September 23 Devotional
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that because of your cross we are now able to join you in Paradise. O how we long for that day. Help that longing to be what guides our steps and our efforts this day for your Kingdom. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 23:32-43
Journal: Put yourself in the scene. Imagine being each of the thieves. As you see Jesus dying on the cross, what is your response? What do his words “Today you will be with me in Paradise” do within you?
Reflection: Jesus called it Paradise. The Greek word is paradeisos, which comes from a Persian word meaning a garden or well-watered preserve. It is a place of beauty, a place of life, a place of abundance, a garden of both pleasure and delight. The early church Fathers equated it to the place our first parents dwelt before the fall, yet not of this world but somehow above and beyond it. That’s a pretty magnificent place.
But the place might not be the most magnificent part of what Jesus says. For he goes on to say, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” I think all too often we get caught up in the what of heaven and miss out on the who. We get so sidetracked trying to imagine what heaven will be like that we miss the best part; we will be with Jesus—the Creator and Lover of our souls—for all eternity. Therefore, it is Paradise not because of what is there, it is Paradise because of who is there.
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Vitaly and Oksana Voinov live in Moscow, Russia. Vitaly is working with the Institute for Bible Translation (IBT) in Russia/CIS as IBT’s director. IBT has been serving the non-Slavic peoples of the former Soviet Union for four decades by translating the Holy Scriptures - Bibles, New Testaments, individual Bible books, and illustrated Children’s Bibles. Pray today for IBT’s publishing department as they work to juggle several Bible printing projects.
Since 1996, the Mission of Hope has ministered to the people of various counties in Kentucky and Tennessee from which 80% of the residents no longer have jobs in the coal mining industry. In their first event in 1996 they were able to assist 150 children. This past Christmas, because of the generosity of so many people, the Mission of Hope was able to help more than 18,000 children and their families with food, clothes, toys and hygiene items. Pray today forMission of Hope as they reach out to children this Fall with school supplies, backpacks and more.
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you promise us Paradise—life with you forever. Thank you that you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Thank you that you will quench our thirsty hearts and souls. Thank you that you will give us drink from the wells of the water of life. Thank you that we will be able to drink of you for all eternity. Amen.