Friday, December 30, 2011

Wrongful Conviction of Jesus Christ Versus Wrongful Convictions of Innocent People in the World

0 comments
 TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. World Alliance of Reformed Churches Opinion on Wrongful Convictions of Innocent People,
2. Jesus Christ was wrongly convicted,
3. Jewish hatred against Jesus Christ,
4. Saddest innocent convictions in the world,
5. Most shocking wrongful convictions,
6. Death penalty of innocent people due to wrongful convictions,
7. 10,000 innocent people convicted each year, study estimates,
8. Truth reveals in justice: wrongful conviction of innocent people,
9. A constituency for the innocent: about the center on wrongful
    Convictions,
10. Innocence project: reasons for wrongful convictions,
11. The causes of wrongful conviction,
12. Lists of innocent people wrongly convicted of crimes,
13. What is circumstantial evidence? How reliable is circumstantial evidence?
14. Lists of innocent people wrongly convicted of crimes in India (only by
      Circumstantial evidence) (High Court & Supreme Court cases),

1. WORLD ALLIANCE OF REFORMED CHURCHES OPINION ON WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE (“Shameful record of convicting innocent people”). Source:-Update Magazine, Editor: Paraic Reamonn. WARC, Geneva, March 2000. Vol.10, No.1.

DEAD MEN WALKING FREE. Anthony Porter spent 16 years on death row and was 5 hours away from execution by lethal injection when another man confessed to the murders for which he was falsely convicted. Two days later he walked free from his prison in Chicago, Illinois. “Them crooked cops framed me,” he said. “They didn’t care nothing for the truth. It hurt me so much. My life is torn apart.” That was in February 1999.

On January 31, 2000, Republican governor George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions in the state of Illinois. Previously, an enthusiast for death by lethal injection, he was won over by the Porter case and others like it. Illinois, said Ryan, had a “shameful record of convicting innocent people.” Since the death penalty was re-introduced in the state in 1977, 13 inmates on death row have been proved innocent – more than have been executed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Story of Christmas Begins Humbly (Luke 2:1-20)

0 comments


       1.    INTRODUCTION:
Some years ago there was a Christmas program titled “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.” The story line concerned a confused little girl who questioned whether there was a real Santa. She wrote a letter about her quandary to the New York Sun newspaper.

The editor read the letter and mulled it over in his mind. He wrote an editorial appearing in the paper as a response to Virginia’s quest for truth. He wrote about the spirit of goodwill and make-believe wrapped up in a mythical character that appears in a red suit with white beard and hair.

Some people are as confused about Jesus as Virginia was about Santa. As Christians, we need to respond to the Virginias who ask, Is there a real Jesus?” We can confirm,Yes, Virginia, there is a real Jesus.” His story begins humbly.

      2.   JESUS’ HUMBLE BEGINNING INCLUDED NO ROOM IN THE INN (vv.1-7):
Paying taxes is never a pleasure. Imagine having to travel 80 miles to register to do it! That’s exactly what Joseph and Mary were obliged to do. Rome required their subjects to go to their own tribal city to sign up for the assessing of taxes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Man Who Would Not Quit (Joshua 14:6-14)

0 comments
1.  INTRODUCTION:

Have you ever had a dream for a long time and finally went after that dream? Happily, then the dream became a reality. An eminent psychiatrist notes, “Observing the lives of people who have dreamed and achieved…mastered adversity, I have repeatedly noticed that they have established goals, and irrespective of obstacles, sought with all their efforts to achieve them. From the moment they fixed on an object in their mind, and sought to concentrate their energies on a specific goal they began to surmount the most incredible odds.”

Let’s look at a senior citizen, named Caleb, who did just that. The children of Israel are in the land.  The allotments are being carried out. Caleb had a dream-to de- country, He asks for this land in Josh. 14:6-12. What do we learn from Caleb’s experience about being successful in realizing dreams and achieving goals? Five things stand out.


