WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the tag “Perseverance/Encouragement”

My Peace I Leave You

PEACE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmFd0MvU7zo

Perfect Peace: by Laura Story

“Peace is not the absence of affliction but the presence of God.”              Unknown

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in You.”   Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) 

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27 (NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”                         John 16:33 (NIV)

Dear One,                                                                                                                        The Word of God tells us that in this life we will have tribulations, but that we can find peace in Christ Jesus.  We should find encouragement in knowing He has overcome the world through His death and resurrection.  He offers His children peace in the midst of their trials and storms.  John 14:27 directs all believers to put aside fear and worry, and yet we continue to fall prey to fright and anxiety.  Why do we refuse, neglect, or forget the peace our God offers us so freely?

Isaiah 26:3 tells us that God will keep in perfect peace the one who has a STEADFAST MIND.  To be steadfast is to be resolute, firm, and unwavering in conviction.  This conviction and stance to rely on God lends itself to stability.  Stability and loyalty to God produces a peace that transcends all understanding.  This verse also states that the one who is steadfast TRUSTS in God.  Trust produces a steadfast spirit, which then produces a conviction of faith and reliance, which bears the fruit of peace and a sense of stability.

When we trust in God, the fruits of the Holy Spirit become more evident in our lives.  Romans 15:13 offers up a prayer asking the God of HOPE to fill those in need with joy and peace as they trust in His power.  By trusting God in all matters, He will fill us with joy, peace, and hope!  Indeed, He blesses His people with peace! (Ps. 29:11)

We find in Psalm 119:165 that those who love God’s law have great peace and that nothing can make them stumble.  With a solid knowledge of the scripture, the Holy Spirit can speak to your heart and mind, directing your steps so you don’t stumble in your spiritual walk. 

Peace is gained through a trust and faith in God.  It requires believers to consciously lay down their will and set aside their fears, casting them off with purpose.  Reading the Bible permits the Holy Spirit to direct our steps, thus reducing any anxiety pertaining to what we should do and where we should go.  Peace comes to those who trust a guide who is wise and able to do all things.

Finally, Philippians 4:6-7 describes a peace that transcends or surpasses all understanding.  In order to attain this peace, we must petition God with our requests and do so with a thankful heart.  The thanks comes in knowing that He hears and answers all of our prayers with His infinite wisdom and grace.  May the peace of our God be with you today, dear one.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”                                      Romans 15:13 (NIV)

“Great peace have those who love your law,
and nothing can make them stumble.”   Psalm 119:165 (NIV)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”          Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Affliction And Pain Is A Part Of The Race

runners

Hello Dear One,

Please go to http://facingtrials.com/ to read my newest article.

Blessings!!  Cheryl

Fall Upon His Grace

Friend-Sings-Song-of-My-

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”   1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

 “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”  -Author Unknown

Dear One,

This weekend, I will be singing the “songs of my mother’s heart” to her.  My parents are coming to my house to celebrate my son’s 21st birthday.  Unfortunately, my mom’s memory is slipping away and her health is leaving her frail and distressed.  I want to hold every moment with her close to my heart, as I know such times are a precious gift.  God may give me many more years with her…. But I doubt it greatly.  Good-byes are hard, especially if the body remains but the memories of intimate moments are forgotten.  Grace will be in great demand this weekend!

Grace is unmerited divine assistance given to the human race for the purpose of sanctification.  It is a virtue that comes from God.  It is given to us in order to glorify Him by how we respond to our circumstances. Difficult times will bring out the best and worst in each individual.  Hopefully, as I age and grow in my maturity with Christ, I will accept His grace and apply it in a way that is honoring to Him. 

I do hope that God provides YOU with His divine assistance, thus enabling you to journey through your own personal struggle. I trust that His heavenly grace will comfort your heart, as I am sure this same grace will comfort mine.  God told Paul that His grace is sufficient, so upon this truthful promise I will cling. 

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.                                                 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

“God’s grace is not given to make us feel better, but to glorify Him… Good feelings may come, or they may not, but that is not the issue.  The issue is whether or not we honor God by the way we respond to our circumstances.”  

Jerry Bridges

Transforming Grace

Waiting With Hope

Waiting

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart 
and wait for the Lord.”              Psalm 27:14 NIV 

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

Dear One,

How would you explain “waiting on God” to a friend? Would you define it as an “expectant hope, eagerly watched for with hopes of a quick arrival?”  Maybe you would simply explain it as “something one does if something tarries.” There are many scriptures that not only mention the word “wait,” but also actually command us to wait.  Psalm 27:14 is such an example.  However, within the command there is an added encouragement.  We are told to be strong and take heart as we wait.

