The Cross Weekly Series: The Story Of The Cross

In the Book of Luke (vs. 23:32-38), it tells the story of the cross.  This story is one-of-a-kind.  Jesus was God in human form “and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8).  If Jesus was God in human form, then he would have felt the same pain we would have experienced if we were tortured and nailed to the cross.

Jesus was blameless.  He did not deserve to be beaten beyond recognition, mocked, and nailed to a cross to suffer a long agonizing death.  Even in His suffering, He had compassion for us.  While He hung on the cross, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34).  Imagine dying on a cross and being mocked by the people who used to love you.  Would you still have compassion and love for those people?  Probably not.  God’s love is much deeper than ours.

If you were nailed to a cross, after nearly beaten to death, you would be in extraordinary pain.  This kind of pain cannot be fully described in words, because it was so intense.  No other man on earth has experienced the level of pain that Jesus endured.  In addition to suffering on the cross, Jesus must have felt the ultimate rejection by the ones who used to love Him.  These people in the crowd, mocking Him, were those who used to follow Him and believed in His miracles.  I cannot even imagine experiencing this kind of rejection.  In the midst of all this chaos, Jesus did not condemn us or even reject us for our actions, but, instead, He forgave us.

As Jesus took His last breath, His final words were “it is finished” (John 19:30).  “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split” (Matthew 27:51).  When those words were spoken, we had access to God.  Jesus paved the way for us in the most tragic death.

April 10 – Get Out Of The Boat

My Weekly Featured Blog
Written by The River Walk Blog
If you want to be challenged this week to step out in faith, read this blog.

“If what we are doing for God is easy and comfortable, then there is probably a whole lot more He is still calling us to do.”

THE RIVER WALK

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Read: Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Joshua 1:1-2:24, Luke 13:22-14:6, Psalm 79:1-13, Proverbs 12:26

Relate: At 13 Mary was too young to be on this voyage. In early August she, along with 149 others were packed like sardines into a boat only 100 feet long. For three months they crossed almost unknown waters to land on an almost unknown shore. Her father took sick on that voyage and died less than a month after landfall. Her mother died months later. Two of her friends also died that first year as did ten of the fourteen adult women. In the boat, none of that had happened yet. All of that and nearly sixty years of adventure still lay ahead. There were many famous and great men aboard the Mayflower. Many other…

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The Cross Weekly Series: God’s Love

The word “love” has become numb to the world.  It is just another word with no meaning and has no emotion attached to it.  The dictionary definition of love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person” (dictionary.com).  In a Christian sense of the word “love,” it has a stronger and more powerful meaning in which it is a “selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love” (about.com).  This kind of love is called agape love.  “Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for His Father and for His followers” (about.com).

God’s love cannot be explained to the fullness of who He is.  “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  His love is beyond our comprehension that can only be experienced by encountering His presence.  The love of Christ is the most sacrificial love we will ever experience in our lifetime.  His love has no bounds.  Psalms 36:5 says God’s love “reaches to the heavens and [His] faithfulness [reaches] to the skies.”

Nothing can separate us from God’s love.  According to Paul, in Romans 8:37-39, he says “we are more than conquerors through Him [Christ] who loved us. For [he is] convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God’s love is the most amazing gift that we could ever receive.  God allowed His son, Jesus, to die on a cross so we could have a relationship with Him.  Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus died for us while we were still sinners.  That’s breathtaking.  That is how much God loves us.

Misfit

My Weekly Featured Blog is written by LThomason (Pure Devotion) called, “Misfit”.

