Who made the worst decision ever? There’s a link between this week’s message and the community-wide Good Friday Service, which is held annually here in PTC.
Seven pastors and priests from our community will preach a 10-12 minute sermon on one of the seven last words (sentences actually) that Christ spoke while he hung on the cross.
The 36th annual service with be at Peachtree City United Methodist Church at 12 noon.
Here are the seven last words of Christ:
- “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
- “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
- When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27)
- About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
- Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
- When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
- Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)
Friends, I urge you to make time to attend this meaningful service. This will be my 14th time attending – all since I left my “traditional” job. If you are reading this and are in transition, you won’t even have to take time off work!
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This week’s message about the worst decision ever made has to do with the two criminals who were crucified on either side of Jesus; here’s the story as told in the 23rd chapter of Luke:
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? 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, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The first criminal made the worst decision ever.
He had less than six hours to live. He knew it, and there was nothing he could do about it. He was hanging on a cross next to the Lord of all Creation and the Light of the World. Whether he decided yes or no, it was not going to change his circumstance or the length of his life here on earth one iota, but it would determine where he spent eternity. The man was about to die and he rejected Christ!
Here’s an excerpt from “Cries from the Cross” by Erwin W. Lutzer:
Both thieves had an equal opportunity. Both heard the words of Jesus, ‘Father, forgive them.’ Both knew that Jesus was ridiculed for claiming that He was King of the Jews. Both heard the witness of Jesus’ enemies, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One’ (Luke 23:35). And yet these thieves will be apart forever, each in his own separate destiny. Even as you read these words, one is in the presence of Jesus, the other in a place of isolation, grief and horror. What separated them was not the degree of their wickedness nor their distance from Christ; they are separated because one called on Christ for help and the other derided him.
Each of the robbers saw and heard the same things, but they made a different decision. Approximately 1984 years later they are experiencing the consequences of their decision. Ten thousand years from now they will still be experiencing those same consequences.
What struck me is that here in south metro Atlanta, we all have the same data (The Good News) and yet we have made different decisions about our relationship with Christ. Some have chosen Christ as their Savior and Lord – others have not, even though they attend church regularly. I’ve heard that only 20% of the members in a typical American congregation are truly Christians; that is, they have made Christ their Savior and Lord.
You can make the best decision ever.
My concern is that a typical JobSeekers meeting must be the same way. Most or all of us would say we are Christian, yet when judgment day comes, 80% of us may be headed in the wrong direction. Where are you in your relationship with Christ? If you haven’t made the commitment or you aren’t sure, I urge you to commit your heart and your life to Christ. If you are a believer, I urge you to pray that the Good News will convict others during this Holy Week.
Where you will spend eternity is not the only reason to choose Christ. I’ve found that having Christ’s presence in my life is the key to being joyful, no matter what my circumstance. Jesus said good and bad things happen to everyone: “He [God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).” We all face difficult times, why not have Christ there to lead you through them?
I admit that I had to look this up; here’s what you need to do:
A four-step salvation prayer.
- Acknowledge in your heart that Jesus is Lord.
- Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
- Believe that Jesus died for your sins and was raised three days later.
- Repent of your sins and get baptized in the name of Jesus.
To learn more, click here.
Friends, one of the times in our lives that we are most receptive to the Good News of Christ is when we are looking for a job and feel we are running out of options. Don’t make Christ your last option; make him your first choice. Lutz cites his mentor Warren Wiersbe as saying that the thief didn’t accept Christ at his last opportunity, but more likely at his first opportunity because he probably had never encountered Jesus before. Whether it’s your first or last encounter – or somewhere in between – today is the day and now is the time to believe in Christ.
Lutz concludes the chapter with this: “The thief’s forgiveness reminds us that there is more grace in God’s heart than sin in our past. We, like he, can also receive a welcome in the life beyond if we transfer our trust to the One who holds the key to the gates of paradise.”
See you Friday at JobSeekers – where we rejoice in the Risen Christ.
Copyright © 2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved