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Word For You Today

The cross 3

'At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.' Matthew 27:51 NIV

Thirdly, the cross symbolises redemption. Jesus is our Saviour: he has redeemed us. The Bible says: 'There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under Heaven by which we must be saved' (Acts 4:12 NLT). Without Jesus' death, our sins would have separated us from God forever. Because Jesus fulfilled every requirement of God's law on our behalf, we are forgiven and declared righteous. The apostle Peter wrote, 'He personally carried the load of our sins in his own body when he died on the cross so that we can be finished with sin and live a good life from now on' (1 Peter 2:24 TLB).

When Jesus died: 'At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom' (Matthew 27:51 NIV). This symbolised that the barrier between us and God, built from our sin, had been removed. Jesus' death saved us from a life of sin and shame, and opened up a life where we can personally come to God and enter his presence. Before the curtain was torn, only certain people were allowed into the holiest place of the Tabernacle - where they could meet with God (see Exodus 40).

Thanks to Jesus' sacrifice, we've been redeemed. We're no longer condemned, but instead accepted and forgiven.

So what now? Write down some of your mistakes and regrets. Then rip the paper in two, from top to bottom, to remind you that these things don't stop you from being loved by God, or accepted into his presence.

Soulfood: Lev 8-10, Matt 27:33-44, Ps 49, Pro 10:1-2


The cross 2

'My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?' Matthew 27:46 NCV

The second thing the cross symbolises is suffering. Even though we know that the story ends victoriously, we can't deny that Jesus suffered in the lead up to his crucifixion and on the cross. Jesus knew the plan God had for him. But still he faced betrayal by a friend, suffered rejection by people in favour of Barabbas, was pierced by a crown of thorns and beaten, carried a heavy cross on his back, was nailed to a cross and mocked as he hung there. He had cried out to God to take his suffering away, but still went through with what needed to be done - for us. And the Bible tells us that Jesus even felt abandoned by God: 'Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" This means, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me"' (Matthew 27:46 NCV).

We may not be facing death, but we suffer betrayal, hurt, persecution, fear and abandonment. Jesus understands everything we face. He knows what it's like to face the things that hurt us. He knows what it's like to be tempted. He knows what it's like to be rejected by other people. He knows what it's like to feel grief, sadness and fear.

We never have to face anything on our own, or work through things in our own strength. He promises to be right there helping us through.

So what now? Listen to 'He Knows' by Jeremy Camp, and then ask God to help you lift your eyes from your suffering. He truly understands how you feel.

Soulfood: Exo 12:1-14, 1 Cor 11:20-34, Ps 25:16-22


The cross 1

'You don't understand now what I am doing, will.' John 13:7 NLT

The cross is central to the Christian faith. But how often do we consider what it actually symbolises? Firstly, it symbolises faith. Dying on the cross was an horrific experience for Jesus, but he trusted his Father enough to walk through this plan, even though he knew he would suffer. In the Garden of Gethsemane, before he was arrested, he asked, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me' (Matthew 26:39 NIV). But he didn't stop there. he went on to say: 'If it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done' (Matthew 26:42 NIV). He trusted that God's way was the best way.

Sometimes we have to walk through things that we don't want to: grief, illness, broken hearts, conflict, loneliness and so much more. But we can follow Jesus' example in those times: faith that our heavenly Father will come through for us, and help us reach the other side. It's okay for us to cry out to God, and ask him to take the situation away; but we also need to be prepared to keep trusting him if he doesn't. Jesus once said: 'You don't understand now what I am doing, but someday you will' (John 13:7 NLT).

We may not understand why something is happening in our lives, but we can keep trusting in the goodness of God.

So what now? Each morning, hand your day over to God. Ask him for faith to follow his plan, even in the tough times.

Soulfood: Lev 5-7, Matt 27:27-32, Ps 25:8-15, Pro 9:18


The 'press on' spirit

'I press on toward the goal.' Philippians 3:14 NIV

The apostle Paul said, 'I press on toward the goal' (Philippians 3:14 NIV). His eyes were fixed on Jesus and the prize of eternal life and, no matter what was being thrown at him, he was determined to keep moving closer to that goal. We need to have the same 'press on' spirit as Paul.

