John 19:30 NIV
Calvary was victorious! The cross may look like the triumph of evil over goodness, the powerful over the powerless, but only to those who don’t understand Christ’s mission. Never was courage greater or strength stronger. When He cried, “It is finished” (some translations read “It is completed”), He didn’t mean, “I’m finished, My cause is defeated.” Far from being crushed at Calvary, Jesus triumphed in three ways: (1) He conquered His own human desire to avoid unspeakable suffering: “He…bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine'” (Matthew 26:39 NLT). (2) He conquered the demonic powers of darkness. “In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross” (Colossians 2:15 NLT). (3) He conquered the law’s stubborn demands against sinners. “Christ…brought the Law to an end, so that everyone who believes is put right with God” (Romans 10:4 GNT). At Calvary love triumphed over law, forever freeing us who could never live up to God’s law. “It is finished” was the cry of a victor instead of a victim! It didn’t look that way to the crowd or to His devastated disciples. But it did three days later when the empty tomb proved Jesus had won the victory over death. It all comes down to this: “If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved” (v. 9 GNT).
Soul food: Gen 22:1-18; Luke 23:26-49; Ps 22; Isa 53
Psalm 56:4 NIV
David said, ‘In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’ David had faced a lot of trials, but God had repeatedly come through for Him. And he knew that God would continue to be faithful. We can face anything when we know God has promised: ‘For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you’ (Isaiah 41:13 NIV). So instead of fearing the worst, we need to try and start believing God for the best. And we can do that by realising that He has promised us things. Those promises include: ‘So do not fear, for I am with you…I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10 NIV) 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’ (Romans 8:28 NIV). It can feel easier said than done to simply trust God and stop being afraid, especially if fear and anxiety are issues we deal with on a daily basis. There’s no shame in asking for professional help if we’re struggling to deal with it on our own. And we can ask God too. He can help us feel His peace. He can help us rely on Him. He can give us the strength that we need to step out of our comfort zones and face the things which scare us. Fear doesn’t have to defeat us. Instead of giving in to it, let’s stand on the Word of God and believe He’s going to bring us through our circumstances and make us stronger.
Dan 8-10; Luke 22:54-62; Ps 103:13-22; Prov 10:14
Psalm 56:4 AMPC
David said, “On God I lean, rely, and confidently put my trust; I will not fear. What can man, who is flesh, do to me?” And David should know, because God enabled him to defeat a lion, a bear, and a giant. The story is told about the man who approached a farmhouse and every few yards he noticed signs that read, “Beware of Dog.” When he finally reached the farmhouse, he discovered the dog was a tiny Chihuahua. “You mean to tell me that little dog keeps people away?” he asked. The farmer smiled and said, “No, but the signs do!” Fear roars like a lion, but much of the time when we confront it, it’s just a Chihuahua! The truth is, you can face anything when you know God has promised: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:13). So instead of fearing the worst, start believing God for the best. And you do that by personalizing His promises: “[There is nothing to fear], for I am with you…I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; I…will hold you up” (Isaiah 41:10 AMPC). “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose” (Romans 8:28 AMPC). Don’t let fear get the upper hand. Instead of giving in to it, stand on the Word of God and believe He’s going to bring you through your circumstances and make you stronger.
Soul food: Dan 8-10; Luke 22:54-62; Ps 103:13-22; Prov 10:14
Romans 8:28 NIV
Paul begins Romans 8:28 by saying: ‘And we know.’ There are so many things in life we don’t know. We don’t know if we’ll get that job, marry that person, or fulfil that dream we’ve always had. Sometimes, we don’t even ‘know what we ought to pray for’ (v.26 NIV). But we can ‘know’ these four things: 1) ‘God works.’ Even though we can’t see Him, He’s busy behind the scenes. He hasn’t left us or moved on to something else. He’s ceaseless, tireless, and He never stops working. 2) ‘God works for the good.’ Not for our comfort, pleasure, or entertainment, but for our ultimate good. Sometimes we may not see how things are being worked out for good, especially when we’re in the middle of horrendous circumstances. But even then, we need to trust that He is good and will bring good out of what we’re going through. 3) ‘God works for the good of those who love Him.’ When we make His story our story, by loving Him and surrendering to Him, our story takes on a happy ending. 4) God works ‘in all things’. God works not just in a few things, or the good things, or the best things, or the easy things. He works in ‘all things’. And He doesn’t make the plan up as He goes along. The Bible says, ‘In him we were also chosen…according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will’ (Ephesians 1:11 NIV). And the best part is – God’s plan includes us. Once we understand that, we can stop stressing out about all our unknowns. We need to turn them over to God and believe that He’s working ‘all things’ out for our good and His glory.
Lev 8-10; Luke 20:34-40; Ps 72:12-20; Prov 9:7-9
1 Peter 1:7 NLT
The tests we face reveal both our weaknesses and our strengths. When the Bible speaks of “a refiner’s fire” (Malachi 3:2), we’re inclined to think of the negative things God wants to remove from our character. But we also have inner strengths and gifts that need to be refined but we’re not aware of them because a demand hasn’t been placed on them. In 1 Kings 17, when the widow and her son met Elijah there was a famine in the land, and he asked her to share their last meal with him. Maybe you’re thinking, “Typical preacher!” Don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions! One of the best days in this woman’s life was when God placed a demand on her faith. Her response changed her future and saved her family. So when you’re faced with a need, how do you respond? Do you withdraw? Withhold? Give from a sense of obligation? Or do you see it as an opportunity to obey God and change your future? You can actually give your way out of trouble! (See 2 Corinthians 9:6-11). When God sent Moses to Pharaoh, He said, “The king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him” (Exodus 3:19 NIV). And today God may be permitting the Enemy to test you in order to reveal: (1) how much He cares for you; (2) how you’ll act when your back’s against the wall; (3) who you’ll believe when God says, “I will bring you out with a mighty hand,” and the Enemy is saying, “I won’t let you go.” That’s what this test is about.
Soul food: Gen 24:1-25:18; John 14:15-25; Ps 118:19-29; Prov 31:14-17