And The Cross

THEME: Stay tuned….
OPEN: Hey. Good morning. And welcome to STAG, I’m Jack. You know, when I look at the spectrum labeled “Addiction”, I see all the usual suspects over there on the right. There’s heroin and crack cocaine. Way over there is serial rape and murder. But what’s that down there to the far left? Cigarettes? No. Farther left than that. Oh, yeah, diet soda. How many people don’t think of being addicted to diet soda? And how many people don’t understand that our ego is behind our “addiction?” We’re going to talk about addiction in what most would call a very mild form. I don’t include myself in that “most.” Anything on the Addiction spectrum is to be treated as though it was the thing at the farthest right end of the line. The Principle doesn’t change because of the degree.

UW: The following hour of RCR…..
DISC: The views you hear are mine and not meant to reflect,,,,,

OK. Have you got an addiction? Well, let me put that a little softer. Have you got something in your life that has allowed you to understand what addiction is like? I think that most everyone has something like that. We may not be plagued by withdrawal, like a hard-core drug addict, but we’ve noticed on occasion that we have lost control over this activity and do it in spite of not wanting to. That’s a key. Doing it in spite of not wanting to. Or more intense, doing it after resolving not to do it.

Doesn’t everyone have some little something that gets the better of them every now and then? I know I have. This must be pretty universal among people. Paul brings up this very subject in his letter to the Romans. Romans 7:14 says, …“but I am carnal, sold under sin. (and here’s the proof)
Rom 7:15 For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (skip to verse 18)
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19 For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Now, I’m sure you know that Paul doesn’t mean that everything he does is evil. But there are some things that he has no control over. He doesn’t want to do them, and has willed that he shouldn’t, but there he is doing them anyway. Let me digress for just a moment and tell you that Paul is leading up to confirming Isaiah’s statement that we go our own way, like sheep. There’s something inside each one of us that we can’t control 100%. There’s something about human beings that won’t let us get it Right all the time. Paul calls it the law of sin.

He says that the essential Paul isn’t going against itself, but there’s a part of Paul that defeats the wishes of the essential Paul and does “evil.” I believe he’s referring to his essential self when he uses the term “mind.” The word mind means an intellectual knowing. Not just an idea, but an integrated knowing. That kind of knowing, for me, becomes part of who we are, part of our frame of reference. All our decisions are filtered through our frame of reference. And we don’t even notice that we are acting out our frame of reference. For example, sunrise each day is part of our frame of reference. We don’t think about getting up in morning and finding the sun there. We don’t wonder, when we plant the garden if the sun will come out. We live by the sun, and don’t give it a first thought. That’s what Paul says is his mind.

Here’s how he puts it in verses 22-23:
Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (the inward man, his spirit, his self, his knowing) Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, (two separate things, members, body, flesh and mind) and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Now, it’s easy to just brush over that last part and not realize what Paul is saying. Our brain might be tweaked a bit at the term “law of sin”, but we read on anyway. I mean, what is the law of sin? What, there’s something that’s a sin that we are commanded to do, there is some rule somewhere that says we must sin? None of that makes any sense. But knowing the Greek word that’s being translated “sin”, will help. It’s our old friend homartia. Homartia is defined only, that’s only, as missing the mark. Not being perfect. That’s all of us, because the kind of perfect we’re not, is the perfection of God. So, simply, we can’t do anything as good as God can do it. We could easily call it the law of imperfection, instead of sin. The law of making mistakes would be a good one.

Paul is just reminding us that we’re all in the same boat. And there’s a hole in the bottom that we can’t fix. We can only keep bailing it out. And on occasion, we get pretty wet because we slack off or can’t keep up with what’s coming in.

Paul is describing the same ideas of addiction. He knows what’s Right and wants to do only that. But no matter how hard he tries, he finds himself unable to do right. And knowing something is evil is no deterrent. He does it, even over his not wanting to do it. That’s what an addict does. He knows it’s not a good thing, but can’t stop himself from doing it anyway.

In the context of explaining the conflict every Believer must encounter, Paul says that he, himself finds that he does things that he doesn’t want to do, and even tries to avoid. In the reverse, he says that there are those things that he wants to do, but finds that he can’t. This, he says, is due to the fight going on between the self and the Holy Spirit, inside every Believer.

