Testimonial Sunday

Belief in a God who watches over the universe, and knows each of seven billion people and all past and future generations by name is absolutely certain to me. It is foolishness to others. Personally, the latter thinking gives a bitterly bland meaning to life struggles and makes life seem pointless.  It might explain why the world is convulsing in pain almost every day.

For the most of the last six weeks I have been recovering from abdominal surgery. I expect my problems to resolve now. If you know me, over the last fifteen years I have been making an annual “pilgrimage” to the hospital to recover from intestinal problems. My issues started from a ruptured appendix twenty-four years ago.

I almost died. And in my suffering and in recovery then, I begged GOD, “if you are there, please heal me, please let me be found by you. I cannot continue living like this! “ Looking back to that time, I think of this scripture in Job 36:15

But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.

I didn’t hear God’s voice but he had already started working through several “coincidences” – a conversation on an airplane that lead me transferring to San Diego, a friendship with a Navy co-worker who – unknown to me -was a member of the San Diego Church (where I attend services), and a conversation one weekend at a coffee shop in Lakeside and invitation to Sunday service. I saw Jesus through the people around me in this fellowship and though it took a few years, God did answer my prayers.

As the body of Christ, I saw sinful people who repented, were baptized, and were learning to live as disciples of Jesus. Only through the blood of Jesus could construction workers and accountants, engineers and college students, military members and business people genuinely and deeply care for one another. By continual prayer and using God’s Word to teach and help us, we help one another to repent, serve one another, and reach out to the hurting people in this city and elsewhere.

I saw Jesus lived out during my hospitalization and recovery all during this April. My spouse who spent hours with me before, during and after work, in the week I was hospitalized, ministered to me, changing my dressings during my home recovery. Brothers in Christ who called me and came to visit with me in the hospital, (some of whom had been doing so for the last ten or more years) encouraged me greatly. Our evangelists – Joe and Annie, and James , a man whom James and I have been studying with – and the man’s adult son – also visited me there. Many in our fellowship prayed over me and for my healing.

And once home, I had Brothers in this fellowship spend a couple Saturdays doing yard work and helping fix up my garage. Why do we help one another, serve one another and model Jesus for one another and for our neighbors and strangers? Because we do not want to forget the Grace that was shown to us: In Isaiah 53: 5

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53: 5

If you and I consider where we were before we repented, living as forgiven by the Grace of God through Jesus’ Blood, then we can continue to bear with the ‘light and momentary’ suffering (2 Corinthians 4:17). And we continue to make Jesus known to those around us. And in humility, live at the foot of the Cross.

thoughts for the Lord’s Supper today:

Lord God, thank you for your Grace through the body and blood of Jesus. We come to you humbly to be forgiven of our weaknesses, failures, and sin through this bread and this juice. We know that the Grace that surpasses our understanding heals us, as we work to know you more and to live as Jesus teaches us. We know you hear our prayers and that you are working to the good of those who love you. We pray also for those who are suffering, who are studying your Word, and for those who you know by name who want to follow you. AMEN

This afternoon, my father-in-law was at our home visiting when he felt ill. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he presently is being treated. He is no stranger to heart issues where he has been in hospital at least once a year. But he drives cross-country all the time visiting family. God watches over him too, though he has never been a church – goer. We believe that his health and recovery is more than just technology.

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