The Message of the Cross

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Nothing in the history of the world has ever divided people as much as the cross of Christ. The cross separates the saint from the sinner, the saved from the unsaved. To the saved man the cross is the power of God, to the unsaved man it is foolishness. And God has chosen the message of the cross found throughout the Scriptures to proclaim salvation to sinners.

What is the message of the cross? Simply that sin separates the sinner from a holy God; but God has undertaken the forgiveness of sins through the death of Jesus in the place of sinners. Every sinner whose trust is placed in Christ alone to free them from the death-knell of sin will be saved.

The cross was rejected by the Jews as foolishness, who insisted that their ancestry, self-works, rituals, and traditions were enough to make them right with God.

Greeks demanded explanations based in science and reason. To them, a crucified Christ wasn’t a winner and His death wasn’t an evidence of triumph.

The message of the cross is foolishness to the world, but it is the full and tangible expression of God’s power to one who is being saved.

The Answer to Hate and Racism

Looting. Murder. Rioting. Stealing. Theft. Destruction. Anger. Burning. Violence. Fear-mongering. Hatred. Racism. Disregard for the rule of law. Race-war. Rage. Tearing down statues. Injustice. Inflammatory name-calling. Lawlessness.

These are all summed up in one foul word: S I N.

Whatever else you may want to call it – these are all acts and attitudes of evil men whose hearts are filled with the darkness of sin. Sin perpetuating more sin and then used as an excuse for even greater sin.

Don’t be mistaken. Don’t be detoured from what the Bible says. The answer is not found in tearing down monuments to the past, making laws restricting free speech or free assembly, violent attacks, or in shaming certain beliefs and political movements. Don’t look to laws or protests or penalties for answers to hate and racism. These same tools can be used to silence your beliefs … even your Christian beliefs.

As Christians, we are convinced that the answer to the evil in the heart is in the transformation of the human heart through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Light has coming into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light, lest His deeds should be exposed (John 3:19-20).

Dangerous Beds

Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You (Psalm 119:11).

I confided in my pastor that I was struggling with thoughts of sexual immorality. He chuckled and answered, We all have those thoughts. As long as you don’t act on them it’s okay. That was the end of the conversation.

By my pastor’s reasoning, a man who is a unable to move any part of his body would be sinless. That’s not the testimony of the Word of God.

The sinful mind is enmity [hateful] against God (Romans 8:7). For as he thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).

Our thoughts can be dangerous beds of sin. I would be unlikely to walk up to another person and plunge a knife into his back. I have no desire to spend my life in a prison cell or face the penalty of death, but I’d consider such a deed in my mind, an act of hateful murder so secret it is known only to myself and to God. In the hidden recesses of my heart I can ponder atrocious and abominable things yet appear to be moral and upstanding, all the while having my mind and conscience defiled (Titus 1:15).

Sin is more than an action. The act is just the final manifestation of what’s already taken place in the mind (Matthew 5:28; James 1:14).

The answer to a sinful mind in the Christian is two-fold. First, we must recognize and repent of our sinful thoughts, confessing these things to the Lord (1 John 1:9). Second, we must refuse to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). The continual renewing of the mind happens in the man of God by the Spirit of God working through the Word of God.

True Calamity

I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3, 5).

Sometimes bad things happen – not because we’ve sinned – but because we live in a world corrupted by sin.

Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of Palestine from 26-36 AD. He was known to be arrogant, stubborn, and insensitive in a place where Jews and Romans lived in constant conflict.

On Pilate’s first day on the job, he marched Roman troops into Jerusalem carrying standards. A standard was a tall pole with a banner and carved image on top. The Jews considered any carved image to be an idol and violent rioting immediately broke out across the city.

We aren’t told the details, but in Luke 13:1-5, Jesus spoke of an event where Pilate slaughtered a group of Galilean men at the temple as they offered their sacrifices. The word on the street was that these Galileans were killed because they were more sinful than anyone else at the temple that day.