Has anyone else out there ever been in the situation where they were about to do something and the thought flashed that the Right thing to do was the opposite of what they were about to do. And then maybe after this thought being repeated a couple times they give in and say, “OK, OK, I’ll do it.” That’s pretty common with me. I know what’s Right, the best way to handle some situation, no matter how small or personal, but I’m choosing the easy, comfortable, financially safe action.

For instance, noticing that I got an extra twenty-five cents in change as I walked to my car in the market parking lot. Part of me doesn’t want to “bother” going back and returning the money. Another part of me keeps telling me that it’s not mine and I should go back. My main problem is that the Right guy doesn’t have the power to make me go back. He can only tell me what’s Right. If he wins out, I might say, “OK, OK, I’ll go back.” And this acceptance isn’t made joyfully. It is itself a “bother.” Can you relate to that kind of thing?

OK. Then what’s your addiction? What do you do that you think you shouldn’t really do, but find yourself dong anyway? Please, get your mind out of “drug addict” mode. Hardly anyone is that far gone. But just the fact that there is a little argument set up in my thinking, and that I choose the “addiction” over what I have deemed as Right, shows me the seeds of addiction.

The underlying principles of addiction are still there. They are found on the spectrum labeled Addiction, no matter that they are of a very low degree. The use of a substance or the practice of some activity that occurs despite our knowledge of its effects and even our efforts to abstain puts that on the Addiction Spectrum, right along with heroin and crack cocaine.

I feel I have to beat this horse because it’s very easy to think of these smaller activates as not really bad. Certainly not as bad as heroin. But they are. You see, everything on this “Addiction” spectrum is an activity that gets in the way of our spiritual walk. Our spirit says, “don’t do that.” But we go against the spirit and do it anyway. Isn’t that spirit from God? Isn’t it really God telling us what’s Right and what’s harmful? And the most harmful thing that any of us can do is turn away from God. That’s what our “addictions” do. They turn us away from God.

So, I want to talk about what most Believers have talked about, God’s allowance. God allows stuff. That’s come to be an accepted idea, especially in personal lives. It isn’t like God comes and pushes events or manufactures events for you to experience. That’s not what He does. That’s direct intrusion into reality and He almost never does that. But He’ll allow you to get into to a rough place, into a situation. I mean, He knows it’s going to happen, but He’ll allow you to do that.

So, understanding that part, when something really bad happens, you have a car wreck and break a leg, somewhere in your thinking, if you’re a Believer face toward God, you’re going to understand or realize that God did allow that to happen. He allowed that to happen. He had to have allowed it to happen because you know that if He didn’t want something to happen that car wreck wouldn’t happen. The light would have changed at a different time or just in time, and you wouldn’t have been in that intersection. God allowed that to happen. Well, why? To teach us a lesson. Why? What’s the lesson? Everything’s a lesson, right? That’s common talk.

There’s another kind of allowance that we encounter in the Walk, and in the Bible. And that’s the allowance, again, the allowance by God, allowance to Satan to do certain things. He’s allowed to do certain things, like foment war. Is God a God of War? God doesn’t promote war. Satan promotes war. If God never wanted a war to happen, there wouldn’t have been any wars. So, He had to allow those wars. He allowed the atomic bomb to be dropped. He didn’t stop it. He could have, but He didn’t. We know that He’s an omnipotent God, an omnipresent God. He can reach in and burn the letters on the crate that contains the Ark of the Covenant, in Raiders of the Lost Ark movie. So, when the Germans come, they don’t see that it’s the Ark. He can do that. He’s called the “LORD of hosts.” And when you translate that out of the Hebrew, it’s the Lord of everything. The Lord of the rocks, which means, as Dr. Scott used to point out, God can bring anything in the creation into the mix to do what He wants to do. And if it helps you do something, that’s what happens. He used the sun to help Joshua in battle. He caused an earthquake that stopped up the flow of the Jordan river until all the Israelites had crossed over into the Promised land. He can use a table to help you along. He’s the Lord of everything.

But Satan did foment all those wars, so God must have allowed that to happen. He allows Satan huge boundaries, you know. And they are so big, that some people just reject God all together. “Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t worship a God who’d allow a war.” “That would allow big Pharma to inject our children with vaccines that are full of formaldehyde and live viruses and mercury and aluminum.” God allows that stuff. So, Satan does it.

What’s the other kind of allowance, by God? It’s all allowance by God, just different applications. But a really good example of God’s allowance, as far as Satan is concerned, is the story of Job, of course.

The devil was in heaven. And he says, “You’ve put a hedge around Job. So what if he’s a good guy? You put a hedge around him.” In other words, God was not allowing Satan to get at Job. He wasn’t allowing it. Well, Satan said, which God already knew, “take away that hedge, and he’ll denounce you.”

We know the story about all the things that happened to Job and he still wouldn’t renounce God. But God allowed all that stuff, He allowed it. But God didn’t allow that to happen for no reason. God doesn’t do anything without a reason. And what reason, as far as humanity is concerned, what reason can God have other than keeping His word to us and glorifying His own name by supporting us and helping us along the path to perfection? That’s the only reason why God deals with human beings. To perfect them, for later on. It’s a whole training ground down here. And everything that happens to us is some kind of a lesson. The stuff that’s uncomfortable, even injurious, is a lesson for the bigger stuff. So we have to look at it as God’s allowance until we get to the point where we can try to analyze and see what the lesson is and maybe change our lifestyle a little bit.

What I want to talk about is God’s allowance of self-destructive activity. Self-destructive activity. As said above, everybody’s got some of this stuff in his or her life, OK? Let’s level the playing field right at the beginning. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s heroin or chocolate bars or crossword puzzles. Every one of us has someplace in our life where we can look and say, “Well, yeah I understand additive behavior around the way I treat this action.” I’m going to use chocolate bars. I always use chocolate bars. Everybody kind of knows, not that everyone is addicted to chocolate, but everybody knows how good chocolate bars are, and how you always want more. Well, this addiction is a true addiction, even though it’s only chocolate bars. It’s a true addiction. You’re obsessed, you’re addicted to this chocolate bar thing. And you’ve been fighting it for quite a while, winning sometimes and losing sometimes. You’re taking it day by day; all that AA terminology. You don’t seem to be making that much progress.

So, having established that, it’s easy to see how the next time I grab that chocolate bar, after all this time and all the stuff I’ve told myself, and all the times I’ve promised that I wouldn’t, it’s all there in the front of my consciousness, but I take one anyway.

Now, the pleasure isn’t there that long before the guilt takes over. You know, you might have an after glow for a minute or two, but then, “I did it again! When am I ever gonna get rid of this?” And that’s where we tend to stay. That’s where I always stayed, until I realized this allowance of God idea. I mean, it’s easy to stay in the place of self-examination, “Why did I not do what I wanted to do?” And all the stuff in the guilt section is how bad I am for doing that. I certainly knew better, after all I’ve been through, after all I promised and all that stuff I said before. I still did it.

And all that thinking points to me. I was responsible for this happening. 100% responsible. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t. I was responsible 100% for the decision or sometimes the omission of the decision. We don’t always say, “Should I have the chocolate bar or not?” “Well, no you shouldn’t.” “Well, but I’d like to have one, but I’m going to have one.” That doesn’t usually happen. You’ve done that before, at least in your thinking, and you just kind of sidestep that whole argument there and just keep moving toward the chocolate bar. Then you eat it and feel bad. All that is only beating yourself up, when you were only responsible for the decision to do it.

Once you made that decision, I call it the Point of Commitment, once you come to the Point of Commitment, you pass that, even mentally you are starting to move in the direction of the goal, God comes in and works whatever He wants to happen in that situation. He either allows it or disallows it. Something happens and you don’t get to the chocolate bar. You trip on a roller skate on the floor and break your leg or the phone rings. If God didn’t want you to have that next chocolate bar, you wouldn’t have it.

Are you a Believer or not? If you’re not, then I don’t know about all this, but you can listen in if you want. This is mainly for Believers, OK? A non-Believer can’t be God-oriented can they?

