June 26-30


The Sinful Nature of Man on Display: Selfishness
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” Luke 23:39 (ESV) Have you ever listened to two people describe an event from completely different perspectives—a car accident, perhaps, or a political debate? Their descriptions sound so divergent that you may wonder if they are talking about the same thing. Luke recorded something like that in 23:39-41: two criminals, dying the same horrifying death, on opposite sides of the cross of Christ. One saw another failed opportunity to get himself off the hook; the other saw and understood that the way of salvation was opening up for himself and the whole world. The first man (apparently) died in his sins; the second received forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. Perspective makes all the difference. Ask God to help you get or maintain a proper perspective in your walk with him—that of a forgiven sinner made clean by the grace of God. (Life Application Bible)
Pastor Mike shared this quote, “The gospel has been described as a pool in which a toddler can wade and yet an elephant can swim. It is both simple enough to tell to a child and profound enough for the greatest minds to explore. Indeed, even angels never tire of looking into it (1 Peter 1:12).”  How do you see the simplicity of the gospel in this passage? What are some of the deep truths in this passage?
Thank Jesus for doing the hard work of salvation so you may simply come to Him by faith and repentance. Ask God to help you have His perspective on sin and salvation.


The Sinful Nature of Man on Display: Arrogance
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” Luke 23:39 (ESV) Willard Scott of “The Today Show” remembers his radio days when he received his all-time favorite letter from a fan: “Dear Mr. Scott, I think you’re the best disc jockey in Washington. You play the best music and have the nicest voice of anyone on the air. Please excuse the crayon and they won’t let us have anything sharp in here.” (Willard Scott’s Down Home Stories) Mr. Scott’s fan most likely didn’t intend to insult him. However, one thief on the cross had every intention of insulting and belittling Jesus. The word “railed” was a constant and repeated hurling of insults at Jesus. It was like the little league baseball team constantly taunting the other team’s pitcher. He was blaspheming Jesus over and over again. The hard heart of the unrepentant sinner can make them arrogant and even hostile toward the things of God.
According to Psalm 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.” Why is it foolish and arrogant to say God doesn’t exist?
Praise God as being the One True God. Ask God to show you any areas of your life where you are being arrogant or foolish.


The New Nature in Christ on Display: Fear of God
But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?” Luke 23:40 (ESV) In The Chronicles of Narnia, an allegory by C.S. Lewis, the author has two girls, Susan and Lucy, getting ready to meet Aslan the lion, who represents Christ. Two talking animals, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, prepare the children for the encounter. “Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie,” said Mrs. Beaver. “And make no mistake, if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then isn’t he safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you!” (Our Daily Bread) The phrase “But the other” in Luke 23:40 implies a complete change of direction. The repentant thief had a heart completely different from the arrogant thief on the cross. The repentant thief had the “fear of God.” The fear of the Lord is a holy respect, awe, and sense of reverence that we have for Almighty God. The absence of the fear of God is a common characteristic of non-Christians. Romans 8:13 says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Proverbs 1:7 teaches that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Why is it wise to fear God? What are some of your inner beliefs that reflect a healthy fear of God? What are some outward signs that you fear God?
Praise Jesus for His awesomeness and for His goodness. Ask God to help you live with a healthy fear of God today.


The New Nature in Christ on Display: Admittance of Guilt
“And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:41 (ESV) The scene was San Diego Superior Court. Two men were on trial for armed robbery. An eyewitness took the stand, and the prosecutor moved carefully: “So, you say you were at the scene when the robbery took place?” “Yes.” “And you saw a vehicle leave at a high rate of speed?” “Yes.” “And did you observe the occupants?” “Yes, two men.” “And,” the prosecutor boomed, “are those two men present in court today?” At this point, the two defendants sealed their fate. They raised their hands. (Tom Blair, Reader’s Digest)
The repentant thief on the cross would have raised his hand if he could. He confessed his sinfulness on the cross and understood he should die for his sins. He understood that it was fair for him to be punished for his crimes. The repentant thief reminds us of the repentant tax collector in Luke 18:13 who cried, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” The thief also recognized his need for mercy. That is where true salvation must begin.
It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that anyone realizes their sinfulness and need for forgiveness. Why do you think it’s hard sometimes for the lost to admit they are sinners in need of a savior? When did you first realize your sinfulness and need to be forgiven?
Thank God for not giving you the punishment you deserve for your sin and for His offer of forgiveness. Ask God to open the mind and heart of anyone you know who is lost so they realize their need for mercy.


The New Nature in Christ on Display: Acknowledgment of Christ
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43 (ESV)
There was a man in London whose name was Mr. Peas. His name was literally Solomon Peas, P-E-A-S, Mr. Peas. Mr. Peas wrote these words and had them put on his tombstone: Beneath these clouds and beneath these trees lies the body of Solomon Peas. This is not Peas, it’s only the pod. Peas has shelled out and gone home to God. Now, friend, that’s exactly what happened to this thief. Jesus said to this thief, “Today you’ll be with me in Paradise.” Somewhere in a Palestinian grave are the moldering bones of that thief. But I want to tell you right now that the thief is face to face with Jesus because he simply prayed and said, “Lord remember me.” (Adrian Roger’s – The Theology of a Thief) The repentant thief on the cross realized Jesus had the power to save Him and take him to heaven. “Jesus, remember me” is a statement of faith from the cross, as Jesus saves another even while He himself is dying. This man’s faith had shown itself when he rebuked the other thief. He hoped to be with Jesus sometime in the future in the kingdom.(NET note) Pastor John MacArthur points out that one of the ironies of the cross is that Jesus did not save Himself but He did save the repentant thief on the cross.
How does this passage put to death the notions of soul sleep, purgatory, and salvation by works?
Praise God for the promise of heaven that was made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Ask God to help you remember today that this world is temporary and that heaven is your eternal destination.
Posted in