First, let me just start by saying when you are speaking God’s love language (i.e., obedience) to Him and He moves, you cannot deny when it is ALL Him and none of you! Our Lord is such an intentional God!
TLM bloggers came together in May of 2019 and mapped out the twelve emotions we would cover for a year, strategically assigning each of them a specific month. We could have never imagined how on time our God would prove Himself to be over and over each month as time passed. And we could never have known a year later that we would be living in a time such as this.
It is so amazing how the Lord continually blows our natural minds when we resiliently seek His hand at work in all things!
COVID-19 has stunned us all! BUT GOD!
God’s trajectory, His plan the whole time, was to halt the emotional roller coaster we have found ourselves on right here and right now. The very week the virus was projected to peak here in America was the very same week of Holy Week, which led us to Resurrection Sunday.
As I attempt to connect the dots between COVID-19 and how to resiliently receive your promised paradise, I want to start back at the old rugged cross! Follow me to Luke 23:39-43. I am sharing from The Passion Translation (TPT):
One of the criminals hanging on the cross next to Jesus kept ridiculing him, saying, “What kind of Messiah are you? Save yourself and save us from this death!” The criminal hanging on the other cross rebuked the man, saying, “Don’t you fear God? You’re about to die! We deserve to be condemned, for we’re just being repaid for what we’ve done. But this man—he’s done nothing wrong!” Then he said, “I beg of you, my Lord Jesus, show me grace and take me with you into your everlasting kingdom!” Jesus responded, “I promise you—this very day you will enter paradise with me.”
Amen for the promise given to us this day by the Promise Keeper!
If you are like me, you may have initially assumed the paradise Jesus is referring to is Heaven. After all, that very day He gave His life for our sins so we may have everlasting life! However, the promise Jesus gave was one given without delay. So, what does that mean for us right now on this side of Heaven?
If you have acknowledged the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah, the good news is you too have entered into paradise without delay! If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Savior, there is still time.
Even now, even in the face of COVID-19, the Holy Spirit is continually renewing our spirit, bringing us into union with Christ to receive the paradise of God’s immediate rest!
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to remain calm in the face of disaster while others appear to come undone? People that can keep their cool have what psychologists call resilience –the ability to cope with problems and setbacks.
For Christians though, it is so much more! What Jesus promises us here on the cross is instant paradise with Him! This paradise manifests as a supernatural peace that only comes through rooting ourselves in the Word of God, while remaining steadfast with enduring faith! It is a relentless choice! In all of life’s circumstances, we must choose to receive our paradise in order to truly live the abundant life Jesus Christ shed His blood for on the cross.
How do we do that in even if or even when moments? This is where we must observe the second criminal and receive what Luke is revealing and wanting us to imitate.
Look at how differently the two criminals saw their opportunity for salvation. The first criminal’s view was one of no faith.
“What kind of Messiah are you? Save yourself and save us from this death!” Luke 23:39 TPT
However, the second criminal in bold faith resiliently asks:
“I beg of you, my Lord Jesus, show me grace and take me with you into your everlasting kingdom!” Luke 23:42 TPT
There is a significant difference between the approaches of these two men. The first criminal was in a place of doubt and fear. The second criminal, in the face of adversity, found resilience through faith. He chose not to be swayed by the circumstances, but to be relentless in his pursuit of paradise.
If we follow the example of the second criminal, we are compelled to stand our ground and to not be moved by the news we hear each day. Nor can we be swayed by the people around us who may say: “If your God is so great and loving, then why are we suffering from COVID-19? Why doesn’t He do something?”
The truth –we do not know the what, the why, or even how COVID-19 is going to continue to unravel, but we do know who is in control. Jesus Christ, our Resurrected King, is alive, covering our faults and missteps. Even in this crisis, He is still the Risen King! Our Lord will see us through this pandemic!
Even in the face of pandemonium, we are still gifted immediate access to paradise. Our God, always a gentleman, gives us the ability to choose resilience and remain in paradise with Him through all circumstances!
Christian culture has moved farther and farther away from the simplistic life Jesus led and the lessons Jesus taught. Jesus imparted, and continues to impart, an authentic way of life. A life focused on the here and now, on how we are to follow God, and how we are to treat each other. Living this kind of life allows us to enter a state of paradise that most human eyes cannot see, and most human minds cannot comprehend.
If we simply walk in the full armor of God, we can experience this promised paradise without delay. We have the ability to turn our worry into worship and our problems into praise! Today, will you resiliently receive your promised paradise in Christ?
Written by Stacha Ashburn
The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC. Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com