“...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.
Do you remember the advertisement for Bowflex? “No pain. No gain.” Of course, you do. But that statement is more than just memorable, it’s true. To build muscle, there must be resistance = pain. Pain is inevitable. It is part of life.
“. .. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrow…” John 16:33 If you watch TV, even a little bit, you will see ads for pain relievers. No normal person enjoys pain. We will go to the doctor, buy the strongest medicine all to avoid pain. I am very thankful for all the advances in medicine but in our effort to avoid pain, we may be missing something.
Pain might be telling you something. Have you been listening? Are you using the pain of your past for the sake of progress? C. S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
One of the most beneficial books I have read is Don’t Waste Your Sorrows by Paul Billheimer. The author shows us how to use our pain to produce ‘gain.’ What about you? What breaks your heart? Have you heard God shout? Is there bad news that lingers, compelling you to do something?
Remember, God doesn’t waste pain and neither should you.
Light is a wonderful thing. It allows us to walk through a dark room without stumbling over that footstool. When we retire for the night, we turn off the light and instantly the room becomes dark. So we pause for a few seconds (or minutes) until our eyes become accustomed to the dark.
In Scripture, light is often a symbol. 1st John 1:5. In the Bible, light is seen as good and darkness is seen as evil. For the Christ-follower we live in a world controlled by the Prince of Darkness (Satan) 2 Cor 4:4 and he is a master deceiver. Before Christ’s 2nd return, Satan is going to deceive a multitude of people into believing their relationship with Christ is genuine. Mt. 7:22-23
He does this through the slow process of getting used to the dark; accepting things that we once knew were wrong. Television and movies have had a tremendous negative impact on the church. We read books that we now find “acceptable.” We spend our hard earned money to watch movies that glorify sex, violence, and filthy language. The movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” (I did not see it!!) was a blockbuster success. It was promoted as a “erotic” romance. It celebrated the immorality of our culture. I was appaled by the number of women in our churches that could hardly wait for it to open in our theaters.
If adultery, premartial sex, lying, profanity, are sinful (and they are) should a Christ-follower watch those things as entertainment? Years ago, the question was asked this way; “Could you invite Christ to watch this movie with you?” “ Would you be embarrassed for Jesus to read your last book? Research shows us there is very little difference between non-believers and Christ-followers. We attend the s andame movies, read the same books wear the same style clothes.I am not advocating a legalistic life style but rather a life of obedience and one that honors Christ.
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Ephesians 5:15
Now, this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer except that which lies outside of the will of God. God will only answer the request He inspires. You see, prayer is surrender—surrender to the will of God. It’s cooperation with His will.
The Bible teaches us that without sanctification, or holiness, no one will see the Lord. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” What does this mean for us?
Does it mean, “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t cuss, I don’t chew, and I don’t associate with those who do”? This is spoken tongue-in-cheek, of course, but in reality, in many circles, one can pass for being a Christian, or at least a very devout person, simply by the absence of obvious vices or faults. Is that what holiness is all about?
It is true that our path to holiness starts by ridding ourselves of evil deeds and influences, but that is just a start. From an eternal perspective, the reason we flee immorality and the deeds of the flesh is those things keep us from pursuing God. In the end, holiness is more about who we pursue than what we leave behind.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble. 2 Corinthians 1:1-3
This past June, Hunter Hostetler was working at a McDonald’s restaurant in Scottsburg, Indiana, when an older woman came through the drive-thru and decided to pay for the customer behind her—a man with four children in the van. The woman told Hunter to tell the man and his children, “Happy Father’s Day.” The woman’s spontaneous act of kindness caused an amazing chain reaction. The man in the van paid for two cars behind him; and they did the same for those who followed them. One customer after another passed along the blessings. By the end of the day, 167 drivers had paid for the orders of the vehicle behind them.
Make a conscious effort to pass along kindness to someone today.
(This thought is from David Jeremiah’s Turning Point daily devotional)
There is a saying that even Christians take comfort from during times of tragedy, “Time heals all wounds.” But unfortunately, that is not true. Time has no inherent healing power. Only God has healing power! I know people who are just as bitter and angry today as they were ten years ago. Time hasn’t healed their souls. I know people who are playing the blame game louder today than they were 30 years ago.
Only Jesus has healing power and so if you have a broken heart Psalm 147:3“. For the Lord comforts (For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”) his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. No one can mend a broken heart but the Lord. Other people’s words will encourage you and bring a measure of healing but the ultimate healing is always from the Lord. He has the power, love and divine skill to actually cure you of the extraordinary pain that you are going through.
God is able to restore your soul (Psalm 23:3) and perform a spiritual heart transplant [Ezakiel 36:26] if that is what it takes to move you into health and hope again. This seems impossible when you have a broken heart but it is not impossible to God! The will of God is always restoration and healing.
If you have a broken heart, friend, I know Someone who has the expert skills to easily and perfectly mend it. Not only is He able to repair your broken heart, but He has the desire to do it.