Rules of the Game

Today’s reading:  Matthew 7, Psalm 80

Last September, I told you about my workgroup engaging in the Gallup organization’s Strengthsfinder 2.0 exercise. Remember how I told you I didn’t like team building exercises because I’m always afraid the leader is going to make me hug my co-workers, hold hands or do something else I don’t want to do?  A whole year later, I want to be sure you know I have not changed.  I still hate these exercises.  I do, however, recognize their value.  That’s why I keep coming back to them.  Understanding why I am the way I am, and why I tend to do the things I do, helps me appropriately adapt to a variety of situations.

In Strengthsfinder 2.0 one of my top 5 themes was competition. I am energized by it.  Not really for the joy of competing, but because competitions produce a winner and a loser.  Understanding the rules of the game drives me to plot, plan and strategize on how I can win.

Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5-7 are referred to as “The Sermon on the Mount”.   This sermon, which he delivered early in his ministry, is arguable the most complete teaching Jesus gave on what it takes to follow him.  These are the rules of the game, they tell us how we can win.  This sermon covers various subjects – our attitudes, our responsibility to influence, murder, adultery, divorce, giving, prayer, worry and judging others – just to name a few. These are all ingredients in the overall recipe of what it takes to be a true Christfollower.  As we wrap up Chapter 7 today, I want to focus on verses 21-23.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

This sounds pretty harsh. Jesus had just devoted an entire sermon to describe how he expected Christfollowers to act in a variety of situations.  But he wanted to make sure they didn’t miss the main point.  People who called themselves Christfollowers and who were following all his rules, but didn’t have a relationship with him, were still lost.  The same is true for us – it isn’t enough for us to just talk about Jesus.  It isn’t enough for us to go to church.  It even isn’t enough for us to serve others in his name.  Jesus wants to be in relationship with us.  This is the most important rule.  In order to win this game, there is no other substitute.

Take Notice

Today’s reading is Matthew 6 and Psalm 79.

Do you ever have situations where things happen that you know are not a coincidence, and God gives you the right message (usually multiple) at just the right time? So many times, daily devotionals fit right into exactly what you need to hear that day due to what’s going on in your life. I had a couple circumstances this week that all fit together telling me they were not a coincidence.

It started with an unplanned conversation with a successful Christian business owner with much experience and wisdom through years of faithful servanthood. He said many times in his life he became anxious and tried to push and rush initiatives on his own timeline. He said over the years he learned when you trust in God and live life for His glory He will bless you in ways you cannot even imagine, but it will be on His timeline, not your own. We just need to live for Him and trust Him, and He will provide in ways you beyond what you can think of. Does this sound familiar (Matthew 6:25-34)? He compared this to the 2017 Super Bowl. The game looked like there was absolutely no way the Patriots would win.  In fact, it couldn’t have started any worse for the Patriots and their fans. Then, in ways no one could have imagined, everything went perfectly and the Patriots won leaving everyone thinking, “How did that just happened?” If you were a Patriots fan (which I am definitely not) and you knew the ending, wouldn’t you have felt differently during it? Would there have been any anxiety, stress, and maybe even anger in what wa occurring? Absolutely not! Maybe just a thought of, “Did we really wine this game..are you sure?” As a University of Illinois basketball fan, I still feel this way when watching our 2005 game vs. Arizona to advance to the Final Four. As Christians, this gentleman said when you live to glorify God, He will make things fit perfectly to eventually “win the game” throughout life on Earth, and ultimately assure us we will “win” the only game that matters by giving us eternal life. This man is doing some amazing things with his resources with more things in the works to glorify God, and he shared some amazing stories about how God fit the pieces together perfectly leaving me shaking my head in awe.

