The Cross

John 19:14-16
"Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.
But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!"
"Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked.
"We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered.
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.

The cross is a well-known symbol of Christianity. We see it often, but do we really remember its significance when we look at it?

Since I wasn’t an eyewitness to the crucifixion of Jesus, I have to rely on the accounts in the Bible and try to imagine what Jesus went through for me. From what I read, it was an ugly, messy scene. The real cross was nothing like the sanitized version we put in our art. It feels truly awful to imagine myself standing there on that day, watching an innocent man going through the torture that was rightfully mine.

In Hebrews 9:22, we find that “the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Without the cross of Christ, we are hopeless.

But Jesus knew it was necessary. He knew the one thing standing between us and our freedom was that cross. He knew he couldn’t back out. I’m so glad Jesus was willing to go all the way to the cross for me that day.

Now I can reflect on the cross as part of the victory Jesus gives to all who come to him. We are no longer slaves to sin, but because of the blood of Jesus and because of the cross, we are overcomers. As it tells us in Revelation 12:11 “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

Not only does the cross have significant impact on our eternity, it also affects our daily lives on this planet. Because of the cross, we have access to the powerful blood of Jesus which helps us live for God right now. Hebrews 9:14 reads, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

Feeding the Five Thousand

Mark 6:41
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.
Before Jesus fed the 5,000 people who followed him to a remote area, he and his disciples were already hungry. They were trying to get away from the crowds and get some rest. But the crowds wouldn’t leave them alone. Jesus challenged the disciples to think of the followers rather than themselves. The disciples couldn’t figure out how two fish and five loaves would go very far in feeding the enormous crowd.

People have always underestimated God’s love. Because of the stories of Noah’s flood and Sodom and Gomorrah’s fires, we think big when we remember how God clears out evil. Have we become oblivious to the signs of God’s love? Far too often we forget about how God has met our needs and the needs of others with simple multiplication miracles.

God didn’t stop multiplying food for people with that one 5,000-mouth feast. I’ve been a witness to a multiplication miracle. I was working in the kitchen of a women’s retreat when we came very close to running out of green beans. Seeing that many women hadn’t been fed and the bean count was quite low, we prayed for God to make beans remain in the pot all the way to the last plate. We pulled many more beans out of that pot. If I remember correctly, there were a few beans left over when all had been fed. Today, there are many overlooked clues that would lead us to God if we’d only notice them.

We thanked God for that miracle, but we didn’t put an article in the newspaper about it. It was just one of the many times we’d seen God come through for us. We see God showing His love and generosity in so many ways that we forget to tell others about how He surprises us with unexpected provision and protection. You don’t hear about God’s miracles on the news broadcast very much these days, but that doesn’t mean miracles are in short supply.

God still does big things. When we seek His presence, we can be sure He’ll bring the miracles too.

Noah's Ark

Genesis 6:22
Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

This month, I’m focused on Big Things on my Blogging Domino blog. I posted a review of the 1956 film The Ten Commandments, and later this month, I’ll post a review of another Charlton Heston film, Ben-Hur. These were the record-breaking, outstanding films of their day. They’re still classics.

I’ve carried that theme over to this devotional blog with my earlier post about the Red Sea and today’s post about Noah’s Ark. I think the "big" theme fits with this blog about seeking God because sometimes as we seek an intimate connection with God, we have to stop ourselves from thinking small. We’re not looking to connect with a tiny or weak God. He is definitely big.

When God asked Noah to build the ark, it was no small task. It took a while to complete, and I’m sure he had to battle all the voices of his “friends” who told him he was crazy for attempting such a ridiculous feat. It took a big God to come up with such an unusual plan.

You and I get into situations where we need big ideas from a big God. More than likely, God won’t tell us to build another ark, but he may give us unexpected instruction. He’s good at that.

The Bible is full of examples of people following God’s instruction to do something unusual. Naaman was healed by obeying unexpected orders. Peter paid taxes by getting money out of a fish’s mouth. Not only does God take care of us, but he also shows his love in creative ways.

If God speaks to you unexpectedly, don’t hesitate. Obey. And watch for something big to happen.

The Red Sea

Exodus 14:29
But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

I recently viewed the Cecil B DeMille blockbuster movie The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston. I saw a love story, an adventure, and heroic characters standing up for what was right. I saw what was outstanding, state-of-the-art special effects in that movie, for a 1950s film. Don’t get caught in the trap of comparing those special effects by today’s standards. That was a top of the line movie in 1956. Today, of course, it would certainly look different – and be offered in 3D.

No matter how our technology advances and improves what we see on the big screen, they’ll never be able capture what actually happened. The Red Sea really did split into two walls of water. The Israelites really did walk across the sea on dry ground.

To us, that sounds like a movie because we can’t imagine that actually happening. Today, we’re so used to relying on our technology to bring us new ways of producing medicines, entertainment, weaponry, and transportation. We sometimes have a hard time relying on God because we see a lot of amazing things on movie screens.

We think that, one day, man will be able to do more than we ever could’ve imagined. What we’re missing out on is the reality that God can do all that and more – and He can do it right now. God’s miracles are way better than man’s tricks. Moses proved that to Pharaoh many times before Pharaoh let God’s people leave Egypt.

Today, we’re like Pharaoh. We see a real miracle of God and think that it has to be a trick. How many times does God have to prove himself to us through signs and wonders? He’s waiting on our belief. He’s been waiting a long time.

If you’re waiting on a miracle from God, don’t give up. He has a timetable. He left the Israelites in Egypt until the time was right for the appointed messenger, Moses, to do what was necessary to move millions of people out of bondage.

The question is not “Can God free you?”, but rather, “Will you believe it’s a miracle from Him?”