“It is in those moments when I feel like a misfit that I must dig deep inside my heart and pull out the word or seed that God has planted there. Why am I here? How did I get here? God, what is my purpose in this place among these people? Like an ill-fitting garment, slouching over the chair, I know God has placed me exactly where I am. I am confident that the Lord is the One who led me to this place and put me right where I am. Faith is like that leading us out of comfort zone and the complacency found in it to catapult us into divine purpose that changes everything. When I feel like an outcast, out of place and out of alignment, I must ask myself – “what am I doing here?” What led me to this place? For if it is the Lord, I must only maintain alignment with Him to see all the pieces strewn across the table fall dramatically and miraculously in place. Life is like a puzzle with a beautiful picture depicted on the box. It draws us to the challenge. ”

pure devotion

MisfitPhilippians 3:12-14 (NLT)  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Forging through life in pursuit of hope led by faith, there are days when I can sit in a room for of believers and still feel like I just don’t fit in. Like a misfit, who is not suited for the environment in which I suddenly find myself yet not given to adaptation. Have you ever felt that way?…

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Singleness Is Not A Curse

ENCOURAGEMENT

This week God has put on my heart to encourages those in their mid-20’s and 30’s, who are single, to not give up or be discouraged.  While you are single, it is important to remember that it does not make you incomplete as a person.  It is not a label placed on you by others. It is not something to be ashamed of.  Singleness means you are strong enough to stand on your own and be confident in who you are.

Singleness does NOT mean you are not pretty enough, smart enough, or skinny enough to date, be engaged, or married.  Your worth comes from God. He gives you the courage to patiently wait for your godly man. I encourage you to marry someone who loves God more than he loves you. The wait will be worth it, no matter your age.

PERSONAL STORY

I am about 35 years of age and never been married.  Most relationships I have left me heartbroken and worthless.  I have been engaged twice and, before the wedding day, the relationship fell apart.  I have been told by many that being a Christian does not mean you have to marry a Christian.  Out of desperation, I have tried to date non-Christians and ended up not working out because of different beliefs.  I struggle with commitment in relationships.  I struggle with finding an authentic Christian guy who loves God more than me.  I have dated Christian men who just follow what I do, and he never becomes the Christian leader that he needs to be.

I have always had an insecurity that I was not good enough or pretty enough to find a guy who will love me for who I am.  I have been told while in engagement, “Why am I even marrying you?!”  I have had guys tell me, “Why can’t you be who I want you to be” or “I’m not worth the wait”.  Those words that were spoken over me hurt me deeply and have cursed any relationship that was good in my life.

There came a time when I realized those words have no meaning in my life.  The only words I need to hear are from my heavenly Father.  He knows my true identity.  He knows who I will marry.  And, one day, broken and alone, I put my trust in God and never looked back.  My life is whole in Christ.  I do not need a man to tell me how beautiful I am, or how smart I am to feel complete.  God speaks those words over me every day.  I am content being single until the right Christian guy comes my way!

POEM

While I was organizing my desk at home a few weeks ago, I found a poem that encouraged me, and would like to share it with you.  It is called, “On His Plan For Your Mate”.  If you need to find contentment today, find contentment with God.  He knows the plans He has for you (Jeremiah 29:11).  I encourage you to walk in His promises and trust in God’s timing.

ON HIS PLAN FOR YOUR MATE

Everyone longs to give himself or herself completely to someone.
To have a deep and soul relationship with another, to be loved
thoroughly and exclusively.  But God says to the Christian – no,
not until you are satisfied, fulfilled, and content with being loved
by Me alone.  I love you, My Child, and until you discover that
only in Me is your satisfaction to be found, you will not be
capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for
you.  You can never be united with another until you are united
with me – exclusive of anyone or anything else, exclusive of any
other desires and longings.  I want you to stop planning, stop
wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan
existing – one that you cannot even imagine.  I want you to have
the best.  Please allow Me to bring it to you – just keep watching
Me, expecting the greatest thing – keep experiencing that
satisfaction of knowing of knowing that I am.  Keep learning
and listening to the things I tell you…you must wait.

Don’t be anxious.  Don’t worry.  Don’t look around at the things
others have, or things that I have given them.  Don’t look at the
things you think you want, just keep looking at Me, or you will
miss what I want to show you.  And, then when you are ready,
I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than anyone
could ever dream.  I am working, even this very minute, to have
both you and the one I have for you, ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me, and the life
I have prepared for you will not be able to experience the love
that exemplifies your relationship with Me…
and this is perfect love.

And, dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love;
I want you to see in Me, in the flesh, a picture of your relationship
with Me.  To enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting
union of beauty, perfection, and love that I offer you with
Myself.  Know that I love you utterly.
Believe and be satisfied.
I am God Almighty.

Below is a link to the poem, if you would like a printable version:
Poem for Single Christians

Stop Assuming Someone Else Will Do It

My Featured Blog written by Samaritan’s Song: “Stop Assuming Someone Else Will Do It”

“The next time you catch yourself thinking “someone else will do it” or “someone else is already doing it,” double-check that assumption. Before you walk away from a need, ensure to yourself that it’s being met or served in some form.”

Samaritan's Song

Yesterday in church, I was seated about three rows behind an elderly man who is a mainstay in the congregation during morning worship.

He walks with a walker and has mobility issues; aides get him in and out of the sanctuary.  Once he sits, he struggles to get back up again, and he can’t shift or move around very easily.  I’ve always admired that in spite of this, I can set my clock by his regular attendance.

As the service got underway, he dropped a small clipboard over the arm of the pew.  I saw it fall; I watched him look over at it, frustrated, and then slowly begin to maneuver his walker in an attempt to bring the clipboard a little closer so that he could pick it up.  Assuming someone else in one of the rows directly behind him would help, I didn’t stir.

And then, as he…

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Worshipping Through Scripture Series – God of Second Chances

In Luke 15:11-32, a son decided to selfishly take His father’s inheritance for the desire to live a better life.  In this parable, we learn that the son had to shamefully come back home, because he realized his life with his father was better than living on his own.  It was better than living in a pig sty for food and clothes.  He left his father’s house with money and returned home with only the shirt on his back.  He had nothing to give but himself.  This story is filled with bad decisions, regret, prayer, and a father’s love.

Many Christian artists have written songs about the prodigal son, and the love that the father showed upon his return.  Laura Story, a young Christian artist, wrote a song called, “Prodigal”, and in her song she tells a story of a father who is desperately awaiting for his son’s return.  The father used to go to the ballpark every day, but, since his son’s disappearance, he prays on his front porch, rocking in his chair, wondering where is son is.  “He is watching, and he is hoping” and “though his eyes are weary, his arms are still open” as “his prayer so softly spoken” begging his son to “come home”.  The father “longs to see his face in younger skin running down the driveway again”.  The father is crying out to God saying, “It was just a disagreement.  Why did my son leave?”

An American Christian rock band, 7eventh Time Down, wrote a song referencing the prodigal story called, “The One I’m Running To”.  It tells about a married couple with three children struggling to pay the bills, and they are both working multiple jobs to make ends meet.  The financial situation is putting a strain on the marriage and their family.  Their faith is running low, and they need of a miracle.  During the middle of night, exhausted from crying, they get on their knees declaring that they will never run from God, but run towards Him.  They know He is their “only Hope who satisifies [their] heart[s]”.  They know deep down that God is “everything that’s good and right and true.”  Their faith keeps them strong in their circumstances.

Another popular rock Christian band named Kutless wrote a song called, “Come Back Home”.  In this song, it is encouraging the prodigal to come home.  It challenges the person who is lost and reckless, to find freedom in his or her situation.  Just like in Luke 15:20-21, it tells the prodigal to “come back home” because “I’ll be running out to meet you”.  In this parable, the father forgives his son and runs toward him with open arms.

APPLICATION

We all relate to one of these songs that tells a story of broken people who simply Jesus.  Maybe you are the one waiting for the prodigal son or daughter to come home.  Or the one struggling to keep your faith in a difficult situation.  Or the one who is the prodigal child struggling to return home.  No matter which story relates to you the most, it is never too late to pray for God in a hopeless situation.  It is never too late to come home to a Father who loves you unconditionally.  The Father’s arms are opened wide desperately waiting for your return.

The Father is answering your prayers in His perfect timing.  If you are the father on the porch praying for your son or daughter to return home, keep on rocking.  If you are the child who needs to make the journey home, take the first step in the right direction.