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By Jerry Ousley

In the dictionary, the word “paradise” is first described as being the Garden of Eden, then the abode of the righteous dead and finally as “a place of ideal beauty or loveliness.” The word “Paradise” is rightly used on all three occasions.

I used to have an idea of what paradise must be like; to me, not having to get out of bed until I was good and ready, whether that was at 6:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m., then eat a good breakfast to the sound of surf (did I mention that paradise was located on some tropical island beach?) step outside and spend the day sipping lemonade or ice tea while reading in a hammock, well that just sounded like the perfect paradise to me.

Of course once I learned that paradise also referred to the Garden of Eden and now the place where the righteous dead await the resurrection, then it took on a whole new meaning, even though it would be nice if once we leave this world we could spend our days like I described until the Lord called upon us to meet Him in the air. Yep, that wouldn’t be bad at all!

Then I learned that paradise can take place right here and now; perhaps not on a tropical island with nothing to do except what we want to do and no responsibilities except those we choose on a daily basis, but nonetheless it can become a place of beauty and loveliness.

First let’s read the words of Jesus as found in Luke 23:40-43. He had already gone through the torturous near death experience of the scourging. He had been mocked by Herod, had received the crown of thorns from the soldiers and carried His cross up to Golgotha. He had endured the excruciating pain of being nailed to the cross through His hands and feet and then experienced the thud as the cross was lifted into the air and allowed to drop in the hole. He had hung there as the people made fun of Him and railed on Him. Now it was the turn of the two thieves being crucified with Him. The one had taken up the words of accusation that had come from the people saying, “If you are the Christ then get us down from here!” That was when the other thief who had heard it all and had witnessed the response of Jesus, spoke his mind. We read, “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 received the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'” He told the thief that because of his belief in Him that he would see Jesus in the place where the righteous dead awaited the resurrection. In other words right then and there that thief had been saved! That is the paradise to come. We have that hope and same assurance from Christ.

But what about right now, what about today? Must we spend our lives just getting by, just passing through with only the hope of Heaven, as wonderful as it is? I believe that we can become content and experience paradise right here and now. I believe that paradise in the now isn’t something that only a lucky few find. It isn’t something that only the filthy rich can have. Regardless of our success or failure, our good or bad health, our social status, wealth or poverty, what makes paradise here and now all stems from our attitude toward God and the life He has given us. Despite circumstance, problems, persecutions, or hardships we can choose the happiness of Christ. We can refuse to worry, fret and experience all those negative emotions even when we are given such a workload that it demands the normal person to experience these things. We can slap a smile on our faces when we get up in the morning. We can conscientiously make a good day even when life says we are to have a bad one.

The first step is to make sure that Christ lives in us and that we have given ourselves to Him. As we make our choices then we can become an old grump or a victorious believer. Neither makes us any less or any more saved. But life sure goes better when we see the positive side and how happy we can be despite our circumstances. When we have become satisfied and truly living for the day, then we are well on our way to experiencing paradise right here and right now!

Jerry D. Ousley is the Author of five books, “Soul Challenge”, “Soul Journey” “Ordeal” “The Spirit Bread Daily Devotional” and his first novel “The Shoe Tree.” Listen to the daily broadcast Spirit Bread. Find out more by visiting http://www.spiritbread.com

or email us at jousley@spiritbread.com

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITER

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