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The Symbol of the Cross

What does the symbol of the Cross mean to you? To many people, the Cross is merely an archaic emblem. To others, the Cross invokes feelings of guilt or confusion. Some churches even see it as a hindrance to attracting nonbelievers.

Yet the early believers chose the Cross as their symbol for a special reason. There were many symbols of Jesus’ earthly ministry to represent them. They could have chosen a manger to represent where baby Jesus was born. They could have chosen a boat, from which Jesus taught the crowd in Galilee. They could have chosen an apron, which Jesus wore when He washed the disciples’ feet. They could have chosen a throne or a crown, to represent His divine and sovereign rule.

But instead they chose the Cross that proclaims that the wages of sin are fully paid, that the perfect sacrifice has been fully offered. Through the Cross, we have redemption and life with Christ in heaven. Through the Cross, we know that sin has been defeated.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the symbol of the Cross—the reason for my hope, my joy, and my freedom. Amen.

“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 Corinthians 1:18).


Without the Resurrection

In the past 20 years, many so-called mainline churches have been preaching Christ without the resurrection—and now they have ended up with a dead religion. For God’s Word tells us that without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our faith is in vain. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity is dead and done for.

The real reason why some people deny the historicity of the resurrection is because they do not want to accept the fact that Jesus is the one and only true God who appeared in human flesh. It is because they do not want to worship Him as such. It is because they refuse to acknowledge that they are sinners and desperately need His forgiveness. It is because they want to remain in their sins, but do not know how to deal with the guilt aspect.

So they say Jesus was just a man—that is the bottom line. But why? So that they can pull Him down to their level. So that they may feel equal with Him. So that they can ease their own guilt. So that they can feel good about doing that which is troubling their conscience. So that they may try to convince themselves that they are not in need of repentance.

The Bible says that if Christ was not raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain. But praise God, that is not the kind of faith God has given us! Our faith is alive and is based on a living Christ. Jesus did not stay dead in a tomb, but was resurrected!

Prayer: God, thank You that Jesus did not stay in that tomb, but that He was resurrected and we serve a living God! Amen.

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14).


God’s Plan

Have you ever made a major decision based on the wrong information? Have you worried over unfounded fears that never came to fruition? Have you ever experienced utter hopelessness, only to find that God intervened supernaturally on your behalf?

In Mark 16, we find three women who experienced all of these struggles at once. After Jesus’ death on the Cross, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome prepared for the worst. Going on their own assumptions that Jesus lay dead in His tomb, they took spices to anoint His body.

As the women walked to the tomb, they began to worry that even their plan to anoint Him would fail. “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” they asked each other (Mark 16:3). This was no small rock, but a large, heavy stone big enough to block the entrance to the tomb. And again their anxieties mounted.

They arrived at the tomb, fully expecting to anoint the dead body of Christ—if they could even get past the entrance. Yet what they saw was beyond what they could have imagined. Not only had the stone been moved, but an angel stood before them announcing the resurrection of Jesus! “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6).

How much better are all of God’s plans than any one of ours? We can plot and scheme all we want, but even our most detailed plans are no match for His plans.

God’s plan was not for these caring women to mourn over a lifeless body in a tomb, but to show them that the Messiah was alive. God’s plan was for Jesus to conquer death and the grave, not to remain in a dark cave. God’s plan did not end at the Cross, but continued into the glorious resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. Praise God for His most amazing, loving plan of salvation.

Prayer: God, thank You for Your loving and perfect plan which is far greater than any plan I could ever imagine. Amen.

“God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40).


Total Surrender

The object of giving our all is to please the Lord. How do I offer my body as a living sacrifice that is pleasing to the Lord? I don’t offer it in a temple court like they did in the Old Testament; I offer it everywhere I go.

Surrender is a total job. There is no such thing as a part-time Christian. Surrender is giving God all that you have. Surrender that is pleasing to God is not partial, it is not tokenism, and it is not just in words. It is a total surrender in the most practical terms.

The outcome of giving our all is the knowledge of and conformity to the will of God. In Romans 12:2 Paul says: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Everybody wants to conform, everybody wants to copy others, and the apostle Paul knew that this desire of keeping up with the Joneses is done out of fear of being different. This verse is saying: Dare to be different. You don’t have to do something because somebody else does it. The transforming of your mind is going to help you discern. It is going to seep down and it is going to strengthen your will.

Do you want to please the Lord, who saved you, who gave you joy in your heart, who gave you purpose and life, or would you rather please yourself and others first?

Prayer: Father, show me if there are areas of my life that I have not completely surrendered to You. Help me to live to please You alone. Thank You for all that You have done for me. Amen.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).


A Living Sacrifice

Everywhere you look, you see people in search of personal fulfillment. Even genuine Christians are bouncing around looking for emotional and spiritual fulfillment apart from Christ.

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul said that the key to personal fulfillment is to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to Christ, to avoid conformity with the world, and to be renewed in our minds by His Truth.

While the Scripture tells us that God does chastise and discipline the disobedient child, the motive for surrendering our all to God should not be fear of chastisement and discipline, but from a heart of gratitude that says: “God, take everything. Everything belongs to you.”

Paul said in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” All God wants is somebody who will say: “Lord, I am ready to offer myself, my body, as a reasonable sacrifice. I am ready to give it all.”

Prayer: Father, I confess that I often look for fulfillment apart from You. Help me to remember that I will only be fulfilled when I offer myself as a living sacrifice to You. Amen.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).


Reflecting the Light

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world.” As light we are to illuminate or make visible. Our lives are to be an ongoing witness to the reality of Christ’s presence in our lives. When we worship God with pure hearts, when we love others as ourselves, and when we do good without growing weary, we are lights shining.

It is important to know that it is not our light, but the reflection of the light of the world, Jesus Christ Himself, that people will see in us.

In Philippians 2:15, the apostle Paul admonishes believers to shine as light in the world. The Greek word used here is very similar to the word for the beacon that a lighthouse emits. That beacon warns of danger. It directs to safe harbor. It provides hope for those who are lost.

Every day we are surrounded by people groping around in the darkness, separated from the God who loves them. God uses us, like beacons from a lighthouse, to show the way to Him.

Prayer: Father, help me to be a reflection of You in this dark world. Use me to direct the lost to You. Help me to be a bright light wherever I go. Amen.

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).


Contaminated Salt

As we read yesterday, when Jesus commanded us to be the salt of the earth, he was most likely referring to the preservation function of salt.

Jesus’ first disciples would have been intimately familiar with this function of salt. Without refrigeration, the fish that they caught would quickly spoil and rot unless they were packed in salt. Once salted, the fish could be safely stored and then used when needed.

The spiritual health and strength of the Christian is to counteract the corruption that is in the world. Christians, as salt, are to inhibit sin’s power to destroy lives. This in turn creates opportunity for the Gospel to be proclaimed and received.

We have been given a wonderful privilege to be the salt of the earth, but Jesus gave us a warning: “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matthew 5:13). Jesus did not say that we can lose our salvation; He said that we can lose our saltiness.

When salt is contaminated, it becomes corrosive and poisonous and has to be thrown on the road. If we have allowed disobedience, carelessness, and indifference to rule our lives, we have become contaminated salt and have lost our saltiness. To be restored as the salt of the earth, we must confess our sin to the Lord, who is faithful to purify us.

Prayer: Father, I pray that You would show me if there are areas of my life that have become contaminated, causing me to lose my saltiness. Purify me so that I can be the salt of the earth. Amen.

“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:2).


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