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Seven Sayings of The Cross

Seven Sayings on the Cross

Today’s Scripture: Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lotsLuke 23:34

Not only did Jesus purchase salvation for His people on the cross — he also gave us a perfect example of how to suffer graciously, to the glory of God. In the seven statements by Christ on the cross that are recorded for us in Scripture, we are given seven molds that should shape our responses to grief, tragedy, pain, and injustice.

The first words that we hear from our Savior’s mouth—as he suffers at the hands of ignorant, cruel, and deceitful men—are words of kindness and mercy. And so the first lesson we learn from our suffering Lord is this: forgive and pray for those who have wronged you.

This, of course, is never our first inclination. We wish to strike back, speak out, or count up all the wrongs that we have suffered. Yet here is the only truly innocent person that has ever lived and, while he is dying at the unjust and cruel hands of his enemies, he is speaking words of genuine pity and pardon.

It is evident that the New Testament Christians took this example to heart, for they emulate him time and again. As Steven is being stoned to death for preaching the gospel, his prayer is “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60). As Paul faced the wicked Roman ruler Nero even some of his closest companions forsook him; yet, his response was “I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge” (2 Timothy 4:16).

Has someone harmed you? Have you been the victim of unfair treatment? How have you responded? Have you forgiven them? Have you prayed for them? If Jesus could forgive on the cross, certainly we can forgive because of the cross.


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Future Things

Future Things

Today’s Scripture: “The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death”Revelation 21:8

A 2007 Gallup poll found that Americans are far more likely to believe in God and Heaven than in the Devil and Hell. An earlier Gallup poll revealed that 77 percent of ever-optimistic Americans rated their odds of making heaven as “good” or “excellent.” Very few saw themselves as hell-bound.

But what is important today is not what Americans think about Jesus and judgment, but what you think about Jesus and judgment.

The fact is, we all like to talk about, and think about, Jesus and heaven more than we do Jesus and hell. But it is impossible to think biblically about heaven and Jesus without coming face to face with the reality of the judgment by Jesus, in the end.

It is Jesus who is speaking here in Revelation. And just as he constantly warned during His earthly ministry, He now declares from His throne in heaven that hell is real and that judgment is coming. For the wicked, and for the unbelieving, and for those who fear men rather than God — the end is an everlasting death, the lake of fire.

While there is complete forgiveness and unconditional love in Jesus Christ, there is also everlasting judgment for those He here describes. Which are you? Have you come to fear God, to trust in Jesus, to love His truth?


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Women of Faith

Women of Faith

Today’s Scripture: “Dorcas…was full of good works and almsdeeds…and all the widows stood by [Peter] weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them”Acts 9:36,39

Very soon Dorcas would be raised from the dead by the apostle Peter. Doubtless this is at least partially why Luke includes this story in his inspired narrative.

However, at least half the story here also seems to be Dorcas’ life, as much as her resurrection to life. Dorcas, as much as the apostle himself, is the focus of Luke’s narrative. Why?

Not because of the many good works which she had planned to do, but that she had done and, in fact, “was full of.” How many of us have noble desires, charitable plans…but they never find their way into actions which help or encourage others?

It is easy to have good intentions, but it is another thing to serve and sacrifice for other people. Dorcas did not know the time of her death, but she did know the purpose for life — to honor God by seeking the lowest place in His kingdom.

What a testimony to this woman’s faith, that she is fervently missed and publicly mourned by the very widows to whom she had labored with such faithfulness! She was not surrounded by the rich or mighty or well-connected, but by the lowly and helpless and castaways of society. Yet Dorcas had  a full life — full of the good works that she had done in the name of her Lord.

What and who will you leave behind you? A lifetime of good works or just a stream of good intentions?


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God’s Perspective on War

God’s Perspective on War

Today’ Scripture: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Romans 13:1-4

War is a very controversial subject in both the world and the church. Considering the broad spectrum of views and opinions, those who follow Christ would do well to search the Scriptures and ask, What does the Lord think about war?

In order to gain a proper understanding, we must first consider the condition of our fallen world. War is a natural consequence of sin. Some conflicts are fueled by evil intentions and desires, but others are a battle between right and wrong. God hates bloodshed, but if evil is not forcefully resisted, the wicked will prevail.

