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A Thief's Paradise

Do you ever feel like God owes you something? You try to be good. You do all the right things. Yet the peace and love you strive for always seems out of reach. Your performance reviews are top notch so you wonder why doesn't God notice and reward you? You check all the boxes of a daily devotional life, volunteering at church, serving the poor, and tithing yet feel robbed. Could it be you've put your faith in the wrong place?

I want to remind us that we are justified by faith, not our deeds. Faith is resting on the work Jesus Christ completed on the cross. He became sin that we might become His righteousness. Jesus told a parable in Matthew 20 about a landowner who hired people throughout the day and promised each a denarius for their work. It didn't matter whether they started at 8 a.m. or 5 p.m., all received the same wage. People complained and said, "You have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day." Did your heart resonate with the complaints? Mine did.

"God, forgive me for losing sight of the work you did on the cross. You declared, 'It is finished." Nothing I do adds to it. Nothing I leave undone, takes away from it. You make it possible for everyone to claim your finished work. From words breathed in the last moment of life to declarations made as a young child, your finished work is enough. Help me hold this view with joy and not resentment, delighting that You lavished the gift of grace on all who believe You are the Son of God and Lord of all."

No matter when we choose to place our faith in Jesus' work on the cross, we get to enjoy a thief's Paradise, just like the man on the cross next to Jesus. 'Remember me' is our heart's cry. Jesus never forgets about us. The invitation stands. 'Today you will be with Me.' Let's quit relying on ourselves and enjoy the grace that abounds to us.

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