It takes spiritual strength to stop, wait, watch, and allow God to work.  We can become discouraged if hopes and prayers are not answered in our own timeframe.  Heavenly timelines are altogether different from earthly ones and our Lord’s timing is always perfect.  It may take a lifetime to see one of your prayer request answered.  This kind of waiting will take a mature faith and spiritual endurance.

Patience is a fruit of the spirit and evident in the character of God.  Patience is the twin to Spiritual Waiting and the half-sister to Longsuffering and Endurance.  They all share a strong family resemblance but they are different just the same. 

You may be living with a long and painful illness while patiently waiting for a cure, or the promised rest of your eternal home.  Living with pain, illness, and suffering requires patience and perseverance.  In fact, illness and pain helps to mature all the fruits of the spirit within you.

Waiting for justice and looking for God to avenge personal injuries requires the fruit of self-control.  By waiting for God to judge those who have wounded us, we are guaranteed a just God will hand out a just consequence and penalty. Deuteronomy 32:35 instructs us that vengeance belongs to God.  The English Standard Version of the Word states that He will “take revenge and pay them back.”  Trust that all injustices are observed and are never forgotten or overlooked by your Father.

Isaiah 40:31 says that if we wait on the Lord He will renew our strength.  By resting in His might and His promise to answer the prayer offered in faith and aligned to His will, we will find new strength.  Instead of giving in to the exhaustion caused by worry, anguish, distraction, and fear, we are given an opportunity to refresh ourselves by patiently waiting on God to act.

Your ability to wait on the Lord is rooted in your confidence of who He is and what He is doing.  Is your faith built on a solid foundation of His character and love?  Trusting in His principals, promises, power, and divine purpose will enable you to wait in peace.

Psalm 33:20 informs all believers of HOW they are to wait for God; it is with HOPE.  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1) and a conviction of things not seen.  Hope is a part of faith and waiting on God requires both.  May the peace of Christ rest upon you as you cast aside your burdens, trusting Him to address them in His time.  I pray your strength is renewed as you wait.

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. 
 For the Lord is a God of justice; 
blessed are all those who wait for Him.”         Isaiah 30:18 (ESV)

We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.”Psalm 33:20 (NIV)

Will You Let God Determine Your Steps?

Lord Determin Steps

Hello Dear Ones!!

I want to update you on a few things as you are all very special to me.

First, I am now writing for three other blog sites.  I have posted them below.  I think you will find them informative and encouraging so I hope you check them out.

Second, my new personal blog Facing Trials ( facingtrials.com) will soon be up and running.  It will replace this website so make note of the site address.  It will hold my daily (trying to be faithful to this commitment!) articles.  It is a site for me to grow into, as there is a tab for how to purchase my book (hopefully available through Amazon by mid-July) and other tabs such as videos and pod casts.  I feel pressed to write but will eventually work more videos and technology into my blog.   I have three more books in the works, including a book of devotions, a book of prayers, and the bible study I have almost completed.  It is about my recovery from brain surgery.  In the bible study, I share the details of my brain tumor journey to healing and tie it to the lessons found in the wonderful book of Job.

Third, much has happened for me  in only seven months.  God has opened many doors and given me great favor with leaders in Christian ministry.  As an untrained writer, I am amazed by the positive responses I receive from all of my readers.  I know it is only because the Lord is using me as His “pen.”  I have laid down my public school teaching career to step out in faith and write for Him, hoping that it will eventually serve to support me financially.  In the meantime, I continue my second job as a nanny.  I am excited to see what He asks of me and where next He will lead me.  Who knows which door I will be asked to open next!!

I want to thank all of you for your patience with the blog site transfer (and for the new one to com).  WordPress is STILL working on problems that arose out of the Guided Transfer.  This has caused me much frustration and yet, I know God will fix things and is ultimately in control.

I have decided to keep the Weeping Into Dancing blog, using it as a weekly diary of sorts.  I will share more personal thoughts, photos, and bits of my daily personal life.

Blessings to you on this day.  Life is good when God lives in your heart!  Cheryl

Vine of Life News:  (Most Recent)  http://vineoflife.net/                                                          (Top Left: “Church and Family” scroll to DEVOTIONS

Good News Broadcasting & Multimedia:   http://gnbm.org/                                                   Scroll to the very bottom of the page and look for THE BARNABAS CORNER                The founder of this site has video tapped my testimony.  It should be posted in about 7-10 days.  I will let you know when it is finally up for viewing.

