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Sermon of the Week 
Tuesday, December 08 2020

Winnie and I have both gone through the lost phone, credit card, debit card scenarios, where you realize how dependent you have become on those little gadgets. There’s a lot of your life in those digital containers. So you end up backtracking to all the places you’ve been for the entire day, starting with the most recent and working your way down. What a relief to find these pieces of your cyber identity. But have you ever come to the place where you acted in such a way or spoke in such a way, or even thought in such a way, that you misplaced your cross somewhere along the daily routines of life.

So, my message askes the question “Where is the cross in your life”?

Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. 25For whoever wants to save his life (hang on to the old life) will lose it, but whoever loses his life (lets go of the old life) for My sake will find it”.…

Well, as of today, there are only 18 more shopping days until Christmas. Typical of last-minute Christmas shoppers, one mother was running furiously from store to store. Suddenly she became aware that the pudgy little hand of her three-year-old son was no longer clutched in hers. In a panic she retraced her steps and found him standing with his *…...little nose pressed flatly against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call, he turned and shouted with innocent glee: "look mommy! it’s Jesus - baby Jesus in the hay". With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, "we have too much to do to take time for that!"                       We don’t have to ask “Where the cross is in her life”….                                            (it got lost in the shuffle of things)

There was an article in Forbes magazine entitled "You’d Cry Too If It Happened To You." In that article, 11 men and women were asked to answer the question "Why are we so unhappy?" They all agreed we are unhappy because we have lost our moral and spiritual center. Listen to what Peggy Noonan says (I quote) "Poet W. H. Auden called his era ’the age of anxiety.’ I think what was at the heart of the dread of his day, was that folks could discern that they were beginning to lose God-- banishing Him from the scene and from their consciousness, and losing the perspective that He is a vital part of life’s daily drama”. She goes on to say It is a terrible thing when people lose God. Life is difficult enough, and people’s lives are riddled with fear, when they suddenly realize that to lose God, is to lose man’s greatest source of consolation and coherence"

We were in a huge mall in Washington, and I had to go to the men’s room. When I got back, I couldn’t find Winnie. I started describing her to one of the employees on the floor, and I said, I can’t find her, and she isn’t answering her phone. “He looked at me and said, “A wife is a terrible thing to lose.”…. (I don’t know what his story was) In Luke 15 Jesus tells of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son. He says there was great rejoicing when each was found. But in each case Jesus says “How much more should we rejoice over every sinner that is found” It’s as though Jesus is asking each of us “Where is the cross in your life”  

Every state in the U.S.A. has a state flower and a state tree as symbols. Some also have a state fish, a state bird, a state stone, even a state insect. Massachusetts has nineteen such symbols. The Florida state tree is the Sabal Palmetto, the state flower is the Orange blossom, and the state bird is the Mocking bird. Folks from Main have been called “potato pickers”, folks from Connecticut have been called “Nutmegger’s”, Virginians are called “sore backs”, and North Carolinians are called “tar heels”. So when we got married, a “potato picking”, “Nutmegger” joined up with a “Sore back” “Tar heel” and our kids are really mixed up!!!                                                                                                  But Christianity has only one symbol, THE CROSS. (Hallelujah)                                                                                    If we or the world could be saved through human kindness or meditation, Jesus would have formed a sensitivity group and urged us to share our feelings. He might have come as a psychiatrist, but we didn’t need someone else messing with our head. He didn’t come as a politician, because the solution was not government but the soul. He didn’t come as a doctor because the real health issue was about the curse. He didn’t come as a global unifier because His kingdom is not of this world. But He came as a sacrifice for sin, because the world needed a savior!        

He didn’t come to restructure society, He came to save it! He didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people alive in Him. So He took up the cross, called disciples, gathered the church, and asked us all to follow him down a very different path of freedom.                     

Alexander the Great built the world’s first lighthouse. It was on the island of Pharos, at the entrance to the harbor of the city that bore Alexander’s name, Alexandria. It was Built in 280 B.C., and it stood six hundred feet high. It kept ships from being dashed upon the rocks, it gave sailors a reference point, and it guided the storm tossed and weary back home again. We consider the world’s greatest lighthouse to be the cross, towering above our sin and weakness, shining through our trials and our struggles, and guiding us through our storms and our adversity. It shines unceasingly, unerringly and unfailing. It reaches to the highest mountain, and it shines in the lowest valley. It’s the cross that gives me strength from day to day, it shall never lose it’s power!

The Cross is about intentional living….. It effects our level of accountability, our discipleship, our spiritual growth, our giving, our finances, our serving, our calling, how we love, how we learn, our joy, how we deal with pain and sorrow, and not only how we live but how we die, from day one, till the last day on this earth!

Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

Young Johnny didn’t like salads, but he loved croutons. So for years when his mom had a salad, he would always ask her for her croutons. This had gone on for so long as he grew up, that heassumed his mom didn’t like croutons. That is, until one day, at around 12 years old … they were eating and he happen to say, “Mom, I’m so glad you don’t like croutons cause I’ve been able to have all of yours for all these years. Well, his mom just startedlaughing … and she said “Honey, I like croutons”. Which really surprised him- “Why do you always give me your croutonsthen”?. “Because I love you more than I like croutons”. HMMMM                                        Let me say on a grandeur scale, the measure of God’s Love for us, that is revealed through the cross is difficult to get our head’s around… But the gospel says….Hebrews 12:3 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”. (He loves us more than He despised the shame and the agony of the cross)

The cross shapes and governs how you love.                                               Hebrews 9:28 “For consider him that endured (in love) with such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds”. 

The cross is vertical and horizontal. Through the cross, we are united vertically as we come back home to the Father, through Jesus our sacrifice, by the work of the Holy Spirit. Through the cross we are united vertically as we come into the understanding that we are all His creations, made for His glory, and designed with a divine plan. The cross declares that we all share a common bond. Sinners in need of a Savior, loved equally and fully by Christ.                                                                                                       The cross is a symbol of Unity. But there can be union without unity… tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline. And you will have union, but you will certainly have nothing that even faintly resembles unity!

Matthew 5:21“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22“But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. 

But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24“leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. And first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift”.                                             (God puts a high premium on unity)            

Jesus didn’t come to start a religion, He came to start a relationship. Oh, my, think about it….God says in Matthew, that He feels so strongly about the horizontal aspect of the cross, that you can bring your tithe, and still lose your blessing if you are holding anger, resentment, and ill will, against your fellow believer. 

So it asks us all the question, “Where is the cross in our relationships”…. Are there some cobwebs in some areas that need to be brushed off and cleaned up… The best cleaning ingredient you can use is repentance and forgiveness…                                                                                                          

Has the cross made a difference in who you choose for friendship and who your core group is. I understand that Jesus was the friend of sinners, but that was not his inner core. It was the twelve and they were that core group for one another. Who do you chose in your social life, to fuel you up, and build you up and keep you going strong in the word and in faith. Who are you letting speak into your life and who are you letting bring correction when you need it, or are there some cobwebs growing there. You say, I’m a loner, me and Jesus got it all worked out. I don’t need anybody to tell me what it’s all about!  

Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day (the coming of the Lord) approaching”.

One pastor recruited the youth in the church to help him serve coffee after the sermon every service. One Sunday the pastor who was always encouraging fellowship among the church asked one of the young men if he knew why they served coffee after the church services. "The boy said, "it’s to help the people to wake up before they start driving home."

Well if you got to bed late or didn’t sleep well, try not to snore!Sorry that we have no coffee available for you…..

The horizontal part of the cross, (our fellowship) is vital to provide balance in our Christian walk. 

Our failure to let Christ rule in our hearts vertically … always has horizontal implications. The Lord is very serious about the horizontal and the vertical place of the cross in our lives…. Because one is a reflection of the other. Distance from Christ becomes distance from his people….

Matthew 10:32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. v33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. v37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. v38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me”.

Maybe that sounds a little harsh, but let me say,,,The cross is our symbol of victory. It is in the face of overwhelming odds that we look at the cross and declare because He lives we shall live also. Because He overcame we shall overcome also. If we walk around speaking defeat, and failure, and sickness, then the cross was for nothing. With our mouth we declare his worthiness by declaring, and acting, and living in the reality of His finished victory. His victory is my victory, His victory is your victory! My mouth declares His worthiness!!!                                                                               Your picture is on God’s refrigerator…. Just like we keep pictures of our kids and grandkids on the refrigerator. God lovesus so much that if He had a refrigerator, our picture would be right there on it.

Parents, have you noticed when we go to an event in which our kids are participating, we really only watch our kids or grandkids? Your kid may be on the sidelines or the bench instead of on the field or court, but you’re going to be watching him or her. There may be 30 little girls out there at the dance recital, or 20 other kids in the Christmas play, but your eyes (and your video cameras) are focused on your kids. If they happen to make a football tackle or a goal or perform a beautiful grand pirouette ,we want to tell everybody, “That’s my girl!” or “That’s my boy!”                                                                                                                        That’s how our heavenly Father watches over us with love and compassion. As the song based on the word of Goddeclares…..                               “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me!”

Perhaps you heard about the guy that bought his, wife a beautiful diamond ring for Christmas? His friend asked him, "Hey, I thought you said that your wife wanted one of those dressed out 4-Wheel drive Humvees for Christmas”." "That’s right, She did”, as a sly look came over his face, “but where am I gonna find a fake Humvee?"...

Where is the cross in our lives, because there are a lot of fakes that are trying to pass for the real thing. You can fool some folks all the time and you can fool everyone some of the time, but you can’t…(well you know the rest)

The old song says, “I will cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown. To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, it’s shame and reproach gladly bear. Till He calls me some day to my home far away, where His glory forever I’ll share. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown”. (Thank You Lord)!

We lived in Miami for a year, before coming to Key West in 1976. We had some dear friends, Mary and Ted, who helped us move in a U-Haul truck. Mary had claustrophobia, and was very fearful of the narrow bridges at that time, which had to be crossed to get to Key West. But she had never been to Key West, and was more excited to see Key West, than she was afraid of the bridges! As I think of that….

I think of how God, through the cross, built a bridge that would reach from this sin cursed world, with all it’s struggles, pain, sorrow, and trials, and that cross would bridge the gap between this earthly dimension, and into the dimensions of heaven’s glory! And like Mary, we might draw back at times from what the cross demands of us, but our excitement and joy at seeing heaven and all of it’s glory, far out weighs any misgivings we might have!!! In college, some of us were talking about what we would do when we got to heaven. One guy said, I’m going to check out my mansion. Another said, I’m going to check out the ability to fly… Another said, I’m going to find all my family that has gone before. The last guy said, I’m just going to fall at Jesus feen and worship Him for about 100 years… Boy, we all wanted to change our answers!!!

Before they were called Christians in the New Testament, they were called “The people of the Way”…. I like that… and the fish symbol was their secret form of identity… We are the people of theway, just make sure we don’t get in the way of those who want to make the journey!

Jesus said in Matthew 23:13 13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, and youwill not let those enter who are trying to”.

The word “woe” in the Greek is a judgment. It signifies impending doom, condemnation or the wrath of God. Jesus used it more than anyone else in the bible….

When we keep the cross at the center, we won’t be blocking others who desires to enter in, and we will never hear God pronounce “Woe”..Amen?

Mahat-ma Gandhi, a Hindu, is considered the father of modern India. His birthday, Oct. 2, is a national holiday in the second-most populated nation on Earth. In 1891, after graduating law school in London, he moved to South Africa to practice law. The racial system of apartheid was strictly observed in South Africa.Gandhi was fascinated with all who searched for truth and studied the Bible along with other religious texts. He loved the Sermon on the Mount and seriously considered becoming a Christian. One Sunday, he decided to visit a church in South Africa. Gandhi’s skin was light brown, as he entered the church, a South African white man said with a belligerent tone, “Where do you think you’re going?” 

Gandhi replied, “I’d like to attend worship here.” The man said, “There’s no room for your kind here. Get out of here, or I’ll have some of my men throw you down the steps.” Gandhi never seriously considered becoming a Christian again. This incident might have been one reason he later would utter the famous quote: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians”. 

Who knows what India would have been like today if Gandhi had been welcomed into church that day and given his life to Christ? We’ll never know…..Because someone blocked the way, a nation was affected….

While we decorate our Christmas trees this season. Let’s remember that the real Christmas tree was decorated by God Himself, as He hung Jesus upon it for the sins of the world. That none should perish, but that all should have eternal life through Jesus His son!

Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could barely get by. The cross is our symbol of victory over poverty spirits, over everycurse that came through sin, it declares that because He lives, we shall live also because the same spirit that raised him up, lives in us. 

There is no child and adult Holy Spirit, No female and male Holy Spirit, No preacher and church member Holy Spirit. The same spirit that Paul, Peter, John, Matthew, Mark, and Jesus had while on earth, lives in every believer, no matter what age, or the gender, race or color. THE SAME SPIRIT THAT RAISED CHRIST FROM THE DEAD, DWELLS IN US! It’s the same power, the same anointing, the same source and availability. It is the crucified life that fully releases Him in our lives. 

Colossians 3:16 Let the revealed Spirit word of Christ dwell in you richly….that means extravagantly, abundantly, fully, and bursting at the seams! (in other words, you can’t help yourself)!It’s bursting out!                                                                      So where is the power of the cross, of victory in our lives! Let us cling to the old rugged cross, let us never cease to cherish it and be devoted to the difference it brings into all of our lives! (AMEN CHURCH)!!!

Prayer, “ Lord Jesus, as we remember Your bleeding body hanging on the cross, it provides a firm foundation to our faith. The nails and the spear, Your grief, the anguish of Your soul, and the depth of the agony you endured in Your love for us, inspire us and fire our hearts with praise and gratitude. We will bless You Lord forever and give our love and devotion to You every day of our lives. 

Let us always be bursting forth with your love, your joy, your grace and mercy, that You made possible, everywhere we go and in everything we do. Always let our direction in life begin and end from the place of the cross of Your victory. 

Let us never forget that this is where it all begins and it is ourconstant guarantee that we too shall overcome by the power of redemption through Your finished work. We too can shout “It is finished, it is done.” Because of the cross, I have a sure foundation, and the sure hope that all things will work together for our good and Your glory!                                In the mighty name of Jesus….                                                                                 I’ve placed a table in front of the cross, and I want to give each person a blank sheet of paper. Don’t write any thing on it. God knows what it is….write on it with your finger, But if it’s guilt, the cross has covered it all… if it’s insufficiency, lack, or incompleteness, He bought redemption for you there… if it’s a physical need, He paid the price for your healing…. Take a moment, and bring that paper with whatever need or request it is and lay it before the cross of our victory….

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