As I start this day and consider what day it is as well as some of the messages that I have heard through the books I have been reading today’s topic came to mind. Be it Death Row Chaplain by Rev. Earl Smith and the people on death row and knowing their end was near and getting the opportunity to decide where they will spend eternity set before them. The interesting thing in that book was the people who were the family of the victims of the crimes who similarly knowing the end was near and getting the opportunity to find closure through forgiveness since watching the death doesn’t bring closure and definitely doesn’t bring healing to the person or the family. So seeing the signs of the times how would you respond? Would you miss your opportunity?
As I was reading today and started to consider how I can use my time better, Tommy Barnett’s book The Power of a Half Hour: Take Back Your Life Thirty Minutes At A Time, I started considering the signs of the times and the things I need to change to be a better steward of my time. I started considering my calling and special talent(s) and vision and purpose from God and how if I don’t do that special thing then it won’t get done God’s way – as He had intended. So I need to take hold of the signs of the times! I need to take this opportunity to complete the good works God prepared in advance for me to accomplish!
And with yesterday having been Good Friday, the idea of Jesus on the cross between two criminals and similar to the people on death row, they both knew it was their end, they could see the signs of the times, and yet they had different responses towards Jesus. Let’s grab a snapshot of what took place:
‘Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”’—Luke 23:39-43
‘With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.’— Mark 15:27-32
‘Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.’— Matthew 27:38-44
We see in Luke how the two criminals, robbers, thieves responded to Jesus. One joined in with the people in the crowd but the other realized the signs of the time and humbled himself to Jesus. Like the people on death row, these men had to make a decision of where they were going to end up when their execution was done.
We may not be sentenced to the death penalty but the reality is that we will all die one day. And on that day when our physical body dies, where will our spiritual being end up? We need to realize the signs of the times! We need to take the opportunity set before us to accept the grace of God through Jesus so that we can be forgiven and get to spend eternity with God rather than the alternative of spending eternity in Hell, apart from God! We each have to make that decision for ourselves, nobody else can make it for us! Being Easter weekend, can you think of a better time if you haven’t already made the decision to make the decision? Will you make your decision before it is too late and you find yourself at the Judgement Seat of God and get sent to spend eternity apart from Him?
Don’t miss your opportunity!
Today in Paradise
MEMORY VERSE OF THE DAY: Luke 23:43
‘And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”’
POINTS FROM THE DEVOTIONAL:
- Three people put on crosses – 2 thieves and Jesus
- One joined in with all the screaming at Jesus and said ‘Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”’ — Luke 23:39
- One must have heard and knew about Jesus because he gave a different response: ‘But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” ‘ — Luke 23:40-41
- The second one must have known about and believed in Jesus because he added to his comment to his partner in crime when he turned to Jesus: ‘Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”’ — Luke 23:42
- Remember how Jesus was abandoned when things were going down?
- Remember how people denied knowing Jesus when things were going down?
- Remember how Jesus was betrayed when things were going down?
- Now imagine a criminal sentenced to crucifixion turning to Jesus and how that made Jesus feel.
- Now consider how Jesus responded to him: ‘And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”’ — Luke 23:43
- Imagine the peace, the joy, the hope that would have come over that criminal from hearing Jesus’ promise.
- Imagine the transformation of heart and mind between before meeting Jesus and after meeting Jesus. Imagine the testimony this man would give to people about how his life was transformed by Jesus.
- Don’t let your past define you, what matters is your identity in Christ and your eternal destination in heaven with God.
- Are you ready for such a change today?
DISCUSSION TOPICS FROM TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:
How does the promise of paradise affect your perspective about death?
- It is not only a sign of what is to come for those who believe and receive Jesus but a promise of how eternity with God will be.
- Paradise, looking up the definition and synonyms brings up some very interesting things – all positive and most pointing to God.
- Will you accept the gift of grace from God that is Jesus?
- Will you share how God transformed your life through Jesus by telling people your testimony of life before and after your encounter with Jesus?
How does it shape your view of life today?
- It is important to make the right decision here today rather than run the risk of missing out on paradise when it is time for us to die in our physical bodies and move into our spiritual bodies for eternity.
QUOTE(S) FROM TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:
Today’s reading from Tanakh:
Where are you at today? Are you looking for guidance? Are you wondering where to turn? Are you at the end of your rope and needing help? Are you ready for some help? Are you ready to turn to God and ask? seek? knock? Let’s pray together.
Did you pray with me? Would you be willing to leave me a comment so that I can pray with and for you about such an incredible decision? Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment on my blog, why not email or text me instead?