The Message of the Cross

The Message of the Cross

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Cor 1:18 NIV, underlining and emphasis added) 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  (Rom 1:16, emphasis added)

 . . .  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  (1 Cor 1:23-25, emphasis added)

. . . because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.  (1 Thes 1:5 ESV, emphasis added)

The message of the cross is sometimes referred to as the:

  • Gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16)
  • Good News (1 Thes 3:6)
  • Power of God (1 Cor 1:23-25)
  • Wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:23-25)
  • Resurrection Gospel (1 Cor 15, entire chapter)

What is the message of the cross?  It is that God LOVES the world, and desires to be in RELATIONSHIP with each and every one of us.  Thanks to this truth, the Father God provided salvation to all mankind through Jesus Christ.

Jesus humbled himself in coming to earth as a newborn baby.  He grew up as a normal, human boy and learned the trade of carpentry.  He lived a sinless, perfect life serving His heavenly Father.  Jesus preached Good News, and demonstrated the love of His heavenly Father by performing signs, wonders, and miracles. 

Jesus displayed the need for continuous fellowship with His Father, as well as drawing apart for prayer.  He modeled forgiveness, wisdom, and walking in the Spirit for us all.

The symbol of the cross is an icon of grim human suffering and public humiliation.  Jesus’ suffering and subsequent death and resurrection are all part of the message of the cross.  In the light of Christ’s resurrection, there is restoration of hope, complete joy, and utter triumph.  Hallelujah!

Notice that the preaching of this gospel of salvation is always accompanied by the POWER of God.

The message of the cross proves the magnitude of the love that God has for mankind.

My Shield and My Glory

My Shield and My Glory

The Scriptures tell us about the depth and blessings of our relationship with our Savior and Redeemer.  God tells us that He is our shield (armor, defense, protection) as well as our glory.  Any praise, appreciation, exaltation, or credit that we receive in life is thanks to His life and presence within us.

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.  (Ps 3:3 NIV)

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.  (Ps 119:114)

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”  (Gen 15:1 ESV)

In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.  (Ps 62:7)

According to these passages from the Bible, God is present in us and with us in these capacities:

  • He is the One who enables us to lift up our heads without fear or shame,
  • As our Hiding Place,
  • As our Reward,
  • As Savior,
  • As our Strength, and
  • As our Refuge.

Glory to God!  We have reason to rejoice and to praise and thank our God continuously.

Don’t Put Faith in Wealth

Don’t Put Faith in Wealth

The Lord urges us in His Word to avoid trusting in riches just like we would avoid a plague.  True wealth is given by God to the righteous. Let’s read the Scriptures.

He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.  (Pro 11:28)

Here is the man who did not make God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.  (Ps 52:7)

Why do you brag about your strength?  Your strength is exhausted,you rebellious daughter.  You trust in your treasures, never imagining who would attack you.  (Jer 49:4 CEB)

Don’t trust in violence or depend on dishonesty or rely on great wealth.  (Ps 62:10 CEV)

Jesus said clearly in Mark 10:23-25 that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for people who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of heaven!  Wow!

Jesus told a parable about a rich fool in Luke 12:16-19.  This fool had accumulated so much wealth that he had to build larger barns to hold it all, and then he decided to ‘eat, drink and be merry.’  And God said to him (v. 20-21):  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

This is wisdom from God for us.  In providing for ourselves, our children, and our retirement, we mustn’t allow ourselves to start trusting in and relying upon the money that we have set aside for emergencies or for a retirement fund.  Our faith in God and our relationship with the Lord Jesus must always be the main focus and core of our lives. 

Even though the Lord gives us power to get wealth (Deu 8:18; Ecc 5:19), we must never lose sight of the fact that this is a GIFT from God.  It is a reason for thankfulness and rejoicing over the goodness of God.  We need to consider this blessing as part of our heritage from God, and by acknowledging God’s central part in it, we may then rejoice in our labor.

Let us daily concentrate upon our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our righteousness.  Here are worthy things upon which to meditate:

  • Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – Isa 9:6
  • Redeemer – Isa 59:20
  • Immanuel (God with us) – Mt 1:23
  • King of the Jews – Mt 27:37
  • Lamb of God – Joh 1:29
  • Bread of Life – Joh 6:35
  • Living Stone, Cornerstone – 1 Pet 2:4-8
  • Alpha and Omega – Rev 22:13

We must intentionally make Jesus the heart and focus of our entire lives.  Our trust and our entire reliance should eternally be upon Jesus Christ, who is our life!  (Col 3:4)  May God richly bless you.

God is Worthy to be Praised

God is Worthy to be Praised

Our God is worthy to be praised at all times!  The Bible tells us this in many and various ways.  The Word of God enumerates God’s qualities and character traits for us, so that we may understand Him and love Him.  It also helps us to praise Him regularly when we realize His greatness and love.