But there I am with the chocolate bar. It tastes so good, ooo. You like the ones with nuts? I don’t like the ones with nuts, but every now and then, one in fifty or a hundred I get one with almonds. Mostly it’s just the pure milk chocolate. Mmmm. Well, anyway, after I get through eating the chocolate bar, because it was so good, I wanted to thank God. I do that a lot. Whenever I feel good, for whatever reason, “Thank you, Lord” comes out of my mouth. I felt good and I wanted to thank God for having it happen. It’s really interesting, because the good and the bad happened all at the same time.

Well, that set up a dilemma. It was a dilemma in my mind because, well, if this is an addiction, God doesn’t like addiction. He doesn’t want me to be addicted. He doesn’t turn me away because I am, but that isn’t what He wants for me. But He’s not going to take any action in that direction. I’m going to have to deal with my addiction. He’ll help me, but I’m going to have to be the one who deals with it.

So, He knows my addiction and allowed me to do it anyway. An addiction, as I was about to say before, becomes an idol. We don’t have to worship Baal or Moloch or any of those other god gods. Money can be your god. Anything can be your god. I know you’re familiar with this stuff. So, an addiction by our definition today, is your god. It changes your whole lifestyle to support it. God doesn’t like that. He doesn’t want you to do that. He wants you to focus on Him.

Now, I know that eating chocolate bars is way down on the low end of the spectrum, but the principle behind it is exactly the same as heroin or serial murder. And God doesn’t want that to happen.

Now, even though I’m using myself in the scenario, this isn’t about me. It’s about the principles involved and about ways we can understand ourselves. I must remind you of what I said above. Everybody’s addiction isn’t the same. So, it’s not like I’m addicted to heroin, and calling it chocolate bars. But maybe what I consider my addiction would be nothing to somebody else. There’s no way they can even think if it being an addiction. “An addiction to what!? You mean,… No, that’s not an addiction. You’re not addicted to anything.” And they may be doing something that I’d say the same thing to them about. So, what ever it is that I’m doing, that I’m wrestling with, is based in these universal principles and I love those kinds of things, because they help me to at least get over the stress and the guilt, OK?

That’s one of the main points here. To relieve ourselves of guilt and stress, which doesn’t come from God. It doesn’t come from God. We want to get something that does come from God. Peace of mind, right? Peace of mind. And peace of mind comes from understanding the reasons behind the action, behind the event. And if we go to the place that says God allowed this to happen, there must be a reason for me to learn something here, the door is open for you to walk through; sometime or other. God’s got a lot of time. He’s just like that devil in that way.

So, there I am with a dilemma. I want to thank God, but I know He doesn’t want me to do this. And I don’t think it’s right to ask Him for help. “Oh, God, Please help me have another chocolate bar.” That doesn’t work. I’m a rational person trying to reach for God at the same time being addicted. How can I say, “God, help me have another fix?” And because I can’t do that, doesn’t that carry over to the other side and mean that I can’t really thank God for helping me eat another chocolate bar? So, there I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. I don’t have any place to go here. I can’t ask His help and I can’t thank Him.

But then I thought, “Well, He allowed that to happen, didn’t He?” God allowed me to “service” my addiction. He allowed that to happen. Wait a minute, wait a minute. There’s an error there. It wasn’t only me. It wasn’t just my old habits. It wasn’t just the devil whispering in my ear about taste and how it felt and all that. It wasn’t just some buddy of mine who offered me a chocolate bar because he knew I liked them. It wasn’t just advertising. All that stuff might have lined up to influence me.

The world, the flesh and the devil are always involved in our actions. We take those things into account. Well, we don’t always take the devil into account, but we surely take the world and we surely take our flesh into account. Because when my flesh starts whining, “Aaahhooouuu”, I say “OK.” Or it’s the propaganda of the world and I give in. So I’ve got the world and flesh to worry about and the devil sits on my shoulder, and he’s been on my shoulder ever since he thought I was going toward God. He’s been watching everything I do to the point where he knows practically what I think, although he can’t really read my mind. He’s got all my information. He’s better than the CIA. He knows just how much of a subtle thought he can push to get me to move. He doesn’t care if he has to do that subtle thought 4000 times before the move actually happens. He’s got a lot of time. And he’s got a lot of other thoughts he can push at me at the same time.