The second non-coincidental occurence came while traveling with a Christian brother, Patrick Scheina, the same week. I was telling him about this conversation, and we both began to share very challenging situations we had in the last year where God “bailed us out” and fit the pieces together in crazy ways that if you would have given us a million chances to figure out how things would play out we wouldn’t have guessed how they ended up coming together positively. How often do we even slow down to notice how God is working in our lives? If we did, why would we ever worry? It’s really almost silly when you think about it. Not only do we have his Word hear in Matthew 6 which we know is true, but we also have our own experiences! It’s hard to not judge and condemn the disciples when they get stressed about running out of food, a bad storm, and even His death. I can read it and think…”Umm..hello..don’t you guys remember what he just did a few days ago?” Then, I sigh and think, “Am I really any different?” No…we just have to wake up and look for the ways God works and reminds ourselves of them when trials come our way. We need to listen what what He tells us in His word. “Be still and know I am God.” Psalm 46:10. And also in Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

As Patrick and I were discussing things, he mentioned how important remembering and praying the Lord’s prayer is. He said how perfect every statement is and how if we really prayed it every day and reflected on every part, it covers everything we need to remember and request. If we applied each part to what was going on in our lives, it would be all we really need. There’s so much wisdom in Patrick’s statement. When I read Psalm 79, I couldn’t believe how much of it seemed like an Old Testament version of the Lord’s Prayer.

I was left shaking my head when 2 days after my conversation with this Christian business owner and the night I returned home from my trip with Patrick, I checked my next Bible Journal writing and found it was on Matthew 6 which included the Lord’s Prayer and a section on not being anxious. Coincidence? God is speaking and working in your life to write your story, and make it a part of His story. Are you noticing?

 

We are Blessed!

Matthew 5, Psalm 78

We are blessed! Shout it outloud!  We are blessed!  How nice to start a Friday knowing God has blessed us! I can just imagine Jesus, standing on top of the “mount”, preaching to a huge crowd who had gathered to hear his word.   Everyone might have been hushed so they could hear his words. People in attendance could have been just like us, those seeking mercy and grace, those seeking knowledge on how to live, and those seeking forgiveness.   Jesus takes the opportunity to teach his disciples and the crowd how to live a faithful life, to be joyful, happy, full of love and wisdom, and how to please God.   The Sermon on the Mount is obviously one of the most famous, impactful sermons Jesus delivered. Honestly, it is one we should hear every week. It just has a calming effect every time I hear it or read it and it is for everyone, no matter what state of mind or condition you are in.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

He blesses those who are humble, those who are being persecuted or bullied, and those who are sad. He brings realism to the message by addressing all types of feelings people of that day may have been experiencing. He had the foresight though to understand these feelings would continue to impact people on earth, just as they do today. I read through these Beatitudes several times and what strikes me is the word “blessed”.   The definition of “blessed”:

1 religion

a :held in reverence :venerated

  • the blessed saints

b :honored in worship :hallowed

  • the blessed Trinity

c :beatific

  • a blessed visitation

2 :of or enjoying happiness; specifically,  Christianity :enjoying the bliss of heaven —used as a title for a beatified person

  • the blessed Virgin Mary

3 :bringing pleasure, contentment, or good fortune

  • a blessed event

He wants everyone to feel his powerful word. He wants the crowd to feel as if he is reaching out to help each and every one of them. He addresses those who may be struggling with life and reminds them they are blessed.   We are pleasantly reminded of his message of happiness, of being honored, and of having good fortune. Sometimes, when times are a bit tough, I make a little list of my many blessings. It helps put things in perspective and brings me back to center. Maybe it’s a rough patch or some bad news, but the blessings list helps remind me that we are still blessed by God. I think the next time I have a down day or a down week, I will open right to the Beatitudes, for God offers us his blessing. He is here for us.

 

Shifting Our Focus

If there ever was a Psalm that I have returned to time and time again ever since I became a Christian, it would be Psalm 73. For some reason, this psalm has always captured my heart, and it resonates with me deeply.

Just read the first line of the Psalm, in The Message version… it says, “No doubt about it! God is good,” and I think we’d all have to agree with that. No matter which way I look at it, God has been GOOD to me. There may have been seasons in my life where it felt like the WAYS in which He was choosing to be good to me felt difficult – and not so good! – in the moment, but He truly has been good to me.

I love how honest the Psalmist is in the next four verses of Psalm 73. Verses 1-5 say,

No doubt about it! God is good—
good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
But I nearly missed it,
missed seeing his goodness.
I was looking the other way,
looking up to the people
At the top,
envying the wicked who have it made,
Who have nothing to worry about,
not a care in the whole wide world.

