VIDEO Summer Garden Tour, Paradise – The King Crucified: Conversion at Calvary

You will be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43

The first couple were gardeners by profession. Is it any wonder, then, that we love gardens? When people spend vast amounts of time or money on their backyards, patios, and gardens—it’s an inherent desire to have beauty surrounding them in their current home.

Adam and Eve lost their lease on Eden, but Jesus has opened the gate to another Paradise—one that’s eternal.

The word paradise means “beautiful garden.” The apostle Paul said he was once “caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4). He was talking about heaven. Jesus said in Revelation 2:7, “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

This Paradise—including the tree of life—is described beautifully in Revelation 21–22, and it’s yours in Christ.

Every beautiful garden is in some slight way a miniature picture of heaven. Every flower is a foretaste, every petal a precursor. One day when we arrive in our eternal home we’ll hear the wonderful words: “Welcome to Paradise!”

That paradise that Adam enjoyed was but the type of the paradise above.  Thomas Goodwin

The King Crucified: Conversion at Calvary (Luke 23:39-43)

Plod On!

“Am I not sending you?”  Judges 6:14


God loves to use people the world might overlook. William Carey was raised in a tiny village in the 1700s and had little formal education. He had limited success in his chosen trade and lived in poverty. But God gave him a passion for sharing the good news and called him to be a missionary. Carey learned Greek, Hebrew, and Latin and eventually translated the first New Testament into the Bengali language. Today he is regarded as a “father of modern missions,” but in a letter to his nephew he offered this humble assessment of his abilities: “I can plod. I can persevere.”

When God calls us to a task, He also gives us strength to accomplish it regardless of our limitations. In Judges 6:12 the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” The angel then told him to rescue Israel from the Midianites who were raiding their towns and crops. But Gideon, who hadn’t earned the title of “mighty warrior,” humbly responded, “How can I save Israel? . . . I am the least in my family” (v. 15). Still, God used Gideon to set His people free.

The key to Gideon’s success was in the words, “the Lord is with you” (v. 12). As we humbly walk with our Savior and rely on His strength, He will empower us to accomplish what’s only possible through Him.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What’s God calling you to do that you can’t do in your own strength? How can you rely on His power today?

Thank You for empowering me, my Savior and my strength! Please help me to follow You closely.

Witnessing With the Right Message

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only message God has given us by which people can be saved (Acts 4:12). It doesn’t change with the times or cultural patterns, and we are not to adapt it to be more appealing to a lost world.

Paul said the word of the cross was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but that didn’t stop him from preaching Christ crucified. In that era, crucifixion was shameful, and the thought of a Savior nailed to a cross was offensive and ridiculous. How could such a God save anyone?

The gospel is still offensive today, though it’s usually because people don’t want to admit they are sinners or accept that Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Some believers may be tempted to downplay the role of sin and shame when sharing the good news; however, neglecting to mention sin, repentance, and the exclusivity of Christ robs listeners of the chance to genuinely be saved. When the true gospel is presented, God’s Spirit is able to overcome the offense and bring people to Jesus Christ.

With the Wicked and the Rich in His Death

“And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9)

It is generally recognized that the amazing 53rd chapter of Isaiah, written over 500 years earlier, is the most explicit and complete exposition of the substitutionary suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ in all the Bible, including even the New Testament accounts. And this prophecy that His death and burial would be with both the “wicked, and with the rich” is surely one of the most remarkable. How could such a prediction possibly come to pass?

Yet, it did! Unjustly condemned, not for any violent or deceitful acts, but only for telling the truth, Jesus was crucified between two wicked criminals, yet He was buried in a garden tomb lovingly built by a rich member of the council that had condemned Him to death.

Furthermore, that elaborate tomb had almost certainly been personally designed and built ahead of time by Joseph in specific anticipation of using it to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy. That wealthy owner of the tomb lived in Arimathea and would never have built a tomb for himself or his family near Calvary, the place of crucifixion. But he and a friend on the council (Nicodemus) had somehow come to believe in Jesus and His gospel and decided they were the ones that should render this service.

Perhaps, as they looked up at the body of the Lord on the cross just before removing it for burial, they remembered His words to Nicodemus three years earlier, when He had said: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). They had indeed believed, no doubt suffering severe loss, but they had done what they could for Christ. HMM

Be The Self-Effacing Saint

For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

—Philippians 2:20-21


It is our belief that the evangelical movement will continue to drift farther and farther from the New Testament position unless its leadership passes from the modern religious star to the self-effacing saint who asks for no praise and seeks no place, happy only when the glory is attributed to God and himself forgotten….

Within the last quarter of a century we have actually seen a major shift in the beliefs and practices of the evangelical wing of the church so radical as to amount to a complete sellout; and all this behind the cloak of fervent orthodoxy. With Bibles under their arms and bundles of tracts in their pockets, religious persons now meet to carry on “services” so carnal, so pagan, that they can hardly be distinguished from the old vaudeville shows of earlier days. And for a preacher or a writer to challenge this heresy is to invite ridicule and abuse from every quarter.

Our only hope is that renewed spiritual pressure will be exerted increasingly by self-effacing and courageous men who desire nothing but the glory of God and the purity of the church. May God send us many of them. They are long overdue.   OGM016-018

Lord, forgive me for my pride. Give me the humble spirit of the self-effacing saint. Amen.


Majesty, Worship His Majesty

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

—Psalm 104:1


There is neither preacher nor teacher anywhere in the world who can say, “Let me tell you all about God!” God told Moses and Israel, and He tells us, “Always there will be the cloud about Me. Always there will be a veil covering My person. While you are on My earth, you will sense this obscurity, for I Am who I Am!”…

And I can say this from personal experience: After you have known God and walked with Him by faith for fifty years, growing daily in His grace and the knowledge of Him, you will still see a cloud on Mount Sinai. You will still sense the obscurity. Your mind and your spirit will still bow before Him. Your day of full comprehension is yet to come.

Innate within us is the need to kneel in reverence before something. When God appears to us, and, stunned and overcome, we are bumped to our knees, we have a right start in the life of the Spirit! MMG083

“[I]n the contemplation of God’s majesty, all eloquence is done.” SAT039


Moved With Compassion

Luke 19:41

The Savior of men came to seek and to save

The souls who were lost to the good;

His Spirit was moved for the world which He loved,

With the boundless compassion of God.

And still there are fields where the laborers are few,

And still there are souls without bread;

And still eyes that weep where the darkness is deep;

And still straying sheep to be led.


Except I am moved with compassion

How dwelleth Thy Spirit in me?

In word and in deed

Burning love is my need,

I know I can find this in Thee.


Oh, is not the Christ ‘midst the crowd of today

Whose questioning cries do not cease?

And will He not show to the hearts that would know

The things that belong to their peace?

But how shall they hear if the preacher forbear

Or lack in compassionate zeal?

Or how shall hearts move with the Master’s own love,

Without His anointing and seal?


It is not with might to establish the right,

Nor yet with the wise to give rest;

The mind cannot show what the heart longs to know

Nor comfort a people distressed.

O Savior of men, touch my spirit again,

And grant that Thy servant may be

Intense every day, as I labor and pray,

Both instant and constant for Thee.

Albert Orsborn, The Beauty of Jesus