So, two thirds, I’d say about seven eights of our thoughts aren’t our own thoughts. Maybe a quarter of our thoughts are our own thoughts, because we’re thinking in a certain context and our thoughts are carried forward in a linear manner, that kind of thinking. But those thoughts that just pop into your head, I don’t think any of those are from us. I think they come from the outside. There’s only two things out there, two things. One is Good and the other one says, “I’m really neat!” But down the line it puts you on your face.

But it was real interesting to notice, and it relieved a lot of my stress, that’s one of the main points, but it was great to notice that God allowed me to have that other chocolate bar; against my own will, against my bent toward God. It didn’t make any difference. God allowed it to happen. This little tiny allowance in my life, as opposed to a car wreck, should be, I mean the principles are always the same, this little tiny allowance is a lesson for me to learn to get away from this addiction. Again, if God didn’t want me to have that chocolate bar, I wouldn’t have had it. No way, you know? Even if I didn’t understand that until later when I happen to think about it.

Now interestingly enough, where this ended was, I could thank God. I understood that He allowed it. I understood that I shouldn’t be asking Him to help me do it. But stress was relieved even more, when I realized that He allowed it, and I could then thank Him for allowing it. Pretty neat. Pretty neat.

This recognition of God’s allowance realizes the idea that God is still working with us. He’s still working with us. If He wasn’t working with me on chocolate bars any more, I wouldn’t even be thinking about thanking Him or not thanking Him any more. My focus wouldn’t be on God at all. That’s an added bonus, right there. It could be interpreted as a little “Hello” from God. “I’m still here for you. You know, just in case you want to turn My way.”

So, it’s a good thing to notice, if you’re a Believer, it’s a good thing to notice that you are “doing your thing again.” It’s a good thing because it shows you that God is allowing you to do that so you can learn something. He’s not allowing it so you can have the pleasure of eating that chocolate bar. That’s not His reason. That doesn’t glorify Him. He looks to glorify His name. That means keeping His word and helping people move along the Path toward Him. The closer they get, the more glory He gets.

He wants our salvation. Our ultimate salvation. That doesn’t mean He’s out to save the whole world, because a lot of people have taken it there. That’s not true. No, I take that back. He’s not trying to save the whole world. If the whole world could get saved, He’d like that. The scripture that’s twisted is where it says that He’s not willing that any should perish or that all should be saved. A couple places it says stuff like that. Some people take that to the end that even Satan’s going to make it in at the end. That’s not what the idea is. It’s that God would like it if everybody in the world was saved, but He’s not going to step into anybody’s life and force the issue, because then it wouldn’t be by faithing. It’d by like robots or even angels. But it wouldn’t be human beings turned into little gods.

So, God’s not out to save the world. He’s out to glorify His name, like I said. And He does that, on an individual basis with us as we get closer to Him and as we get closer to becoming like Him. Remember that the Bible says we’re going to be better than angels. Angels know that Word, they know that promise. That’s why in another place Paul says that the angels are watching this to see what happens. They’re looking into the situation, see? And he says that the old prophets wondered about all this. They searched diligently to find out what this was about.

I’m remembering another piece I did on this, somewhat, on the subject of Job. It was centered on God’s allowance of what we call negative things, but understanding that those negative things had to do with our enlightenment, our education, our training. So it was just the opposite, see. I said, with the bad stuff that was happening to you, what if God had come to Job before any of that stuff happened and said, “Look, Job. I need your help.” “OK, Lord. Here I am.” “I need you to help me glorify my name. Would you do that?” “Of course, Lord. Of course. Tell me what to do.” “It’s not going to be easy. It’ll be the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do.” “Well, I’m still ready, God.” And then God lays out all that bad stuff that happened to Job. Boils. His kids, everybody dying, all his land, his cattle gone, you know. Dogs licking his sores, ugh! If God had come to Job before that, you think maybe Job would have taken the maladies that God allowed in a different way, talked about them differently?

