By: Pastor Ed Young
Posted: July 12, 2017
From Series: God is in the Gaps
Luke 23:33, 39-43,"When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.. 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."
There's something about the middle (no, not the TV sitcom) when it comes to our walk with Christ. The Bible says Jesus is enthroned in the middle of unbroken praise. And when He enters our lives, He doesn't remain on standby waiting for a shout out. Nor does He say, "Alright, you're saved, see you later". No, He bursts into the center of our lives and takes over. This transformation, as we know, is a process that follows our salvation. And within the process we often find trouble and pain, because that's life.
As Christ followers we are not promised a problem-free existence, but rather the promise of God's grace and presence in midst of it. Yet we often grow impatient because once we're saved our initial focus is on leaving the troubles of this life for the paradise that awaits us in heaven. But—and this is a big but—Christianity is not God's cosmic evacuation plan! No, the reason we're not zapped to heaven after the salvation prayer is because if we're here on earth we can bring heaven into the center of our situations. It's here we make the greatest impact as we strive to populate heaven and depopulate hell.
The fight for our faith is in the middle. Jesus was crucified in the middle of two thieves. The criminal to His left mocked Him. But the one to His right sought salvation. To the left, was the picture of sin and death. To the right, was the picture of belief, mercy, and eternal life. Thus, our focus must remain centered on the cross. Jesus' middle was between His death and resurrection. He spent three days under the earth so that we may have life, and have it to the full. So in the midst of our ups and downs, in our trials and triumphs, in our gladness and sorrow—Jesus is there to guide us. That's the greatest gift! We know we have the hope of glory, but our joy now is knowing that God is always with us and working through us for our good and His glory!
Father God, thank You for Your constant presence. No matter what I face, I know You are with me in the midst of it. Help me to be mindful when I feel discouraged that you are working through all things for my benefit. You are my everything!
As you move throughout your day, keep Deuteronomy 31:8 in your heart and mind. "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
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