Red Letter Day: You Will Be With Me

Today we continue our series on the final words of Jesus on the Cross, by looking at the words Jesus said to the criminal being crucified next to Him. 

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43

When I was in middle school one of my friends was dating a girl whose parents were members of the fanciest country club in our area. One day our entire “posse” was invited to spend a day at the club. As a thirteen-year-old, this was like being given a ticket to paradise. We got to play the PGA Tour-caliber golf course, eat at the five-star restaurant, swim in the indoor pool, have uniformed waiters bring us whatever food we wanted, whenever and wherever we wanted it, and more. Best yet, we didn’t have to pay for anything! All we had to do was say “I’m with Amanda” and everything was handled. 

To a far greater extent, this is what it’s like to have Christ as our Savior. Even though we don’t deserve an eternity in His perfect Heaven we are given it solely on the basis of confessing Jesus as Lord. “I’m with Jesus” completely changes our eternity. It’s really a mind-boggling concept. God gives us guidelines for how to best live life (scripture, commandments, etc.), and we repeatedly choose to do the opposite. The price of that sin is an expiration date on our lives (death). Yet, look at what Jesus chose to do. He CHOSE to remain on the Cross, to suffer and die so that we may join Him in paradise. And, to top it off, he didn’t even make it difficult to join him. As it is written in 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

That’s it! Jesus suffered and died to pay for our sins, and all that is asked in return is that we confess our sins to Him. This Lent, I pray that we can all take the time to do two things. First, that we may all bend a knee and ask God’s forgiveness for the sins of our lives. Second, that we may all find time to praise God for the gift of His mercy and eternal life. For it is only because of his grace that someday we will enjoy the perfection of heaven, perhaps even uttering “I’m with Jesus.” 

 

The Plumber

Matthew 7:24 New International Version (NIV)

The Wise and Foolish Builders

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

I am always fascinated in how God works when he takes ordinary men and makes great things out of their lives. There was once a man who lived and did just that. His name was Smith Wiggelsworth. He was born in 1859 and lived to 1947. He was a man brought up during hard times.

He had to do manual labor at the age of six to help with the family income. He worked at pulling turnips. At seven he worked at a woolen factory for twelve hours a day. Then, he eventually became a plumber into his fifties.

He came to know Christ at 16 and helped with the Salvation Army. Later in life he got married and started a small church on the side. The Holy Spirit empowered him with the gift of healing. He struggled at unworthiness at being given this gift.

Later, he went to a Pentacostal Church and prayed for about four days and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He spoke in tongues. For Smith Wigglesworth, this changed his life trajectory. He walked away from his plumbing business and stepped into ministry.

He healed people out of wheelchairs, helped the blind to see, cancer was destroyed, and it is confirmed that be brought 14 people back from the dead. He went from being a plumber to an Apostle of Faith.

Smith Wigglesworth based his ministry on 4 key principles.

  1. Read the Word of God.
  2. Consume the Word of God until It Consumes You.
  3. Believe the Word of God.
  4. Act on the Word of God.

You might be asking today, “Why are you telling this story?”

I want you to see the importance of God’s Word. God’s Word brings wisdom.

Jesus is still in the discipleship business of using everyday, ordinary men.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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Clean Your Glasses

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NASB) ‘I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, ‘ 

Every single day we are faced with the opportunity to look on the world, our life and others, one way or the other, positively or negatively.  How we live, what we get from this life and what is accomplished with this life, is largely the result of how we choose to view this life.

Re-known biblical scientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf says, “As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain.  As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.”  Essentially, she’s saying there is a direct correlation between what we think and our reality.  

Think about it this way, isn’t one of the foundational precepts of our faith, hope, optimism about our future, God’s grand design for our life, others lives, this world and the next.  As a christian we are instructed by Christ to look forward in hope of the glory to come, expecting the fullness that is promised in Him.  So, why is it so hard for us to look first on the bright side of day to day life?  Why are we always so quick to believe the worst, wait for the other shoe, refuse to trust, to love to find joy in virtually anything?  Why is it so hard to clean our glasses and look on things with clear eyes and a bright heart?  According to Dr. Leaf, that “reality” is often times, what we chose, whether we think we did or not.  However, more importantly, God, through His word, says we are what we choose to be.  

So often, our circumstances, the fullness of life experienced, are direct reflections of how we have chosen to view the people, and the world around us.  So my question is, do you choose life, or do you choose death?  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Growing

 

Well, its officially Spring and things are starting to look that way.  We have had a little rain and some sun and there is a hint of green starting to show in the land.  Growing up on a farm, I took it for granted that things grow.  I wasn’t in charge of the farm operations, but I got to help with things.  I remember my dad loading bags of seed corn in the planter and after several days, just waiting for things to grow.  I was more involved in what went on in the garden behind the house where we dug in the dirt with our hands to plant potatoes and a variety of seeds.  This was more meaningful to me than endless rows of corn, because I could see more directly what helped things grow well, or not so well, and how it impacted the harvest we got from it.  What lessons do you take from the natural order of the world? 

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  Matthew 5:45

The same lessons are still available today, and take place in a variety of forms in my life.  A week ago, I had a few little helpers with me as I put down some grass seed in a few spots of the yard, as it is a good object lesson for life.  If conditions are good, in a month or more, we should see some results.  There are several variables that impact how things grow in the yard, field, garden, or anywhere.  Many of these are out of our control, such as the temperature, amount of rain, sun, wind, and animals, etc.  But there are things within our control, such as the timing of when we plant, where we plant, additional water, fertilizer, etc.  So, while we have some role in the process, its not a guarantee either way.  Ask any farmer, it takes a bit of faith that things will go well each year to allow for a good crop. 

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”   Matthew 13:3-9

What were the conditions that allowed you to become a believer in Christ?  Were they favorable or an unlikely scenario?  Maybe you had family or friends who shared their faith with you, or maybe it was a seeming random encounter with a stranger.  Could you imagine what it would take for someone in a country with less than 1 percent of Christians in the population?  In either case, there are no guarantees.  You likely know someone who grew up in a ‘good Christian home’ who is not a believer today, despite favorable conditions.  There are others who come out of seemingly impossible scenarios who’s lives are changed and are now champions for the Kingdom of God.  When you think about how people grow best, it is with a mix of adversity as well as good growing conditions.  Your faith grows when it is tested and challenged by difficult conditions in life, and causes your roots to grow deeper as you become stronger.  There are several lessons the Lord can teach us from the world around us, as we walk and grow closer to him.  This in turn will motivate us to help others grow as well.  How has your planting been going? 

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.  Colossians 1:9-10

Yours in Christ,

Clark

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