The cross; it's what focuses everything. If we took the cross out of the Jesus story, there is no Jesus story! Instead you've got some altruistic leader who had some things to say about reality, but reality nailed Him and He loses, and we still die! So if you find that inspiring, ok, I'm going to still be looking around for somebody who can do something about my problems!
The cross was the whole point of Jesus' birth. It was the direction of His life and the beginning of our hope. Guys, as a church we are called to the cross, and the cross means that we have to live in a way that takes us out into a broken world, out of our agendas and comfort zones and into the will of God in a way that is life changing and sometimes confronting but it is a point of decision and clarity that people truly find God!
That's why in Matthew 16, Jesus was so strong in His words to Peter when He began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. In the context that the disciples heard this, it didn't make sense. The Messiah was going to be the Jewish prince who would inaugurate a new Golden Age and the weakness of Israel would rise once again to be as strong as it was under the rule of David and as wealthy and influential as the rule of Solomon. So the idea that Jesus was going to be killed and beaten and suffer, just made no sense to His disciples!
The truth is, we all hear things that go in one ear and out the other. God has told us something that tends, in the modern ear, to go unheard, and it's the message of the cross! We say, "Oh yeah, I know that." But we don't! We don't get it, we don't understand how core the cross is to everything! So Jesus says, you guys need to understand that the reason I came was for this! This is the centerpiece of my story; without this event there is no story and there is no hope for you!
Most of us have an agenda of our lives being on the yellow brick road, filling our imaginations with what "good" looks like and so we're just the same as Peter and we want to do life with Jesus without a cross; but you can't, it's not possible!
Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 16:24, "If any of you want come after me, you have to deny yourselves and you have to take up your cross daily." You're offended at me telling you about my cross, but it gets even more offensive! This is the opposite of anything you have ever heard about a health and wealth success gospel. Your success lies in your willingness to die, the more you die to you, the more you come alive! -Dr. Drew Shofner
I know that this life is hard, it's hard for everybody and when the people around us hurt, it makes life hard. There are times when things are so hard that we just give up the fight, and in these turning point moments, we make the decision, "Is there really a God that I can trust or is life overwhelming and circumstances hopeless?"
There have been so many times in my life where I have come this close to missing the promise of God. Maybe you're at that place and I'm just telling you this is a turning point decision for you! Whatever God say's, He will do and we have to stay in the fight of faith until we see it, experience it with our own eyes and until that day, we trust it!
Jesus went through the cross and when the nail pierced His right hand, He trusted that there would be a resurrection; He had to stay in the fight! When the nail went through His left hand, He was not there yet and the circumstances were overwhelming! The soldiers were kneeling on his arm, blood dripping from His hand, with more pain to come as they put a nail through His feet and he was still not there yet!
Hoisted and dropped into the ground and mocked, but He stayed in the fight. He trusted the promise of God and He believed there would be a resurrection even as other people said "your whole life has been a fraud!" Jesus trusted what was not yet, because He knew that it would be! And by God, it was!
Joshua 23 says, "You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed."
Guys, are you living from the promise of God? -Dr. Drew Shofner
In your own stuckness, if you choose to live by what you see instead of what God has said, you're going to be able to name all the reasons why life is bad, and why life is unfair, why failure is inevitable, why God 'must' be against you, and why there's no reason to hope or even try.
In Numbers 13-14, time and again the people of Jerusalem have to make a choice between what God says and what they see. And time and time again, they make their choice not on what God said but on what they see. What I want you to know about this story is something I call ‘The Turning Point Spiral.’ It is a point of decision where you decide whether you are going to look at circumstances, or the promise of God. It is that small moment before you step off, or stay stuck! It's where everything changes for the better in trusting the promises of God, and you become increasingly free and alive, or you stay stuck and everything begins to spiral down into a Godless disaster!
The turning point spiral I'm talking about is when we are in a moment of crisis or pain, and we make a choice to live by what we see and feel rather than by what God said. If we choose to live by what God said, then we have to fight and trust, and at that moment a spiral begins and things begin to accelerate upward. Your life begins to get brighter and better and it reveals Jesus in ways that brings hope to life! It may be slow and it may take a while, but its inevitable!
On the other hand, when you choose not to trust God, His promise goes into eclipse and the downward spiral begins going all the way down the express elevator. The sad thing about this is that either way the spiral goes, we take people with us! When you and I disregard the promise of God, when we choose to live in eclipse, guess what? It's lightless!
So here’s the deal, what areas are you stuck in and do you want to be free? God is about freeing people and breaking chains. When God says something, it is settled. When God says something, it doesn’t matter how you feel, or how things look, nothing else matters. In my flesh I argue with that all the time and I whine a lot because God calls me to stay in the fight and I don’t want to fight, I want everything to be easy and instant. I mean if Heaven could come right this moment that would be perfect!
Proverbs 3:5-6, says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." A path is a place of walking, it goes from somewhere to somewhere; it is not a place of stuck! The Word of God says that people who truly believe Him do not trust their own take on life. A part of learning to believe God is learning NOT to believe ourselves! Did you realize that? So where are you stuck? -Dr. Drew Shofner
We cannot listen to God and listen to our own hearts and fear at the same time. Our hearts will ultimately be captured by a single focus that will either be the glory of God and the mission of Jesus or ourselves and how we feel and what we think.
God speaks; He is not a silent God. He has given His Word and He tells us that if we will trust His Word over what we see, that He will deliver us into the promise! -Dr. Drew Shofner