And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." Luke 23:
As soon as Christ was fastened to the cross, He prayed for those who crucified Him. The great thing He died to purchase and procure for us is the forgiveness of sin. Then He, in the midst of suffering and being crucified between two thieves, showed the different effects the cross of Christ would have upon the children of men in the preaching the Gospel. One thief was hardened to the last breath. No troubles in themselves will change a wicked heart. The other was softened at the last minute. He was snatched out of the burning and made a monument of Divine Mercy. He believed Jesus to have suffered wrongfully. Observe his faith in this prayer. Christ was in the depth of disgrace, suffering as a deceiver, and not delivered by His Father. He made this profession before the wonders were displayed which put honor on Christ's sufferings, and startled the centurion. He believed in a life to come, and desired to be happy in that life; not like the other thief, to be only saved from the cross. Observe his humility in this prayer. All his request is, Lord, remember me; quite referring it to Jesus in what way to remember him. Thus he was humbled in true repentance, and he brought forth all the fruits for repentance his circumstances would admit. Christ upon the cross is gracious like Christ upon the throne. Though He was in the greatest struggle and agony, yet He had pity for a poor penitent. By this act of grace, we are to understand that Jesus Christ died to open the kingdom of heaven to all penitent, obedient believers. It is a single instance in Scripture. It should teach us to despair of none and that none should despair of themselves. But lest it should be abused, it is contrasted with the awful state of the other thief who died hardened in unbelief, though a crucified Savior was so near him. Be sure that in general, men die as they live. (Matthew Henry) This is such a picture of the Gospel and why we do what we do. We, most time, at the Christian Caring Center, see people who are suffering through challenges and just want to be saved from those troubles. We do all we can to bring relief, but our main purpose to bring the Gospel to them. These thieves were at the end of their lives, our people usually are not. They usually just want relief of their problems. This gives us the opportunity to share and keep sharing the Gospel. One such person is TW. TW lives in the woods and is addicted to heroin. I see him for lunch most Wednesday and Friday. He and his girlfriend were in Code Blue recently. TW’s girlfriend became gravely ill in December with a staph infection and is still hospitalized at this writing with many complications. We were able to pray for them and witness to them both. TW told me that every night in Code Blue before bed he would go in the Sanctuary and just pray. It is during those moments for all of us that God hears and extends his Mercy. TW and I spoke regularly about salvation and repentance. He told me this past Wednesday on outreach that he is ready to repent and go into rebab to get his life back physically and spiritually—PTL!!! We are so very blessed to have each and everyone one of you interceding, supporting, and volunteering. We are also looking to many new opportunities to partner with churches, individuals, civic groups, corporate groups in 2019. We have a staff person dedicated now to volunteers and development, Brenda Goble. We have this brand new makeover in our building and we want every minute that it is open to glorify God and serve His people. We can’t do it without you. If you would like to grow in your relationship and serve God, we have a place for you. Whether or not you begin to give financially, volunteer, serve on a committee or board, come paint a picnic table, plant flowers, or make a meal and eat it with someone at the Christian Caring Center. The opportunities are many, so give Brenda a call at 609-893-0700 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abiding in Him,