The Lord established government as a means of promoting good and restraining evil. National authority comes directly from Him. But some rulers abuse this authority and act wickedly, making war unavoidable. When evil men attack, a refusal to fight is an abdication of a government’s responsibility to protect the innocent and avenge wrong.

The Old Testament offers ample evidence that God sometimes uses war to achieve His purposes. He commanded the Israelites to fight for possession of the land He’d promised them and to kill the inhabitants, who were extremely evil (Deuteronomy  20:1, 17-18). He also used war to judge and punish wicked nations (Jeremiah 25:12-14) and even to discipline His own people (Jeremiah  5:15-17).

As you think about this difficult subject, remember that God’s goal is the destruction of wickedness, not people. In the final battle, Jesus will defeat sin and death, wars will cease, and righteousness will reign (Revelation 19:11-16). Until that day, we are left on earth to do our part in overcoming evil.


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Men of Faith

Men of Faith

Today’s Scripture: “I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth”–  3 John 3

While Gaius was a man who held firmly and joyfully to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he was also living this truth out in a daily walk that mirrored his profession. John rejoices that the truth is in Gaius, and that Gaius is in the truth.

First, John says of Gaius, the truth is in him. Christianity is a heart-deep religion; a mere profession of faith or performance of duties does not a Christian make.

As David reminded himself, in his prayer of repentance after straying into hypocrisy, God desires “truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6), not just a shell of outward actions that may convince others. God is not pleased unless the beliefs we are professing are flowing out of a heart that has lovingly and joyfully embraced the truth of God’s Word.

On the other hand, Gaius was not content to only have warm and fuzzy feelings for the truth; he was determined to live its practical implications out in a consistent and complimentary walk.

And, as John points out in his inspired commentary, this is the critical indicator of a genuine faith: “He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God” (3 John 11).

Is the truth in you? Are you walking in the truth? Has it captivated your heart to the point that it flows over and into the decisions you make and the way you live?


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Death and Dying

Death and Dying

Today’s Scripture: “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”– John 11:26

The everlasting, ever-living Christ entered the realm of death in order to spoil death of all its strength. Death and the devil had no more power over Jesus than a fortress that is being ransacked has over its invaders!

Christ bowed His head and entered the doorway of death, not out of defeat, but “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). Jesus Christ raided death and brought all of His children out of its dungeons and into the light of His own eternal and glorious heaven.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Jesus would admonish us to “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). There is an end worse than death, Jesus reminds us: death will be defeated one of these days, but hell is forever.

John gives us this graphic description of the end times: “in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them” (Revelation 9:6). What a contrast between this awful scene and the gracious words of Jesus, that those who trust in Him will never die.

For each child of God, it will one day become a reality that “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54), that our Savior Jesus Christ “hath abolished death” (2 Timothy 1:10), and that God will wipe away every tear and “there shall be no more death” (Revelation 21:4). No more death. Can you believe it? Do you believe Him?


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The Role of Our Conscience

The Role of Our Conscience

Today’s Scripture: “Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God.”  1 Timothy 1:18-20

God gave every person a conscience, which is like a radar system meant to send warnings when a behavior or decision might be harmful. This makes it possible for people to distinguish between what is morally right and morally wrong, especially as it applies to their own lives. We ignore the conscience at our own peril.

In a believer, the conscience is a tool of the Holy Spirit. He programs it with principles from God’s Word and sharpens it to respond quickly. Even so, our radar’s sole purpose is to send a signal; what happens next is up to us. Either we ignore the warning, or we stop to hear what the Spirit has to say about the situation. The Holy Spirit reveals God’s will or reminds us of His principles so we can make a wise decision about the warning bell ringing in our conscience.

Paul’s letter to Timothy mentions people who had rejected God’s leadership and guidance in their lives—they’d paid no attention to the alarm of their conscience (1 Timothy 1:19). The result was shipwrecked faith. When something appears on radar that speaks of disobedience to God, we have to reject that action. Otherwise, the detection device becomes impaired and won’t work right. If we keep ignoring the alarms, it will eventually go completely silent.

We all know people who’ve “run aground” in life. A shipwrecked faith is inevitable when believers ignore their conscience and rationalize or defend disobedience. It’s far better to turn yourself over to the great captain of your soul, Jesus Christ. His Holy Spirit will guide you correctly.


