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Friday, December 3, 2010

Cross made of chain
  "The cross we carry is never as heavy
as the chains from which we were freed."

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"No Cross, No Shield, A Big Problem"

"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).  "You have also given me the shield of your salvation" (2 Samuel 22:36).

Christmas lights on farmSeveral days ago we shared a photo of some Christian symbols high up on a bucket elevator on a farm.  (Thanks to my farmer friends Galen and Ken for the technical word "bucket elevator".) One is the typical star symbol at Christmas; the other is the cross, a symbol we don't generally associate with Christmas, but rather during the Easter season.  That got me to thinking and brought a recollection from about ten years ago.

Here in Pennsylvania for many years we had a major health insurance provider known as Blue Cross/Blue Shield. In fact it was our insurance provider during the years we lived in northern Pennsylvania from 1977 to 1993. In 2001 Blue Cross/Blue Shield experienced some difficulties and became two separate companies which is the case to this day in our state. Now there are two separate companies;
Capital Blue Cross and Highmark Blue Shield which actually compete against each other!

No Cross, No Shield, No Problem billboard
But back when they were having problems and there was uncertainty a rival company used an interesting slogan to advertise for new customers.  Most memorably I recall one large highway billboard as you came into Mount Joy that declared, "NO CROSS, NO SHIELD, NO PROBLEM".  Well that sure got me thinking.  That seems to me to be the attitude of many to a vitally more important cross and shield.

The cross is an historic Christian symbol, reminding us of what really happened on an old wooden cross nearly 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ died as a substitute for our sins.  But to the majority at the time, to the majority throughout the ages, and to multitudes of people today it conveys a message of foolishness.  They scoff at the notion.  This is not new though. In our first daily verse the apostle Paul wrote: "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."

The shield, although not as common as the symbol of the cross, is nevertheless used in Scripture to describe our salvation.  In the second daily verse David wrote in one of his songs to the Lord, "You have also given me the shield of your salvation."  It's interesting to me that the root Hebrew word used in this passage for salvation is "yesha'", which is also the root word for the Name of Jesus. 

The world may indeed feel "no cross, no shield, no problem".  But from the perspective of "the redeemed", man's failure to glory in the cross and to appropriate the shield of salvation to their souls is a very big problem.  Today join me in thanking God for what took place on the cross which brought about the shield of our salvation.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer:  Father, we're grateful for Jesus who provided the answer for the sin problem for all time.  Without the cross there would be no redemption; no forgiveness for our sins; no hope for this life or the next; no sin-free eternity for the redeemed.  That which was man's greatest problem had no earthly fix, but You sent Jesus to be born in a hallowed manger to be the solution to our desperate condition.  To those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior it is a joyous walk.  The weight of sin is lifted and the shield of salvation empowers us for Jesus is our Master.  But to those who reject Jesus the weight of sin continues to dominate their lives and enslave them to the schemes of Satan who is their master.  We lift high the banner of the cross of Jesus as we walk in His resurrected power, and it is also in His name that we pray.  Amen.

Stephen's note: We write these messages each weekday morning (or sometimes the night before due to our schedule).  Brooksyne edits and sharpens my writings.  Even after we read the podcast together we find ways to sharpen the message and have some final editing.  But mistakes still happen and at times they are humorous or worse yet can be misleading.  Yesterday I changed something after Brooksyne had finished and an alert reader pointed out the flaw.  Regarding our faithful friend Wilfred Nelson I wrote. "For the last several years of his life he was confined to a nursing home in an increasingly diminished mental state before going home to be with the Lord several years." My alert friend wondered if that meant he would be coming back after several years!  Of course it should have read, "before going home to be with the Lord several years ago."  After the message is sent I can make corrections on the archive version on the website but once the email goes out that's it!  You can imagine I heard from my editor when she saw what I had done.  As she would say, "This happens way too often."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

Today we share a larger than usual selection of music that we feel relates to our message.

"It's About The Cross"  Video  An interesting perspective on Christmas by a group known as Go Fish

"The Christmas Cross"  Video  DeWayne Climer

"It's Still The Cross"  Video

"The Glory Of The Cross"  Video  

"I Will Glory In The Cross"  Video

"The Old Rugged Cross"  Video  

"The Power Of The Cross"  Video

"Be It Unto Me"  Video  Tonight Brooksyne will direct a combined church choir in the first of four presentations of the musical titled "O Holy Night".  This is one of her favorite songs from the musical.

Chaplain Dave Hertle
I took this photo of Chaplain Dave Hertle at a mobile truck chapel in Omaha Nebraska several years ago. He is holding the heavy chain shaped in a cross with the links welded together.  David is a chaplain with Transport For Christ.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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