Pressing on means 'perseverance' or 'to continue moving forward', even when problems are arising. Jesus never promised that life would be easy, even when our goals are to know him more or become more like him. Trials and struggles will come at us and if we're not prepared for them, we may find ourselves losing sight of our goal and wanting to give up. But the Bible says: 'Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him' (James 1:12 NIV).

So how can we help ourselves to 'press on'? By practising spiritual disciplines - things like spending time in God's presence, reading our Bibles, praying, listening to godly teaching - so that we're strong and resilient when tough situations come. We're reminded that 'physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come' (1 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV).

So what now? Do some physical exercise today. When you reach a point where it's getting hard to keep going, ask God to help you 'press on'. Reaching your goal will be so worth it.

Soulfood: Lev 1-4, Matt 27:11-26, Ps 25:1-7, Pro 9:17


Jesus our only foundation

'God has already placed Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation.' 1 Corinthians 3:11 GNT

The apostle Paul wrote, 'God has already placed Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation' (1 Corinthians 3:11 GNT). This verse was written in the context of division within the church. The people in Corinth were arguing about who to follow. Paul said to them: 'You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere human beings' (1 Corinthians 3:3-4 NIV)? They weren't behaving like their foundations were in Christ.

We can also fall into the trap of founding our lives on other things: others' opinions, success, fame, wealth, or something else. Our foundation won't hold in the storms of life unless it's based on Jesus, the Rock (see Matthew 7:24-27).

In 1 Corinthians 3:12-13, Paul goes on to say, 'If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light' (NIV). How we live our lives, and the way we've built on our foundations, will show on Judgment Day. So let's make sure our foundations are in Jesus - the only true foundation.

So what now? Find a large stone. Write on it: 'Jesus is my Rock'. Then keep it somewhere where you'll be reminded that Jesus is your firm and only foundation.

Soulfood: Matt 21:1-16, Ps 118:19-29,


Keep going

'God...will...provide a way out.' 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

When we've been going through a tough situation for a while, we may feel discouraged and hopeless. While Jesus never promised us a 'problem-free life', he did promise that he would always be with us and that his power would help us overcome our difficult circumstances.

Rather than complaining about our situations, we need to change how we think about them. Paul says, 'Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will' (Romans 12:2 NIV). When we renew our mind with God's Word, he'll show us his will and strengthen us to get through whatever we're facing. Paul says: 'We live by faith, not by sight' (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV). We might not actually see our situations changing immediately, but by trusting God, depending on him and moving forward, we can know that he has everything in his hand and that he is working it out for good.

In Psalm 23:4, David said: 'Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me' (NIV). The dark valleys will come, but we can keep going until we reach the other side because we know that God is with is.

So what now? If you're going through a tough time, say Psalm 23:4 out loud to yourself often. Keep going; God will provide a way out.

Soulfood: 2 Thes 1-3, Matt 27:1-10, Ps 32, Pro 9:10-16


Gospel power

'The Gospel... is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.' Romans 1:16 NIV

The Greek word for 'power' is dynamis, and we get our word dynamite from that. We can so easily forget how much power the Gospel (God's 'Good News') has. We can view it as a nice story of God's rescue, and forget that it's actually truth that brings complete transformation in our lives. When we hear the Gospel, it has the power to lead us to Jesus and his promise of eternal life. It has the power to change how we live our lives and set us on a new path. It can change our hearts. The Bible says: 'Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here' (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)!

The Gospel changes people profoundly. And we shouldn't keep it to ourselves. The people around us need to hear it, so let's make sure we're looking for opportunities to share it with them. Jesus told his disciples: 'Go and make disciples of all nations' (Matthew 28:19 NIV). That's what we're called to do too.

We might worry we don't have the right words to share the Gospel, but the Gospel has all the words we need. And we don't have to remind people where they're going wrong; when they truly understand the Gospel for themselves they will naturally want to make a change. Our job is simply to share the Gospel, and let God do the rest.

So what now? Share about the Good News of Jesus with someone this week. Offer them the opportunity to experience Gospel power.

Soulfood: Est 5-10, Matt 26:65-75, Ps 18:1-29, Pro 26:24-27

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