The cross!

I don’t want to seem to be undermining the resurrection.  As the Bible shows, Jesus raising from the death shows the power, the wisdom, the sovereignty of God, etc. (Acts 2:24; Romans 4:24, 6:4; Colossians 2:12, etc.). But today, I want to talk about the cross.

When praying today, it came to my mind that the cross of Christ was not a reason to cry. Sometimes, Good Friday, the death of Christ is seen as a moment of mourning, a reason to be sad while it is a reason to rejoice and praise God.  The cross is, among other things:

  • the power a God (For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18);
  • a reason to boast (But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14);
  • the mean of reconciliation with God (and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. Ephesians 2: 16);
  • our redemption (And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,  by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2: 13- 15);
  • God’s victory (Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Hebrews 2: 14-15).

The cross was not a weakness of God. It was a proof that He was God, the Author of life, the One who holds all things in His hands, the Master of everything. It was a demonstration of power, mercy, love and sovereignty. As Peter said, “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:27-28)

I don’t understand everything about predestination, but I know something for sure: Christ dying on the cross was not a failure, a defeat. God wasn’t sitting there, crying and waiting for Sunday morning to happen. He was reigning and victorious, totally sovereign and righteous, totally merciful and God. As the song says: “My soul does magnify the Lord and my spirit praises His name for death could not hold Him captive; even in the grave Jesus is Lord; for death could not hold him captive, even in the grave Jesus is Lord”.

Yes, even on the cross, even in the grave, even dead and buried, even nailed, and mocked, even pierced, Jesus was Lord!

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Do not faint!

Here is an excerpt of a sermon that really encourages me:

“Face fainting with faith in your great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The fainting one who comes to wait on Him, a transformation would happen. God promises their strength will be renewed. Look at verses 29 and 31 (Isaiah), here is God’s promise to the fainting: “He gives power to those who are fainting.” Who is a candidate for that tonight? What a wonderful promise. He will empower the weak and the fainting. He will strengthen the weary soul whose strength is gone and is poured out.

Like the angels coming to strengthen the weak and weary Jesus in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry, and in the garden at the end of His ministry. The Lord’s ministry in His earthly life, the three years of His ministry were bookend by angels strengthening Him at the beginning and at the end. In the wilderness and in the garden, they came and strengthened Him. Jonathan went to David and strengthened his hands in God. God will do that for you. Trust Him for it. Ask Him for it. Cast yourself on His promises and on His loving heart. He gives power to the faint. He will; and when He does, then verse 31 happens.

Suddenly, renewed strength; rising up. You find yourself being lifted up.You find the burden being released. You find your mind suddenly being encouraged, and you don’t know how it happened because God has come. He comes and He helps you to run, and your weariness seems gone, and you’re getting your second wind, and you’re walking and not fainting. They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.

What are we to do? Not try to improve ourselves; not try harder; not be more sincere; not try to show God we are more committed.No, your job is weakness and waiting. That is all you gotta have. Weakness and then waiting on Him. Get in the waiting mode as a weakling. He keeps our soul in famine and has not let our foot slip, Scripture says. He will keep you in all your ways, Scripture says. Kept by the power of God through faith. A certain promise: “You shall run and not be weary; you shall walk and not faint.” Lay hold of that promise, weary sister, weary brother.

It is the weak and needy that He helps and that He lifts up. Our Lord Jesus Christ is so kind and so gracious and so tenderhearted and so faithful and so willing and so ready and so available and so compassionate. He will come to you, bringing help with Him when He comes to you. Though my weary steps may falter and my soul athirst may be; Gushing from the rock before me, suddenly, (drudging along, weariness, tired, wanna give up but I am keeping on) suddenly, gushing from the rock before me, lo a spring of joy I see.The Lord just speaks a word. He just touches you without you realizing it, and suddenly, weariness is going away, and something is happening. He has helped me. He has become my salvation. The Sun of righteousness arises with healing in His wings. He will do this.

“Fear not, He says, I am with you. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”…

 

For if we ever view weakness from God’s point of view, from a biblical perspective, we will be a lot better off in our walking out the Christian life and in our usefulness. Weaknesses and limitations, we think they are bad. God says they are good. We think they limit us, God says they prosper us onward. We think they hinder us, God says they help us. We think our usefulness is lessened by weakness, God says they humble us and they empower us more. Our weaknesses; our limitations. Fainting is rooted in our wrong view of weakness. God says, “My power is perfected in your weakness.” So Paul says, “Therefore,” – think of what Paul says about this, it’s amazing -“Therefore, I would boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses. (For the sake of Christ, I am content with weaknesses.)” I am not yet. “For when I am weak, then am I strong.” Meaning when I am experiencing weakness and I do wait upon Him and I view this biblically, that’s when the power of Christ will help me to be strengthened so that I will know His power in my weakness.

Weakness is not a disadvantage, it’s an advantage. It is not a liability, it’s an asset; because it brings Christ’s power to you that won’t be there when you are self-sufficient and you got it all together. Christian usefulness is not found in our having it all together, or trying to make others think we have it all together. No one has it all together. Every Christian has weakness; every Christian has weariness at times. We must know, by experience, what God promises. “My power,” He says to us, “Will be perfected in your weakness. So will you embrace your weakness? Will you be transparent with Me about it And will you learn to wait on Me with that weakness so that I can strengthen you in that weakness. Spiritual power is attractive. Weakness is not attractive to us.But there’s only one path to knowing God’s power; and that is going through weakening times. When it can experientially be less of you so that it can be more of Christ. Better to have weakness and God’s empowering than no weakness and no power. The weakness of self-strength or divine strength in your weakness.

Christ will, He promises, strengthen you and make you endure to the end; make you strong out of weakness. He is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work. Our sufficiency is of God. One of those little remembered triumphs of faith in Hebrews 11, think of this, verse 34, “Who through faith were made strong out of weakness.” That’s an amazing thing. Or, it could read, “Who through faith, from weakness were made strong (or out of weakness were made strong, through faith.) Faith conquers weariness. Faith wins over fainting every time.

For the whole sermon: http://illbehonest.com/do-not-faint-mack-tomlinson or https://youtu.be/lar1oGhMGEo

 

He carried our infirmities

He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:2-5 ESV)

I was reminded today that Jesus understands everything I go through emotionally because He experienced all the feelings, hurts, rejections, etc. I have ever experienced. When I feel despised, depressed, distressed, alone, tired, or abandoned by God, He understands. And because He does, I can approach God with confidence in my weakness, my brokenness, and my fears. I can cry out of despair or anger, and I will never be rejected. This is also what the cross means.

Jesus the Great High Priest Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

 

Worshipping a holy God

“Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.” So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD.” (1 Chronicles 15:11-15 ESV)

God is so amazing, so unique. He is a friend, a father, a brother, a helper, a comforter among other things. It is easy to focus on these aspects of His uniqueness and to forget His holiness. We tend to see His approachability as an invitation to do as we want in our relationship with Him. But there are rules to seek God. Repentance is one, faith in Christ another one, and gratitude and reverence others.  Grace is grace, but grace is holy. Love is love, but love does not mean disrespect, contempt, or right to complain or test God. There is a place for weakness in our relationship with God, but do not expect God to change His word, His rules for you. He did not even change them for David, the man according to His own heart.

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV)