by Rev. Dr. Joel J. Chiri
Sep 30th; Sep 23rd; Sep 16th; Sep 9th; Sep 2nd; Aug 26th; Aug 19th
John 19:16-22 “Then he delivered Him up to them that He might be crucified. And they took Jesus and led Him away. And bearing His cross, He went out to a place called, The Place of a Skull (which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha) where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the middle. And Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, Do not write, the king of the Jews, but that he said, I am king of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.”
"And he went out carrying his own cross" (John 19:17).
I remember a poem called “The Changed Cross.” It was about a tired lady, that in looking around thought the cross she carried was much heaver than those borne by others and prayed that she might change her cross for another. She fell asleep, after her prayer and dreamt an angel led her to a place filled with crosses. Crosses of every size, shape and description. The angel told her she could pick any cross she liked and take it with her. First, she saw a beautiful golden cross covered with jewels and she said to herself ‘That’s perfect. I can easily carry that cross around my neck and how beautiful’ so she picked it up, but she shook underneath the weight of it. Oh, it was truly beautiful but it was far too heavy for her build. The next cross she saw was a lovely cross with flowers in full bloom entwined around its carved form. She thought, ‘That’s the cross for me.’ However, when she picked it up it was covered with sharp thorns that cut her terribly. The next cross she liked was a beautiful tall polished wooden cross, but it was too tall and she needed to drag it behind her. Finally, she came upon a plain old cross, no jewels, no carving, with only a few words of love inscribed upon it. She picked it up, it was perfect for her and so easy to carry. And as she looked upon it in joy, bathed in a heavenly radiance, she recognized her own old cross. She had found it again, and it was the best of all for her.
God knows what we need and how much we can bear. We don’t know how heavy other people's burdens are. We might envy someone who is rich or powerful; his is a golden cross set with jewels, but we do not know how heavy it truly is. Another’s life seems very lovely, they carry a cross twined with flowers or beautifully polished.. If we could try all the other crosses that we think better than our own, we would at last find that not one of them suited us so well as what the Lord had given us.
Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Watch and pray, in other words be careful in your life. Don’t make promises with your mouth that you can’t cover with your butt. Be ‘as wise as a serpent, but harmless as a dove’ for continual sin can ruin a Christian’s reputation, as we have seen with some of the televangelists. Remember the Devil did not grow to be a Devil in a single day, the worst sins don’t happen all at once. The horns and hoofs may not show just yet; they grow by degrees, and show themselves slowly over time. The course of sin begins gradually, but it increases rapidity as you progress. Just like running down hill, the ever increasing impetus pushes you faster and faster until you fall, and once you begin there is no telling where you will stop.
I’ve heard Christians say: “Doesn’t God want me happy? Aren’t I free in Christ?” I’m always sorry to hear those questions because it normally means there is something wrong. If a person can justify doing A, before long they can justify doing all the letters of the alphabet. In little sins there is often great mischief, and if the Devil cannot trip us up with big sins he is equally happy to use small ones. Satan doesn’t care what bait he uses as long as he’s catching fish.
Now I’m not saying that Christians who sin have lost their salvation; but they have lost their testimony. When people see those who propose to be the servants of God, involved in sin it leaves a bitter taste. You see sinners know the kind of life we should live; even if we as Christians are too dumb to know it ourselves. Therefore remember to always watch and pray, Lord, don’t let me give Satan an inch in my life
Job 3:1-9 “After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months. Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein. Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning. Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:”
The world in which we live is a strange confusing place. Even our lives are often unexplainable. Death, divorce, and disease often slice through our lives like a surgeon’s scalpel of sorrow, raising doubts and destroying dreams.
Some friends and I agreed have on occasion said that the previous year was one that we would just as soon forget. Each of us had suffered one of the three. The conversation brings Job to mind. In a short period of time, Job lost his children, his health, his wealth, and his wife’s respect. Job was so greatly distressed that he pleaded, “May the day perish on which I was born” (Job 3:3). Job asked God to erase not just a year, but all memory that he had ever existed! He had enjoyed many years of success and respect, and now, he questioned the purpose of living.
I’ve been there, like Job, I wanted to die and be forgotten, but instead God made sure that I survived to face all the wonderful things He still had in store for me. Rather than give me what he asked for, God gave me what I and others would need—an inside look at the spiritual battle depression often causes. Whenever we fear actually happens and face depression, we can know, thanks to Job, that God can use it for good.
God never wastes a hurt in our lives and never allows one but to our benefit.
