Christ Crucified

by Katherine Kehler

This is the last week of Lent, also called Passion Week, and I have been reading and reflecting on the last days of Christ and His crucifixion.

I will be forever grateful for Christ’s willingness to go through the agony of carrying our sins (the sins of more than six billion people), and to suffer extreme physical pain — the torture of being whipped and nailed to the cross — and rejection and loneliness. When I think about the love He has for each one of us, I want to prostrate myself on the floor before Him and worship Him.

He went through all of this because we are sinful. However, we can be healed and experience His immense love. We can experience His power, grace, and wisdom every moment of the day and every day of our lives.

Let’s take a look at parts of verses 3 and 5 of Isaiah chapter 53 and reflect on His suffering.

Verse 3: “He was hated and rejected by people.” I find it much easier to be rejected by people who don’t know me, but when I am rejected by relatives or a friend I thought was loyal to me, that really hurts. We know that Christ experienced this, as His disciples all left Him. He too was rejected.

Verse 3: “He experienced much pain and sorrow.” I would venture to say that you have experienced some deep sorrow in your life.  Because of Lou Gehrig’s disease, every muscle in my strong brother’s body deteriorated until all he could do was blink his eyes. Watching him struggle to eat and trying to make us understand what he was trying to say was one of the most sorrowful situations I have ever experienced. He had gone from using canes, to a walker, to a scooter, and finally to a wheelchair. It was sorrowful.

Jesus was with him every moment of every day, strengthening him and us and giving us courage. He has experienced every sorrow we have and ever will go through.

Verse 5: “He was wounded for the wrong things WE did. He was crushed for the evil things we did. The punishment which made us well, was given to Him, And we are healed because of His wounds.”

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The Believer’s Journey to the Cross

by Dr. Charles Stanley

And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone:  but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’ But for this purpose I came to this hour.John 12:23-27

We all know that Jesus walked the road to Calvary, but did you know that believers also journey to the cross? We’ve all been positionally crucified with Christ, but those who hunger for Him participate in a deeper experience of this reality. Jesus lovingly takes their hand and leads them to the cross. Even though this is the last place anyone wants to go, it’s the only way to partake of God’s best for our lives.

The trip to the cross is not one you take with family and friends. It’s a lonely journey with just you and Jesus. He strips away everyone and everything you’ve depended on so that you’ll learn to rely only on Him. While we’re at the cross, He uncovers layer after layer of self-deception until we begin to see ourselves as He does. Soon our self-centeredness, inadequacy, and failures are laid bare.

The cross is a place of brokenness, but it’s necessary because there’s no other way we’ll ever bear fruit. If we hang onto our lives and refuse to take this journey, we’ll be like a grain of wheat that is never planted and never grows. But those who willingly die to themselves will produce an abundance of spiritual fruit. The only way Christ can live His life through us is if we’ve allowed ourselves to be crucified.

God doesn’t want you to be content with just your salvation. There’s so much more He desires to give you and accomplish through you. Are you willing to take the road to the cross with Him? Yes, it’s painful, but the rewards in this life and in eternity far outweigh any suffering you will experience.

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Prayer to the One Who is Here

by Darren Hewer

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Every week I meet with a small group of friends from my church. We study a passage or chapter of the Bible, play games, cook food, or just hang out. But we always pray together, and this is a wonderful time of fellowship and encouragement for which I am truly grateful.

But I have to admit praying sometimes makes me uncomfortable. I’ve never been totally comfortable praying. Recently as I sat praying with my small group, my mind started to wander, and I started to think about what prayer means. I know it means “talking to God” but I was hoping for some deeper understanding.

Suddenly a verse suddenly popped into my mind: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

God revealed something to me, in an out-of-the-blue understanding of a simple yet profound truth: When we pray, we must pray as though God is right here with us … because God IS right here with us!

We need to speak to God as though Jesus were standing in front of us, hanging on every word … because HE IS!

When we pray our words are not dispersing into the air; they are being heard by God, whose Spirit lives within us (1 Corinthians 3:16) and who hears us because He is with us, not as a vague spirit but as a living person.

Jesus promises that when you pray he is right here with you. Not only that, He promised that He is “with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) When we pray, let’s speak to the One who “will never leave you nor forsake you”, as though He is right there with you … because HE IS!

Questions: Are your prayers sometimes abstract and generic? How could keeping in mind God’s presence with you help keep them personal and specific?

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by Gail Rodgers

Shelly wasn’t quite sure how to apply her faith in God right now. She knew God was in her life. But this was just too much. The blow she felt seemed even beyond God’s help. She cried out to Him. She felt like the waves, in this storm in her life, were truly going to wash her right out to sea. She felt like she could hardly think.

God has a promise for those who put their trust in Him. It’s not a casual promise. It’s not trite words that can’t meet the deep issues of life that threaten to overwhelm us. It is a promise that will help get you through the deepest pain and grief. And you will even be nourished…even blessed…even in your current storm!

This is for you… Listen:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; for its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.Jeremiah 17: 7 & 8

So how does it work when the pain is overwhelming? As a Christian you have access to the resources and the strength of God which is the water for your life. Believe He will hold you! Ask Him to increase your trust because storms always make us question our trust. Ask for a tenacity of faith!! He will nourish you in the hottest drought of your life.

How? Read His promises. Write this one out on a few post-it notes and put it on your bathroom mirror, in your day timer, or on the dash of your car. Allow music that praises God to wash over your soul. Find a friend to pray with over the phone whenever you feel like the waves will overwhelm you. Or pray alone…God hears you! Put your roots down. Cling to Jesus. He is the one who dispels fear when the heat comes. He can be trusted to hold you steady as you wade through your storm.

But Sunday faith won’t do it… this is faith in a God who walks beside you step by step by step. He promises that you will actually come out the other side, not shriveled and dead as you might think now, but green and with something to offer to others. I know you can hardly believe that at the moment but it’s true. His Holy Spirit will guide you. Expect it!

Prayer & reflection: Dear Heavenly Father, The wind is blowing in my life today and I’m not sure I can stand against it. I declare that I trust in you. Even though all looks hopeless to me right now, I express my confidence in you. Help me step by step and moment by moment to lean hard on you to hold me today. I look to you to nourish my fainting soul. Encourage me and strengthen me even now by your Spirit. You are my hope! Thank you for your love. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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