Tag: cross

Not Peace but a Sword!

Scripture reading for July 29th: Joel, Matthew 10

Key Scriptures: Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

After observing Jesus ministering and healing, He sent out the twelve hand-picked disciples to do ministry with additional instructions concerning their reception. They were going out as sheep among wolves. There would be great persecution and even some loss of life–the sword would be raised against them! Their enemies would even come from among their own families. The Gospel message would offend and cause conflict between close relatives. These disciples must choose Jesus and take up their cross to find the life He offered: eternal life and everlasting joy!

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for speaking plainly and laying out the choice of following You with our whole heart. I choose to follow You, losing my life for Your amazing life! Lead me onward today!

Joel 2:32 “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.”

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The ‘foolish’ message of the cross!

Scripture reading for November 22nd: 1st Corinthians 1-6

Christ and the cross seems to be a foolish idea that doesn’t make sense to the mind trained to trust senses, self, and science.  It is not logical or even believable to many who have college degrees and have embraced modern secular humanism. To these people, religion is fine, but the cross is offensive!  But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong! (1st Corinthians 1:27)

The message of the cross is a message of God’s wrath against sin.  God has decreed that the soul that sins must die.  (Romans 6:23) Jesus Christ took the wages of man’s sin upon Himself and was beaten, mocked, spit upon, ridiculed, and crucified as a common criminal.  Isaiah says that we considered Him “stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)  The punishment that we deserved fell upon Him and by His stripes we are healed!  (Isaiah 53:5)  God’s wrath was directed against His own Son, that we would be free from wrath! (2nd Corinthians 5:21)

The message of the cross tells of God’s love for us.  God’s willingness to send His only Son to earth just to die in our place tells the greatest love story ever told!  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  He demonstrated His love for us in that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners!  (Romans 5:8)  God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe on Him would not perish, but have eternal life!  (John 3:16)

The message of the cross demands repentance and faith.  We must turn from our self-centered ways and look to Jesus Christ for salvation and forgiveness of sin.  This message is the power of God for salvation to those who will believe!  (Romans 1:16-17)  “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”  (1st Corinthians 1:30)

Oh how I love the cross and the One who gave His life for me!  May this message of God’s wrath against sin and God’s amazing love flow from us who believe each and every day!

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Sunday Rest and Reflection: Lifting Up Jesus!

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ!  Welcome to another day of rest in His finished work of redemption!  It is at the cross that we find our rest with God and can enter into relationship with Him.  The cross of Christ draws our attention and draws us Him.

As I reflect back on this week’s reading in the Gospels of Luke and John, I am drawn today to chapter three of John.  Jesus had an encounter with a prominent teacher of the Jews, Nicodemus.  He came to Jesus by night to ask Him some questions.  Nicodemus recognized that Jesus was a teacher sent from God and noted the miracles that He had done.  Jesus told Nicodemus that no one could see the kingdom of God unless they were born again!  (John 3:3)  Nicodemus had trouble grasping how this might take place.  He was thinking about natural birth and growth when Jesus told him about the Spirit bringing the second birth. Nicodemus asked him how this could take place and Jesus answered him with one of the most famous verses in the Bible.

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:14-16

Jesus used an incident in the life of Moses where the people were dying from a plague of poisonous snakes.  Moses had prayed to the Lord and God showed him what to do.  He was to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole and lift it up in the center of the camp.  Any Israelite who was bitten could look at the bronze serpent in faith, believing that God would heal him and receive that healing.  (Numbers 21:1-8)  Jesus presented Himself as the one who would be lifted up between heaven and earth.  All who looked at Him and believed, would be saved from the universal bite of the ancient serpent, Satan.

God’s great love for us motivated Him to send His Son to be lifted up for us!  Jesus, who knew no sin, was made sin for us that we might be saved.  All who would believe on Him would be born again by the Holy Spirit.  They would receive the gift of God’s heavenly Breath or Wind!  Eternal life is the realm of God Himself!  What amazing truth comes as we contemplate the lifting up of the Son of Man!

Now God has lifted Him to the highest place!  He is risen from the dead and ascended into heaven!  He is praying and interceding for us today!  We who believe are seated with Him and will see Him soon!  Hallelujah!

In His Love, Pastor John

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