Yesterday, I had the blessed opportunity to officiate a funeral…and I say “blessed”…because the Lord opened the door to share His love and His Word….We never know the condition of the hearts that are listening to the funeral service, but He does…And one thing I believe with all my heart is that His love reaches down to the worst of us sinners to bring us to the saving knowledge of His salvation through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior….
And yes, I say “worst of us”, because I know who I was before Christ, and I also know what it is to backslide and to be given a second chance to be redeemed from the clutch of hell. And I can honestly tell you that I truly don’t know how I “got back”, other than His grace, mercy, love and compassion which drew me out of the pit of hell. But there was a “turning point”….My pastor (in 1999) had preached a sermon which convicted my heart - deeply…and I had to talk with him afterwards and confess my sin. I was living two lives…one in the Praise Team and presenting myself as a “good Christian woman”….the other - a fornicator….the ravages of an emotionally painful marriage that ended in divorce…my own wounds and vulnerabilities…and I had succumbed to the temptation of the world…But on that day, the Lord gave me an opportunity to repent and turn….
Blind, beaten, dirty and broken….That is our condition before Christ….and that is our condition when we fall back into the world….How do we approach the one who is blind, beaten, dirty and broken….How do we approach the backslidden? With a stick…or with gentleness and compassion; knowing that we too, are also subject to temptation….(Gal. 6:1)…Please understand that at this point, I am not condoning sin. When we are sinning…we are to stop. And I do not support using scripture to justify sinning. The Gospel is never to be used to justify sinning. (Romans 6:15)
What do we see when we as Believers now look to those who are steeped in the things of the world? ~My friend, Clo Lent DiPilato posted this scripture on Facebook this morning from Luke 18...of which I will quote verses 10-14 from the Amplified version:
“Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men - extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers - or even like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! I tell you, this man went down to his home justified (forgiven and made upright with God), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Lord through the Apostle Paul , Colossians 3:12-15 from the Amplified Bible wrote:
v. 12 “Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper].
v. 13 Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].
v. 14 And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together in ideal harmony].
v. 15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].”
And from Chapter 4: 5-6 “Behave yourselves wisely [living prudently and with discretion] in your relations with those of the outside world (the non-Christians), making the very most of the time and seizing (buying up) the opportunity. Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you].”
I love the word winsome! For it means charming, in a child-like way. Oh…how a child will respond to the loving accepting arms of the one who says, “Come to me…and you will find rest and comfort….love and acceptance…”
Jesus left the ninety-nine to go find the one….Will we do the same?….He gave His life to bring us into His fold….
He came not to be served, but to serve….What will we do with the life He’s given us?
“Lord Jesus, make me an instrument of Your mercy and grace this day…to those who are in need of You….Amen and Amen….”
Be Blessed of the Lord~
Ever yours in Christ Jesus~
Crista Simmons (CMSimmons52@aol.com)
LifeCare Ministries http://www.LifeCareMin.org