Thursday, April 23, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe "Most In Need, Or... The Greatest Wonder"

The Special of the Day... From the Orange Moon Cafe...

"Most In Need,
Or... The Greatest Wonder"

   "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (I Timothy 1:15).

    Was the Apostle Paul really the "chief" of sinners?  Certainly we consider that before his conversion, Paul actively participated in the imprisonment and death of many believers in the Lord Jesus, including the first martyr of the church, Stephen (Acts 8:1; 22:4).  No one more directly opposed the Savior and His Gospel in the early days of Christendom.  Perhaps this resulted in the Apostle's confession regarding sin, "I am chief."  However, a personal lesson for all of us can be found in Paul's honest and humble acknowledgement.  Namely, we should all bear the sense that if the Lord can redeem me, He can redeem anybody.  As the publican of old, so keenly aware of his sins that he would not even lift his eyes toward Heaven, cried out in humble repentance, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!" (Luke 18:13).

    Other people, whether we know them personally or from afar, commit most of their sins without our knowledge.  Regarding our own waywardness, however, we are far more aware of the many times we have distrusted and disobeyed God.  The wrongs of others, even those that affect us, are mostly a matter of record.  Our own sins are a matter of personal reality.  Indeed, I may read in the pages of history that Stalin, Hitler, and Mao were responsible for the heinous atrocity of killing hundreds of millions.  Or someone I know may sin in a manner that affects me or those I love.  The truth remains that I should be far more aware and focused on my own detours from God and His will.  As a preacher of old once wisely acknowledged in remorseful repentance, "It is I, Lord, that stands most in need of Your grace!"

   Like Paul, we do well to think of ourselves as the chief of sinners.  This will lead us to the acceptance of our own personal culpability before God.  Far more, however, such confession will lead us to a far greater appreciation of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He taught that our love for God is directly associated with our awareness of how much for which we have been forgiven (Luke 7:41-43; passage included below).  What a wonder that He "died for all" (II Corinthians 5:14).   In my heart, however, the greatest wonder must be that He died for me.  In this holy light, we close with the hymnwriter's beautiful affirmation and exultation...

"And can it be, that I should gain
an interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain,
for me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love, how can it be
that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"

"Have mercy  upon me, o God, according to Thy lovingkindness, according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me."
(Psalm 51:1-3)
"There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.  Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most?  Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most.  And He said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged."
(Luke 7:41-43)

Weekly Memory Verse   
   Put them in fear, o Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but men.
(Psalm 9:20)


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