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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Journey to the Cross - Today in Paradise

“The King James Bible gives me a mansion in heaven. Other translations only give me a house. I want my mansion,” my Grandma Milligan used to say. What is your idea of paradise? Today, Grandma is in paradise. I guess I’ll have to wait to find out if she got a house or a mansion. This is the fifth part in our series of the 7 last words of Christ. While nailed to a cross, Jesus made a promise to the man next to Him.

Morning Meditation

Read Luke 23:43.
Luke 23:43

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. KJV

Imagine what paradise would look like and anticipate being there.
• Let yourself relax into your Fathers arms as He holds you in paradise.

Morning Prayer

Thank God for grace that makes paradise available to all.
• Thank God for preparing a place for you.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Morning Bible Study

Two criminals hung on either of Jesus on the cross. Both talked with Him but they discussed completely different things.

Read Luke 23:39.

Luke 23:39-43
Criminal 1
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
Criminal 2
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. KJV
What was the attitude of the first criminal?
• What was the attitude of the 2nd criminal?
• What did the 2nd criminal call Jesus?
• How did Jesus respond to the 2nd criminal?

I thought it might be interesting to show you what my grandma noticed about the different Biblical translations regarding heaven. Read John 14:2 from the King James translation.
John 14:2
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. KJV
What is in His Father’s house?

Now read John 14:2 from the New International Version.
John 14:2
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. NIV
What does this translation have in Jesus’ Father’s house?
The word heaven is in the Bible over 400 times. Many references are to the physical heavens and earth but some refer to Paradise. The word Paradise is there 3 times and these uses refer to what we think of as eternal life with God. To get a picture of heaven, we are going to study some of the references.

Read Revelation 2:7.

Rev 2:7
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God. NASU

What do we need to do to eat of the tree of life?
• Where is this “tree of life”?
• What do you think this means?

Have you ever heard the expression, “Chariots of Fire?” It’s the name of a popular movie but it originated in the Bible. Elijah and Elisha were walking down the road when a chariot and horses of fire appeared to them. Read 2 Kings 2:11-12.

2 Kings 2:11-12
As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, " My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" NASU

What appeared to them?
• Where did Elijah go?
• Who did Elisha call out to?

Read Solomon’s fiery experience with heaven in 2 Chronicles 7:1.
2 Chron 7:1
Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house. NASU

What was Solomon doing before his experience?
• What came down from heaven?
• What filled the house?

Jesus often talked about heaven. Read the beginning of His model prayer in Matthew 6:9.

Matt 6:9
Our Father who is in heaven Hallowed be Your name. NASU

Where is the Father?

Jesus talked about the importance of church and heaven. Read Matthew 16:18-20.

Matt 16:18-20
I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." NASU

What does Jesus promise about the church?
• What do you think Jesus means by “keys to the kingdom of heaven”
• How do we have those keys today?

Throughout the Bible, God warns about the difficulty for those who follow the cross. Read Luke 6:22-23.

Luke 6:22-23
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. KJV
When are we blessed?
• What are we supposed to do about persecution?
• Where is our reward?

John 3:16 says that God loves us so much that He sent His only son and that whoever believes in Him shall not parish but have everlasting life. The criminal on the cross is in Paradise along with Jesus, the saints, and the martyrs. Glory be to our gracious Father.


I used to live on a neighborhood lake filled with cool clear water that brimmed with fish and other wild life. Colorful ducks entertained us as they frolicked in the water. An occasional alligator or snake startled us as they floated by. In the fall and spring, large graceful geese splashed down as they migrated to or from Canada. In the early mornings, the geese honked as they discussed their regimented departure. As you looked out our sliding glass back door, pine trees and blooming azaleas framed the glistening water. In the evenings, the sun set across the lake as vivid orange and yellow slivers of light danced across the gentle ripples of Hidden Lake.

We often used our home on Hidden Lake Drive to house visitors. Once, our church hosted a group of Baptists from Germany. Staying at our home was a minister who lived on the other side of the Berlin Wall. When he looked out over our lake, he sighed with delight and said, “This is paradise.” While at our house, he spent his days sailing across the shimmering waters on our sailboard. As the wind filled the sails and he skimmed the water, it looked as if he were flying. The exhilaration on his face spoke of his joy in paradise.

If we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our savior, a better paradise waits for us. Places like Hidden Lake are but a teaser for the glory of heaven but these signs of this paradise are everywhere on earth. Today, as you walk through your day, look for paradise. Perhaps you’ll see it in the gentle smile of a grandparent or the giggling of a small child. You may notice a rose blooming or a bird singing. As you see these signs, thank God for His promise to the man on the cross and to us – This day you will be with me in Paradise. Enjoy Paradise.

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