God has revealed Himself to mankind according to the Scriptures shown below.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  (Rom 1:19)

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse . . .  (Rom 1:20)

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.  (Isa 40:26)

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.  (Ps 18:3, emphasis added)

. . . saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”  (Rev 5:12)

Why has God revealed Himself to us?  Because He wants to be in relationship with His people.

He reminds us that He is the creator of all things, and that He is Omnipotent.  The Lord tells us to call upon Him, and also to worship Him.  We are even told to worship Him at all times!

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. (Dan 2:20, underscoring added)

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  (Ps 34:1)

From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised.  (Ps 113:3)  See also Psalm 71:8, 15; 104:33; and Hebrews 13:15.

We cannot say that we didn’t know that God desires our continuous praise because it is so clearly shown to us in His Word.  Let this serve as a gentle reminder to us all to be mindful and obedient to God’s instructions.  Praising God will bless us and will strengthen our faith as well as our relationship with the Lord.  God bless you!

Peace Between Parents & Adult Children

Peace Between Parents & Adult Children

One area where we need to apply our faith as believers is to our relationship with our grown children.

Thus says the Lord:  Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work (raising of your children, prayer) shall be rewarded, says the LORD, and they(your children) shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope (something that you can expect) in your future, says the LORD, that your children shall come back to their own border (place of peace and safety and well-being).”  (Jer 31:16-17 AMP, emphasis added) 

We as parents must always provide a place of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual peace, safety and well-being.  When we fall short, and most of us fall short in some way at some time, we need biblical solutions and practical help.

And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers . . .  (Mal 4:6 NKJV) The Lord is the only Being who is able to change a person’s heart.  The hearts of parents should ALWAYS be in favor of and in support of their own children.  Our hearts should always yearn for the best things for our children.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation . . .  (2 Cor 5:18 NKJV, emphasis added)

As followers of Jesus Christ, our desire should always be for reconciliation in our relationships.  If it doesn’t exist at the moment, it’s something that we should take to the Lord in fervent prayer.

It may happen in some families that after children have grown, they choose to disconnect totally from their relationship with their parents.  In some cases, the parents may not have a clue as to why this has happened.  In other scenarios, one or the other parent does know the reason.  It can be the result of one parent who was harsh, overly strict or critical of the child or children as they were being raised.  Or it can be as serious as some form of abuse.  Whatever the situation, it can result in grown children having very painful memories and deep anger and resentment against a parent.  In some cases, the adult children may be in counseling to deal with the emotional and mental pain they are experiencing and have experienced in the past.

Parents who find themselves in this situation need to scrupulously review their past behavior in their relationship with their child (or children).  They must take full responsibility for their own actions, and openly admit their faults to their family. 

If there is a pathway to open communication, the parent should apologize and repent directly to the child (or children) whom they have hurt.  Additionally, whichever parent was responsible would need to promise to change the way that they relate to their adult child, so that in future the relationship would be based solely upon positive and healthy input from the parent.  Then the parent should pray for God’s grace and help in fulfilling this goal. 

Copious prayer is needed in this situation by both parents!  The offending parent should ask God to correct them, give them wisdom and insight, and to reveal what their child (or children) truly needs right now.  Praying for God’s peace to reign in the relationship is also key.

If there is no communication between parent and child, then the one hope and solution available to the parent is to continually pray for God to bring healing and reconciliation into the relationship between them and their child.  In this case, it is also good to ask God to reveal to the parent where they made mistakes and how they sinned against their child.  Repent wholeheartedly to God for whatever He reveals, and determine to change the behavior.  Read books on good parenting of adult children, and seek counseling if possible.  Counseling can come through licensed counselors, group counseling, pastors, psychologists, or 12-step programs such as AA. 

As followers of Jesus, we must seek peace in all of our relationships.  (Rom 12:18)  Parents never stop being parents, even after our children are grown.  So it is pleasing to God for us to continue to pray for our estranged adult children, and to ask God to bless them and to continue to protect them and to fulfill His will in their lives.  It would be wisdom to also pray earnestly for healing and for reconciliation in the relationship with the estranged child or children.  May God’s peace reign in your life and your family in Jesus’ name.

Made Alive

Made Alive

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Cor 15:21-22)

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!  (Rom 5:15-17)

Because all humanity is descended from Adam, we are all going to experience death someday.  In a similar way, everyone who believes in Jesus Christ will one day be made alive.

What does that really mean to us? 

It means that we, upon accepting Jesus as our Savior, have been born into the family of God.  Having accepted Jesus as our Savior and keeping our relationship with Him alive throughout our lives means that:

  • We belong to Jesus;
  • We are His seed and offspring;
  • We serve Jesus because He is our covenant Head and Representative; and
  • We shall be raised [resurrected] to immortal life in and by Jesus Christ.

One day, we will have eternity to spend in the presence of our living God who is love.  We will eternally be surrounded by perfect, unfailing, unending Love.  This is a blessing of our salvation for which we may continuously praise and thank God!

