Stronger Than A Thousand Mighty Men

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

This verse is kind of easy to gloss over. When I read through 1 Corinthians at one point or another I had underlined it, but that’s it. I feel like a lot of the time we read verses such as this one and think, That’s a nice sentiment, having the power of God, and then we move on to the next one.

We need to stop. We need to meditate in what “the power of God” really means. The power of God is not something neat or kind of cool. It is awesome, in the true, original meaning of the word: The power of God is so great that it fills people with awe and wonder. It moves mountains – literally! It heals the sick, lifts up the dead, disperses demons, even forgives sins. And that’s only to name a few!

Even before Christ walked this earth and showed us some of what He is made of, it was evident how incredible God’s power is:
The three saintly youth (Daniel 3:19-30)- God’s power kept the flames of the furnace from harming Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they praised God.
Daniel (Daniel 6:10-23)- God’s power kept the lions from devouring him.
Or how about Elijah! He caused a drought (1 Kings 17:1-7). He raised a young man from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24). He brought fire down from heaven (1 Kings 18:20-40)!

And there are countless more wonders that have been done through the power of God!

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Just listen to what King David had to say about merely the voice of God:

The voice of the LORD is powerful;
The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars,
Yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes them also skip like a calf,
Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD divided the flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth,
And strips the forests bare;
And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”
– Psalm 29:4-9

The power of God is not just some nice, abstract idea. It is alive as He is alive. And if I am live through His resurrection, then the power of God is alive in me. If I truly have faith, even of a mustard seed (do you know how tiny those things are?!), then I could literally move mountains from one part of the earth to another; look at St. Simon the Tanner! He was just an average Joe like you and me, except for one thing: he had real faith. And with that faith he moved a mountain!

Or even more recently than that, people like Abouna Makary Younan, who casts out demons daily!

The power of God is real, and it is very present. And it does not just belong in the times of the apostles or early Church martyrs.

Which brings me to the next part, the “how” part. How do I attain the power of God within me? How do I find the faith I need? How can I be like Daniel, like Elijah, like the apostles?

Two words: the cross. 

There is no way around it. There is no way above it or below it. You know how in “Finding Nemo” Marlin and Dory don’t want to go through the deep, dark abyss so they swim above it instead? That isn’t an option here. The only way to have the power of God in me is through the cross. 

The entire premise of this verse centers around “the message of the cross”. The cross is what gives us this power. The only way to attain the power of God is to live the resurrected life. And to live the resurrected life, I must first die the death of the cross.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
– Romans 6:8-9

Take a look at the players mentioned above:
The three saintly youth still had to go into the fire.
Daniel still had to enter the den of lions.
Elijah was terrified for his life, was living alone in a cave, and thought he was the only follower of God left on the earth.

Each and every one of the key players in the Bible or Synaxarium carried a cross in one form or another. Every one of them offered his or her life as a sacrifice for the Lord.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
– Romans 12:1

It is only through putting to death the old man in me, the flesh, the earthly nature, that I will be able to live a true and resurrected life. And only then will I be able to live with the power of God in me.

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
– John 12:24

Imagine the wonders God could do through us, the grain, the fruit, if we would just die to ourselves and live for Him instead.

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Tunics, Cloaks, & Miles

If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”
– Matthew 5:40-41

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As a child of God, a follower of Christ, a member of the New Jerusalem, I am to be sanctified, consecrated, set apart. I am not meant to blend in, to be a member of the pack.

What does this look like? How am I supposed to be set apart? John 13:35.

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

The love of God surpasses all love. His love goes beyond the love of this world. According to this world we love only those who love us. And by love, I mean we love until it no longer benefits us, then we move on. We “fall out of love”. We are taught by this world to love very conditionally, as long as it is convenient or we see that it is good for us. Why do you think people are so screwed up and why there is so much brokenness?
We accept this distorted, demented view of what the world tells us love is as truth.

Real love is nothing like this idea of love we have adopted from the world.

Real love is unrelenting.
Real love is uncontainable.
Real love is unconditional.
Real love is unyielding.
Real love is putting down my own life for the person in front of me.
Real love is death, even death on the Cross.
Real love is going the second, third, tenth mile when I am asked for one.

No part of love is about myself. Love “does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5), but seeks the joy and fulfillment and salvation of the people around it.

IS MY IMAGE OF LOVE SELF-SERVING OR IS IT SELF-SACRIFICING?

“Son of God”: I Finally Watched It

My meditations on the “Son of God” movie

Watching Christ’s compassion towards the adulterous woman as she was about to be stoned really got to me. I am that woman. I am a sinful adulteress, straying from the One who vows to love me. I continuously leave my First Love to run after other things.
But Christ loves me anyway. Christ fights for me anyway. Christ died for me anyway. He lifts me up, kisses my head, and says, “come and sin no more,” as He did her.
Who else but Him would care for me like that? What other god would love me enough to give up His own life just so that I would have life?

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Or how about when Christ enters the temple?
And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” -John 2:16-17
Where is my zeal? Does my zeal for The Lord and His house eat me up? Does it consume me? Because if not, I’m living life wrong. The only true way to live is to live totally and utterly consumed by the Lord’s fire.
Christ was not concerned with what those in the temple thought of Him. He was only concerned with pleasing the Father.
What about me? Do I have so much zeal that all I can do is live my life trying to please The Lord?
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There is a very short scene before Judas wanders off to betray Christ, where you see Jesus playing with John the Beloved. He has John’s head scarf in His hand and is playing around with it in John’s face.
To me, this showed the personal relationship between these two. God has a very unique relationship with each one of us, enough to be playful and teasing, so long as we let Him.
He is a very personal God. He wants each of us to live closely with Him, so that we may spend eternity joking around with Him.
After all, we must be friends with God on earth so that we may be friends with God in heaven.
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I am Peter. I try to love Christ. I try to believe. I try to be faithful. I tell Him, “I will not fall away, I will lay down my life for You,” and yet I fall, and I betray, and I deny.
I am constantly putting my foot in my mouth, saying the wrong things, trying to do things my way. I am as much of a screwup as Peter seemed to be.
Yet Christ chose him to be the rock upon which to build the Church. And Christ told him to tend His flock. And he was the one to bring three thousand to Christ after one word.
Peter is a reminder that, though I fall, I can get back up. I can be redeemed. There is hope for me yet.
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As I watch Him die on the cross, I look around me on the plane, and I wonder how many of these people know what Christ gave up for them? How many know that they have been offered life? How many are living in the hope of the Resurrection?
It hurts my heart to think of all those who are lost, all those who know not what they have been given.

Lord Jesus, reveal Yourself. Let these people know You, believe in You, have hope in You. Amen.