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Saturday, January 25, 2014

How to Embrace the Cross

Recently, I was asked, “What does it mean to embrace the cross?” What a power-packed question! Pondering that question, my heart was refreshed and ravished once again.

Embracing the cross only happens when I’m being rather than doing… being in the Presence of Jesus, God’s love sacrifice, the slain, bloody Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world. With arms flung wide open, He is calling, “Come as you are”. This love invitation overflows with kindness to needy people like you and me.

Embracing the cross, I see afresh the beauty and joy of all that Jesus is and has done. “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

“God made Him [Jesus] who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him [Jesus], we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

 Wouldn't you and I be fools to reject God’s love invitation offered so freely? It's the great exchange! We give Jesus our inadequacies and insecurities, our guilt and shame, our pride and self-righteousness, our doubts and fears, and tendencies to please and perform. Jesus gives us forgiveness and worth. He lavishes upon us a no strings attached love, hope, encouragement and comfort.

Embracing the cross, receiving the height and depth and width and length of Christ’s love, compels us to love with the same immeasurable love. (2 Corinthians 5:14) “Our sin” looks no greater or less than “someone else’s sin.”

Captured by Christ’s love prevents us from holding onto secret sins. We abandon our facades and are transformed into Jesus’ image.

Embracing the cross, God’s will becomes my will. His will provides healing for broken relationships. His will causes me to seek God’s agenda, not my own selfish goals that become preoccupied with self at the expense of others. His will causes me to be sensitive to people and opportunities to minister.  Embracing the cross is a worthy privilege not a punishment.

When we embrace the cross, we find true Friendship. Jesus promises, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5). In His presence, He listens, understands and He cares. (Hebrews 4:16) He meets our deepest needs because He is the only One who has that ability.

 At the cross, Jesus demands my obedience and offers His help. He gives power to obey. Jesus, so completely full and self-sufficient and overflowing in power and life and joy, hung on the cross with a promise to serve us in the strength of His will! (Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28) Embracing this promise, glorifies Him.

We grow in our affection for the cross as we discover “fullness of joy” there, (Psalm 16:11). Joy’s power has the capacity to break the power of sin in your life and mine…those pleasures that are passing and poisonous. That joy, which is greater than the delights of sin, compels me to say “yes” to God.

It takes grace to embrace the cross because “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.”  (John 3:27) Right now, ask God for help to embrace the cross. His grace will provide no greater freedom, joy, power and beauty.

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