“But I nearly missed it, missed seeing his goodness. I was looking the other way…” these words stood out to me as I read this Psalm today. Does it scare you at all that it is so possible and so easy to miss COMPLETELY the goodness of God because we’re paying more attention to what everyone else around us is doing, thinking, saying, buying… you get the idea? Because this definitely worries me. I began thinking about all the times I’ve wasted mental energy looking the other way and looking at the world instead of my Jesus, and it was a good wake up call for me.

Friends, this is where Matthew 3 comes in. Matthew 3:11-12 (The MSG) says,

“I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I’m a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”

It’s a darn good thing that my God is the kind of God who can take that old me and the old life who still resurfaces sometimes. My God promises take the old life – the life where I miss the goodness of Jesus because my eyes are on the world instead – and trade it in for a kingdom life (verse 1).  He says He will ignite that kingdom life inside of me, and that He will clean house and change me from the inside out. What sweet news that is!! He even promises to “place everything true in its proper place before God,” and in a season of life that is particularly busy for my husband and I – with not much seeming to be in it’s proper place – this sounds absolutely phenomenal.

Friends, no matter if you’ve been a Christian for 3 months or 30 years, don’t forget that God’s promises are still true. No matter where you are at in your faith walk, Jesus can STILL clean house in your life and change you from the inside out. Don’t miss God’s goodness because your eyes are on the world… let Him ignite that fire within you, and watch your life change DRAMATICALLY as your focus shifts back onto the One who deserves all of you, every day.

God Has a Plan

Today’s reading is Matt 2 and Psalm 76

 

As I read through Matt 2 this morning I am struck by two things. One, the number of prophecies quoted and fulfilled in these few verses and two, the level of protection that God  had to lay over this young couple and their new baby to keep Him alive.

Let’s start with the prophecies. In vs 3-4, King Herod who is jealous of this baby and concerned for his job because of what he has heard about the baby’s future, calls all his best priests and teachers together to ask them some questions. He wants to know where this baby is to be born, and they reply with what a prophet of God wrote over 400 years earlier. Then in vs 17-18, Herod kills all of the baby boys in Bethlehem to try to wipe out the baby and his actions fulfill what God said through Jeremiah 500-600 years earlier. Then at the end of the chapter Joseph is told by an angel to take Mary and the baby back to Israel, which fulfilled a third prophecy which said that Jesus would be called a Nazarene. From this list of prophecies I learn:

1-God Has a plan. I am so easily swayed and discouraged by my circumstances. When I think about and remember that God has a plan and He will complete His plan, it changes the way my circumstances affect me.

2-Nothing is a surprise to God, nothing makes Him think, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming”. Living each day knowing that He knows what is coming my way brings a sense of security and the beautiful reminder that my God knows everything!

3-God is trustworthy and faithful to keep His word every time. If he says it, it will happen!

Next let’s look at and think through the early years of Jesus life and watch how God’s plan unfolds with God’s protection accomplishing every step in the plan. We saw yesterday how God prepared Mary and Joseph (kids) to be Jesus earthly parents. Then we know from Luke that these kids, had to make a trip to be counted for a census. Pregnant and almost due for delivery, these two take off from Nazareth to walk to Bethlehem, around 80 miles. Look, I’ve got to be honest here and say that the fact that Mary actually made this trip pregnant and on foot or better yet, a donkey is almost as big a miracle as her conception! (I am sorry, but I have to mentally put myself in the shoes of Mary and Joseph to actually grasp the meaning of the story.) Then, Jesus is born in a barn. This, in my mind requires a level of protection from God that spans more ground than I have time to cover here. Sometime within the first year of Jesus life, God sends His angel to Joseph in a dream and warns him to take the baby and get out of the country and to stay until God says to return, because the king is trying to kill their baby. What must have been going through their minds at this point? Is it not enough to go through the embarrassment and shame of a pregnancy before marriage, a scary and physically daunting trip and childbirth in a barn? Now they run for their lives because the king/President wants to kill their child. But they trusted that God would be faithful and keep His word and accomplish His plan so they obeyed. Really, when I put myself in their shoes it is amazing to me that they were able to trust and obey. Then when Herod dies, God tells them in a dream that it’s safe to return. God has a plan. Nothing that happens is a surprise to God. God is trustworthy and faithful to keep His word every time. If you need more evidence that this is truth, read through Ps 76 and watch for Asaph’s description of God accomplishing His plan fourteen generations before Jesus birth occurred.

