Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Does the Cross Mean to You?

I got to thinking the other evening during my personal devotions about what the cross means. I have been guilty of just seeing "the cross" and not what the cross really meant to Jesus, and therefore to all humanity.

The Pain of the Cross:
Betrayed by one of the inner circle...
Denied three times by another in the inner circle...
Spit on....
Slapped and mocked...
Beard pulled out...
Crown of thorns driven into His head...
Beaten beyond recognition by a whip (flesh torn out at each lash,
yanked across the flesh -- not just the skin)...
Ridiculed by participants, taunted to see if He could tell who
was doing the taunting...
Murderer chosen to be released over Him...
Sentenced to death by crucifixion...
Made to carry the cross beam of His cross, until exhaustion forced
soldiers to make another carry it for Him...
Nailed to the cross through His hands and feet...
Mocked while on the cross...
Took the sins of the world on Himself...
Forsaken by God!

It is finished!
Death...Darkness...Veil in the temple torn in two...

Isaiah 53:1-12 "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people he was stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper his hand. He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cotton - The Fields are White

"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on he fields; for they are white already to harvest." John 4:35

I pass this cotton field every day on my way to/from work, and since the cotton has been maturing, the Bible verse from John 4:35 keeps playing through my mind. Yesterday afternoon I stopped and went out to the field to take pictures.

The cotton was bursting from the pods, but the cotton stalks were brown and dying.

There were also weeds growing up through the cotton plants. Some were pretty, and others were tall grasses. That reminds me of Matthew 13:26 and 30, "But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also...Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Prayer Can Result In Change

What is happening in our country today? Crime is rampant, government is out of control, people are living for themselves... How can things change for our country?

II Chronicles 7:14 says "If My people, which are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Genesis 18 shows Abraham arguing with the Lord. Beginning in verse 15 the Lord decides to tell Abraham that He is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham's nephew Lot and his family lived there. In verse 22 Abraham stood before the Lord and began asking if there were fifty righteous people in the city, would the Lord destroy it? The Lord said no. Abraham went further and asked if there were forty-five, then if there were twenty, and finally, if there were only ten, and the Lord said, "I will not destroy it for ten's sake." God heard the pleas of Abraham and responded in a positive manner.

In the gospel of Mark a man brought his son to Jesus to cast out a demon. The man told Jesus that Jesus' disciples had not been able to cast out the demon. Jesus cast out the demon, and once he had done so, His disciples wanted to know why they had been unsuccessful. Jesus answered them in verse 29 of the 9th chapter, "And He said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Sometimes God moves only when we pray and fast.

Can our country change? I believe so! September 20 through October 30 has been set aside as a time of prayer and fasting on behalf of our nation. Check out the website www.prayandact.org and join fellow Christians in prayer and fasting for our country.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It is well with my soul

This morning on the way to work I was remembering a song I have known all my life, "It is Well with My Soul" by Horatio Spafford (look it up on Wikipedia -- fascinating story on this song!).

I remembered how several years ago I was going through my divorce and it was a month before our hearing date. I was depressed and worried about the outcome and what would happen to me and to our two sons. During this time I played the piano for my church, and I needed something special for a Sunday offertory. I found a beautiful arrangement by Marilyn Ham for "It is Well with My Soul." Although the piece was difficult for me, I learned the song. Even though I learned the song specifically for a Sunday special, the song meant a great deal to me during my divorce and I played it quite frequently and with a lot of passion, even if lacking in skill. The song helped me keep my problems in perspective.

Over the past several years this has become my favorite piece of music to play, and still every time I play it I remember that whatever comes my way, no matter how bad I think it is, God's peace is there for me!

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford