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The Cross is More than a Symbol - Daily Steps

Posted by Kim Stiver on

Welcome to Daily Steps
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.

1 Corinthians 1:18-19 "The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.'" (NLT)

We're Not Supposed to Understand

Even if you don't consider yourself an intellectual, chances are you've spent a significant amount of time or money at one point or another trying to figure out something you don't understand. It may be illogical, ridiculous, or hidden, but whatever it is, it drove you crazy. Whether it's delving into a baffling psychological issue, learning a new skill, exploring an exciting opportunity, navigating the waters of a rocky relationship, or getting to the bottom of an exasperating health concern, in times of doubt and confusion we usually default to trusting the power and quality of our own reasoning above all else. As much as we all think that we are humble enough to identify and receive true wisdom when it is offered to us, scientific research has proven that we are often blinded by our own experience, biases, culture, and existing relationships. 

The Apostle Paul was easily able to identify this problem and call attention to it in his letter to the Corinthian church. Why? He had personally learned the hard way about the truth of the cross. "The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.'" Before he placed his life in the hands of Jesus and experienced the illogical power of the cross for himself, Paul was undeniably an intellectual. His training and education were elite, his mind was sharp, and his cunning was unrivaled. Then this driven, passionate, and prideful man collided with the inexplicable, irrational power and wisdom of the risen Messiah-King who conquered suffering and death by suffering and dying in the most humiliating method possible. It didn't make sense then, and it doesn't make sense now. The Gospel of Jesus simply requires faith, not analysis, to become a reality in a human heart. 

Despite having a loving God who illogically gave up everything to be with us for eternity, many Christians keep relying on their own understanding when it comes to evaluating their earthly circumstances, which often include suffering, trials, and definitely a lot of hard work. In our arrogance, we worry and wonder if God knows what He's doing. In a quest for self-preservation and advancement of personal agendas, we seek an explanation from God when we don't get what we want, or we have to be uncomfortable for a season. What we keep forgetting, however, is that the most beautiful, the most life-changing, the most miraculous, and the most peaceful things happen when we embrace the messy, the painful, and the difficult and let Jesus figure it all out. He's infinitely smarter than us, but more importantly, He's unfathomably loving. As you read the passages below, ask yourself these questions over and over throughout the week and write down whatever the Holy Spirit reveals to you in the process: Do I believe that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says can do? If not, what is necessary for me to let go of to surrender and believe? If so, then what needs to change in my life, or what is He asking me to do as a result of my trust in Him?

Daily Bible Readings

This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the passages deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul. 

Monday - Isaiah 55:8-9. Think about this question for a moment: Would there be any point in believing in a God that you can fully understand or explain? As foolish as it may sound, many of us get caught in the trap of our own intellect. We erroneously think that if something seems wise or unlikely in our own minds, that God would probably be thinking that way as well. We project onto God our own thinking. We are made in His image, but He does not conform to ours. Take a few moments to imagine yourself outdoors on a clear night far away from any big cities. In this situation, you would see thousands upon thousands of stars in the canopy of twinkling lights above you. With this vision fixed in your mind, repeat this passage from Isaiah several times, reading it slowly until you are caught up in His grandeur, the expansiveness of who He is, and how inexplicably small — but blessed — you are in comparison. Remember that even when the sun is out and obscures the stars, they are still there. They still exist. In the same way, you don't have to see Him or explain Him in order to know that He has your best interest at heart.

TuesdayEphesians 3:14-21. The Bible tells us straight up that we cannot understand God, but that by believing despite our doubt, we will be made complete in Him and thus overcome our doubts. Verse 19 says, “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Emphasis added). Renown theologian AW Tozer said that humankind was created to think with fully engaged minds in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Even the most scholarly of minds is incomplete until his or her spirit receives the breath of the Holy Spirit. Tozer said, “If I can understand God, then I cannot worship God. I will never get on my knees and say, ‘Holy, holy, holy’ to that which I can figure out.” Spend time searching your heart for doubts. Jesus already knows what they are, so confess them to Him and ask for His help to transform your mind to see and believe in the illogical and hope courageously for the impossible.

Wednesday - Jeremiah 9:23-24. We weren’t there when God spoke the stars into existence or hung the rainbow following the global flood. We can’t fathom the depths of love He has for us by giving up His own Son so that we might live forever in fellowship with Him, no matter how sinful we’ve been or weak our faith has been. We cannot see the full span of history and infinity of the future and understand why things happen as they do. But His word and history have proven His truth and steadfast love over and over. Spend time today rejoicing over the infinite and all-powerful God who loves you beyond measure. Ask His Spirit to flood every corner of your mind, soothing your doubts, and inspiring your thoughts to be more like His. 

Thursday - Romans 8:28-38. When we are going through a difficult time, verse 28 can be downright irritating to think about. We ask whoever is around us, "What kind of good can come from this awful thing?" Instead, the Holy Spirit wants us to go to the source and ask our questions. God can handle them, and while His answer might be "Trust me, " or "Wait and see what I do with this," verses 31-38 give us all we need to know in the meantime. Whatever you're battling right now, take to Him, and declare with a loud voice that you trust Him to work it all out for good. Keep in mind that His definition of good is almost guaranteed to be different than your definition of good or anything your mind can come up with by itself. Ask Him to give you just a glimpse of His perspective, which is infinitely larger than yours. 

Friday - 2 Kings 6:8-23 and Hebrews 11:1-3. As astonishment replaced fear and relief chased away the panic, Elisha's servant went from a place of hopelessness to confidence in one fell swoop. Instead of being captured by angry warriors, he was captured into the arms of faith and delivered to safety. Likewise, confidence in our own efforts leads us to fear while the Holy Spirit is beckoning us to place all of our confidence in the King of kings. Put yourself in the shoes of Elisha's servant and think about any doubts that are currently surrounding your mind and anything unknown that is plaguing you. Spend all the time you need, giving those to Jesus and receiving His peace and assurance instead. Praise Him for your deliverance which is yet to come. 

TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.

Want to Go Even Further? 
Check out our companion study guide to use with your community group, neighbors, or family members! Each week includes thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study based on this week's sermon topic. 
STUDY GUIDE

Get Your Worship On!
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