By 9:30--yes, they started an hour and a half later than announced, anything new or strange about that?!?!--about 25 adults and another 15-20 kids had gathered in the tiny living area of the cane shack which serves as their meeting place. With that many people in a single room with only a tiny open window for air, my only thought was how I might politely trade seats with someone already sitting by the window! Thankfully someone got inspired to suggest that two of the sisters take all the kids over to another house a couple of blocks away and meet with them there separately. This seemed like a good idea to the brethren, and that is exactly what was done! Whew, we now had a little more air to breathe!
I had been invited by this group of new believers to share with them una palabra de Dios (a word from God.) For these kinds of gatherings, I never know what the Lord may be up to, so usually go prepared with any number of different Scripture passages, teachings, words of encouragement, etc. depending on where I sense the Spirit of the Lord dealing with the group. This day was no exception.
Early on in the meeting, a woman asked for prayer for the sick child she was holding in her arms. She had been up all night with her screaming son's unabated cries of pain. All night she had rocked and held him, praying to God to heal her 4-year old son. It was obvious she was exhausted and in deep anguish. My first thought was to wonder what on earth she was doing there meeting with us, when her child obviously needed medical attention. Silly me, what BETTER place could she go than be in the midst of true believers gathered in Jesus name!
Before I could utter any words of consolation, or even pray, a sister spoke up from the adjoining room (we simply couldn't fit all 25 in the tiny room with the window) that Jesus had brought to her mind the passage in John 11 where Jesus said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God..." For some reason, this seemed to prompt the mother of the sick child into an unsolicited confession...
It's all my fault. Several weeks ago I stopped coming to these gatherings with you all, and now God is punishing me. I know Jesus won't heal my child until I start meeting with you again. So, here I am. Please pray that God would forgive me for not coming to the meetings, and pray that He would have mercy and heal my son.
Bad theology? Quite definitely. But when combined with the John 11 word, only set the stage for an unforgettable time the Lord had in mind for all our edification.
Before praying, I simply said, "let's see what God has to say about this situation with the sick child."
I invited them to open their Bibles to Romans 8. What followed was an incredible time of sharing together the truths found in these verses. One could visibly see the lights being turned on in the faces of these new believers as God's truth and purposes was revealed verse by verse...
* no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...
Jesus was not condemning her for missing the meetings. She was completely liberated from condemnation. It is the Devil who condemns, not Jesus.
* you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, [instead...]
* you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"
* we are children of God
We are CHILDREN OF GOD. Does God not take care of his own children?
* and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ...
Not only are we children, we are fellow heirs with Christ--ROYALTY!
At this point we paused and brought the child to the middle of the room. As many as were able, laid hands on the boy and we began to pray as uncondemned heirs with Christ, unfearful adopted sons, crying out boldly to Abba Father for his healing...
* ...waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body...
After the last person had prayed, the little boy jumped out of his mother's arms, and ran out of the room to play with the other kids. There didn't seem to be a trace of sickness in his body! I turned to the mother and said, "I think your son is better, don't you?" She just smiled, as all of us began to feel the awesomeness of our God and the truths of His Word--who we really are in Christ Jesus.
* the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words
* He [the Holy Spirit] intercedes for the saints according to the will of God
* God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose
* those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son
As each truth was presented, it almost became too much to take in all at once. Everyone began talking at once. It seemed too good to be true--and yet these things ARE true! Impromptu testimonies and stories were shared...
* these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified
* Christ Jesus...who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Both the Holy Spirit AND Jesus intercede for us before the Father? That's exactly what it says! If we have both Jesus and the Spirit praying for us, why worry about things? Everything, everything--good and bad that happens to us--everything is under His control! Everything is used by our Abba Father to work good in shaping each of us into the image of Jesus.
* if God is for us, who is against us?
* Who will bring a charge against God's elect?
* God is the one who justifies
* how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
* Who will bring a charge against God's elect?
* Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
* ...in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us
* neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How can I describe the joy that radiated in people's faces to realize who they TRULY are in Christ Jesus? One after another people began to share with one another... "I did not know these things. How great is our God! I am royalty! Laughter...more laughter! A few tears! I knew Jesus loved us, but didn't know it was this much! How much we love you, Jesus! This puts a whole new light on everything! I am not poor, I AM RICH!"
Let's sing some more...
The Lord's Supper observed and led by one of the new believers...
Let's EAT!!! (and we did, a big plate of rice with a piece of chicken for everyone)
And more singing...
So, can even bad theology be used by our loving Abba Father to bring about good and edifying his children? You bet!