Inspirational Christians For Today:   http://inspirationalchristiansfortoday.com/

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere.”    2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)

Hope: An Anticipated Desire

God of Hope fill U Joy:Peac

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&NR=1&v=5Jj0ZTzgmGM

“If I Stand” by Rich Mullins

“There’s more that rises in the morning than the sun

And more that shines than just the moon

If I stand let me stand on the promise that You will pull me through

And if I can’t let me fall on the grace that first brought me to You.

And if I sing let me sing for the joy that is born in me this song

And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home.”                                  +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  Romans 8:24-25 (NIV)

Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us”   —Samuel Smiles

As you walk through life, in good times and bad times, hope will always be nearby for you to call upon.  Like a friendly neighbor or close friend, hope will never disappoint you.  God sends His children hope to pull them out of struggles and trials.  Rich Mullins wrote in his song STAND: “There is more that rises in the morning than the sun.”  He knew that with each new day there was the gift of a new beginning brimming with hope.

Anticipated desires, which we expect to occur, are hopes. All hopes help us when trying to cope with life struggles.  They remind us to look upward towards the heavens and trust in the Creator of the universe.  It is with confidence that you may present your hopes and desires to God.  He hears all the prayers His children send up to Him.  Trust that your hopes are obtainable, so long as they are aligned with God’s will for you.

There is joy to be found in holding hope in your heart.  It is a secret desire between you and God.  The joy comes as you wait for its arrival.  Will it disappoint?  No, not if you are hoping for something that pleases God. 

Your hopes may change as you wait for your desire to be fulfilled.  Why? It is because the Holy Spirit is constantly working on your heart, transforming you into the vessel God envisioned when you were still in your mother’s womb. He leads and guides us in the ways of the Lord. When your desire is graciously granted, it will be aligned with His purpose and plan for you. 

God’s gifts are always more wonderful than we can imagine.  His blessings are beyond our imagination and comprehension.  Hope in and ask for those things He wants to hand you, not the things you think you want.  Wait for his blessings to be revealed.  Patiently hold on to your hope and trust that every desire of your heart will be given onto you, as you delight yourself in the Lord.

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. “     Psalm 37:4 (NIV)  

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. “    Romans 12:12 (NIV)

God’s Will vs Willing

 

Trust w:All Heart

“Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
 save me and I will be saved,
 for You are the one I praise.”   Jeremiah 17:14 (NIV)

God can do all things. He is the great I AM, the Giver of Life, and the Creator of the Universe. He is Almighty in power and a just God. So why does He heal some and not others? 

I would define WILLING as having a specific attitude in which you are inclined to grant something.  It would include a tendency to lean in favor of something proposed.

I would define WILL as an intention, purpose, or desire. 

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying to His Father, He asked God if it were possible to avoid the crucifixion. Jesus than submitted to God by saying, “Yet not My will, but what You will.” Jesus was asking God if He was WILLING or INCLINED to find a different means to ransom the world as adopted children of God. 

God’s response to Jesus was a silent, “No.” Jesus had to face the cross and carry the sins of the world on His back. The death of HIS beloved SON was the means to a greater end.  The crucifixion was God’s plan and His purposes are always completed.  We may not understand how things work for good or why they must be, but through faith we grow to accept His plans and purpose as perfect and just.

It was God’s WILL or INTENTION to sacrifice His own Son so that all believers could live an eternal life through the blood of Jesus. Was this an easy or joyful decision for Jesus or Father God? No, but Jesus WILLINGLY became the sacrificial lamb and agreed to the WILL of God for He trusted His Father and knew His plan was perfect.

So now back to why God heals some and not others. There is most certainly a greater goal to be accomplished by the death. The loss of a loved one has been known to push an unbeliever into the arms of Christ. A death may be the only thing that gets someone’s attention.  Through sorrow we often examine our life and the condition of our own heart. 

Therefore, what the enemy means for evil, God can always turn into a greater good. God’s intentions, desires, and WILL are to have us draw near to Him.  If it takes a tragedy or even an early and unexpected death, we must accept the WILL of God.  Yes, we must trust that His intentions far outweigh that which we are INCLINED to pray for when we seek our God’s favor. 

