Scripture: Luke 23:39-43 – One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Reflection: If we have breath in our body it’s never too late. I’m certain when this unknown criminal found himself hanging next to the Savior of the world, he had no expectation of eternal life; his life was ending, and he knew he was being punished justly for his deeds. If you notice, the criminal didn’t provide a stirring prayer, he didn’t get down on his knees and profess all his sins, he surely had some; he simply looked to Jesus and said what was on his heart…” remember me when You come into Your kingdom”.
What unbelievable faith!
What a short, unsuspecting, appeal.
Have you ever been drawn to Jesus when you were somewhere uncomfortable; when you were somewhere you didn’t expect to find Him? Stop in the middle of your situation and ask Him to remember you. When you find yourself at the end of your proverbial rope, stop and ask Him to remember you. This statement, however, requires faith. Do you have the faith of the criminal? His situation was such that he would not live to know if Jesus remembered him, but he still felt sure enough to make his final request…” remember me….”.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for remembering me. There were many times when I had come to the end of my rope, and You pulled me up. There were many times when I felt that surely what I was going through was going to break me but thank You for remembering me. Thank You for being a God who meets us where we are, broken, bruised and torn, but never forsaken. Never forgotten. In the worst places, at the worst times, thank You God for remembering me. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
Scripture: Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV – Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Reflection: Forgive and forget – I’m sure we have all heard that once or twice in our lifetime. There are some situations I still find myself reeling over, holding on to years later, and allowing the situation to bring up feelings of bitterness and anger. Just when you thought you were over the broken heart, you saw him again and every emotion you felt at that moment came back. Just when you thought you had forgiven someone for the abuse, you saw or heard something that made you feel as vulnerable and defenseless as you did all those years ago.
I have always felt like the act of forgiving someone was giving them permission to do the same thing again; forgiving them somehow diminished the hurt they caused.
Oh, but it doesn’t!
Forgiving others allows God the room to forgive us for our wrongs. Forgiving others sets us free from our own transgressions when we seek forgiveness from God. Forgiving others bring us closer to Him whose forgiveness we require. I don’t want to pretend that forgiving is easy, but it is necessary.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me. Forgive me for the things I have done that have caused me to drift away from You. Forgive me for being unwilling to accept the fact that I need forgiveness – that I do, indeed, cause others to hold on to bitterness. Also, give me a heart of forgiveness that I can forgive those who have caused me to hold on to old pains. Help me to not continue to hurt others because I am hurting. Let this be done so I can be set free to receive Your blessings. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
Scripture: Habakkuk 3:17-18 – Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Reflection: I will be the first to say that it is a hard commission to praise God when nothing seems to be going your way. I’ve been there – my testimony has been full of days when the promises of God escape me but He proclaimed, in Isaiah 55:11, his promises will never return void. My reality may sometimes be that I have more bills than money, more work than time, or more fear than faith; but how do we overcome the anxiety attached to lack, and live with the conviction of Habakkuk? How can we be joyful, even when everything around us is in disarray?
Mark 11:22-24 – “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to remember all the times You have turned my situation around; help me to understand that even when things seem to be at their worst, You are at Your best. Let me hold fast to the promise that You will never to leave or forsake me. Give me peace in the trials I face, to handle them with patience, grace and dignity. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Scripture: Exodus 36:2 & 4-5 NIV – Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.”
Reflection: In the first verse above, we see that Moses summoned a few folks to come and help with the building of the sanctuary. He summoned Bezalel and Oholiab but he also requested the presence of those “…whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work”. This tells me that the Lord had given skill to some of us who weren’t willing to come forward and help with growing His kingdom. I would like to say that each time I was called to work, in the name of the Lord, I came. I would like to think that each time I needed to pick up my cross and follow Him I did. I would even like to think, at the least, that each time I needed to stop and say a prayer for someone I did, but unfortunately for me I wasn’t always willing.
In Exodus 4-5 we see where the workers came forward and exclaimed to Moses that “the people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done”. So, imagine this, not everyone who was skilled to do the work came forward but the few that did answer the call were able to do more than was expected! How awesome is that! Can you imagine what the kingdom of God would look like without lack? This is exactly what would happen if we all answered the call to service. If we all were willing to love our neighbor as ourselves – Mark 12:31; if we all were willing to take care of the less fortunate – Matthew 25:40; if we all were willing to do good works – Ephesians 2:10; if we all were willing to proclaim the gospel to all the nations – Mark 16:15. Oh, if we were only willing to be more like Christ and less like the world – Romans 12:2.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for allowing me the ability to serve You. Although I know there are times when I fail, when I don’t take up my cross and follow You, I thank You God for the opportunity. Thank You for giving me a new chance, each day, to do good works in Your name. Help me to be more like the skilled workers who were willing to come. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Scripture: Esther 4:14 NIV – For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?
Reflection: I used to have a hard time speaking up for myself. I would remain silent when I knew my voice needed to be heard. I would often remain silent because I knew someone else would say exactly what I was thinking – eventually. Someone with more nerve than I had would come to the defense of the offended; someone would speak up when people were mistreated, it didn’t have to be me; I had convinced myself of this!
When I became a wife, mom, and a manager, I didn’t have the luxury of staying quiet during times of unfairness. I had to say what was necessary, and be the voice of those who trusted me to speak up for them. We may not all be placed in royal positions, like Queen Esther, but we are all placed where we are, for a reason, “…. for such a time as this”. Leviticus 5:1 says “If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be held responsible for not making the choice to defend the truth.
Prayer: Father God, please help me to remember that I am here to serve a greater purpose. I am placed here, in this season of my life, to attend to Your kingdom and bring others closer to You, by being mindful of the power I have when I speak up in love and in fairness. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.