Friday, March 27th

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Friday, March 27

Luke 23:32-43

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.


The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”


The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”


There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.


One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”


But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”


Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”


Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


The cross has become somewhat ubiquitous in our culture. We see it everywhere; not just on church steeples, but dangling from necklaces and earrings, even tatooed in a thousand ways on the bodies of young and not-so-young people all around us.

In many ways the cross has become a kind of fashion statement; the cross has become kind of “cool.”

But the cross was anything but cool.

The cross was an instrument of torture and death used by the Roman empire to punish, humiliate and intimidate the people groups they ruled.

When you stop to consider it, wearing a cross around one’s neck is like wearing a tiny gold guillotine or diamond encrusted electric chair as a piece of jewelry. While that strikes us as wildly inappropriate, wearing a cross does not.

Why?

I think we see the cross differently for two reasons.

First, we see it differently because of the one who died on it. Even people who don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God do think of Jesus as a good and innocent man. Those of us who believe Jesus is both Lord and Savior know that Jesus was not dragged to the cross kicking and screaming as were most crucified men, but that he allowed himself to be crucified. For Jesus the cross was not just a brutal death, but a triumph over the power of sin and death. Jesus transformed the meaning of the cross.

Second, we see the cross differently because it didn’t end Jesus’ life, it began Jesus’ resurrection life.

When the Apostle Paul summarized the gospel he put it this way:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.  (1 Corinthians 15:3)

The gospel hinges on the resurrection of Christ from the dead. But the resurrection could not have happened without the cross.

The cross was necessary for Jesus to atone for the sins of the world through his shed blood; and the cross was necessary so that Jesus could demonstrate his authority over even death itself by his resurrection.

Jesus transformed the meaning of the cross from death to life.

And that’s where we will start next week! Have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Pastor Brian Coffey

Thursday, March 26th

To listen to the audio version, click here.

Thursday, March 26

Luke 23:32-43

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.


The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”


The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”


There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.


One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”


But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”


Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”


Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


As a pastor, I am convinced that there are far more “death bed” conversions than we can ever really know. Most of us live most of our lives pretending we will live forever because it’s simply too emotionally difficult to live in the constant awareness that we are mortal, that we will die someday. But when the time comes when a person can no longer pretend, when the prognosis is not good, when their family gathers around their bed, there is often a kind of “spiritual desperation” that comes over the one who’s life is slipping away.

I’ve seen and felt that desperation.

A person longs for answers the questions that may or may not be asked out loud.

“Have I been a good person?”

“What’s going to happen to me?”

“Am I prepared for the next life?”

“Is God pleased with me?”

Luke tells us that time has come for one of the criminals being crucified alongside Jesus. He writes:

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”


But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”



This is a rather brutal form of a “death-bed conversion.” This man knows he will not survive the day. More than that he expresses with somewhat shocking self-awareness that he is getting what he deserves.

This is an utterly broken and dying man. No pretending. No delusions of immortality. Just a man staring at the bare naked remnants of a wasted life.

In other words, a man in exactly the right condition to receive the grace and hope of Jesus Christ.

With no where else to turn he turns to Jesus:

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”


Just that. No flowery words or formal confession. He has neither the words nor the time for that. Just an acknowledgment of who and what he is, and who and what Jesus is.

He is a dying man in need of forgiveness, grace and hope. Jesus is the King of heaven who offers forgiveness, grace and hope.

Jesus then speaks words to this man that he speaks to all who come to him in that same desperate faith:

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Pastor Brian Coffey

Wednesday, March 25th

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Wednesday, March 25

Luke 23:32-39


Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.


The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”


The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”


There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.


One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”


Many years ago my wife and I, along with my brother and his family, spent six months living in Bolivia as part of a short term mission experience. Part of what my brother and I did while in Bolivia was play basketball for a local semi-professional team in Santa Cruz. We both had played college ball in our day so joining the team for that season helped us build friendships as well as learn more of the culture in which we were living.

Part of that culture, especially in the athletic world, was “machismo.” Machismo is a kind of aggressive male pride that Bolivian men sometimes took to an extreme. We learned that there was one thing that Bolivian men simply would not endure, and that was any form of being mocked.

Now, no one likes to be mocked, but in Bolivia any form of mockery was a dangerous offense. We lost one of our best players to a season-long suspension when, after an opposing player whispered a one word insult to his masculinity, he spit in the opponents face and touched off a near brawl on the court. Nothing was as painful or humiliating to him as being mocked as a man.

Luke tells us that Jesus was mocked by at least three different groups of people. He writes:


The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”


He was mocked by the “rulers,” that is, the religious leaders who taunted him as they turned one of their own over to the Roman authorities.


