Today’s Thought and Text of Encouragement:
“When thou goest, thy way shall be opened up before thee step by step.”
“I’m going by the upper road,
for that still holds the sun,
I’m climbing through night’s pastures
where the starry rivers run;
If you should think to seek me in my
old dark abode,
You’ll find this writing on the door,
‘She’s on the Upper Road.’”
Today’s Study Text:
“Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory.”
“Praying Always” – Part 5
“A ‘Don’t-Forget-Me’ Prayer”
“My car is not my identity; it is transportation. My identity is wrapped up in the astonishing fact that the God of the universe calls me His own. He loves me relentlessly, understands my weaknesses, and forgives my sins.”
Have I ever been tempted to think that God doesn’t remember who I am and what my needs are?
How has my heavenly Father shown me that He remembers me?
“Every single person in our lives will disappoint us at some level. Some days they’ll be busy when we need them to be still; other days they’ll be self-centered when we need them to concentrate on us. Sometimes they’ll bruise us with harsh words aimed right for the soft places in our soul. They won’t meet all our emotional needs. They can’t; they have too many needs of their own. They’re sinners just like us. Only our Creator can love us perfectly, the way He created us to be loved. His love is the only thing that can define us without destroying us.”
“Be assured, no one -- man, woman, or child -- says “I love you” with more certainty than the Lord. His regard for us goes far beyond kind words and warm feelings, His is a show-and-tell love, held up for the whole world to see.”
Liz Curtis Higgs
We know what day of the week it was. It was Friday. A day we now refer to as Good Friday. Frankly, that term, “Good Friday,” seems out of place. Odd if you were the parents of the two thieves who were hung on crosses on either side of Jesus. How could a day be called “good” if your son was going to have to endure the slow, agonizing death brought on by crucifixion. Author Choan-Seng Song describes the act of being crucified in this most descriptive manner, “The cross was the nadir of human powerlessness and hopelessness. It was an irreversible end to everything standing for hope and the future. The cross stood for inhumanity, brutality, hell and death…the cross was anti-human, anti-Christ and anti-God. In the cross was concentrated the power of negation.” It is the last sentence that caught my eye for when I first read this passage, to be honest, I did not completely understand what the phrase “power of negation” meant. So I began to dig. Something we do a lot of here in Transformation Garden. I found that the word “negate” means to make something ineffective. It is the total opposite of the word “positive.” In Latin, negate means to “deny.” And if we look at the three individuals on crosses atop Golgotha, we would have to come to the conclusion that the individuals who hung on these vehicles of torture had been denied their freedom. And in the end they had been denied life itself.
But in the midst of this moment of powerlessness and hopelessness, a voice was heard. Most likely this person’s words were sporadic as he gasped for air, his body pushing against the harsh, inflexible wood of an implement of torture.
He was someone’s son. A mother’s beloved child. Somewhere in his young life, his feet veered off the pathway of good intentions and obedient behavior. Now, with a history that was outside the law, the law caught up with him. However, even at this time when he was to pay the penalty for his wayward deeds, we see a spark of the promise of a life which could have been well-lived.
Dr. Luke records the scene in this way: “Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be executed with Him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull (Latin: Calvary; Hebrew: Golgotha), there they crucified Him, and along with the criminals, one on the right side and one on the left…One of the criminals who was suspended kept up a railing at Him (Jesus) saying, ‘Are You not the Christ, the Messiah? Rescue Yourself and us from death!’ (Luke 23:32, 33, 39, Amplified Bible).
This taunting behavior illuminates for us the spirit present in one of the thieves. But we find the other thief had a recognition of the fact that he, alone, was responsible for his actions -- a trail of behavior that had led to the consequences of death. His response serves to give us a glimpse into his heart. His own sinfulness, especially when compared to the life of “One,” who only a few minutes before had, in spite of great pain and suffering, uttered a prayer of forgiveness directed at those who were the perpetrators of the brutality which was heaped upon Him, made him recognize his faults. “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing,” were the compassionate words which flowed from the lips of Jesus. And it was kindness in the face of cruelty which lit the fire in the heart of this powerless thief -- and hope began to rise again. A time of negativity was turned into a time of positivity. A time of powerlessness was turned into one of the most powerful moments recorded in the Bible.
As the thief hung defenseless, unable to change his circumstances, he reminded his companion God was there -- right on Golgotha’s crest. “Do you not even fear (respect, hold in awe) God, seeing you yourself are under the same sentence of condemnation and suffering the same penalty?” was his question. But he didn’t stop there. As he correctly noted, “We indeed suffer justly, receiving the due reward of our actions; but this Man has done nothing out of the way, nothing strange or eccentric or perverse or unreasonable” (Luke 23: 40, 41, Amplified Bible). This thief understood that the law had caught up with him. But in a moment of desperation, he hoped that mercy had outrun the law, for he turned to Jesus with this unforgettable prayer: “Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory!” (Luke 23: 42, Amplified Bible).
He knew a King when he saw one. And he could not deny the presence of Immanuel on that mountain of shame. God was with them in the presence of the Son. As Choan-Seng Song unfolds the reality of that Friday, “The demonic power of negation a self-destructive power…was powerless.” In Jesus response we come face-to-face with the “God who loves, who lets live and who gives hope.” As Jesus turned to the thief, His immediate response renders hope to every one of us who has had to realize that we, too, are powerless. We, too, hang in disgrace, longing to be remembered. Longing to be loved.
It is from the lips of Jesus that we hear these words: “Today, right now, at your greatest moment of need, I not only remember you, I will give you assurance that you are Mine. I will never leave you. You will be with Me in Paradise.”
For those times in your life when you feel hopeless, powerless, and unloved -- you are remembered. By the “One” whose love reaches out to each of us, no matter what our history. As Thomas Traherne so eloquently expresses, “The cross is the abyss of wonders, the center of desires, the throne of love…There we see a Man loving all the world, and God dying for all mankind.” It is from this place where you are never forgotten and always remembered.
“Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven, to earth come down;
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,
All Thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.”
“Boundless is Thy love for me,
Boundless then my trust shall be.”
The Love of God
“The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair, bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin.”
“Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.”
“O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.”
Frederick M. Lehman
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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