A sinner has to repent first; otherwise forgiveness makes no sense. That’s why the lost must first realize they cannot rescue themselves; otherwise salvation makes no sense. That’s why love can only be complete if it is both given and received; otherwise it is either a bondage or a dependency.

Some forty-five years ago a clergyman was sitting in his office. Unknown to him, several blocks away, a bank was being robbed by three men. As they departed from the bank one of the robbers shot and killed a teller. Attempting a get away in their auto they encountered mechanical problems only a few blocks from the bank. Leaving the car they made their way into the church where the pastor was located. The three men came into the church with mixed emotions: one wanted a hostage, one hoped for some help, and the last one was unsure of his motives. With gun in hand they encountered the preacher. In the process the telephone rang and they told him to answer. For unknown reasons as he was talking on the phone they attacked him with fists and guns. He fell to the floor under the onslaught and the robbers continued their assault. They stopped when they realized the head could not be wedged any further and the assault had removed one of the victim’s eyes. Nearly a year passed before the preacher left the hospital, he returned to his pastorate. In the meantime, the three were apprehended. The one robber who had killed the teller was sentenced to death. The other two were tried separately and the pastor was a witness at the trial.

On the day the sentence was to be given, the pastor stood in the court room and asked the judge for a point of personal privilege. The pastor requested that instead of the two being sentenced to jail, that they be released to his care and custody and be allowed to go home with him and his wife and live with them as their sons. The court, though shocked, granted the request on the privison that if the men in any way broke the law — their sentence to go to jail would be enforced. One of the men would not respond except negatively. The young man was sentenced to prison. Nearly two years passed. One afternoon, a knock came at the office door. He hurried across the room and leaned across the desk and with tears swelling up in his eyes said, “Under God, you’ll never know the way I feel every time I look at you. Don’t you realize I was the one who beat out your eye.” The pastor replied, “Yes, I know it was you. The man told the pastor,
“I want to become a doctor and help people who are blind.” Today on the West Coast the man performs surgery to aid the visually impaired.

Philip went to Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He amazed them with his magic. Simon himself believed and was baptized. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.

Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” Repentance is truly a gift from God. It is godly sorrow for our sins. We admit that we have sinned against God. Ask God for forgiveness. And change our ways.

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