2. I MUST HAVE A VISION:

2.1. I Must See Something on the Screen of My Mind:

Three young bricklayers were asked what they were doing. The first replied, “I’m laying brick.”

The second man said, “I’m making $9.00 an hour” The third man answered, “I’m building the world’s greatest cathedral.” If you were asked to predict the bricklayer most likely to be successful in life, which one would you choose? Undoubtedly the one with vision!

Caleb had a vision. Forty-five years earlier he was one of the spies sent into the Promised Land. While there, Mount Hebron caught his eye. He thought to himself, “That’s where I am going to live! For the next 45 years Caleb dreamed of his fields and the home he would build with a large porch overlooking the valley. Every evening he went over the plans. Ten thousand times in his mind he laid those bricks. He had it all worked out and imprinted on the screen of his mind. He had 45 years in which to plan it. No Wonder he was so eager to get to it.

In the America Hall at Disney World are statues of early pioneers of the United States.  A plaque says, “Throughout the centuries there were men who took steps down new roads, armed with nothing but their vision.”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Preparation For Victory (Joshua 5 & 6)

0 comments
1.  INTRODUCTION:

The children of Israel have crossed over Jordan. Finally they are in the Promised Land, a land where the inhabitants had heard of the miracle of the parting of the river. These people were quaking in fear, for they now knew about the existence of the powerful God of the Israelites, “Their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites” (5:1).


In all likelihood the generals said, “Joshua, they are terrified and on the run. This is a good time to crush them.” But this tactic was not in God’s plan. Canaan was “a prepared place for a prepared people.” Certain preparations were necessary. First things first! In order to succeed in their conquest.



2.  ISRAEL HAD TO MAKE SPIRITUAL PREPARATION:

2.1.  The men were circumcised:

They had to get their obedience up-to-date through circumcision, for this was an uncircumcised generation born in the desert (5:2-8).



2.1.1.   Circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Ref. Gen.17:1-14):

God desired for these Israelites to be involved in a re-affirmation and confirmation of the covenant He had entered into with their father, Abraham.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Defeating The Giants (Num.13:26-33)

0 comments
1.  INTRODUCTION:

The plan was set and the men were chosen. Twelve men, one from each tribe, approached Moses to receive their orders. Moses told them, “You men are being sent on an intelligence assignment. Your job will be to spy out the land of Canaan, gaining all the information you can, and returning to me with that information.”


Perhaps Moses bent down to the ground and sketched a makeshift map in the sand at his feet as he told them to go into the land from the south and follow the mountains. One of the newly selected spies may have asked, “What type of information are you really interested in?” Moses replied, “Find out everything you can. Check the land from top to bottom. Check the soil to see if it’s suitable for growing our crops. Check the people living there, and find out if the population is many or few. Find out if the people are strong or weak and if they can be conquered easily. Scout the cities to see if they are weak and easily accessible or if the land is prosperous. Are the animals fat or lean? Is there wood for construction and fire? Bring back samples of the fruit of the land so that those of us who stay behind have something on which to base our opinion. Most of all, be of good courage” (vv.17-20).


2.  THE STORY OF THE SPIES’ MISSION:

With knapsacks on their backs, they started their journey. They did as Moses had instructed. Making their way southward, they came to the brook of Eshcol. There they cut down a cluster of grapes to return for the people to see.


They carried the bunch of grapes on a pole between two men, not only because of its size but also you keep from  damaging the fruit. You cannot very well carry a cluster of grapes in your hip pocket. They also filled their knapsacks with pomegranates and figs until the weight made them a burden.


They spied on the people who inhabited the land. Hey followed orders to the letter. Forty days after they left camp, they returned to give their report. Arriving with tired feet, they were immediately surrounded by neighbors, eager to hear their report. Lowering knapsacks to the ground, they breathed a sigh of relief that the journey was over. No doubt they thanked God for His mercy to them.


