“All Rise”

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“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” – Luke 18:7-8

Twenty-three years ago, I found myself sitting at the plaintiff’s table in U. S. Federal District Court with two very capable attorneys from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Legal counsel representing the city I live in sat stiffly on the other side of the room awaiting the judge’s entry.

As a pastor I had sued the city for the right to show the Jesus film on the life of Christ and to give out free Bibles at one of our taxpayer supported Senior Citizens Centers. I had been refused that privilege by the city, citing separation of church and state. In my view, justice dictated that Christian groups be given the same rights as any other group to present their worldview.

The Judge entered the room with the well known, “All Rise,” announcement from the bailiff. I was nervous. Would we win? Would justice prevail? Well, not on that day. The judge ruled for my adversaries and a black cloud of disappointment permeated our side of the room. We had lost.

The gloating city attorneys patted each other on the back as I silently left the courtroom. “God, where are you in all of this? Isn’t our cause a just one? Haven’t we been praying? What do we do now? Are you going to let an inimical judge prevent senior citizens, from hearing about the saving grace of your son?”

As I drove home, one thought kept continually entering my mind: “Just keep praying.” I felt like God was saying to me, “It’s not over yet!” And it wasn’t.

Two weeks after the judge’s ruling that day, we filed an appeal and in May of 1996, almost two full years after my original complaint, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit overturned the judge’s decision by a unanimous vote. A ruling was handed down that every Senior Center in our city and in all seven states covered by the Appeals Court, must open their doors to the gospel message of Jesus Christ without hindrance from that day forward. An emergency appeal by the disgruntled city administration to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected. As a further result, the case has become a legal precedent decision for every similar case filed nationwide.*

Do you have just causes that you have laid before the throne of Christ? Are you still praying for them? Do you still believe that He will bring justice in a way that will bring glory and honor to him? God’s hallowed halls of justice are lined with the faithful prayers of his people. Are you one of them? Will Jesus find this kind of faith in you and me, when he comes?

Remember, my friends, we are encouraged to “Be devoted to prayer” (Colossians 4:4); “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17); and “Pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6); because God is always listening as long as we’re always praying. Maranatha!

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