We can find comfort in knowing that God is in control and He has a loving purpose or plan, a plan to prosper and not to harm us.  When tragedy strikes we can fail to see or understand the good in the situation.  Pain, loss, fear, and anger may be all we can feel and conceive.  Finding the future prosperity in tragic events will require soul searching, but God is not out to harm and destroy His beloved children.  This is when “walking by faith” must rescue us from the pit of despair set by the enemy.  He will always try to create hopelessness in difficult circumstances.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God’s plans for all of His children include, “a plan with a hope and a future.”

Even if that future is with a sick loved one who faces an early death, we must by faith choose to recognize that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28 NIV) Who knows how many souls will be won for Christ through the loss of the one you care for with such devotion?

Is your spiritual walk one where you accept the Will of God in your life with little or no question?  Are you WILLING to accept His plan for you and His purpose in those near you, no matter the cost?  Can you lay down your will and desires for His sake?  His purpose is always just.  God does not have to explain His plan to His creation.  Sometimes He will, but usually we are required to trust in His love for us and submit.  Walking by faith means we must trust in the purposes of God, even when we understand not why.

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’   He took Peter, James and John along with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ He said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’

Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him. ‘Abba, Father,’ He said, ‘everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.’”                                 Matthew 26:32-36 (NIV)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (NIV)

You Can Battle Worry With God’s Help

Worry-U R More Birds 

““Do not fret – it leads only to evil.”    Psalm 37:8b (NIV)

 “Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”    Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”    1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

That nasty villain named WORRY will often sneak into  dreams and robbed us of sleep.  How many of you know him and suffer from his harassments?  You can battle him in several ways and gain back your peace.  Look to God!

Memorizing scriptures that addresses anxiety and fear is a powerful tool.  It takes time and requires some review, but it is worth the investment.  The Holy Spirit will faithfully recall these memorized verses when you are in need.  He will also bring them to mind when you have an opportunity to encourage another with His words. 

Since *satan is unable to read your mind, it is wise to recited them out loud when anxiety strikes.  Hearing the words will comfort and calm you.  It will also give the enemy an earful.  The Word tells us in James 4:7 that if we resist the devil, he will flee.  This is a promise! 

God, as our teacher, is always encouraged and pleased by the efforts of His children to apply new knowledge. It is never too late to learn something new and to put it into practice. 

Philippians 4:6-7 is another powerful verse to memorize.  It reminds us to “be anxious about nothing.”  It continues on by instructing believers to approach God in prayer with a thankful heart regarding their worries.  This thankfulness comes from knowing that God hears every prayer and is in control.  So what is the promised result for following these instructions?  A peace that transcends all understanding!

When worry and anxiety starts to strangle you, fear is often not far behind.  Trusting in God’s love and faithfulness will help you by renewing your strength.  Reflecting on the might of God, the Creator of the universe will remind you that He has incredible power.  He sees all, knows all, and will handle all…… in His perfect timing and ways.

Memorizing scripture and meditating on His power can eliminate anxiety and worry.  However, there are other ways to battle your anxious thoughts.  Why not reflect on all of the ways God has shown Himself as a faithful Father. Reflect upon all the problems in your past and how they have been resolved.  If God helped you to solve problems back then, He will certainly do so in the present and in your future.

God is always in command.   Who better to take care of your troubles? In regards to your spiritual armor, the sword is the Word of God.  It helps in your battles with the evil one.  Don’t forget that you are fighting a spiritual battle every day. Satan, that prowling lion, looks for every opportunity to confuse and harass you. He wants to steal your peace. Don’t give him any ground!  Put on your armor, resist him, praise and thank God, recite all the ways He has shown Himself faithful and true, pray, and keep your spiritual sword sharp!  Worry does not have to paralyze you.  Trust God and be not afraid.  Give all your worries and cares to God. He cares so much for you.

 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.  In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.”                      1 Peter 5:7-10  (NLT)

 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”          James 4:7 (NIV) 

“I prayed to the LORD, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; He saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; He surrounds and defends all who fear Him.”                Psalm 34:4-7  (NIV)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”              Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Hope Will Move You Another Step Forward

Mercy Y Not Consumed

“If you’ll quit moaning and crying, I’ll use the things (trials) to make you into someone I can use in the lives of others; to show them that no matter where they’ve been, no matter how deep the hole, no matter how painful the trial, there’s hope. There is victory.”     Kay Arthur

Romans 8:24-25   “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Hope provides us with the strength to take one more step forward.   Hope will motivate the weariest of believers to continue on the path God has placed them.  It will never disappoint.  It is tied to faith and love.  If we love God, we have faith in what is hoped for and we are certain of what is unseen. 

