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April 6

Today You will be with Me in Paradise

Click here for a video version of this devotional.

Take a moment to read Luke 23:39-43.

Luke is the only Gospel writer who tells the story of this criminal’s change of heart. Matthew and Mark include him in the list of mockers. As he observed Jesus’ journey to the cross, perceived His innocence and heard Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness, God changed this criminal's heart.

He asked Jesus for mercy, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The lesson of the criminal on the cross is simple: place your life (the good, bad and ugly) in Jesus’ hands.

Maybe you’ve read the anonymous poem, “It Depends Whose Hands it’s In”:

A basketball in my hands is worth about $19. A basketball in [Lebron James’ hands is worth about $37 million]. It depends whose hands it's in.

A baseball in my hands is worth about $6. A baseball in [Vladdy Guerrero Jr.’s hands will be worth millions someday]. It depends whose hands it's in.

A tennis racket is useless in my hands. A tennis racket in [Bianca Andreescu’s hands is Championship Winning]. It depends whose hands it's in.

A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal. A rod in Moses' hands will part the mighty sea.
It depends whose hands it's in.

A sling shot in my hands is a kid's toy. A sling shot in David's hand is a mighty weapon.
It depends whose hands it's in.

Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches. Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God's hands will feed thousands. It depends whose hands it's in.

Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse [not likely]. Nails in Jesus Christ's hands will produce salvation for the entire world. It depends whose hands it's in.

As you see now it depends whose hands it's in. So put your concerns, your worries, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, your families and your relationship in God's hands because...
It depends whose hands it's in.

What was the biggest difference between the two criminals on the cross? One was no less deserving of punishment than the other. He simply decided to place his life in Jesus’ hands. He humbly left himself at the mercy of Jesus.

Who’s carrying your burdens right now: the uncertainties of this season; the weight of things you’re going through; the burden of your sin? Put yourself at the mercy of Jesus. Don’t try to tidy things up before coming to the cross. Bring your blemished record and exchange it for His perfect record.

The amazing hope of Jesus’ promise is that there is no one who’s too far gone for God to save. Not those of us who’ve fallen. Not our neighbour who seems unreachable. All those who place themselves at the mercy of Jesus can experience paradise forever (salvation, God’s presence). Whose hands are you in?

Prayer: Father, we place our life in your hands. Our doubt, fear and pain. We confess our sin to you now. But we praise you that Jesus took the punishment for us on the cross.

Help us to live as people who are destined for paradise. Give us your peace and assurance of your presence. Help us to never see anyone as too far gone for your grace to reach. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

God bless you,

Pastor Andrew Melo