September 9, 2013
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
As long as a person has breath in his or her body, it is never too late to turn in faith to Jesus Christ and be saved! In Luke 23:39-43, two thieves were crucified, one on either side of Jesus. And they were fast approaching death and eternity. Both of them, it says in Matthew 27:44, began to revile Jesus. And at least one of them scornfully shouted, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself, and us.” (Luke 23:39). But, apparently, one thief had a change of heart, for it goes on to say in Luke 23:40 through 43:
But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God,
seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we
receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your
kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, Today you will
be with Me in paradise.”
Literally, moments from death, this condemned thief in faith looked to Jesus – also condemned to die on a cross as was he – and he saw, not a criminal, not an innocent man wrongly condemned, but the King! He spoke out of that faith – “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” and he was rewarded with eternal life – “Assuredly, I say to you, Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
Betty was in similar straits as the thief. She was hours away from death and a Christless eternity! I learned a couple of months before that my neighbor Betty had cancer. One day she was sitting on the stoop outside her house when I was walking by. I stopped to tell her I was praying for her, and I began to share with this Catholic lady the plan of salvation in Jesus. She would have none of it! She said, “God let me get cancer, and I don’t want any part of Him!” I went on my way, but I prayed for her often over the next few weeks.
I heard Betty was admitted to the hospital, and I stopped by to see her as I made my rounds visiting my own parishioners. I inquired at the nurses’ station which room was Betty’s and I was directed down the hall. I peeked in the door, and then came back to the nurse. “You must have given me the wrong room number,” I said. “There is a little old man in there, bald and with no teeth!”
“That’s Betty,” the nurse replied!
I went back and entered Betty’s room. The cancer had wasted away her body. She was nothing but skin and bones, tiny, wrinkled and frail. She couldn’t talk anymore – she could only squeak! Since she couldn’t argue and cut me off from telling her about Jesus, I took her hand and gently and simply told her the plan of salvation. “Jesus loves you so much, He died to pay for your sins,” I said.
He simply wants you to ask Him to forgive you, and to receive Him into your
heart and life. He said He will cleanse away all your sins and give you eternal
life. When you close your eyes to this life, you will open them in heaven looking
into His wonderful face.
Then I asked her to pray in her mind the prayer I would lead her to say. I led in a short prayer to accept Jesus as Savior, not knowing if she was following along, in her mind asking God sincerely to save her. I then left.
I watched the obituaries for the next three days, but didn’t see Betty’s. I stopped by the hospital again and inquired about her. The nurse told me, “I don’t know what is keeping her alive! We can’t even get a blood pressure on her!”
I walked in Betty’s room and she looked up at me. The biggest smile spread across her face and just lit up the room! She squeaked a welcome and I took her hand in mine. I was surprised at the powerful grip this tiny wasted lady gave me. All she could do was lay there, squeeze my hand, squeak and smile! But I knew she was telling me all was right with her soul!
Betty died later that day. I can hardly wait to see her in heaven!