When ushered before Moses, he asked for their report with breathless excitement, they began to speak, “We found a land flowing with milk and honey, a beautiful land of lush, green meadows and snowcapped mountains. A land of cool rivers and warm, windy plains. Look at the evidence we brought back with us” (v.27). They unloaded the pomegranates and figs and had the large bunch of grapes brought forward for Moses to inspect. The people pressed in to make their own inspection.



They continued with their report, “Nevertheless, the people are strong who dwell there, and the cities are walled and strong” (v.28). As the crowd heard the report, they began to get restless, Their voices raised in excited clamor. Finally, one of the spies named Caleb raised his hands  and stilled the people, With his voices filled with excitement, he yelled, “Let us go at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it” ( v.30 KJV).


There were great shouts of victory at such a good report-especially over the fact that Caleb thought the land could be conquered.   But seconds later, the crowd was stilled again as another of the spies began to speak. He almost laughed at Caleb as he said, “What do you mean? We can’t go up against those people, for they are stronger than we are” (v.31). The scripture says, “And they brought up an evil report” (v.32 KJV).


They told of a land that was hard and that ate up its inhabitants. They told of a land filled with men of great stature. The straw that broke the Camel’s back came when their report told of the sons of Anak, “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight”(v.33, KJV)


Although Joshua cast his vote with Caleb to go in and conquer the land immediately, the other 10 voted the motion down, the people cast their lot with the 10 who were pessimistic. The main difference between Joshua and Caleb and the other 10 spies lie not in the facts they were presenting but in their interpretation of those facts.


Today we often face the same situation. Many times the difference between people is not the facts they face but the interpretation they give to the facts. The experience of the 12 spies illustrates that truth. Their purpose in spying was not to determine if the land should be taken. That had already been decided. It was to determine how best to accomplish that task.


All spies found the land to be an exceedingly good land, flowing with milk and honey. All saw the giants, the sons of Anak. But Caleb and Joshua viewed the giants in the light of God’s orders, and they didn’t look so big after all. To Joshua and Caleb, the giants only represented opportunity. They say concerning those giants, They are bread for us (Num.14:9 KJV). Looking at the same situation the other spies become completely unnerved “We were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (14:33 KJV).


Looking at the same situation, the other spies became completely unnerved. “We were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (14:33 KJV). Looking at the opinions given by the two sets of spies, we see two very different reactions. Although that story took place thousands of years ago, those same two categories of people still exist today.


3.    SOME PEOPLE, REPRESENTED BY THE TEN UNFAITHFUL SPIES, FACE LIFE, SEEING ONLY THE PROBLEMS:

We live in a problem-conscious culture. We are probably the best surveyed people in history. Those surveys disclose that we have a keen realization of our problems. We are aware of the pollution problem, the energy crises, the threat of mass starvation, the possibility of global holocaust. We are aware of church problems, national problems, international problems, and individual problems. These problems are very real, and we cannot simply ignore them.


But neither do we need to over-emphasize problems, becoming so conscious of the problems that we are paralyzed by fear. Too often people lacking faith at all of the problems of life, settle down, and become very satisfied doing nothing. This is what happened to Israel that day in the wilderness.


I am reminded of the wild duck that came down into a barnyard while migrating south for the winter. He liked it so well that he stated. In the fall, his companions passed overhead and his first impulse was to rise and join them. But he had eaten too well and could rise no higher than the eaves of the barn. The day came when his old travelers could pass overhead without his even hearing their call.


When we first decide to become content taking the easy way out, we sometimes start to jump and help when a problem arises. But eventually we get so used to running from giants that we don’t even respond to the problems. Perhaps the giant is injured feelings or broken fellowship. Perhaps it started out small but, by trying to ignore the problem, it has become bigger and refuses to go away. That curt remark or that unkind word has become a giant in your life, a giant that you fear and refuse to conquer.


Because of the fear and lack of faith among the 10 pessimistic spies, the whole nation of Israel spent 40 years wandering needlessly in the wilderness. Many times today the small problems that churches have allowed to become giants keep the whole congregation wandering needlessly in a spiritual no-man’s land.


