Bible Reference: Luke 23:39-43
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)
Bible Text: 39 One of the criminals hanging on the cross next to Jesus kept ridiculing him, saying, “What kind of Messiah are you? Save yourself and save us from this death!”
40 The criminal hanging on the other cross rebuked the man, saying, “Don’t you fear God? You’re about to die! 41 We deserve to be condemned, for we’re just being repaid for what we’ve done. But this man—he’s done nothing wrong!”
42 Then he said, “I beg of you, my Lord Jesus, show me grace and take me with you into your everlasting kingdom!”
43 Jesus responded, “I promise you—this very day you will enter paradise with me.”
OBSERVATION: Two criminals about to receive their due sentence for the crimes they were guilty of, yet each dealt with the ‘Man in the Middle’ quite differently. Both recognized Him as God, but their attitudes were totally opposing. We make those same evaluations every day, and because we are impacted differently, we often wind up making totally different decisions about life, based on those impacts. Perhaps we need to meditate together on the thought that God speaks to each of us daily, in some form or fashion, but it’s up to each of us individually how prepared we are to handle that, and how we process those God encounters.
APPLICATION: I am always amazed at the way that one church member will emerge from a church service on a spiritual high, because of the spoken word that day. Yet if you speak with another member who sat just a row behind, they got absolutely nothing from the sermon. One walked away blessed, drawn closer to the Lord, and determined to serve God better in every aspect of life. The other walked away untouched, unchanged, and no closer to God than they were before. This is very similar to one who might sit and read the Word of God. For the one who simply sits and reads the Bible as any other novel, they will search for certain styles of writing, and for a story-line that appeals to them. For the child of God interested in learning more about God, to hearing from Him, and wanting more direction form God so it could be applied to their life, they will seek God first, ask for His direction, and desire that He clearly show them how to apply what they will read. Each reader will walk away having read the Word, but I believe that only one will have discovered the voice of God. Unfortunately in life, we are very much like the two criminals, for some will be ready to fight back, find fault and negativity in everything they encounter, while others look for the good in others, and they look for ways in which God will use fellow humans to confirm His word to us that day. We have no way of determining how each of these criminal started off their day, but we do know that they each realized that their life of sin was now coming to a close through corporal punishment. They also had to deal with a fellow who was about to receive their same punishment, but never committed a crime. What on earth would they do with that? Perhaps one faced the situations of that day just like he did any other day – in anger and total disregard for everyone else. Perhaps the other one finally realized his mistakes and spoke to God that morning, knowing that he had but just a short time left here on earth. Something truly impacted their mindset as they hung there on those crosses waiting for the final bell. The plight of the criminals were extremely similar to ours dear friends, what we do with the Man in the Middle today, will determine what happens to us at the final bell. The criminals knew their ‘Bell’ would be rung that day. We also know that ours could be rung today! Are you ready for it?
PRAYER: Oh for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer’s praise…. The words of a popular old hymn, yet so true for the how I feel today dear God. You have reminded me once again in Your Word, that my attitude and my preparation for eternal life will make the difference in how my day is presented, and what I can expect when my ‘final bell’ is tolled. My desire is to allow You as Lord of my life, and under Your control and with Your awesome power, I would ask that You prepare me for the day ahead where others might see Jesus in every aspect of my life. I acknowledge that I must seek to be blessed, if I expect to be a blessing to others. Lord, have Your awesome will and way in my life today. Please also touch the heart of everyone that stops to meditate on this devotional today. May Your Holy Spirit speak volumes to each one about Your will for their life. AMEN!