I mean, I can see where he would have a whole different spiel with his three “friends” that came. Just tell them, “Get out of here. God’s working a thing with me. I’m not sure what it is just yet, but God’s working with me and you just get out of here.” And Job would be half way home by that time. Because that’s what God was doing, God was working a thing with him, to relieve him of the last little bit of self-righteousness that was hanging around down in his heart. He was a righteous man. He was the most righteous man around, but he was taking it seriously, taking his eyes off God. At the end of the whole process what does he say? “I’m vile. I’m a vile thing.” “Now you understand, Job, what I was trying to teach you.”

God’s always trying to teach us. Bad stuff or Good stuff. Not only just the bad stuff, but also the good stuff. Teaching us to handle whatever comes. If it happened, God allowed it. OK? Have a good life.

How this relates directly to our “Walk” is that it’s one important thing that we were told by Jesus that we must do, must do to follow him. Take up your cross. All of the above is my cross. Whatever it is in your life that gets in the way of your Walk with God is something that you are going to have to deny. You’ll have to open your heart in trust that God won’t club you and find that rotten little spot. Then go to work on it. Denying self. You’ve heard me talk about ego a lot. And that’s what could be said here broadly. Elimination of ego. A millennia old message. Elimination of ego. But if we leave the decision up to our ego of what that really is, what will come out but more ego? Fox guarding the hen house. Hitler presiding at Nuremberg.

Well, here’s a wonderful breakdown of our cross by Dr. Gene Scott from his Pulpit series, volume 2, chapter nine. I’ll be reading, but it’s going to sound like these are my words. They aren’t unless I break in and say they are. Think of it as if it were Dr. Scott saying the words instead of me reading them.

I want to lift out of God's book a fact that is oft times missed, that Jesus was pretty tough. He said that a king didn’t go to war without figuring the odds of winning, or a builder start building without knowing the final cost. By implication, He is saying, "Don't come after me unless you count the cost." Then He names it: "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that foresaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:28-33)

He laid down a stringent demand, and in the heart of that demand, He said, "he that taketh not his cross and cometh after me cannot be my disciple."

What is my cross? Jesus didn't tell me to bear His. He did a good job bearing His. He told me to bear mine. I see more confusion in the church world about cross-bearing, and yet Jesus talked about it many times and laid it down as a necessary condition to following Him. My cross is not His cross. Cross-bearing is at the very center of our subject today. Whatever else my cross will be, it won't be His, but it will be like His.

First, the cross will not be intrinsically desirable. Some people want to make everything in Christianity attractive. Don't ever expect to get enough of God in your system that you are going to want the cross, because the cross involves self-denial. "Let him deny himself," Jesus said, "and take up his cross." (Mark 8:34) The cross directly contradicts what I naturally want, because all a cross is good for is to die on.

But if it is like Jesus' cross, it will not just involve self-denial per se. That's the error of exaggerated penance. Some people think God takes delight in suffering, and if you beat yourself up enough or if you suffer enough or put yourself in a painful enough circumstance, that qualifies as your cross. No. It involves denial of yourself to His self. Jesus' cross only made sense because that was God's assignment to Him. That was God's will for Him. Only He could die on a hill and redeem the world. The suffering itself had relevance because it was God's plan for His Son; my cross is going to involve me in denying myself for His will. That is the essence of it. Second, if my cross is like His, it is going to involve me in that expression of God's will that is redemptive in its purpose. This is heavy theology, but it is really very simple: when He denied Himself to do the will of the Father and make that trip to Calvary, He did what only He could do to redeem a world that was lost. Just as He did what only He could do. There is something that each of you can do that only you can do. I believe there’ll never be another you in eternity. I have heard preachers say, "If you don't do it, somebody else will." The job itself may get done, but what you could do won't be done.

Paul says, concerning the body of Christ, “If we were all an eye, where were the hearing? If we were all an ear, where were the smelling? If we were all one member, where were the body?: (1COR 12:17-19) This teaches positively that every unit of this body of Christ, which we have become when we turn from our self and let Him inhabit us, has is own unique relationship. You are important if you are willing to deny yourself to His will as Jesus did. He let Himself be spent and used, that the will of God to redeem fallen man might involve Him in His task an Calvary.

