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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


The Brokenness of A Man

“It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” – 2 Samuel 16:12 ESV

Most of the men in my generation remember the street bravado that we ran into when roaming our neighborhood. Stepping on another kids brand new sneakers was like putting your life at risk. Marc Bain wrote an article in November 2015 that stated that 1,200 people were killed each year over sneakers.[1]  Kevin Smith wrote an article in February 2014 titled, “How to React When Someone Steps On Your Sneakers”[2] where he gives 10 reactions to someone stepping on another person’s sneakers. King David was the poster child for the reaction of a person whose sneakers you would never want to have stepped on. When David’s men came back and told him how Nabal reacted to King David’s friendly greeting David’s response was, “Put on your swords”, 1 Samuel 25:13 ERV. People didn’t step on David’s shoes and get away with it. Stepping on a man’s new ‘kicks’ was a sign of disrespect or an indication that a person had been ‘dis’.   When the Prophet Nathan told David the story about how the rich man disrespected the poor man, King David’s immediate reaction was extreme anger but it turned out that the story was about him, “And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man”, 2 Samuel 12:7 KJV.  The brokenness of a man starts with the truth.  Even though King David had committed adultery with an innocent man’s wife and set the man up to be killed so David could hide his sin, David did not become broken up about what he had done until the Prophet Nathan confronted him with the truth. The truth is that the only people that please God are those that have a broken and humble heart, “The sacrifices God wants are a broken spirit. A broken and crushed heart, O God, you will not despise”, Psalm 51:17 EHV. God resist those that have a high opinion of themselves or refuse to obey His commands, “…when Saul enquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not”, 1 Samuel 28:6 KJV. God is so determined to break and crush our spirit so that we become more willing to obey His Word that He will even go as far as to put challenges or people in our lives that will help break us, “…lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure”, 2 Corinthians 12:7 KJV

Shimei took advantage of King David’s circumstances by cursing David as David and his men walked by Shimei’s house.  The ‘don’t step on my shoes’ David had already been broken. David’s disobedience resulted in his son Amnon raping his daughter Tamar (2 Samuel 13:11-15) and his son Absalom murdering his son Amnon (2 Samuel 13:28-29). Now the broken David was susceptible and vulnerable to the taunts and criticisms of his enemies. Disobedience leaves us not only broken but with feelings of guilt. Guilt puts us in bondage and makes us spiritually weak. Brokenness through obedience gives us freedom because we are spiritually free to serve God with a guilt-free conscience. It’s not just what we do and don’t do that God is interested in. The Lord examines our very thoughts.  If we look at a woman the wrong way we have sinned, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”, St. Matthew 5:28 KJV. The breaking of a man works from the inside out, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”, Hebrews 4:12 KJV. This is the reason why our brokenness starts with the way we think. In order to change what we do we have to first change the way we think, “…be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”, Romans 12:2 KJV. Selfishness, bitterness, anger, frustration, disobedience all come from the way we think which affects the decisions we make. Pride comes from the way we think about ourselves and God wants to break our pride so that we are easily used by Him without resistance and hesitation. The reason why the perfect and upright God-fearing man named Job, who stayed away from evil, suffered the tragic loss of his children and property was so that God could get to Job 42:6 KJV, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes”. Job spent over 30 chapters in the Holy Bible trying to explain why he felt like he was such a good person and had lived such a good life who didn’t deserve the suffering that he was experiencing but when God put His resume up against Job’s resume it became no contest. God reserves the right to test everything to see if His standards have been met and that includes us,“Prove all things”, 1 Thessalonians 5:21 KJV. Jesus Christ is the standard. 
 
A person who obeys the Lord’s commands meets the standard.  God is most definitely going to test us.  The Father tested Jesus and Jesus response was, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done”, St. Luke 22:42 KJV. The Lord Jesus Christ himself had to be tested and broken to the point that God the Father was pleased in doing it, “…the Lord wanted to crush him and to make him suffer”, Isaiah 53:10 CEB.  If it pleased the Father to crush the one that He used to create it all to get what He wanted, then what less should we think God will do to us? The real question is are we willing to have our spirit and will crushed? Take note that God will get what He wants out of us whether we are willing or not. If we are willing, we will obey Him.  Disobedience is an indication that we are not willing. Then the questions are will we make it out of the hungry lions’ den and will the Lord join us in the fiery furnace so that not a hair on our head is singed, neither our coats changed, nor the smell of fire passes on to us? (Daniel 3:27).  The ravenous lions ate up the disobedient before their feet hit the floor and the flames of the furnace were so hot that the heathen men who put the Hebrew boys in it were burned up. If we suffer lets chose to do it in obedience to God’s Word. The brokenness of man should start with his obedience to God’s Word so that we can praise God freely and joyously regardless of our circumstances, “…rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name”, Acts 5:41 KJV
 
 
Submitted By Trustee Stanley Ridley
 
 

[1] https://qz.com/554784/1200-people-are-killed-each-year-over-sneakers/

[2] https://www.complex.com/sneakers/2014/02/how-to-react-when-someone-steps-on-your-shoes-dave-chapelle