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There’s a Miracle in Your Hand

There’s a Miracle in Your Hand

Today’s Scripture: “So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” Exodus 4:2

One thing that stands out about the early followers of Jesus is that they were ordinary men, doing ordinary things – but seeing extraordinary results. One of the most compelling examples of this was when a young boy gave his small lunch to Jesus. What happened next is a miracle still talked about to this day — a multitude was fed with two small fish, and five loaves of bread.

There are five great lessons we learn from this one amazing miracle.

First, never underestimate the Lord’s ability to meet a need. The place was a desert, and the time was late; the people were many, and the need was great. But Jesus not only met the need; He did it with abundance! And He can meet whatever need you are faced with today.

Second, never count yourself out when the Lord starts to work. A man seeing the news about disease, hunger, poverty, and sorrow in the world, turned to his wife and said, “Sometimes I just want to ask God why doesn’t He do something about all of this!” “What’s stopping you from asking Him?” his wife replied. “Because,” the man said, “I’m afraid He will ask me the same question!”

Jesus gave the loaves to the disciples, and they gave it to the people. In other words – the miracle happened in their hands, while they were passing the food out to the people. There is a miracle in your hands, too!

Third, never assume that what you have is too insignificant to matter. A boy with a sack lunch containing five loaves and two small fish – that’s all it took. One disciple asked, “But what is this among so many?” It is tragic how many count themselves out simply because they feel they do not measure up to the moment.

Fourth, never think that He will fail to meet your needs while using you to bless others. The Bible says that they did all eat, and were full. As for the disciples, they collected the fragments and filled twelve baskets – one for each of them. Your service to Him will never go unnoticed, nor unanswered.

Finally, never hold on to what the Lord is asking from you. What if the boy had kept his lunch for himself? Well, he would’ve had lunch – and that’s all. But, giving it to the Lord Jesus took that young man into history. And now, Jesus is asking you, “What do you have? Bring it to Me.”

History awaits your response.


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The Meaning Of The Cross

The Meaning of the Cross

Today’s Scripture: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

The theme of God’s redemptive plan runs through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. At its heart is Calvary, the place where Jesus died so we could be forgiven. As we read the Scriptures, we see that the cross symbolizes . . .

Salvation.  Jesus bore our sins upon the cross and died in our place so we could be reconciled to God and receive eternal life.

Sacrifice.  Christ, who was “in very nature God” (Philippians 2:6 NIV), chose to leave the perfection of heaven and live among sinful people. Laying aside His divine authority, He was born a helpless baby, completely dependent upon others. His first 30 years were spent in obscurity, without recognition of His Messiahship. During His public ministry, He faithfully carried out God’s plan all the way to His death on the cross. Jesus’ days on earth are an example to us of the sacrificial life (Romans 12:1-2).

Service.  Jesus said He “did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Christ’s supreme act of service was dying on the cross so we might have eternal life. Our Savior calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him through sacrificial service to others (Luke 9:23). As we embrace a lifestyle of humility and servanthood, we will bring glory to our heavenly Father.

In our culture, success is based on achievement. We admire those who perform well in athletics, business, and the arts. However, greatness in God’s kingdom is found in a life of obedience. Are you following His plan and helping others as Jesus did? Have you shared with them the good news of Christ?

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Today’s Scripture: “Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people…Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name.”  Psalm 96:3,8

Why should we put our reputation, our comfortableness, even our lives in danger in order to spread the name of Jesus Christ around the world? Ultimately, the psalmist reminds us, the motivation is not the worthiness of people, but the worth-it-ness of Christ.

Declare the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ among the heathen! Exalt His name where it has never even been heard! Tell of His surpassing majesty wherever you go. Why? Because He is worth it! Because He is due all the praise of all people everywhere.

No matter how well you speak of Him, you cannot exaggerate God’s glory or worthiness. No matter how far you go, or who you speak with, around the globe no one is exempted from this command: “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name!”

He created the earth and heaven. He breathes life into people, sustains our existence, and even came and died for the sins of His creatures. This Lord, this Savior is due the worship of all His creation.

Make it the determination of your heart today to give the Lord the glory due His name, by declaring and exalting His wonderful name.

Is there a co-worker who does not know Christ? Is there a family member with whom you have not shared the good news? Is there a nation to which you have opportunity to go, or send, in His name? Declare His wonders among all people!