Luke continues:


The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”


He was mocked by pagan Roman soldiers who seemed to be making sport of the whole thing. One gets the sense that these hardened professional soldiers found it amusing to be handed a pathetic prisoner that some called a “king.” Both Matthew and John tell us that the soldiers went so far as to put a mock crown of thorns on his head, a purple robe around his shoulders and a staff in his hand. They fell on their knees and pretended to worship him; all in mocking sport (Matthew 27; John 19).


Luke writes:


One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”


He was even mocked by one of the criminals being crucified by his side.


That Jesus, who the Bible says was the very eternal Word of God become flesh, did not call upon the power that rightfully belonged to him to consume each and every mocking fool with fire and brimstone from hell itself is, in itself, a testament to his divine nature. Because, if I had been in his place, with his power and authority, the mockers would have been torched long before now.


But Jesus prayed for those who mocked him; Jesus forgave those who spit on him; Jesus loved even those who hated him.


And in doing so he fulfilled what was written by Isaiah the prophet some 700 years beforehand:


He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
 yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
 and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
 so he opened not his mouth. 


Isaiah 53:7

Pastor Brian Coffey


Tuesday, March 24th

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Tuesday, March 24

Luke 23:32-34

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Like most parents my wife and I tried to teach our children the importance of both apology and forgiveness early in their lives. Once, when our boys were very young, two of them got into some kind of conflict. By the time we arrived on the scene one was crying and accusing the other of whacking him or pushing him or some other heinous offense. The boy being accused looked rather guilty, so I said, “Did you whack your brother?”

He nodded sheepishly.

I said, “Is that the right thing to do?”

He shook his head.

I said, “What are you supposed to do?”

He responded dutifully, “Use my words.”

I said, “That’s right. Now, what do you say to your brother?”

He looked at the brother he had whacked and said, “I forgive you.”

I couldn’t help but smile. Right idea, wrong application!

Most of us would agree, I think, that forgiveness is both terribly important and exceedingly difficult.

Luke tells us:

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

What I notice here is that Jesus forgives first. That is, he does not wait for or require those who have mocked him, beaten him, and nailed him to the cross unjustly, to apologize or seek his forgiveness. He offers it first!

What kind of forgiveness is that?

How can you forgive someone who isn’t sorry for what they have done? How can you forgive someone who hasn’t apologized?

Most of us tend to think of forgiveness as something that must be requested or deserved by the one who needs to be forgiven.

But that’s not what Jesus teaches us.

Jesus teaches us that forgiveness is never deserved. Forgiveness, properly understood, can never be earned or deserved. Forgiveness is always a gift.

Forgiveness is a gift that is offered by the forgiver, never deserved by the forgivee.

Forgiveness is indeed costly, but that cost is paid by the forgiver, not by the one needing forgiveness.

The final truth about forgiveness is that while being forgiven does bring a kind of freedom, offering forgiveness is the greatest freedom.

Jesus forgives first because that is what forgiveness is and what forgiveness does. Jesus forgives first because his heart was free.

What can you learn about forgiveness from the one who forgives you?

Pastor Brian Coffey

Monday, March 23rd

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Monday, March 23

Luke 23:32-43

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.


The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”


The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”


There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.


One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”


But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”


Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”


Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


Our family moved when I was in the middle of the fourth grade. That meant leaving my friends, my teacher and my school, and starting all over in a new school in the middle of the year.

I was nervous about the whole process so I was on my best behavior. As I recall I made some friends pretty quickly and my teacher seemed very nice. So things were going just fine until one day in the lunch room. As I recall I was just sitting there eating my peanut butter sandwich, minding mind own business, when the lunch room monitor - who was another teacher in the school - ran over to our table and announced in a voice loud enough for the whole room to hear, “Mr. Coffey, would you like to share with everyone why you are talking to your neighbor? You know there is no talking in the lunchroom!”

I was dumfounded. I was embarrassed. Yes, I had been talking quietly to the kid next to me, but I had no idea there was such a rule! Then she made me stand up and walk across the room and stand against the wall. The teacher seemed gleeful that she had caught me doing something wrong. She kept saying, “I caught him! I caught the new boy!”

I couldn’t understand why she seemed happy about catching me talking. I felt ashamed and humiliated.

Later I realized that she made a habit of watching new kids until she caught them doing something wrong so she could use them to warn the rest of the students.

Luke writes:

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.


Sometimes I think we have become so familiar with the story that we can miss some of the obvious details.


This is Jesus, the Son of God, the only sinless man who ever walked on the face of the earth, and he is being led to a place of execution with two criminals.


Jesus is lumped together with criminals and subjected to the humiliation of a public execution.
Historians tell us that in those days condemned men were stripped naked (or at least mostly so) and forced to carry the cross bar (called the “patibulum”) upon which they would be crucified. The Romans used crucifixion not just to execute criminals, but to humiliate and intimidate. The intent of the whole process was to so degrade and torture a human being so that those watching would be terrified to even think of defying the power of Rome.