Fulfilled Promises

My mom and I are going Christmas shopping together this week. Yes, it is only mid-October – so why Christmas shop a full two months BEFORE Christmas? One word: anticipation. My mom and I look forward to this time together every fall. We anticipate our shopping day, planning out the stores where we will shop, the gifts that we will purchase, and the restaurant where we will eat lunch – and in doing so, we also anticipate celebrating Christmas with our family.
In our text for today, which is Matthew 2, we read one small part of what we traditionally call the “Christmas Story”. Here, we learn of the wise men visiting King Herod, Joseph fleeing with his family from Jerusalem into Egypt, and their subsequent return to Nazareth.
Today, I’d like us to consider the promises kept and prophecies fulfilled that Matthew references in this chapter. In Micah 5:2, this prophet writes that “one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me.” This prophecy was fulfilled almost 800 years later. Matthew wrote that when King Herod asks his chief priests and scribes where Christ would be born, “They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah are by no means least among the rulers of Judah for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” (Matthew 2:5) Christ Himself was the fulfillment of this promise.
Let’s look at another example. The Old Testament prophet Hosea explained that God would one day call his Son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1). In Matthew 2:15, we read that, “He (Joseph) remained there (in Egypt) until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my Son.’” Over 800 years after Micah’s original prophecy was recorded, it too was fulfilled in Christ.
Thinking about these prophetic words which were fulfilled years after they were originally uttered simply amazes me. I hope you take some time to ponder these words today. Approximately 2000 prophesies in the Bible have been fulfilled – 2000! After you let that sink in for a few minutes, consider this verse, found in Isaiah 53:5 (NIV): “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah wrote these words HUNDREDS of years before Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross as a forgiveness for our sins. Oh, what a Savior!

Generations

Todays Readings: Matthew 1; Psalms 74

Generations. Life.  Family.

Last week, I had the fortune to celebrate my birthday and one of my main presents was a surprise visit from my younger brother Cameron. We have had the chance to talk, celebrate, eat, and fellowship this past week. It has given him a chance to interact with my kids and they have truly enjoyed each moment with him. He has had the chance to put the kids to bed, pick them up when they wake, take them to school and dance class, go swim class, and listen to them read their books. He has had a chance to experience my life and a part of our legacy.

As I read Matthew Chapter 1, I remember skimming through the first part and rushing to the birth of Christ.   I love the Christmas story, but God again has been teaching me as I grow how to slow down and listen to the parts that I have overlooked before. I have a renewed appreciation for the litany of names and linage of Christ.

Matthew 1: 1-18

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,[a] and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,[b] and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,[c] and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,[d]and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

At first I only see names and father of… , but now I see the people and the overall connection. These particular people are the direct influence of Christ. The prayers, songs, hymns, traditions that were the beginning of the Judaism faith were directly passed down through father to son. The initial sacraments and traditions and scriptures were directly passed to Christ. This is truly amazing for me to imagine. This is the essence of our beliefs. We have the bible inspired by the Holy Spirit, but Christ in human-form had a tactile and visceral experience.

Through this list of names and people, God is showing us that He has the ability to do great things with ordinary and extraordinary people; saints and sinners; good and evil people. Sometimes in our lives we question if God is purpose is being fulfilled through us, but we have to be confident that the Holy Spirit is using us for His Glory if we are willing to be used. From my grandmother I learned songs, hymns, and learned a passion for the Scriptures. By example, I sing, pray, and share the joy of the Scriptures with my children daily.

God, we pray that the influences that we have been given through family and experiences may be used for your Glory to be influences on the next generation, as they may know you better. Amen

The Gospel of Matthew

The first book of the New Testament Bible that most of us read is the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew is the first of four gospel writings, yet there is only one gospel about Jesus Christ and four different writers: Matthew, Mark, Juke, and John. The word “Gospel” means “good news”, and the good news is that Jesus Christ died on the cross, 3 days later conquered death by rising from the dead and offers salvation to all mankind…this is the Gospel.

The Gospel of Matthew was written for the purpose of revealing that the man Jesus of Nazareth was actually the King of the Jews. He was the long awaited Messiah who came from heaven to this world revealing to man the kingdom of heaven. Jesus fulfilled every prophecy that was spoken about Him in the Old Testament.