Psalm 46:1-11 ”God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear when the earth changes, and when mountains are slipping into the heart of the seas. Let its waters roar and foam; let the mountains shake with the swelling of it. Selah. There is a river, its channels gladden the city of God glad, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God shall help her at the turning of the morning. The nations raged, the kingdoms were shaken; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. Jehovah of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of Jehovah, who makes ruins on the earth; who makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God! I will be praised among the nations, I will be praised in the earth. Jehovah of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”
Think of the anticipation of waiting in a darkened theatre for the first glimpse of the movie, or is there any note of music as mighty as the emphatic pause? Is there any word in all the Psalms more eloquent than that one word, Selah (Pause/Think)? Is there anything more thrilling and awful than the hush that comes before the storm or the silence before the dawn? Is there anything that can touch the heart as stillness? "The peace of God that passes all understanding” a deep peace which the world can neither give nor take away. There within the deepest part of our soul, is a chamber where God dwells. A place where, if we will only enter in and silence every other sound, we can hear His voice. If you want to know God go there quietly, "Be still, and know." That God will meet you, and that "God is in his holy temple“ so let all the universe keep silent before him. Elijah looked for God in a great and powerful wind, but he was not there. Then he looked in an earthquake and a terrible fire, but God was not there. Finally, God came and spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. It seems only sensible, the voice of God could shatter the universe, after all he created it with a word; but he whispers softly to our wounded spirit. Do you want to hear God? I challenge you sit quietly, undisturbed and hear his voice. The old saints called it meditation, and they practiced it at days end; when they came and considered their role in the days events. Try it, but remember it is a fearful thing to hear the voice of God.
Rev 1:12-18 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man…. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not….”
Gen 2:20 “And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
This marriage idea is certainly one of God’s most interesting. I freely admit that I sometimes despair of ever understanding my wife. She seems to me in one moment to be the smartest most intuitive person I have ever met and the next minute she seems to make no sense to me whatever. It may be true that women are a mystery it takes an entire lifetime to understand and the really great ones you will never understand. I do know that early in a marriage each partner begins to reveal little secrets about themselves. ‘Do you still loves us?’ we want to ask, of course they still love us. It is the truth about repentance and spiritual growth. Only when you completely reveal yourself can you realize that you are fully loved. I am more wicked and sinful than I could have ever imagined, but I am also more loved by God and my spouse than I could have ever dared to hope. When man sinned God called out, “Adam where are you?” You see it was man that was in hiding not God.
Micah 6:6-8 “With what shall I come before Jehovah, to bow myself before God the Most High? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does Jehovah require of you but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?”
It has often been said that Christians are not “of the world,” and because of that thinking; they have to often tended to act as if they are not “in the world,” and practiced a Pharisee like separation. The idea of separation from those things we as Christians believe to be evil has too often been just an excuse for separation from things that are good. All to often, Christians have abandoned their responsibilities in the world of science and literature, and in the field of government itself.
It is fully possible to be a ‘born again’ Evangelical Christian without denying the poor the right to be clothed and feed, or the protection of minorities rights, or the duty of government to assist the poor and to act in a lawful manner. In fact, I would say that it is impossible for Christians not to be concerned and compassionate about the problems faced by others in the world.
All men are sinners and everything man does is tainted by that sin. Some of the ancient Gnostics believed that it was impossible for a ‘good’ God to create the world because of the way they could see sin affect their world; however the Bible clearly tells us that God created the world and everything in it. It also tells us that what God created was good and He loves and cares for what He created. It was man’s sin that brought about the world’s problems, and social change ultimately depends upon changing he hearts of men. The perfection of man and true social change cannot be brought about by simply redesigning or altering the environment. If this were possible Christ’s death on the cross would have been unnecessary, and God’s plan for mans redemption undone. Christ’s words to Nicodemus have never been more relevant for modern man, “ye must be born again.” Acceptance of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Redeemer is essential to salvation, but that in no way relieves Christians of their responsibility to pursue social justice, to act with compassion toward others, to seek to improve the government, or to better the world. God has implanted in all men a conscience and we are responsible for our actions. The prophet Micah asks and answers the question ’What does God require of believers?’ “To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.” We need to remember that we are our brothers keeper.
Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Anything God repeats is worthy of special attention especially when He repeats it four times. To often feelings are substituted for faith. Happy periods and satisfying experiences are part of the Christian life, but they are not all of it. We trials, conflicts, battles and testing lie along the Christian’s path, and are not to be counted as misfortunes, but rather a part of our tempering. No matter what troubles we may face we are to remember Christ in always in our heart; regardless, of our feelings. This is where many Christians fall into trouble, as the are walking by feeling and not by faith. They need to distinguish between the fact of God's presence, and the emotion of the fact. When all about you seems to fall apart; in faith you can still proclaim, "I don’t see God. I don’t feel God, but I know that the Lord is with me.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Repeat to yourself, "The Lord is here, the bush does not seem to be consumed with fire, but still it burns. So I will remove the shoes from my feet, for the place on which I stand is holy ground.” Your Rock is Jesus Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows or changes, but the sea. Keep your eye steadily fixed upon the Lord, look to Jesus and believe, look to Jesus and live! The Christian life is not brooding over emotions, but anchored in the Lord Jesus Christ. He will be a friend that sticks closer than any brother. When I cannot enjoy the faith of assurance, I live by the faith of adherence. Knowing that God is with me, for He is not a man that He should lie.
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