A Picture Is Worth a 1000 Words

Each morning I begin my prayers, “Heavenly Father, I praise You and worship You. You are the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. You are merciful and loving; You are Holy and Just.” Then I think, almost without fail, that those words are never enough to describe who He is to me. Words are never enough to truly reveal the glory and majesty of our Creator.

Moses, Daniel, Isaiah, David, and many more wrote of the wonder of our God in the Old Testament. Their words, inspired by God Himself, make up ¾ of the entire Bible, which is no small book. Still, although all the prophets spoke and wrote of God’s love, mercy, and holiness, the people didn’t completely understand the majesty of God because our languages are insufficient for that task.

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A little book with big truth

I was thinking about this during my prayer time one morning, and the children’s book Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney came to mind. It is a story about Little Nut Brown Hare and his dad Big Nut Brown Hare. Little Nut Brown Hare tells Big Nut Brown Hare how much he loves him: “I love you as high as I can hop!” he says. His father responds, “Well, I love you as high as I can hop,” which is, of course, higher. Throughout the story, they try to describe how much they love each other as Little Nut Brown Hare is getting ready to go to bed. Just as he is drifting off to sleep, the little one says with a smile, “I love you to the moon!” After he is off into dreamland, his loving father says, “I love you to the moon . . . and back.”

Then I heard God say, “I love you to the cross . . . and back.”

A thousand words and more can’t adequately describe the love of God. But this one picture — of Jesus on the cross, of His bleeding brow ringed with a crown of thorns, of His bleeding side — portrays it so well.

I believe that’s why the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Words alone were not enough to portray His love. He had to come down from Heaven and show us. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16 (NIV).

I know I love God, but I also know that He loves me and you more. He loves us to the cross . . . and back.

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This post was originally posted on Linda Kruschke’s Blog, and is offered here as a reminder of how much God loves the broken believers of the world.

Bitter Water

In Exodus 15 there’s an incident that carries weight for today. Israel has come to the springs of Marah. The water is bitter. The people turn to Moses. They challenge him and the complaint voraciously. “Why have you brought us here?” They press Moses to the point of mutiny. They are furious.

Some commentators believe this bitter water was a laxative, and anyone who drank this “bitter” water made many trips to the outhouse!

Moses is shown a branch of a common tree. The Lord speaks a word of ďirection he’s to throw the branchaďirectly into the spring. It’ll cure the water, and make it sweet.

It seems to me that Jesus’ awful cross cures the bitterness we absorb as we make our way through life.

Dying to Self

There’s a common denominator for authenticity.

In this particular post we’re looking at an element of Christian discipleship that ties us all together. It’s our common denominator as His disciples. We must learn to die to self to be faithful. There can be no obedience unless we choose to carry our cross to a place of death.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”

Galatians 5:24

But what does that look like? How can I know that I’m really doing this? Maybe this will guide you.

 

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By no means is this list exhaustive. But you know that maybe good. The principle then has the room to fit all areas of your life–the core idea of self-renunciation becomes the way your spirit operates. We deny ourselves so real life can begin.

There can be no resurrection power unless there is crucifixion weakness. 

We must go to the cross daily in order to find our life. That is the way. “This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him we will also live with him.”

2 Timothy 2:11

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We’re Pretty Much Scum

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“To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.”

1 Corinthians 4:11-13, NIV

The apostle Paul isn’t ashamed to be called ‘scum.’ He realizes that this is his ‘standing’ in this world’s opinion. He is regarded as a nobody and of little value by the ‘powers-that-be.’ A tension exists between the believer and the world system. The expectations that the world has is part of the package that we have been given. The message of the Cross is the ultimate foolishness. Jesus told his own disciples that:

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”

John 15:18-19, NLT

 The world hates us because we belong to Jesus.

It is his reproach we bear. We should not see the trial and sorrows as our issue, and we shouldn’t get upset by the world’s snub. The tension is real and we can expect being ostracized. In fact, we might do well to be concerned if we don’t see it.

After all, hatred is such a hard word.

And the stigma should humble us— it has a supernatural origin. We shouldn’t expect otherwise. To follow Jesus means we will only experience what he is already gone through. Some of us will follow him even to martyrdom. The hardships and challenges do not invalidate our walk, rather they confirm what he said would happen. The world is under seige by Satan,  it is his spirit that controls the unbelieving world.

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

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Father of all comfort, please come to your servants who are suffering for their faith in you. Meet them and hold them close to you. Give them boldness and awareness. Seek them out and make them your witnesses in a hostile world. Give them the Spirit of Jesus and help them overcome by their love. ~In Jesus Name, Amen

 

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