The apostle Matthew tells us the story of Jesus. In this book, Jesus performs miracles, shares parables, and teaches the ways of God. He is betrayed and crucified. He rises again and commissions His disciples to spread the good news.

So, how does the Gospel of Matthew apply to our lives? This book is a constant reminder that we have not been forgotten. Do you ever feel as though God has deserted you or that He is just not responding to you in your time of need? Matthew reminds us that Jesus Christ coming to earth as God in the flesh shows us His deep love for us. Matthew 28:20 says, “…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We also learn from this book what we are to do with our days. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”(Matthew 28:19).

The Gospel of Matthew opens with a simple statement of who Jesus is – The Messiah, and closes with a simple statement of what we should do – Make Disciples for Him!!

Additional reading:  Psalm 73

Overhyped

Today’s reading:  Luke 24, Psalm 72

My birthday is on Tuesday. As I was reading Luke 24 and preparing for my post this week, I reflected on one of my favorite birthday stories from two years ago.  I’ve told you this story before, but I believe it is worth repeating.

For my birthday two years ago, I decided we would go to my favorite fondue restaurant in Lincoln Park. We reserved a hotel, headed up to Chicago, got all dressed up, and took a cab to the restaurant.  This was going to be so much fun…

After the first cheese course arrived, my 11 year old started in. “Hey, I thought this was going to be nacho cheese.  This is nothing like I thought it would be.  Nacho cheese would have been way better than this stuff Mom.”  The second course came, and we had fun cooking our meat, seafood and vegetables.  Other than a minor fire started from trying to deep fry the garnishing greens, the second course was a success.  On to dessert – chocolate fondue.  Who doesn’t like a huge vat of melted chocolate with pound cake, marshmallows and fruit to dip, right?  Well, my kids were disappointed the dipping sauce was dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.  As we got back in the cab after dinner Freddy summed up his sentiment well.  Five spirited words – “YOU OVERHYPED THIS PLACE MOM!”

Our assigned reading has us in Luke 24, the account of Christ’s Resurrection, today.  It is significant.  The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the focal point of the Christian faith.  In fact, without it there wouldn’t be a Christian Faith.  Unlike my favorite fondue restaurant, the significance of the Resurrection cannot be overhyped.  Why?

It revealed Christ’s power over deathWe know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him (Romans 6:9).

It secured our victory over deathBut God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).

In 1976 the late SM Lockridge preached a sermon titled That’s My King! Do You Know Him? to a congregation in Detroit, Michigan.  Forty years later, this message continues to be impactful and inspiring message to many audiences.  May I ask you to use one of the links below to either listen to or read an excerpt from this sermon, then stop and reflect – is this someone who’s life, death and resurrection could EVER by overhyped?

That’s my King, I hope he’s yours too.

Audio – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX_7j32zgNw

Text – http://across2u.com/ThatsMyKing.html

Two Hearts

Today we have a front row seat to an unimaginable event. We get a detailed account from Luke, describing a Roman crucifixion. Scavenger creatures are probably approaching and stench is in the air. Death is near.

It is a scene of torture, pain, blood, sweat, and tears, along with eternity-altering dialogue between three people who can barely breathe and are about to die. There was no mercy, no hope, no rescue in a crucifixion; once you’re up there, death is imminent.

With this, we get to be witnesses to what are perhaps the final words of three men. I’d think that when someone knows they are going to die, their words and thoughts become very raw and very real, very quickly. I find it truly fascinating that we have this conversation in writing.

We have Jesus (not guilty) then two men who are guilty.

First, we have words from one of the guilty men:

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39)

Adamant, defiant, railing (I interpret “railing” to mean mocking or scoffing, much like the rulers and soldiers were doing). While he didn’t seem to be in denial of the charges at this point, there doesn’t seem to be any repentance from him.

And the other criminal with a different heart:

40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” (Luke 23:40-41)

Even the criminal knew Jesus was innocent, yet sentenced to death. We get a glimpse into the criminal’s heart and mind. He acknowledges Jesus as king.

42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

With that one simple statement of faith and a repentant heart, eternity in Heaven is his. The same goes for all of us, depending on our choice to either rail him or repent and call him who he really is: King and Lord of All.

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Luke 23 & Psalm 71

Picture: La Crocifissione by Michele Da Verona (c. 1470 – c. 1536)