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Wednesday, April 1, 2015
"The Message Of The Cross"
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"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).
We turn our calendar page for the new month of April today. Brooksyne beat me to it since she was up very early giving her the advantage in pulling an April fool's joke on me first thing this morning. She flipped the light switch on and told me, "Get up, Stephen. It's 5:30 so hurry up!" Well, that got my attention since we usually rise at 5 AM. I jumped to my feet, walked across the room and then I saw the clock that read, "3:45 AM." Of course, that's when she smiled broadly and exclaimed, "April Fooool's!"
Perhaps you've seen the bumper sticker with the message, "April 1, National Atheist's Day". When I first saw the sticker years ago I was intrigued and a bit annoyed, but not necessarily surprised. I thought, O great, now we have a day for atheists. Then I moved my car in closer to read the small print. It was actually an attempt to be a witness for the Lord as it quoted Psalm 14:1, which states, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" It was then that I made the connection; "Oh yeah, Fool's Day is April 1st"!
To many the message of the cross is foolishness but we who have Biblical belief and have experienced saving grace rejoice in the Cross, which is a demonstration of the love, wisdom and power of a holy God! The simple, yet profound words of the daily text are so wonderful this special week when we remember what Christ did for us.
In our daily verse the apostle Paul bluntly says, "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing." Indeed to so many the message of the cross is foolishness. It's mocked and ridiculed. Our Savior is cursed and blasphemed. Apostasy (which means a falling away from the faith) is growing. Sadly even so many in the visible church want to do away with the cross. There are those who feel it might offend someone or not be "seeker sensitive". But many also now see the notion of the cross as a theological relic. They are ignoring the redemption plan offered by God in the Bible and attempting to devise another one. Some, who claim to have a heritage in the church, have gone so far as to assert the message of the cross is unneeded in our "enlightened" age.
"As Paul begins his defense of the 'foolishness of the gospel,' he places his interpretive key front and center. It is the cross that is foolishness and weakness to outsiders. Because Christ crucified is the way that God has acted to save the world, Paul insists that our normal ways of assessing smart practices and displays of power are prone to deceive us. Is the work of God powerful? Yes, Paul insists, but this power will only be seen as foolishness and weakness to others." (J.R. Daniel Kirk) *¹
"But to us who are being saved it (the cross) is the power of God." We rejoice in the cross, which is a demonstration of the love, wisdom and power of God! Its power continues to break the heavy chains of sin and bondage.
"For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Corinthians 1:19-25).
I thank God that Christ's sacrifice on the cross is final and absolutely adequate to provide forgiveness for sins. Christ died once for all on Calvary's Cross to redeem fallen mankind. No better plan is needed. No revised, customized or modified version of the original account should be provided. The mission of the effective church and faithful Christian is to steadfastly proclaim the salvation message of the cross for "Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit" (1 Peter 3:18).
The apostle Paul said, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14). Today join us in proclaiming, "I love that old cross."
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross,
Where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, we consider everything that You went through was for our benefit. Your tender response to betrayal and cruelty serves as an example to us when we are treated unjustly. Your obedience in life and especially Your death on the cross shows us how to remain steadfast in the face of tremendous opposition. You embodied the very teaching You delivered to Your followers as You carried out the will of the Father no matter the cost. Each wound that tore Your flesh brought us spiritual and physical healing. You were numbered with the transgressors so that we could be numbered with the saints. Because Your death was redemptive in power, the dark cross of Calvary has a wondrous attraction where we witness Your divine sacrifice on our own personal behalf. What wondrous, amazing love; it demands my soul, my life, my all. Amen.
I knew of a pastor in New Jersey who officially opened a church on a Sunday that happened to fall on April Fool's Day (which is April 1 here in America). As I recall, his first message was on the subject, "I'm a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?" Now I did some pretty unconventional things when I pastored, especially when I was young, but I never did this! I have long appreciated the sentiment of missionary martyr Jim Elliot who wrote, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"The Old Rugged Cross" Video Carlene Moody Video Homecoming Singers
It's such a blessing to see those whom you have ministered to serve God faithfully many years after you've served them. Yesterday I received an email from a young man (now in his forties) who was in our church in northern Pennsylvania as a child and teenager back in the eighties. Adam is a successful businessman, steadfast family man and above all is staying faithful to the Cause of Christ. Then last night Brooksyne came across this video that includes Joe, a young man from our church in New England. His mother had posted it on her Facebook page. Frankly he had made some very bad choices and was headed down a very destructive path when I left that area. But... Praise the Lord he got on the right track and is now serving on the staff of a church in Philadelphia, where ironically Phil Menditto the senior pastor, is a friend from Bible College days. Joe married his daughter, Lori, standing to his left in the worship team! "Your Promises" Video This is an international, multi-racial, multi-ethnic church and the worship expression is quite vibrant!
In poking around their site I found a short video by Pastor Phil that will bless you. Phil preached in our little church start in northern Pennsylvania in the late seventies as an evangelist before starting Philadelphia Christian Center, where he still pastors. It began in a Howard Johnson hotel in 1982 where I had the opportunity to preach one Sunday. We recall the nursery was set up in a regular hotel room!
*¹ Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 by J.R. Daniel Kirk
Yesterday in the course of a chaplain visit I saw Rick who was sporting a new look in how men wear ties. Actually he was using some wisdom.
A. Trying to establish a new fashion statement
B. Tucking his tie in as he prepared for lunch
C. As a precaution around moving machinery
The correct answer is...C
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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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