Call the Walls Salvation

Call the Walls Salvation

Here are a couple of prophetic verses from the Bible.

Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.  (Isa 60:18)

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:  “We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks.  (Isa 26:1)

There is a day coming when Jesus Christ shall gather His church together, and the verses above foretell of that victorious time.  There will be no need of gates or walls for protection, because the walls will be the very salvation of our God, and the “gates” that we enter will be praise unto our God.  Praise opens all gates into the presence of our living God.

God has shown Himself well able to protect His people.  He says that He is a wall of fire around His people.

‘For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.”  (Zech 2:5) 

God is already the glory in our midst—right now. 

He is our Protector and Deliverer.  (2 Sam 22:2-3; Ps 5:11; 34:17; 91:9-12; 2 Thes 3:3)  As we walk with Him and obey His Word willingly, He takes care of all of our individual needs.  Surely, our relationship with Jesus Christ is a fortress and a protection from evil.  The walls of this fortress are called “salvation.”

We Beheld His Glory

We Beheld His Glory

What does the word glory mean?  It means:  splendor; wonder; brilliance; or exaltation. 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  (Joh 1:14)  This verse is describing Jesus and His glory.  It says that “we beheld His glory” which means that we can see it and recognize it.

This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.  (Joh 2:11)  Any time that Jesus performed signs, wonders, and miracles, He manifested His glory clearly for all to see.

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  (Joh 11:4)  The only way that a sickness can be for the glory of God is when the sick person receives their complete healing by faith in Jesus Christ and they give all the glory, honor and praise to the Father God. 

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  (2 Cor 4:6)  The “light” that was given to man was Jesus Christ, the light of the world.  (Joh 8:12) As we look into His face and accept Him as our Savior, He shares with us His own glory and relationship with the Father.

In Matthew 5:14 we are told that WE are the light of the world because we are the followers and disciples of Jesus, and we carry Him in us and with us wherever we go.

As we obediently follow Jesus, the Light of the World, we share His light and His life with others.  In His name, we pray for people to be saved, delivered, and healed. We are also privileged to see miracles and wonders done in the mighty name of Jesus.

We cannot hide our light, but rather we must allow it to shine brightly in the darkness for we are merely reflecting the glory of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, to the world.

What Are Idols?

What Are Idols?

You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you.  (Deu 6:14)

Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.  (Deu 8:19)

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  (1 Joh 5:21)

What is an idol?  An idol can be a statue, a god or deity, a symbol, a hero, or an obsession.  Hollywood and movie industry stars can be idols for people, as can a certain model of a car, or a favorite brand of watch or any number of other things.

The key is, what is the most important thing in life to you?  What do you talk about the most?  What do you think about and dream of daily?  Around what are your goals centered?  Are you determined to achieve riches and fame?  Influence?  Do you dream of becoming a political influencer? 

Any of these things, and more, can become idols in a person’s life.  But God’s Word warns us strongly to stay away from these things.  Therefore, we need to take stock of our thoughts and to acknowledge what we value in our hearts. 

A follower of Jesus would value their relationship with their Savior more highly than any other thing in their lives.  Equally, Jesus’ followers would highly value the Word of God.  And of course, we also choose to honor and to consistently obey the teachings of the Bible. 

We may each joyfully pursue our relationship with our Lord, and endeavor to mature in faith in our Redeemer.  Life is all about Him—not about us.  Our true hero is Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Glory to God!

Check Out Your Clothes!

Check Out Your Clothes!

Do you realize that the Bible is concerned with how we clothe ourselves?  Isn’t that an interesting and provoking idea?

For example: 

  • We are invited to clothe ourselves with Christ in Romans 13:14.
  • We are instructed to dress modestly, with decency and propriety but also to clothe ourselves with good deeds in 1 Timothy 2:9-10.
  • Colossians 3:12-14 directs us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It also prompts us to put on love which is the personality trait which binds all the others together in unity.

Out of all of these instructions, the encouragement to perform good works is probably one of the most frequently mentioned.

. . . having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.  (1 Pet 2:12 NKJV, emphasis added)

. . . who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.  (Tit 2:14 NKJV, emphasis added)

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.  (Tit 3:8 NKJV, emphasis added)

The only way to truly clothe ourselves with good works and holy virtues is through the empowering and enabling grace that we receive through our ongoing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.  Walk in the “Clothing of Salvation”: 

  • The love of God,
  • The grace from God,
  • Faith in God, which is a gift from Him (Eph 2:8-9)
  • The LIFE of God, which is the indwelling Holy Spirit (Pro 12:28; 1 Cor 6:19)

Cling to your relationship with Jesus even as a drowning man clings to a life preserver thrown to him by rescuers.  Jesus provides new grace and strength for each new day, and He will never leave you nor fail you.  Glory to His Holy Name!