abides with us. He indwells us. He is acquainted with our pain, and while we may not hear God’s voice when we speak, He always responds- sometimes loudly, sometimes in a still small voice, sometimes not right away. Our prayers may not reach the ceiling because many of us are too self-centered, and we talk too much. In those times we cannot hear, nor understand what God may be telling us.

There is a big difference between hearing and listening. Listening is how we decode the vibrations that take place in our ear through our brain. I have often heard someone speak but was not listening. But listening is a requirement when we meet with God.  Listening is not just hearing, but it is a right response to what we have heard. We over-talk God, when we have our laundry-list of demands that we want Him to sign off on, giving very little thought, or consideration to the fact that He already has thoughts of us

(“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11 KJV).

Becoming a better listener requires that we withhold judgment, and criticism (“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” Proverbs 18:13 KJV). Hold your thoughts, don’t rush to judgment. Becoming a better listener requires that we keep calm (“For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.” Proverbs 19:11 KJV). Trust God. Be patient. Use Wisdom. Becoming a better listener requires that we activate our listening power (“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw out.” Proverbs 20:5 KJV).

When we pray, we ought to be intentional, focusing on who it is we are talking to, and realizing that he is neither deaf, dumb, or stupid. He is Omnipotent God! What He did at the Cross makes prayer possible (“He that spared not his own Son, but delivereth him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things.” Romans 8:32 KJV). When the request is not right, God says, ‘No!’ When the timing is not right, God says ‘Slow!’

There’s a big difference between delay and denial. When the request and the timing are right, but you’re not right, God says, ‘Grow!” When the request is right, and the timing is right, and you are right, then God says, ‘Go!”

When you pray, stay at it long enough that you are not doing all the talking, but also listening. Paraphrase what you hear. Meditate on it, and Trust that what He said, He will do.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for me, He solved my biggest problem. Any other problem in my life is small potatoes, and there is nothing that you, nor I, cannot bring to the Cross and leave it there. If Jesus Christ because of His great love for us, in obedience to His Father’s plan, died for us, we can be certain that He always answers prayer- Just not the way we want, and because He always knows what’s best, as I am in His presence, I am determined to become a better listener.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 1 Peter 1:3 NIV
 
 
Submitted By Deaconess Irene Gardon