“...come down from the cross and save yourself.” Mark 15:30 NIV
If you have been a Christ-follower for any length of time; you have that life is not a playground but a battlefield. We live in a culture that is self-centered and seeks comfort, not a conflict. If you are serious about living a Christ-centered life; the following truth must be applied every day.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross; the crowd taunted Him to come down from His cross. There is no question that He could have done exactly that [Matthew 26:53] but in so doing He would be disobeying God’s will. The “flesh” is God’s code word for our deed to serve our personal desires. The flesh is man’s lower nature that is centered in fulfilling selfish desires. One of the reasons that many Christians do not have depth in their relationship with Christ is they have not understood and lived the crucified life.
The Apostle Paul wrote that we are crucified with Christ. Galatians 2:20 and that we have crucified the flesh.
- Any time you try to justify yourself; you have come down from your cross.
- Any time you give into self-pity; you have come down from your cross.
- The reason churches split; someone has come down from their cross.
- Divorce occurs because someone [or both] have come down from their cross.
- The reason people criticize and leave their church; because someone has come down from their cross.
We face the same temptation as Christ; to come down from OUR cross and save our SELF. Satan knows that he can not defeat you as long as you remain on your cross because the cross was his ultimate defeat. To live a victorious life you must daily choose to remain on your cross. You will always be defeated spiritually when you come down from your cross. The only way to please God and walk in the Spirit is to keep SELF on the cross.
When America was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt went before Congress to ask them to declare war. In his speech, he said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!” That may make a great political speech and it might stir people’s patriotism but unfortunately it is not true. There are a lot of things to fear in life but we should not allow our fears to control us.
My son has no fear of snakes, NONE. He has handled rattlesnakes, cooperheads and water moccasins; no problem. But spiders are a totally different matter. If he walks into a spider web, he almost has a heart attack!
When Jesus sent out the 12 disciples, he gave them detailed instructions. In Matthew 10, he let them know they would face rejection, persecution, and and possibly death. In light of this he encouaged them not to fear. “Do not be afraid of them who kill the body. They are not able to kill the soul.” Jesus made it very clear; there is only one person we need to fear. “But fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” God is the only we need to fear.
What is the worse man can do? Kill us? If they do kill us, we will be immediately with Lord!
To be honest, I cannot get my mind around the senseless killing of our law enforcement officers. I do understand that those who committed these crimes have a totally different world view than most of the world. They have been taught from childhood to hate and distrust anything that even hints of authority.
Most people do not realize that God instituted authority for our good and those who have authority are God’s “agents.” Listen to Romans 13:1-5 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities,for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
I realized that there are a FEW people who will misuse their authority but we cannot paint ALL police officers with the same wide brush. We need to respect those in authority and pray for them daily.
I love old western movies. Quite often there will be a scene where someone will ask the doctor about the condition of a gunfighter who just lost a shoot-out. The doctor would take off his spectacles, pull out his handkerchief from his back pocket and begin cleaning them. And then with great emotion, he would say, “It’s time he puts his affairs in order.” A polite way to say death is certain and he needs to be prepared to meet God.
The doc’s comment is good advice for anyone who is dying. But wouldn’t be better to ‘put our affairs in order ‘ NOW before we are facing the death angel. No one likes to think about how fragile their life is. And no one knows if their life will be cut ‘short.’
So it seems wise that we should ask for forgiveness, make restitution, pay our debts, and apologize long before we are called to meet God.
In 1951, the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still was a box office hit! Today it is considered a film classic. When a flying saucer lands in Washington, D.C., the U. S. Army quickly encircles the spaceship. A humanoid (Michael Rennie) emerges, announcing that he has come in peace. His galaxy has been obsereving Earth and they are concerned about the Earth’s future.
As many of the world’s greatest scientists gather, Klaatu (the alien) pointedly tells them that the people of Earth have a choice. They can join the other planets in peace, but should they threaten to extend their violence into space, “this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. We shall be waiting for your answer”. Klaatu then leaves as he came.
Though this was produced years ago, it shows us that America was concerned with its future years ago. Weapons have since developed that people in 1951 could never have imagined. Laser weapons. Heat-seeking missles. Drones. Dirty bombs. Iran and North Korea with nuclear weapons. We have the capability of destroying each other many times over!
While this film is fictional it is thought-provoking. How long can this world survive? How long before God says, “Enough!” Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fail.” Lamentations 3:22-23
TThere’s an old story about an elderly woman who was told by her physician that she probably wouldnt’live much longer. Soon there after, she called in her pastor to discuss her funeral arrangements. They talked about how the service would be, music she would like sung, scriptures to be read, etc. As the conversation was winding down, the woman remarked, “There’s one thing that’s very important: I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”
Her pastor was understandably puzzled by that remark, and he couldn’t contain his curiosity. “That is interesting. Would you care to tell why?”
The woman explained. In all my years of attending church socials and functions where food was involved; my favorite part was when whoever was clearing away the dishes of the main course would lean over and say ‘you can keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming. When they told me to keep my fork I knew that something great was about to be given to me. It wasn’t Jell-O or pudding. It was cake or pie. Something with substance. So I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them: ‘Something better is coming so keep your fork too.’ The pastor’s eyes were welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman good-bye.
At the funeral people were walking by the woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over the pastor heard the question What’s with the fork? And over and over he smiled. During his message the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.
So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently that there is something better coming.
Years ago when kids actually went outside to play, they would play challenging games that would test each other’s agility and courage. When a child failed to reach his intended objective; they would suddenly shout, “Do Over!” meaning they wanted a second chance. Doing something over is great if you are playing a game but in real life there are many situations that cannot be done over.
In the heat of passion, a young girl loses her virginity. There are no do overs! A person driving under the influence of alcohol has an accident and someone is killed. There are no do overs! A father spends too much time on the job, years pass and he realizes he cannot reclaim the wasted years he did not spend with his children. A person smokes cigarettes for years and as a result he has lung cancer. They cannot shout, “Do over!”
Life is filled with missed opportunities, mistakes, and other regrets. But life itself cannot be a ‘Do Over.’ We only get one shot, one go-around to live, so it is crucial to live life wisely. The Apostle Paul said life is like running a race, we all run but only those who finish well receive eternal life. 1 Cor. 9:24 If we ask God to forgive us of our past sins; He will. In its strictest sense; He gives us a second chance to live life as we should. But we cannot go back and undo some of things we did.
Don’t wait until old-age to prepare for eternity. Remember there are no “DO Overs.”