Archive for February, 2014

Being Cross-eyed

When I was a teenager, one of my older brothers was living with us, and he had a Siamese cat. This cat, like many Siamese, was cross-eyed, and we realized he was seeing two of everything. When he would walk into the living room and glance over at the sliding glass door, he would see two Siamese cats that looked just like him staring back. These cats would mirror his every move and growl. He would eventually attack, only to be turned back by the window. It was great entertainment! The cat got a superiority complex, which I am sure was because he stared down two cats on a daily basis and was never harmed.

But that brings up a question for us to consider. Are you cross-eyed. I am not talking about seeing double all the time and attacking sliding glass doors. What I am talking about is what the writer of Hebrews expressed in

Hebrews 12:2 –
“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Do we live a life that is focused and Jesus and His sacrifice for us? When we remember our sins, are we taking them (and leaving them) at the foot of the cross? If we are not “cross-eyed” then we will be haunted by the guilt of the past and never know peace in our lives.

and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:20)

It is also impossible to rein in our foolish pride if we are not “cross-eyed”. The cross shows us what our sinful actions and attitudes deserve. Knowing that every one of us is guilty before God of capital crimes, no matter how righteous we appear relative to others, leaves no room for boasting. All we have left to boast of is the magnitude of Christ’s love for us.

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

Perhaps being “cross-eyed” doesn’t make any sense to you. After all, the cross was a cruel instrument of torture, and was used to inflict a horrific death upon any who were placed upon it. You were considered accursed if you were crucified. Even in the times before it was invented, those who were hung on a tree were considered cursed by God.

“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” (Leviticus 21:22)

It just doesn’t make sense to those who are outside of Christ why we would worship someone who was cursed! At first glance such a proposition looks foolish indeed. The Apostle Paul said that many would feel this way, even in the First Century.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

But in order to take our curse upon Himself and atone for our sins, Jesus had to die the death of a cursed man, so we could be made the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

What did this accomplish? Glad you asked!

1 Peter 2:24-25 (NKJV)
who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

So let us fix our eyes on Jesus and follow after Him. We must be “cross-eyed”, just like He was. As we follow Him to the cross on a daily basis, we are reconciled, renewed, and refocused. For on our daily cross, we must crucify our old nature with its sinful desires, and walk as He walked. I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but people tend to walk in the direction they are looking. So let us be “cross-eyed” and crucified as we journey to heaven. And I think that is one of the reasons for observing The Lord’s Supper and doing so often. It helps to keep us cross-eyed. It is so effective at doing so that it baffles me that some churches do not participate in this every week. We are human and constantly need reminders to keep ourselves focused on what is important. Communing with other believers around the Table of The Lord is designed by God for that very purpose. And in doing so we are reminded that we, too, need to daily take up our cross as we are crucified with Him.

Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

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Ever Only All

Sometimes, when I am busy with selecting songs to use for Sunday worship, it seems like the Spirit puts a song in my mind on a continuous loop and won’t let it stop. Such was the case when preparing this week. It was an old hymn that was born in adversity and distills truth down to a brief, poignant phrase. The song was written by Frances Havergal in the 19th century. Frances only lived to be 42 and was in poor health most of her brief life. Notwithstanding, she wrote some of my favorite hymns, with lyrics that go directly to the heart.

One such hymn, the one on continuous loop in my head, was titled “Take My Life And Let It Be”. In her diary, Frances said that on one evening after prayer when she was pledging her devotion to her Savior, a phrase came to her mind and would not depart — ever, only, all. She included the phrase into a poem she wrote the next day which ends with “take my self and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.” There are less poetic ways to say the same thing, and I think what she was trying trying to communicate was that as a disciple of Jesus Christ, our desire should be to live as one who is perpetually (ever), exclusively (only), and completely (all) devoted (for) to Jesus (Thee).

This is a goal worthy of our greatest focus, for He is a Savior worthy of our greatest love. This aspiration is one that will keep us focused on He who is the Author and finisher of our faith”. And this devotion, this consecration, is not an unreasonable thing to ask of His disciples. After all, this is the same God who will do “exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think”. Surely that kind of a king is worthy of perpetual exclusive and complete worship and adoration.

I would encourage you to look at the words of this hymn and make them your prayer while taking communion. He gave his all, and continues to give His all for us, his children. Can we do less than give our all to Him?

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold:
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Ev’ry pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Ev’ry pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself, and I will be,
Ever, only, all for Thee.
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Words: Frances R. Havergal 1874.

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