Category Archives: the cross

what is your agenda for God?


My notes from Sunday’s sermon …  (we are currently going through the book of Matthew, verse by verse).

Matthew 16:21-28

[21] From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. [22] And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” [23] But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

[24] Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [25] For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. [26] For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? [27] For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. [28] Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

What is your agenda for God?

-we all have God’s agenda for our life .. like Peter, we want our lives to play out a certain way.

-many of us would agree, “I want a trouble free life … I will follow on the path as long as the path is safe, secure and predictable.

What do you do when God doesn’t allow your agenda and when God doesn’t feel safe to you?

How do you respond?

-we often respond in fear, depression and anxiety.

-many of us just shut down.

Maybe God is  messing up your agenda because He is trying to get your attention!

-He wants us to become undone and to surrender to His agenda for us.

Matthew 16:21-28 looks at the Gospel agenda of God.  This is an agenda we should rejoice in.

v. 23 Jesus rebukes Peter for questioning Him.

-Peter is not setting his mind on the things of God, but rather on the things of Satan … denying what Jesus says and what He came to do.

Jesus declares that Peter is a stumbling block.

Peter is trying to play God here, to declare how things should be.

We must ask ourselves, “Have I put myself back on the throne as a little god?”

Those of us who claim to trust in Jesus, would say that He is Lord of our life, that He is on the throne in our life.

But practically, are we living that way?

What Peter is starting to get here is that the kind of Messiah Jesus is has implications for discipleship.

Are we ready and willing to ask, “ok God, what is YOUR agenda for me?”

v 24 talks about Peter wanting to maintain control of his life.

Jesus says, ‘no.’

-denying yourself says you forsake the idea of self-preservation, whatever that means.

-turn away from safety and step out and follow Jesus.

Taking up a cross is taking up an instrument of death … it’s not as some would say as a hardship in life. It’s following Jesus.

God’s agenda for us is for us to follow Him.  To risk.  Safety is what we want, but it’s not God’s agenda.

So what would compel us to choose a life that does not have an agenda of safety?

What would be our motivation for following Jesus?

 v 25 states that whoever tries to save his life will lose it.  Only through faith in Christ are we accepted by God.

Jesus is our righteousness.

He is our treasure.

Why would we follow Him?

It’s the only way to eternal life.

If you abandon God to pursue the world you forfeit your soul.

Faith expresses itself in following Jesus.

Application:  In what areas of our life can we risk ‘safety’ and self-preservation to follow Jesus and live for His Kingdom

1.  Giving

-how are we risking personally in our giving?

2.  Justice / mercy

-in what ways are we showing mercy to those who are abandoned or oppressed?  the needy in our community and in the world?

3.  Neighbor

-in what ways are we risking in our neighborhood? community? schools? as a result of following and living for Jesus?

4.  Gospel proclamation

-are we speaking the good news of Jesus to others?


easter reflections


As this Easter weekend of 2011 draws to a close, I delight in sharing a few reflections.  Easter meant something different to me this year .. I understand differently, more fully, my need for a savior.

I loved the message at our church this morning.  Our pastor faithfully preaches the Word of God each Sunday and this Easter Sunday was no exception.  The passage was Romans 1:16-17

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

and the message was as clear of a presentation of the gospel as I can remember hearing.

He boldly answered the question, “what are we being saved from?”  the answer, in part,  being, “we are being saved from God.  From the wrath of a Holy God.”

We are sinners.  God is Holy.

Because he sacrificed His sinless Son for our sins, as our substitute, He now sees us as righteous and not as the sinful beings that we are.  Those of us who believe, as Paul states in this passage, are declared righteous.

The implications of this are what most impacted me …

He talked about the efforts we make in life to validate ourselves.  I’m most prone to validate myself and my worth by the opinions of others.  Ultimately this makes an idol out of people and their opinions.

Living in light of the Gospel .. not just for salvation, but daily, tells me and reminds me that I don’t need the validation of men, I have the Gospel.  I’ve been declared righteous by my creator.

The truth is, I want people to think I’m amazing.  My self-striving in this endeavor only leaves me exhausted.  My heart cries out, “validate me!”

What I must acknowledge daily is that only in the Cross am I proven and accepted.  And living in this reality daily could and would radically change my life.

I would approach my relationships in ways that allow me to accept others the way Christ has accepted me.

The gospel reminds me that no matter how impressive I am, I am still a sinner.

God is saying to me, “Give up! And trust in My perfect work, not your own.”

I have learned and continue to learn much about myself and my shortcomings.  Thankfully, God has shown  me much more about Himself.
At the close of this Easter of 2011, I will choose to ‘give up’ & rest on the Gospel.

this is love . . .


I John 4:9-12

9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

the message of the cross


Spurgeon says of Isaiah 53, “the Bible in miniature and the gospel in essence.”

Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?

And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

and no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he opened not his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;

and as for his generation, vwho considered

that he was cut off out of the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people?

9 And they made his grave with the wicked

and with a rich man in his death,

although he had done no violence,

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;

he has put him to grief;

when his soul makes an offering for guilt,

he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;

the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;

by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,

make many to be accounted righteous,

and he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,

because he poured out his soul to death

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and makes intercession for the transgressors.

a prayer for tuesday of holy week



     “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” John 12:27-32

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s Tuesday of Holy Week and I’m moved by how troubled and yet peaceful you were as the events of that week began to unfold. There was no doubt in your mind why you came into Jerusalem riding the foal of a donkey, great conflict, but nodoubt.

For this very reason you came from eternity into time and space; for this very reason you emptied yourself of your glory by taking the form of a servant-man—the Lord’s Servant; for this very reason the Father spoke thunderous words from heaven for ourbenefit. In the fullness of time you came, and now at just the right time you would die.

There would be no surprises. You knew what was coming. At the end of the week, you would pay the supreme price that fully guarantees our redemption, and the “drawing” of men and women from every single nation, tribe, people and language—a number as great as the stars in the sky, the sand of the beaches, and the dust of the earth.

In a matter of days you would take the holy wrath of Judgment Day for all who will trust in you. At the end of the week, your “bruised heel” would secure the ultimate crushing and “driving out” of the “prince of this world”—Satan himself. Understandably so, your heart was troubled, greatly troubled, yet fully at peace.

Jesus, as the events of our week now unfold, grant us grace to survey the wonders of your cross, with greater awe, humility and gratitude than ever. In an hour when many in our culture are marginalizing and minimizing, denying and dismissing your cross, may our boasting in your cross grow by all-time exponential proportions.

Love so amazing so divine demands our soul, our life our all. So very Amen, we pray, in the beauty and bounty of your most glorious name.

Scripture Memory #7


I’m a day late with this, but April 1st we posted our seventh scripture memory verse for 2011.  I have been so blessed by the passages I’ve memorized so far . . . it has been so powerful to recite God’s Truth to myself when I would rather listen to myself and lies I’m tempted to believe over His Truth!


In studying Isaiah and looking towards Easter, I had to choose this week’s verse from Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:6

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6 ESV)

I know the consequences of turning to my own way . . . I’m also amazed and blessed to know the love and grace shown to me on the cross.