But there was another reaction.



4.    SOME PEOPLE CAN FACE UP TO LIFE, SEEING THE POSSIBILITIES:

That’s what Caleb and Joshua did. Their reaction and report doesn’t mean that they were any less intelligent that the other spies. It simply means that they were not obsessed with the problems. It takes at least three things to enable one to see the possibilities of life.


4.1.   We need a sense of mission:

Joshua and Caleb had a sense of mission about what they were to do. They went to find a way into the land, not report the difficulties. They had a sense of mission. With a strong sense of mission, anyone can succeed.

4.2.   We need a vision of strength:

A person who thinks he is a failure will more than likely be a failure. The 10 unfaithful spies saw themselves as grasshoppers before the inhabitants of the land. They considered themselves insignificant and too weak to act. But Caleb and Joshua did not agree, “We are well able to overcome” they said. They had a vision of strength.



4.3.  We need an awareness of God:

Real power comes from an awareness of God. The secret of Caleb and Joshua’s view was dependence on God. Knowing as much about the new land as the other spies, and knowing as much about the children of Israel as the others, if they had depended on their own strength, they, too, would have been discouraged. But there was a difference. They depended on God.


5.    CONCLUSION:  

Our dependence on God needs to be sincere and honest. God will help us defeat those problems dressed as giants. The way that you face up to life will depend on the interpretation you give life and upon your dependence on God. Hence, remember the Israelites and learn from the spies. Take heed! Do not and never ever listen to the 10 spies.

Jesus Will Make a Way 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Excommunicated OR Dismissed People (Luke 4:18-19, John 16:2-4)

0 comments
1.    INTRODUCTION: 
If you watch closely, you can observe an alarming thing about human nature. The thing to notice is how readily and easily people dismiss other people. We overlook them, look beyond them, look around them, and refuse to look at them as they are, or just never see them. Or, seeing them, we dismiss or excommunicated them as non-essential or unnecessary.

Those of us who seek to follow the way of Jesus Christ, have much to learn about ourselves in regard to dismissed (excommunicated) people. Have we stopped to consider how deeply dismissing people affects us all? Have we taken into full account the response and call of Jesus Christ to dismissed persons? Could it be that our salvation, both here and hereafter is wrapped up in how we respond to the strangers, the outcasts, the foreigners – any of “those” people who invade our private spaces, interrupt our personal agendas, and un-settle our comfort zones?

2.    WE DISMISS (EXCOMMUNICATE) PEOPLE:
2.1.  WE ROUTINELY AND READILY DISMISS PEOPLE:
I don’t like to think of myself as a dismissing person, as a discriminating person. Nor do I like to think of my friends, or country, or fellow humanity as dismissers of people; nor of the Church in which I serve. However, I am convinced we all, on a day-to-day basis, engage in acts of dismissal and prejudging.

Recently, I asked a friend about her nephew, an artist, a man I knew to be emotionally fragile and a concern of my friend’s family for several years. I simply asked, “How is he doing?” I was not at all prepared for what I heard. “Sam is so messed up,” she said. “He is a basket case. He can’t even hold a job. You should see his paintings! They’re so out of it. It’s like his insides exploded on the canvas. What a waste of talent!”
It’s astonishing that we dismiss people so easily. As if, with a wave of a hand, a person could be swept away. As if to say, “You don’t matter.”

2.2.  WE DISMISS PEOPLE CATAGORICALLY:  
If people fall into one of our stereotyped categories, they are subject to being dismissed – old, poor, dumb, homeless, mentally ill, AIDS-infected, yuppie, middle class. A past president of the United States unfairly dismissed everyone receiving welfare assistance as “a faceless mass waiting for a handout.”


2.3.  WE CAN DISMISS PEOPLE MORE SUBTLY:
We can be subtle and “socially acceptable” in dismissal. Consider a flashing glance, an avoiding turn of the head, silent aggression.