As we begin what we call “Holy Week,” we remember that Jesus didn’t just “die on the cross for our sins.” He did die, of course, but first he allowed himself to be falsely accused as a criminal; he allowed himself to be humiliated.


For you. For me. For all of us.

Pastor Brian Coffey

Friday, March 20th

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Friday, March 20

Acts 16: 25-34

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Diet programs and weight loss plans thrive on “before and after” photos. The “before” photo features a somewhat overweight and out-of-shape looking man or woman in a bathing suit. The idea is to get you, as the observer, to think, “Wow, that’s unfortunate! I wonder if I look like that?”

Then there is an “after” photo in which the same person is in the same bathing suit, but looks like a model or a body builder with a svelte physique and six-pack abs. Now you think, “Wow, maybe I could look like that!”

In this story that only takes Luke 10 verses to tell, we see a before and after picture of the jailer. He goes from a man  convinced his best option is suicide to a man who celebrates the hope of eternal life by being baptized in the middle of the night. More than that, he is transformed from a man hardened by the brutality of prison life to a man who tenderly washes and cares for the wounds of men he considered criminals just hours earlier.

And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

The power of the gospel to transform lives can be summarized by just such “before and after” pictures.

Before: hopeless and considering ending his own life.

After: Rejoicing with his entire household.

Before: Hardened and brutal prison guard.

After: Tender and compassionate care for two men he would have once considered little more than trash.

Before: Spiritually lost and confused, assuming the gods didn’t know or care about his life.

After: Saved by the grace of a loving Lord, baptized in his name.

Our church recently filmed our own version of of “before and after” stories. We gave people a piece of cardboard and asked them to write on one side words that described their lives before putting their faith in Jesus. One the other side they described their lives after Jesus came into their lives.

You can watch the video by going to fbcg.com or clicking this link.

As you finish “10 Minutes with God” for this week, consider creating your own “cardboard testimony”; write your own “before and after” story!

If you aren’t sure you have an “after” story yet...re-read the story of the Philippian jailer and allow Jesus to make his story your story!

I Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Pastor Brian Coffey

Thursday, March 19th

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Thursday, March 19

Acts 16: 25-34

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."

Our daily conversations are sprinkled with phrases like “at the end of the day...,” or, “the bottom line,” or, “when it’s all said and done...”

We typically use those phrases as a way of summarizing whatever it is we are trying to say, or emphasizing something that is important to us.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about family.”

“The bottom line is you have to produce.”

“When it’s all said and done, you have to be able to live with yourself.”

The jailer in this story suddenly realizes that he has come to the summation of his life, and he doesn’t like what he sees. An earthquake has set all his prisoners free and knows that one way or another his life is over.

He decides he would rather end it himself than submit to whatever gruesome fate my lie at the hands of his superiors, so he prepares to fall on his own sword when he hears a voice in the darkness.

But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here."

He can’t believe his ears, or his good fortune. He quickly calls for torches to bring light into the dungeon and realizes the voice was from one of the two foreigners who were singing songs to their God from their cell.

When he first heard them singing he probably dismissed them as hopelessly deranged or maybe even insane. Now he realizes with a kind of terror that this God of theirs may have sent the earthquake that loosened their chains in response to their prayers.

He doesn’t know anything about this God but he does know that without this God he is a dead man.

Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"


As I said earlier in the week I think the man’s question was born of desperation. He had no hope; he knew his life would be required of him one way or another. These men seemed to have something that he didn’t have; faith in and access to a God who was able to set them free. Their God could give life and he wanted what they had.

It’s possible that behind his question was an assumption that there were some specific religious rituals that they could tell him about or show him how to do properly, so that he could win the favor of their God.

But Paul and Silas don’t tell him to do anything; they tell him to believe in someone.

And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."

There’s a whole sermon, of course, in this one sentence. We are told that Paul and Silas later explained the gospel in more depth when they were at the man’s home. But everything he needed to know about salvation is in this one sentence.

First: You can’t save yourself. This was a truth the man already knew.

Second: Salvation isn’t doing, it’s believing. Salvation doesn’t come through religious activity, it comes as the gift of faith.

Third: Salvation is found not in religion but in relationship with Jesus, who by his death and resurrection has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He atoned for all our sin and guaranteed our right to eternal life.

Fourth: Salvation is intended not just for us, but for all.

We are told that this man not only put his faith in Jesus but  that his whole family followed him in faith and baptism on that very night.

Sooner or later we all come to “the end of the day,” or to “the bottom line.”

And the bottom line is, only Jesus saves.

Pastor Brian Coffey