Tuesday, April 23, 2013

RECEIVING THE BLESSING OF THE CROSS

God delights in using failures—men and women who think they can do almost nothing right. A woman wrote to me recently saying, "My marriage is failing. I seem to do everything wrong in raising my children. I feel like I'm not worth anything to anybody. I've not been a very good wife, mother or Christian. I've got to be the world's worst failure."

She is just the kind of person the Lord is looking for—people who know that if anything good happens through them, it must be because of God. All the hotshot Christians who go about bowling people over with their great abilities never impress God. God looked down on a scheming, base, weakling of a man called Jacob and said, "Fear not, thou worm Jacob . . . I will help thee . . . behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth . . . thou shalt rejoice in the Lord" (Isaiah 41:14–16).

Men often use God to achieve fortune, fame, honor and respect. Talent, personality and cleverness are used to advance God's kingdom, but He is not impressed. His strength is perfected in our weakness, our inability to obey His commandments in our own strength.

God calls us to a life of holiness and separation. He tells us we can be free from the bondage of sin. His Word comes to us with some impossible challenges: "Resist the devil. Walk in the Spirit. Come out from among them. Love your enemies. Leave behind all your fears. Put down your lustful desires. Let no sin have dominion over you."

When you think honestly about how little you can do on your own to fulfill these challenges, you realize how very weak you are. Your heart begins to cry, "Lord, how can we do such great, holy things?" That is when our Lord takes over! He comes with such a comforting message: "Lay down your weapons. Quit trying to be so self–sufficient and strong. I am your weapon and your strength. Let Me do what you never can do. I will give you My righteousness, My holiness, My rest, My strength. You cannot save yourself or please Me in any way other than by receiving the blessings of the cross by faith. Let Me be in charge of your growth in holiness."