2.4.  WE, TOO, CAN FEEL DISMISSED:
Surely, we ourselves feel dismissed in one way or another, at one time or another. We bear the heavy weight of dismissal of our person, our ideas, our efforts, or our concerns. The basic human need for significance and belonging is denied. In a competitive world looking for finished and marketable products sometimes our good ideas or significant thoughts seen to be swept aside, insignificant, dismissed.   
      3.    PEOPLE ARE EXCOMMUNICATED FOR SEVERAL      REASONS: 
Why are people dismissed or excommunicated? The following are some reasons –



3.1.  People are bound to be dismissed because, in a consumer economy, people are valued for their purchasing power. Those who have little money or who don’t matter to a particular industry are considered “marginal” or unrelated and irrelevant.

3.2.  People are dismissed because we don’t think they can be fixed. If we don’t think deeply seated personal and social issues can be effectively addressed, then we dismiss – wholesale – entire segments of our local and world populations.

3.3.   We dismiss people when we mis-define them. The only way we can dismiss people is by mis-defining them. As long as Christians simply go along with a primarily economic or humanistic assessment of human life, we will dismiss people.

4.    JESUS RECOQNIZED DISMISSAL AND RESPONDED TO IT (Luke 4:18-19, John 16:2):
4.1.  Jesus recognized that many people had been mis-defined and dismissed and excommunicated, and Jesus wants us to know that, He gave His life in ministry to dismissed and outcaste people.
4.2.  Jesus will call His followers to account for how they responded to dismissal persons. According to Matthew 25:31-46, the son of Man’s last public statement will call all people to account for identity with the response to the dismissed and excommunicated, in which Jesus Christ identifies himself, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (v.40).

5.    PEOPLE CANNOT BE EXCOMMUNICATED BECAUSE THE COST IS TOO HIGH:  
5.1.  Jesus seemed to be making the point that needs to be made today – while it is a common to dismiss people, people cannot be dismissed. Not for their sake, nor for our sake. The number of homeless, mentally ill, illiterate, crime-recorded children living in poverty in the world is staggering. But they are not going away because we get tired of hearing about them on the six o’clock news.

 Dismissal seems to be an attempt to deny the sins and injustices that pervade our world; an attempt to sweep under the carpet the glaring needs that we feel over-whelm us. Dismissed people are symptomatic of a death-driven society.

5.2.  The economic and social cost of dismissing people comes high. Incarceration and so-called rehabilitation runs 20-1 over preventive costs. Yet there is little funding for preventive care, the money is used to build bigger prisons. Dismiss a person today, and you will deal with her or him again at a deeper, more troublesome level.
5.3.  The Spiritual and personal cost of dismissing people comes high. Aside from national and economic costs of dismissing people, there is a personal cost. In dismissing people, we dismiss a part of ourselves. When we turn away from a person, we turn away from ourselves. When we alienate a person, we become alienated from ourselves to a greater degree.

Sociologist Parker Palmer, to whom I am indebted for this insight, makes the following observation (The Company of Strangers, p.66):-  
 By turning away from ‘the least of these’ we re-inforce our fear that someday we will find ourselves in their place, and that others will turn away from us…we reatreat from the stranger because we want to avoid that awfil knowledge of our world, and of our place in it. And as we do so, we create another self-fulfilling prophecy, as we avoid the stranger to avoidbeing reminded of our own isolation, we create a world in which our isolation deepens”

