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Daily Reading: Luke 23

Scripture Focus: Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. (Luke 23.40-41)

Devotional Thought: How do you respond to suffering and afflictions? I've heard it said that we know more about a person when they pass through the fire than when they rest on beds of ease.

As Jesus hung on the cross, he was "reviled by those around him." Yet there was one man, a stranger, who saw something different in this co-sufferer. His response changed as he observed Jesus on the cross.

I want to be like Jesus, don't you? I want other people to look at me and see that there is hope for them. The thief on the cross saw Jesus forgive his executioners. He witnessed Jesus as he cared for his mother and friend. He heard Jesus call upon God with his last breath. That had a powerful impact on this man who had lived his life full of sin and deceit. He finally saw the truth and called out to Jesus, the man who had done nothing wrong.

Christianity that condemns, faith that becomes bitter, religion that lashes out... Those things are all too prevalent. People want to see a faith that makes a difference. People, I believe, are hungry for something real. They want the talk and the walk to match. When they see that, they will sit up and take notice.

May God give us grace to love in the midst of hate, to forgive in response to hurt, and to trust when nothing is going right. Then, people will believe our testimonies about the Lord!

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your example of love and faith in the midst of suffering. Help me to love my enemies and trust in God even when the pain runs deep. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: 1 I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. 4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. 5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. 7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. 8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Psalms 145:1-9)

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