Popular Jewish theology of Christ’s day taught that suffering is always a sign of God’s judgment for sin. Catastrophes are always evidence of God’s displeasure.

Sometimes God judges individuals and nations because of their sin; but disasters can also be the consequence of living in a fallen world.

The man who thinks he’s in control of his liquor, drives home, and kills another driver has his own sin to blame for the accident; the sober man who was killed was not being punished by God.

Each day God spares the lives of guilty sinners because He is patient and compassionate. Really, that’s the only reason any of us are alive right now.

True calamity, Jesus said twice, is death apart from a saving faith in Him. Unless you repent you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3, 5).

Repentance is two-fold. First, it’s a God-caused change of mind about your sin. It’s acknowledging that you’re a sinner far from God, separated from Him by your personal disobedience to His law. Second, repentance is acknowledging and trusting in Jesus as the only Saviour from your sin (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Sin Isn’t the Leading Cause of Death

As Christians, we sometimes wonder why God doesn’t bring an end to the pain and suffering in this world caused by sin. We ask, “Where is God’s justice?” But God has done something: He sent Jesus to die for sinners.

Our real difficulty is accepting God’s patience. We want Him to do something now, something we can see today and know that justice is being served.

God’s justice, however, is bittersweet when we remember that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin isn’t the leading cause of death – it’s the only cause of death. God told Adam and Eve that in the day they disobeyed Him, you shall surely die (Genesis 2:17); and so it’s been ever since.

His justice means that the sin of every person must be punished. Every sinner must suffer the consequences of offending God. Crying out for God’s justice means that some of our own family members and friends will be forced to cash that check which brings eternal damnation.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

The Greatest Heist

In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, two men identifying themselves as Boston police officers arrived at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They said they were responding to a silent alarm that indicated the museum was being robbed. The guard on duty checked the officers’ credentials and let them into the museum.

The two uniformed policemen assembled all the private security officers in the museum, handcuffed them, and locked them in the basement. The police then roamed through the museum, stealing 13 works of art, including a Rembrandt, a Manet, and a few paintings by Degas. The estimated value of the paintings was $500 million dollars!

The next morning, when a new private security detail arrived for duty, 13 empty picture frames were discovered hanging from the museum walls. The theft remains unsolved.

When Jesus gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age (Galatians 2:4), the Bible says that the greatest heist of all time took place. At the very moment Jesus died on the cross, all whom God the Father elected to salvation were delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).

In broad daylight, under the noses of both Heaven and Earth, Rome and Palestine, angel and demon, Jesus rescued us from Satan’s kingdom unto Himself. It wasn’t some sneaky deception carried out by impostors, but an instant deliverance out from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of Heaven by the King of Glory.

Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 11:28).

For more information on the greatest heist of all time, consult your local Bible and return to this website for additional daily updates.

 

The Power of God at Work

The congregation a the Family of God Celebration Center, Matuu, Kenya.

Sunday morning, July 16th, I arrived in the village of Matuu, Kenya, and sat down in the front row of a tiny church building. As the time neared to begin the service, I looked at the handful of young children mingled with even fewer adults.

I opened my Bible and glanced at the notes I planned to preach from. My heart sank. The sermon based on 7 verses in Judges chapter ten would never work.

The music began, the congregation of less than a dozen stood and began singing, and I bowed my head and tearfully prayed, “Lord, I have nothing to say to these people. I have nothing for them. Unless You speak to them from Your Word, this time will be wasted.” It’s a prayer I’m left to desperately pray every time I stand before any of God’s people, but this time the need seemed even more desperate.

When I was called forward, I repeated my little prayer for the zillionth time, opened my Bible, and began my sermon about a Jewish judge named Jair, and a Saviour named Jesus who shed His blood to save sinners.

After I finished, a man sat down next to me. “Thank you for that sermon,” he tearfully said and began telling me why it was so meaningful to him. He then went on to recount my sermon from the previous year.