6.   BY CARING AND ADDRESSING DISMISSED (EXCOMMUNICATED) PERSONS, WE MINISTER TO JESUS AND RECOVER A PART OF OURSELVES (Matt.25:40):  
6.1.  Dismissed persons have a saving role in our lives. The Old Testaments are rich with imagery of the saving role of the stranger for the people of God. The writer of Hebrews counseled, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (13:2).
6.2.  There is a surprise gift when we respond to the dismissed persons. Here is the surprise gift of compassion – when we withhold judgment and respond with our heart to the stranger, we receive infinitely more that we can give. Persons we would otherwise dismiss bear keys to opening up and recovering our fearful, hidden self.
6.3.  The point of addressing dismissed persons is the point of identity. We must remember that Jesus did not merely point to or stoop to relieve the dismissed, but identified himself with the sick, the prisoners, the strangers, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt.25:40).
Michael Card, a contemporary Christian musician with a graduate degree in biblical literature, submits his lyrics to the scrutiny of the religion faculty of Vanderbilt University. He tells in his concerts how he wrote the song, “In His Distressing Disguise.” Washing dishes at an inner-city mission in Nashville, Card looked out from the kitchen into the dining area and saw a momentary vision. A mission volunteer and a homeless man were talking to each other. To Card’s eyes, just for a moment, it appeared as if the mission worker became Jesus Christ to the homeless man. At the same time, it appeared as if the homeless man became Jesus to the mission volunteer. That is the solidarity, that is the identity Jesus invites us to embody.    

The Excommunication of President Noynoy Aquino by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is note-worthy (See Excommunication? READ 188 The News Around Eastern Visayas. Leyte Samar Daily Express, Tel.321-4833, Email-lsdaily2@yahoo.com, http://leytesamardaily.net).

“Excommunication refers to the exclusion of a person from the community of the church for misconduct. It is the most severe penalty that the Catholic-Church may inflict to an erring member. The consequences that follow if a faithful is excommunicated include that of denying him/her participation in the Holy Mass; deprived of the benefits of the Holy Eucharist and not included anymore in the prayers of the entire Catholic Community during masses and the liturgy.  

It is heartwarming to note that a day after the possible excommunication of the President that hugged the headlines last Friday on the family planning issues aired by a Bishop the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) made a statement that there will be no such threat on President Noynoy Aquino being excommunicated. The CBCP probably realized that it will create more problems among the faithful and for themselves if they do it. One is, if they do that to the President alone they will come out as very selective handing down verdicts.
They know pretty well that many Catholics Christian believers have committed misconduct one way or the other way as members of the church. There are even priests who have sired children a violation of their sacred vows of chastity but continue to serve as pastors of the church. No excommunication proceedings have been initiated. And if the Roman Catholics hierarchy is serious in their delisting of followers because of misconduct as members, the churches will be transformed into ghost houses.”

7.  CONCLUSION:
As I wake up to the fact of the many dismissed people who surround me, and to the wholesale dismissal that runs literally unchecked at every level of society, I am stunned; stunned, but not paralyzed.

Because of the grace of God, there is a way to respond. Here is the place I begin, and this is the place I challenge you to begin, with repentance. Repentance for dismissing people! Repentance for overlooking and closing our eyes in dismissal! Repentance for silently going along with a society that, in its sickness, expends people like junk cars!

Then, to quote John the Baptist, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). Begin to name people and know their stories. Though they may not be numbered in statistics of governments or churches, in Christ they have a name and are beloved to us.

Begin to offer hospitality, which is making room for the stranger in our midst. Allow Jesus to be the Bridge between us as mutual strangers. In His love become friends. Begin to make your personal and spiritual resources, whatever they may be available in redeeming embrace of the dismissed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Our Victory in Christ Jesus (Rom.8:14-34)

0 comments
The Lord made you, the Lord loves you, do not be afraid,
the waters will not overflow you, the fire will not scorch you!”

1.    INTRODUCTION:

Every Christian has received a measure of Resurrection power. God intends for this power and purity, through the intervention of the Holy Spirit, to provide a balanced life of victory and blessing. A vital Christian utilizes this power from God to control the negative things in his life and to increase spiritual things, so that spiritual growth takes place through both avenues – putting away evil and living in the positive. On this special day, remember that God has Victory for You.

