A Cross With Splinters

by Herman Crawford
 

“And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, ‘Who do the people say that I am?’ They answered and said, ‘John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.’ And He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Peter answered and said, ‘The Christ of God.’ But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed (slain) and be raised on the third day.’” (Luke 9:18-22)

I mentioned in my previous devotional that I am in the process of reading Francis Schaffer’s book True Spirituality. He points out three specific things from the reading above that we must endure in order for us to truly be followers of Christ.

1. Must be rejected – in this instance it was rejection by the Elders and religious leaders of the day. For us, it may be family, it may be friends, and for sure, the world in general. We can read and see today how the Church (that’s us) is under attack. We will be rejected.

2. Must be killed/slain – In Luke 14:27, we read: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” What is the purpose of the cross? People die on them. Not only do we as followers of Jesus die on it, we do so daily (Luke 9:23). Schaffer says that “there are splinters in the Christian’s cross” as we are surrounded in this life by things that are alien to God. We die to ourselves daily to live for Christ!

3. Must be raised – Romans 6:1-7 – “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? Far from it! How shall we who died to sin (Note: point 2 – slain) still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in
newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the
likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for the one who has died is freed from sin.” Our sinful life died with Christ upon accepting Him as our Lord and Savior, but thanks be to God our resurrected life (new creation)
began at that time as well.

So, as we look at the death and resurrection of Jesus at this Easter season, do you really identify with Him in the sense that you have been rejected, slain, and now risen? Does this make sense? Study the Scripture passages above. Meditate on them. Have you felt the splinters of your daily cross?

God, help us as we struggle daily to live as you desire us to live. Amen.


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Musick

by Joe Becker
 

Too young to be marked by the ‘flowers and powers’ of the 60s, our young minds got ‘blown away’ by riding Schwinn bikes through any pasture or water, allured by the promise of pan fish over a campfire. Those days we carried transistor radios tuned to AM stations all day long, then we’d turn to Orioles Baseball in the cool of the evening. By the end of “The Summer of Love”, 1967, I was still a ten-year-old centerfielder in pinstripes and stirrups of Heidelberg blue. Today, all this stuff gets termed “vintage” somehow—like a pinot noir.

Back then there was little regard for the Byrds or Woodstock. But, four summer vacations later, the flip of a switch, literally, offered us the new venue of Starview, WRHY on the FM dial. Happily, when it first aired in 1972, its format included a good measure of folk music.

During that same year, Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, would release “Greenwood”, perhaps the most poignant song I had ever heard. The chorus comes from the Gospel of Luke.

“…if we do these things in the greenwood,
What will happen in the dry?”

These are the recorded words of Christ in Luke 23:31. Nowhere else in Scripture is there another reference to it. Yet here I believe God, with His most serious Face, is still speaking to us today. “…As His Message was being rejected when He was physically present, how much more it would be rejected in the coming years.” (NIV commentary).

Until Today, within this dear season of Lent, our focus on the Lord’s devotion to us has never been more vital to me. For I know the women along the Via Dolorosa (sorrowful way) were supposed to be weeping for us, as the Lord was sure of His appointment with His final work on the cross. These days, current events remind me of how needful our world is.

“It’s you and me and we must make the choice now, and not destroy the life we’re living for…” (Yarrow, Peter. “Greenwood”)

May we be ever inclined to prayer, that our children’s children grow to understand just how dry the wood is.


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Misrepresenting God

by Deb Seibert
 

God in His perfection cannot allow us as Christians to misrepresent Him, His Word, or His ways in any way. As a righteous, Holy, pure God, He has to bring discipline or judgment if we do this. The story of Moses in the Old Testament is one from which we can learn.

When the people lacked water in the wilderness, God told Moses to strike the rock and He would bring forth water. 1
Corinthians 10:4 tells us, “All drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them, and the rock was Christ.” But it happened a second time that the people complained, needing water. This time, God told Moses to speak to the rock, but, out of anger, He struck the rock. God could not allow Moses to misrepresent Him to His people, so Moses was rebuked by God and was not allowed to go into the Promised Land. This was a sad day for Moses! His words cut to the heart in Deuteronomy 3:26, “But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord said to me, ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to me of this matter.’” It’s hard to imagine how it felt for Moses to hear these words from God.

As Christians, we are ambassadors of Christ, representing Him in a lost world. We have to be careful of our words and
actions by tapping into the Rock and being led by His Spirit. We need His help daily to do this; He is our supply.

When Jesus ministered on this earth, he explained, “‘…I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what He sees the father doing.’” And in John 12:49 Jesus says, “‘I don’t speak on my own authority. The father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.’” If Jesus relied on the Father to this extent, we would be wise to do the same.

Thank you, God, for this example of Jesus, the Perfect Lamb of God, tapping into Your wisdom and power. Thank you, that as ambassadors for you, You give us Your Word and Your Spirit to help us, so we do not misrepresent you. Thank you that one day You will take us into our promised land of Heaven!


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Do You Believe

by Pastor Joshua Trojak
 

Anybody feel scarred by this past year? I can say I physically will probably have an actual lifelong scar because of 2020. That sounds ominous, but it really isn’t that bad. One of my 2020 moments was having to run down a problem with our sanctuary projector setup. While crawling around in the attic of the sanctuary, I cut my wrist on a metal joist bracket. I didn’t think much of it at the time but I can still see it on my wrist today. It got me to thinking about the lasting affect that 2020 will have on our lives, whether we like it or not. There were plenty of things this past year that we would like to forget. But in the midst of the painful scars, there were times of God’s presence, provision, and healing that we must not forget.

The question is, how can we heal from those scars? I think Jesus gives us a great example. When He rose and conquered death, He wasn’t the same. His divinity was now on full display but his body still bore the marks of what happened on the cross.

“Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:19b-20)

His hands and side had scars of what He went through but the end result made those scars worth it.

Our scars are not on the same level as Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for us but our scars (from 2020 or any other time in life) can remind us that God can redeem anything. He hasn’t left us in the struggle and can use those scars to bring people to know His love in the future. Thomas wouldn’t believe Jesus was alive until he could physically touch those wounds on
Jesus. After doing so, he believed. We can’t touch His scars but we can rest in the promise that Jesus made just after Thomas believed.

“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” (John 20:29)

Do you believe?


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Scripture Focus: The Greatest Commandment

The Greatest Commandment

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”

(Matthew 22:34-40)


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Finding Joy

by Brooke Arney
 

The year of 2020 was a year of many ups and downs for me, as it was for all of us.

My 2020 consisted of my parents getting a divorce, Covid, helping my mother move, getting engaged, planning a
wedding, getting married, moving, and so much more. One thing 2020 has taught me though is that even when I can’t see what will happen next, I need to trust in God.

James 1:2-4 have always been some of my favorite verses because it flat out tells you life won’t be easy. I’ve read these verses many times through 2020 to remind myself that I should find joy in these times, because even if everything in my life falls apart, God is using those moments to teach me how to listen for that quite whisper of His voice. When a teacher is teaching, you have to be quite otherwise you’ll miss the lesson.

My favorite way to spend time with God and when I feel most connected with Him is by listening to worship music. Some of my favorites are “Lean Back” by Capital City Music and “Midnight” by Rita Springer. God’s Word and some amazing songs have taught me so much this year. So I challenge you to find a song and just listen to it or pour your heart out to God as it plays. God is always eager to hear from us, and the good thing is that He never gets tired of us.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)


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