You will do a lot of things in the Kingdom: you will minister to the Lord, and you will grow in the image of Christ. But there is still a world that is lost, and Jesus came to seek and to save that world. The cross will involve me, painful though it may be, in doing His will in redeeming this lost world. And the cross will involve me in individually doing His will. I can't leave it up to my neighbor. Only He could die on Calvary; only you can make your contribution:

We need to separate the suffering of the cross from the spiritual meaning of the cross. The suffering of His cross had meaning because it was necessary to what only He could do in the redemption of men. The nails, the crown of thorns, the pierced side, that was the suffering that was a necessary accompaniment to His particular cross. You can duplicate the prints in your hands and in your feet until Jesus comes, as some saints have tried to do, and it will save nobody.

His cross had meaning because it was necessary to what only He could do in the redemption of men. The nails, the crown of thorns, the pierced side, that was the suffering that was a necessary accompaniment to His particular cross. You can duplicate the prints in your hands and in your feet until Jesus comes, as some saints have tried to do, and it will save nobody.

We are told to be a "living sacrifice," (Romans 12:1) to turn from ourselves and take this selfish vessel which we all are and say, "Here, Lord, take it. Take it to the point of death to be used in Your will for the redemption of mankind." That commitment is going to have suffering associated with.

Your cross may be being the kind of mother you have to be to your family. Our cross will be whatever we have to do to further this ministry. There is no dignity in suffering itself, but whatever pain goes along with being a redemptive instrument in God's will for my life, that is my suffering of the cross. We make it too mystical as we hunt for something great. I want to bring it down where we live.

Finally, it is voluntary. Lots of people give dignity to what is ordinary suffering. "Oh, the cross has been heavy," they say. The only suffering in your life that qualifies as the suffering of the cross is that which accompanies your voluntary commitment to God's will. Jesus said, "lf any man will come after me " (Luke 9:23) The suffering that you had nothing to do with, just call it suffering, but don't call it suffering of the cross.

Jesus could have avoided it. He said, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39) You have to choose the cross. It is not forced on you. And when you choose to give your life to God, along with that commitment to be used in His redemptive plan, you take the suffering.

In Exodus 25, "The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering." Do you know what it says in Exodus 35? "Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass." God says in 2 Corinthians 9, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." Do you know what the literal is in the Greek? "God loveth a hilarious giver."

Jesus agonized until He settled it and willingly He went to Calvary. Willingly I do this work that God has called me to do, and like Paul, I would say, "If! do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if unwillingly, nevertheless a dispensation," a stewardship, "of the gospel is delivered unto "me." (1 Corinthians 9: 17) Do you know what the dictionary calls a steward? A steward is somebody in charge of estates or things not his own. Isn't that what a Christian is? Our life is not our own. In its Latin roots, the word sacrifice means "to make something sacred." Some people don't like to talk about money. They don't think it's spiritual; it's "filthy lucre." But one-third of Jesus' parables and one-sixth of the verses in the Gospels deal with man's use of his possessions. Paul talks about the Resurrection and then says, "Now concerning the collection." (1 Corinthians 16:1) Churches have always dealt with money. Money is the fruit of agony, sweat and toil. We can give ourselves to God, if we give sacrificially in the right frame.

1-Well, that brings it down to where we live, don’t you think? The Walk isn’t what you see on TV, is it?
2-If you’d like to talk about ego and addiction, STAG is a comfortable place to do that. We’re at 88 Briceland Rd. in Redway. The number over there is 923-ALLY(2559). Or on the web at Be sure to visit the radio archive up there. Hundreds of past shows free for download. And the email is
3-I’lll be back here Oct 2. I trust to see you then.
4-I don’t know what it is that gets in the way of your Walk, but I can assure you that I and every other human being has the same kind of problem. We all have an ego, after all.
5-The only Real help we can get to overcome our ego is God. He’s said many times and places that He’s there for us. And you can take that word to the…………..Pearly Gates.

This is Jack, Bye

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