2.    GOD HAS VICTORY OF FAMILY INVOLVEMENT (vv.14-17):

2.1.   We Have Been Adopted: This is the victory of belonging to the family of God. We are all happy for the privilege. Because we have been adopted, we have been given position and possession, prestige and blessing. We have become heirs of all that God has. Adoption is a unique thing. One family with two adopted children told their children that God chose them specially. The daughter, in grade school, used to tell everybody, “You folks had to take what they got, but my folks looked around and got the best.”
2.2.    We are led by the Spirit of God in His family (v.14).
2.3.    We have received an inner witness of belonging to God’s family (v.16).
2.4.   We receive a powerful inheritance because we are adopted into the family of God (v.17). We belong to God as His dear children. There is sonship, fellowship, and heirship in this wonderful family involvement.

3.    GOD HAS THE VICTORY OF MEANINGFUL FRUSTRATION (vv.18-25):

3.1.   Christians are caught between two worlds. We live in this world and the world to come, the world where our hearts have already been adopted. There is a terrible tension between the world that we live in and the world that we have already made a commitment to in love. Because we are in God’s family, we don’t belong to this present world. We don’t belong to its values. Its habits, its practices, its attitudes, or its feelings! We are caught in a stretching, tension-filled situation. We literally groan within to be set free from the bondage that this world imposes on those who know Jesus and who are new creations in Him (v.23).
3.2.   In this tension and this groaning we have a hope (v.24).  We are part of God’s process of bringing the new world to pass and making it happen.
3.3.   We have a victory. Suffering is the inevitable experience of belonging to God. A faithful life brings trial, suffering, hardship, persecution. As we look around us, in the world of politics, the world of economics, the world of moral ethics, the world of poverty, the world of pollution, there are so many things that we groan about. We care, we concerned, we feel helpless sometimes to do anything. There is this inward groaning. If we could only live in a positive world.
3.4.   We have a glory (v.18). God reveals His radiance in us. That radiance is comprised of hope, faith, personal belonging, and the gradually increasing likeness to Christ Himself.

4.    GOD HAS THE VICTORY OF PERSUASIVE PRAYER (vv.26-30):
      
       Romans 8 has some very powerful and unique things to say about prayer.
4.1.   We are weak in prayer. That’s one of the places we are powerless.
4.2.   The Spirit helps our weakness (v.26). We have to overcome that weakness of actually getting started and doing something about praying. The Holy Spirit prompts and goads and reminds us. One deeply committed Christian brother shared that the Holy Spirit will not let him read the morning paper until he has read his Bible. The Spirit will not let him talk to someone else until he has talked to God.
This simple priority is a part of the Holy Spirit helping in weakness. This counter-acts the tendency to jump up and jump into the day; to jump into your job and jump into the list that you have made the day before of all the things you are going to get done that day.
There is also the weakness of inadequate words. We don’t know what to say. We have jumbled thoughts. So the Holy Spirit “intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (v.26, NASB). When we have a burden for prayer but cannot put it into words, we may be praying more deeply and more effectively that at any other time in our spiritual experience. When your mind is crowded with cares and concerns, prayer may seem like a futile endeavor. That’s when you need to turn to your “Prayer Prompter” whom God has provided to help you pray when words won’t come.
The other day, a friend of mine went to prayer semi-depressed and fatigued but brought his prayer list and a blank which to write prayers and answers.  He got his Bible, knelt at the altar, and said. “Lord, I need a boost; I need a little help; I need a new word from You.” The Lord directed him to the Come Ye Apart magazine devotional for the day. The powerful promises of Isaiah 43 became new and true all over again: “The Lord made you, the Lord loves you, do not be afraid, the waters will not overflow you, the fire will not scorch you!” The Spirit was helping his weakness. The Spirit was leading him to the place in God’s Word where new faith and new hope were available.
4.3.   The Spirit searches our hearts (v.27).  The Holy Spirit knows what’s in there. He looks for it and brings it to our remembrance.
4.4.   The Spirit works mightily in everything (v.28).  There are two conditions for fulfilling this powerful promise. God is able to make all things work together for good to those who love Him and those who are obedient to His call. It does not say that everything turns out for our best, it says that “God makes everything come out for the good.”  Sometimes God considers “the good” a little differently than we do. It is not just physical health, material wealth. Or emotional wholeness that God sees as good. For God, “the good” is being made conformed to the image of His Son (v.29). That’s good! That’s what God is at work trying to do within us.
4.5.   The Spirit brings out the best.  The Holy Spirit is shaping Christ’s image in us (v.29).
4.6.   The Spirit will glorify us, and we will glorify Him (v.30). Our ultimate duty is, to glorify the Triune God.