Later, another man recounted all four sermons I’ve preached in that church and how God has used them to change his life.

The power of God in Kenya is the same as anywhere else in the world. Neither His work nor power depends upon me. The power of the Gospel isn’t in me or any one of us, but in His Word. My inabilities are meaningless when compared to the Spirit-inspired Scriptures. The transforming power, life-changing influence, and to-the-point relevance have nothing to do with the speaker or the venue, but everything to do with God’s Word.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

The Moving Carpet

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).

Many years ago, one of my co-workers and her husband adopted a baby boy from the country of Costa Rica. When Ryan turned 13, Tamara and Bob decided it was important their son see the nation of his birth and meet the family he still had living there.

The family flew to the tiny Central American nation and with a guide, began making their way toward the small, remote village of their son’s birth.

The first night in Costa Rica, they found a village with a hotel. When they turned on the light in the room, Tamara said it was like the whole floor moved. The family was tired and passed the blur off to their sleepiness.

In the night, Tamara was awakened by a strange clicking noise. She turned on the tiny light next to the bed to find the walls, ceiling, and the entire floor of the room covered with cockroaches, which are creatures of the dark and generally associated with uncleanness and food waste.

Tamara screamed while Bob ran for the ceiling light. When he turned on the light, he said it was like entire floor shifted beneath his feet.

Tamara hid in the car while Bob and Ryan packed up the luggage.

Jesus described Himself as the Light of the world (John 9:5). Later He added that His works caused Him to be hated. Why? Because His works and His words revealed the sin in people’s lives (John 15:22-25).

Like the cockroaches scattering in the tiny Costa Rican hotel room when the light was turned on, sinners scatter when the Light of Jesus is shined upon their sins because their deeds are evil.

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

He is Good

The Lord is good … (Nahum 1:7).

God is good and only does good, but our concept of good is seldom the same as God’s. The same rain we pray for to grow our food floods another man’s house; the sun that warms our home also burns our flesh. What God says is good can be met with skepticism, but we are unable to see the long-term goal of God in His works.

Second Samuel 12 records that when King David’s newborn son became ill, he pleaded, fasted, and humbled himself before the Lord. Seven days later the baby died. Jewish babies were always circumcised on the 8th day after birth (Leviticus 12:3), which means David’s son went both unnamed and uncircumcised, separated from God’s earthly covenant people (Genesis 17:13-14).

When David realized the baby was dead he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped (2 Samuel 12:20). He wasn’t callous; he knew that God in His wisdom and grace caused the baby to die and there was no more he could do or pray. He was surrendered to the will of God and David knew that it was his own sin that worked death in both him and his family. God’s will is always good and best. If we question God’s goodness, it’s not God who has done wrong, but us, because our sin blinds us to truth.

The circumstances of David’s life didn’t change who God was; He was good. David was confident of God’s continued fellowship and grace. He did what every person of faith does in distress: David worshiped the merciful, gracious, ever-worthy sovereign God, whose every act is one of goodness, justice, holiness, perfection, and love.

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

His Mercies are Great

substituteAll we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).

Second Samuel 24 tells the story of when King David sinned and God gave him a choice of how he would be judged: seven years of famine for the land, three months of military defeat, or three days of plague upon Israel.

The choice put David in great distress (2 Samuel 24:14), but He put Himself in the hand of God whose mercies are great. He knew that God was both just and gracious. God sent a plague that killed 70,000 Israelites.

Some are appalled that God would kill 70,000 people for the sin of their leader; that one would bear the judgment for another. But consider that we pay for the sins of others each day, whether it’s the child hit by a drunk driver or the policeman killed by an angry protester. We must remember that none of us is “innocent” before God. We all have earned the wages for our sin (Romans 6:23) and how God pays those wages of death is up to Him.

At the cross, Jesus bore the sins of the world. He took upon Himself God’s judgment for your sins. The truly innocent Christ died in your place, for your sins, so you could live eternally.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18). 

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!