Beware of Sanitizing the Cross: Devotional for March 7, 2022

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Today’s Bible reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Numbers 8-11; Colossians 1

We must beware of sanitizing the cross. At times, you may have used the word “excruciating.” Oh, that concert was excruciating. Oh that pain was excruciating. If you put that word beside the word “crucifixion,” you see the connection. This touches on the pain, the agony of a crucifixion.

We also see something in the realm of architecture. A number of years ago, when the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting was in Orlando, our family went to St. Andrew’s Chapel where one of my favorite theologians, R.C. Sproul, pastored. I loved the layout of the sanctuary. Once you walked in from the vestibule, you see a long room with two smaller portions on the side, then it would come back in as it reached the pulpit area. This was not a mere architectural license taken by the builder. If you were to look at that room from above, you would see that the sanctuary itself was in the shape of a cross—known as cruciform. The point was clear: just as the building had a cruciform layout, so should our lives.

I was thinking about this today. The words “excruciating” which means pain and agony have the same form as a form of architecture intentionally used for a church. To the ones on the outside looking in, how in the world could anyone—anyone—celebrate or build their church or their lives around such an object?

Why would Paul tell the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And later, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Why would Paul, knowing that the Corinthians were impressed with the orators of the day, choose to come among them “with lofty speech or wisdom” deciding “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:1-2). Nothing?

That’s right–nothing! Everything he did in life and ministry was tethered to the cross. May that be the same for us!

Be Thankful the Cross Wasn’t the End: Devotional for January 24, 2022

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Today Bible reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Genesis 41-42, Mark 16

In the majority of our Bible translations, Mark 16 contains a rather startling insertion between vv. 8 and 9.

SOME OF THE EARLIEST MANUSCRIPTS DO NOT INCLUDE 16:9-20.

… which means that some of the earliest manuscripts do include this last section. I commend to you this article to delve more into this and to help you keep your confidence that this last section is canonical and belongs in the Gospel of Mark.

What I pray you will consider is this: what if the message of Christianity really ended where Mark 16:8 ends:

“And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

That, my friends, is not “good news.” This would be like every other hero who died–followers going to the graveside. The problem with Jesus’ death is that they claimed He was the Messiah and would reign as their King over all other kings and Lord over all other lords. To believe such in Roman times was the death penalty.

Yet, the story does not end with them being “afraid.” In fact, Jesus’ death galvanized the apostles and followers to such a degree that none of them feared death, and nearly all of them (save John) were martyred.

Be thankful for the cross–but be thankful that the cross was not the end. The tomb is empty. Christ is alive. Now, let’s go forth in boldness in His name!

Good Morning Devo for 9.2.2021: “Overcoming as Overcomers”

Good morning! The evil that transpires in the culture can, to the human eye, look as it is the true overcomer. The culture rejects that which is of God’s design in regards to the nature of humanity, sex, marriage, gender roles, gender identity, abortion, justice issues, authority, and on and on–and receives (embraces even) that which is against God’s design, even celebrating others who practice these matters (Romans 1:32).

Yet, the Spirit through the apostle Paul calls the church not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. Here, churches have choices to make. How do some churches define “good?” They define this as not rejecting anyone for any reason who wishes to become a part of that church. So, even if some reject God’s design, churches will receive them because of their understanding that this is “good” because God is “love.”

Isaiah 5:20 warns God’s people about calling “evil, good and good, evil.” God is love and since God has His design and standard, then that is good! Calling others to something other than this design is not a sign of love but a sign of hatred. God is good and His design is good. We do not let what the culture deems “good” overcome God’s “good.”

Do you have trouble with this? Read your Scriptures and ask God to change your hearts and minds to align with His. And by the Spirit, He will. It all starts with receiving Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. Have you turned to Him and away from your sin and brokenness? Have you looked at the cross for forgiveness and restoration?

Christ has overcome the evil in you with the good of Himself. He will give you the strength to overcome the evil in this culture with His good.