May 28, 2010

Next to God Himself

39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Has anyone ever heard anything happier? Think about where this guys is coming from. He's a criminal, one poor enough and disliked enough to get death by crucifixion; and he knows it. We don't know about this guy's life before he was put on a cross, except that he was recently a criminal. Regardless, he's not happy with how life is going.

Then, as he's being killed for his crime, while the blood is leaving his body and the pain is increasing rapidly, he meets Jesus. For whatever reason, he believes that Jesus is who he said he is; whether this decision was made a while ago or just before he spoke is unknown, but he expresses it now in rebuking the harsh words of the other criminal being crucified.

While they are both dying, the man on the cross asks Jesus "...remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus responds with "Today you will be with me in paradise."

"Today" is pretty soon. Most Christians, nowadays, have no idea when they're going to die and go to heaven. This guy is told that very, very soon, he's going to be with Jesus, in Paradise. And all this right at the end of a very bad time in his life, that ends it! He's a criminal who was sentenced to death, and this is what he finds. He finds Jesus, faith, and a promise that very very soon there will be no more pain, no more frustration, and that he'll be with Jesus forever.

I love to imagine what it's like for God to plan out our lives. When he creating the world, he knew that this man would be a believer, and that they way to make it happen was to have him end up on the cross next to God himself. The way to get to his heart was to put him on a cross next to Jesus. God' got just as powerful a story for you... just love him and walk in obedience to him, and he'll begin to unfold his awesome plan for your life.

May 21, 2010

The Faith Grind

Waiting on God and don't know what to do? Does it suck? Do you just want to take the easy way out, if there is one? And if there's not, do you wish there was?

Well, have I got some advice for you! (but not an easy way out)

1. Pray. Duh. Pray that God would teach you what you need to be taught, and change in you what needs to be changed. Pray for #3 on this list. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 sums it up very simply when it says "Pray continually." I feel that I should also mention Psalm 66:18- "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened." Look at your life, the things you do, and see what you feel convicted about to cut out of your life; or anything that just plainly contradicts the Bible.

2. Read your bible, and do #1 before you read. Hebrews 4:12- "The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword, it penetrates even soul and spirit [as in, emotions and your true eternal self], bone and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." You will find stories you connect with and advice that applies directly to you.

3. Talk to a trusted Christian friend about it, on a regular basis. Pray that God will send you someone who's going through something similar, or has gone through it in the past; this will help immensely. Proverbs 27:17- "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

This list isn't exclusive; there are many other good things you can do. These are just the top three that have helped me out (although I would argue 1 & 2 should be on everyone's list. And probably 3). It's important to remember as well that God's a person, a being, not an equation or a checklist; these are just healthy things to do to get your relationship with him going and get your heart and attitude back on track.

May 19, 2010

To the Very End

...surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
-Jesus, in Matthew 28:20
Jesus doesn't waste words. If he only had to say "surely I am with you always," he would have. For some reason, he chose to add "to the very end of the age."

Jesus always includes our imperfection in his plan for us. He knew that in times of trial we would start to doubt him in our hearts; he had even seen it many times with the disciples. This is such a universal tendency (yes, you're not the only one) that a second assurance was necessary; he's with us no matter what, right up to the moment of the rapture.

It's not about whether we feel like he's with us or not; he always is. Do you think David "felt" like God was with him when he was hiding in the field waiting for Jonathan to tell him whether he had to leave for good or not? But God was still there, the whole time.

Remember that fact and act on it. Don't give in to the despair of your circumstances.

That's all.