5.    GOD HAS THE VICTORY OF THE DIVINE AUTHORITY (vv.31-34):
5.1.   If God is for us, then it doesn’t matter who is against us. It can’t matter because no one can beat the Almighty God (v.31).
5.2.   God spares nothing for us (v.32).  God the Father has not spared His own Son, and He is not going to start now putting us on a pinch-penny program of grace.  He will give us all that we need in order to make us all that He wants us to be.
5.3.   God answers all charges against us (v.32).  Let me bring out the heart-touching testimony of a missionary’s wife. When she was in school, facing economic pressure, instead of trusting God, she had gone the route of selfishness, self-seeking, and solving her own problems. She had taken hundreds of dollars from her employer for her salary, even as she skipped for several months. Then she told how God’s Holy Spirit dealt with her. She went back to her employer and told him exactly what had happened and why, and the exact amount she had taken for her salary, she signed a contract to pay it all back. God began to use a talent she had for art.
God began to pour His Holy Spirit through those pictures that she drew, and they became saleable items. She earned back the money that she needed. After the service someone came up to her and said, “You are a missionary’s wife. You are telling us that you used to be a thief and a cheater. How can you do that?” The missionary’s wife replied, “All is forgiven, and there is no longer anything to hide. If there is nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear.”

At the moment that we are honest before God, we receive His blessings and His power. He answers all charges against us.
5.4.   Christ died for us, and He was raised; He ever lives, and He intercedes for us (v.34).  What do you need to pray in order to have victory? If you knelt at the altar to pray, and you felt that Jesus had come and knelt beside you, and He began to pray for you, what would you overhear Jesus saying to the Father that He wanted to happen in your life? It may be that on this special day you are ready to invite the Holy Spirit to fill your heart!
When John Hyde boarded the ship to go from England to India for his missionary tour, he was handed a telegram. He opened it hurriedly on the desk of the ship. The only words in the telegram were, “John Hyde, are you filled with the Spirit of God?”  The note aroused Hyde’s anger. He crumpled the paper, put it into his pocket, and went to bed.

Unable to sleep, he tossed and turned all night. He arose from bed in the early morning hours, took the piece of paper out of his pocket, and read it again. He thought, “The audacity of somebody to ask me that question, ‘Am I filled with the Holy Spirit?’ Here I am a missionary, sincere, dedicated, leaving my home and going to another country. How dare someone ask me if I am filled with the Spirit.”  

Suddenly, Hyde’s spirit was touched by the challenge of the note. He fell to his knee before the Father. “O God” he cried out, “the audacity of me to think that I could pray or preach or witness or live or serve or do anything in my own strength. Fill me with Your power.”

John Hyde became one of the great missionary states men of all time (Brian L. Harbour, Living Expectantly. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1990).

6.    FINAL WORDS:
       Whatever you are praying for this morning, imagine that Jesus is right there beside you. Ask Him to lead you in your prayer. Listen to what Jesus asks the Father for you for He intercedes for us! God has victory in Christ for us! When we hear what Jesus wants for us, and we realize that He has already bought all that is necessary for those prayers to be answered by His own grace and power, something happens in us. We have the victory of divine authority. God’s intervening and interceding begins to make an impact on us for His glory and for our good.  

      Pray with me,
 Merciful and gracious loving Father, thank you that, even when confusion reigns and words won’t come, Your Holy Spirit is there, communicating my human hurts. Though I cannot always speak my mind, thank you that you always hear my heart. That’s part of the joy of being your child. Amen.”

   

Popular Posts