Saturday, February 21, 2015

the cross changed everything

Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial (Matthew 26:31-35)
Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: "I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."

Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."

But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.


Jesus Deserted By His Disciples, Arrested and Judged Before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:55-64)
At that time Jesus said to the crowd, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled."


Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.' "

Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God."

"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."


Peter Denies Being Associated With Christ (Matthew 26:69-75)
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said. But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth." He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!"

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away." Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!"

Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."

And he went outside and wept bitterly.

It is hard to accept the choices made (above) by Jesus' disciples. His closest followers... his friends and confidants... they all panicked, betrayed and abandoned their Messiah at His greatest hour. Despite three years of watching Jesus perform unbelievable miracles, speaking tremendous truth, and ministering to those that needed Him the most... these men struggled with the fear and the acceptance of men's opinions over God's absoluteness. So much so, that when the chips were really down and their lives looked bleak and physically threatening... when their situation was filled with gloom and hopelessness... they fled, they lied, they cursed, they deserted. They denied and ran away from the only ONE that promised them everlasting hope.

I too have been there. I have sworn my loyalty over to Christ with full resolve to do what is right only to later drop the ball when my fear entered the scene. I too have failed my Master by appearing to approve the sinful agenda of unbelievers. I have avoided speaking up in His name because I was worried about what someone might think of me... how much pain it would cause me to endure. But what is the worst that could really happen? What would people think?... that I love the Lord?... that I support and follow my Holy Creator's good plan? Sure, some would call me a fool. Some would tell me I'm banking on a fairy tale. Some may even try to hurt me. But in my heart, I know the truth. I know that Jesus came to earth, died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sin, and overcame death to offer me eternal security. I know it. So why do I conform to please the opinions of men? Why do I give into the fear of what's temporary when I am promised eternal love, security and peace?

Do not conform any longer 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)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

I have learned that to succeed in my faith, I must continue to focus on Jesus and what His resurrection really means. For the cross changed everything. It made all the difference. Because of Christ, I am now SAVED. Saved from losing. Saved from dying. Saved from evil. Saved from separation. SAVED! Because of Jesus, I am REDEEMED! Do you know what that means? It means I have been bought back - or even better, brought back to life. I have been recovered from the captivity of sin and restored in His name. I am FREE! FREE PEOPLE!!!

When I keep my focus on Jesus, and all that He has done to rescue me from spiritual death, my life is no longer clouded or chained down by man's corruption or Satan's threats. During hard times and moments of insecurity, I know that the enemy works overtime trying to convince me that God isn't enough. He whispers that the love of Jesus cannot possibly exist to the extent of God's promises. I must reject such lies. This is when looking to Christ and His resurrection is most critical. Ladies, we must know His words of assurance and confess them with our own mouths over and over and over again. This is how we drive away fear. This is how we avoid corruption. This is how we ward off the enemy and succeed in our faith.

Take a look through Romans 8 and see how secure we are as followers of Jesus Christ. "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

There is victory in these truths. Victory over our own fear and nervousness. VICTORY! We need not be ashamed of the gospel. We need not betray our Master or worry about what sinful men may think of us. No! We should give GLORY! Glory to our King! When this victory is realized and Jesus resurrection and grace becomes our only focus... things change. Courage is born. Freedom is present. We adopt His eternal eyes. Our hearts are renewed with hope. And we know that NOTHING can separate us from His love.

Yes, the cross changed everything! Suddenly, what once frightened us can no longer chain us down in fear. What once threatened us can no longer harm our eternal future. When we focus on all that Jesus has done for us... when we keep our eyes on His grace and the price He paid for us to live... we are able and willing to do ANYTHING in His name!

Oh what a difference when Jesus' disciples realized this truth!!! When they saw the resurrected Savior stand before them, eat with them, talk with them, love them.... they knew the truth! He had indeed overcome death! He could SAVE their lost hearts from this decaying, infected world. No longer would any form of temporary pain produced from this earth overshadow the glory promised them. They knew that they were FREE... destined to live forever in His Heavenly presence! NOTHING could separate them from God ever again! They believed it wholeheartedly and lived the rest of their days on earth sharing it to others! In fact, they willingly died to share this news to the world! Why? Because Christ's love and forgiveness changed everything! The cross changed EVERYTHING!

These same men that once deserted and ran from the Savior gave up their lives to deliver His message. You see, once the truth of Jesus' resurrection was understood, it became the most important news for the disciples to share with others - no matter how high the cost. For nothing costs more than the price our Savior paid with His own blood.

So what happened to these men? Well, Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound. Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead. Luke was hung in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost. John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome and later was imprisoned for his faith. Peter was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross, according to church tradition because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died. James the Just, the leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club. (This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.) James the Greater, a son of Zebedee, was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian. Bartholomew, also know as Nathanael, was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed to our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia when he was flayed to death by a whip. Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired. The apostle Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the subcontinent. Jude, the brother of Jesus, was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded. Barnabas, one of the group of seventy disciples who preached throughout Italy and Cyprus, was stoned to death at Salonica. And the apostle Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.

Yes, these same men that rejected Jesus and ran away, later died for the sake of the cross... for the sake of His grace! That is how much God can change us! These men now live in glory with many crowns! Today, they stand in the presence of The Almighty and enjoy all the benefits of His kingdom. Hallelujah! Because of Christ's loving sacrifice, these brave men were able to focus past fear and martyrdom and faithfully walk through unthinkable circumstances and pain... and they walked directly into the arms of their great Comforter and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

So, when you consider all this as you sit in front of your computer today... when you think about the hardships that you currently face and the fears and pressures that you are dealing with... please stop and seriously choose how you will accept or deny the promise of your Savior. Will you refuse His word, forgetting what He has sacrificed in order to save you? Or will you stand firm... humble... unashamed... and with a renewed faith to see life through? Remember, HE IS ABLE TO SEE YOU THROUGH! Nothing can separate you from His love and eternal protection! Nothing can overshadow His grace.

I encourage you to let go of your fears and regrets. I encourage you to leave your chains of disbelief aside. I encourage you to look past your present trials. See eternity. See His glory. Seek after His gospel of righteousness and live by it in faith, ladies. Root yourself in His promises and place your courage in His strength. Share His message to anyone who will listen. And always remember, the cross changed everything! Jesus changed everything!!! Stop denying and running away from the only ONE that has promised you everlasting hope. Receive His gift. Live and be free in Jesus Holy Holy Holy Name!!!

He who has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 11:15)

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." (Romans 1:16-17)

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

3 comments:

  1. That was amazing!!!! Thank you for sharing those truths with us.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Okay......once again. Thanks for all the encouraging reminders. Gets me going as I go out into the world and "Battle". I feel uplifted. Praise the Lord.....for the Fresh Flowers Blogs. Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm lost of words! if Christ paid the price for us, why then should i not then live a holy life, that the blood shed on Calvary should not be in vain?. I wonna bring glory unto you ooh my God, my Redeemer who lived forever and ever more.

    ReplyDelete

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