After the flood, God gave Noah a promise and a hope.  We can still see His promise today, in the lovely shape of a rainbow after a storm.Storms are difficult and rocky. They will toss a believer back and forth and test their endurance.  They are meant to build spiritual muscles and our dependence on God.  He wants us to rely on Him and not in our own abilities, which He gave us in the first place. 

Hope is a feeling of expectation and a desire for a certain thing to happen.  Hope requires trust and a belief that promises will be kept.  It is with anticipation that hopes are realized. 

If you are working your way through a trial right now and you feel hopeless about your situation, consider this fact.  Satan is a thief and wants to rob you of hope.  If hope is lost, so is motivation and desire.  Hopelessness leaves us weak and powerless against the schemes of the enemy. Hopelessness gives him the upper hand.  In addition, hopelessness disregards the power of God. 

The Creator of the universe can do all things.  He is all-powerful.  We can do all things through Him who gives us strength (Phil 4:13).  Because of this promise alone, we should never loose hope.  Even when things appear dark and impossible to solve, we must remember that God is the God who makes the impossible possible.

Kay Arthur reminds us in the above quote, to stop our complaining about difficult circumstances and trials, as God will use them to mold us.  From the lessons learned within a trial, God will use a willing servant to encourage others.  That servant could provide hope for others, thanks to the faithfulness, comfort, and hope God has shown them from the very start.

We can rest in our hope that God’s grace is sufficient to carry us though fires and rough waters of many kinds.  Our endurance gained through difficult trials, will produce a character in us that is full of hope.

Romans 5:2-5   Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Philippians 4:13  (NIV)    “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Romans 12:12 (NIV)  “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,  faithful in prayer.”

Resurrection: God’s Victory Through Jesus

Jesus w:Mary & John He Is Risen

Luke 23:43 (NIV)  “Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

 Easter is a day of victory, love, hope, and promise.  Jesus suffered the incredible humiliation of the cross and endured great suffering for our sakes.  Let me mention just a few of the horrors He willingly suffered for our sakes, in the name of unconditional love.

Jesus endured the rejection and false testimonies of His chosen people.  His disciples denied and abandoned Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, only to follow Him at a distance.  (John alone stood at the foot of the cross with His mother, Mary.)  The Jewish people convinced Pilate to release Barabbas, a convicted murder, because they wanted Jesus crucified.

Soldiers spit at our Savior and made Him wear a crown of thorns.  They whipped him and mocked him and made him carry a cross to his place of death.  Nails through bone and flesh attached Him to a wooden cross.  After suffering separation from His heavenly Father, because of the sins He carried to the cross, He gave up His spirit.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (Jn. 3:16). This truly is a wondrous love!

There were two criminals crucified with Christ and both were guilty of their crimes.  One of the two men mocked Jesus and threw insults His way. However, the other criminal acknowledged his own sin and rebuked the other criminal for his scorn towards the Redeemer.

“Don’t you fear God, 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.”

He then asked Jesus to remember him upon entering His kingdom.  Jesus lovingly replied, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:38-43) 

This act of forgiveness and hope has given many believers comfort.  We do not know what happens in the final moments of a person’s life.  This story reminds us that it is never too late to be saved and rescued from the pit of hell.

While on our earthly journey, we are to walk by faith.  It is by grace that we are saved, but we are also told that faith without works is dead.  So did the criminal on the cross just manage to get into heaven by the seat of his pants?  Yes, probably so.  Did he have any rewards or treasure laid up once he got there?  After all, he wasn’t a follower and believer of Christ for very long. 

(Here is where I might surprise you with my thoughts.)  How many people were at the foot of the cross witnessing this dialogue?  I would say there were some, and they may have even decided to accept Christ as their Savior.  But now think about this:  How many people have heard this story long after the criminal entered paradise with Jesus?  I would say more than we could imagine.

I believe many have been comforted by this story of a last minute conversion.  Wouldn’t this alone earn him some treasure in heaven? Could this story be one that has led a multitude into believing that Jesus is the Son of God?  I am sure of it. 

It is never too late to give your heart to God, and start living FOR Him. If there is a lost soul you have given up on, remember there is always hope thanks to the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  He won the battle over sin and death and died for us all, including the prodigal son.  Because of Jesus, our sins were nailed to the cross once and for all.  It is a free gift for all to receive, if only we choose to accept it. With an open heart and open arms, Jesus is offering salvation to everyone.  May His sacrifice and resurrection give you enough hope to carry you through another year. 

Romans 6:8-11 (NIV)
   ”Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

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