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The Beauty of an Ugly Cross

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As I look around this world, I see God’s beauty everywhere—in the mountains, birds, flowers, sunsets—my kitty. I can only imagine how much more beautiful the Creator of all this must be!

That’s outward beauty.

But I also see His beauty in—a mother nursing her child in the wee hours of the night, a daughter taking care of her declining parents, a person ministering to the homeless, and a missionary taking the gospel to the lost in Africa.

Now we’re getting closer to the inner beauty which God so highly values.

Why are these people beautiful? Because they reflect the sacrificial aspect of the cross. Though outwardly ugly, the cross is the most beautiful symbol to us believers.

When God first created this world it was beautiful; mankind was beautiful. Our sin distorted that beauty.

But God made us for His pleasure and couldn’t leave us in that ugly sinful state. So He made a way to restore His beauty and splendor in us and the world—through the appalling death of His Son on a horrible cross. When Jesus Christ arose from the dead, He conquered the hideousness of sin, evil and death!

Isn’t it ironic that the most beautiful Person in the universe, our Savior, was just an ordinary looking man?

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (Is 53:2)*

Man judges by outward appearance, but God looks at the inner man.

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)**

Jesus’ inner beauty—His kindness, love, patience, compassion, forgiveness, etc.—outshined any lack of outward beauty.

If you know Jesus as your Savior, this beautiful One is living inside you. His beauty can become your beauty; attracting others with the glorious gospel to redeem their souls from a forever ugly and horrific existence in hell.

That was how I got saved. In my early 30’s God put me in a business with some strong Christians. The lovely Jesus within them came out in their eyes, their actions, and their love toward me. Most of these people were just ordinary looking folks. Yet they were so attractive. Their inner beauty drew me to them and ultimately to Christ. I will be forever grateful!

So let me ask you during this Easter season—are you outwardly pretty or handsome but have a complaining, critical, unforgiving, or unkind spirit? If you claim to be a Christian, then you are making the gospel unattractive. Please stop it! You are hurting our Savior! Perhaps you need to make sure you actually know the Beautiful One as your Savior. (Sorry if my words seem harsh. But when I think of what sinful man—including me—did to my perfect Savior, I get wound up.)

And for those of you out there who are not so attractive on the outside, can I remind you that God looks at the inner beauty?

So my friends, when He looks at you, make sure He can see the beautiful spotless One in you.

This Easter Sunday…

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful…. (1 Pet 3:3-5)**

If you are not sure if Jesus is your Savior click here so you can be!

 

*THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.

**Scripture taken from New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Getting the RIGHT Perspective of the Fruit of the Spirit

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23)

I want the Fruit of the Spirit, don’t you? I want to have all the love, joy, and peace that I can. But come to find out —I had it backwards!

A tree produces fruit to benefit others, not for itself. Oh my! My focus unknowingly was on myself. This fruit is not for me, the bearer, but for God and others.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (Jn 15:8)

It is more obvious that the last 6 aspects of this fruit list are for others. However, even there we must be careful.

Do I want to be patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled so that I can feel good about myself and that others will think highly of me? Or do I want the fruit of the Spirit truly for God’s glory and the benefit of others?

Tough questions!

It always boils down to motives; to what’s in our hearts. I certainly got pricked with these questions. But knowing the real truth will set you and me free. How else could we change our thinking? We need the Holy Spirit to point out our misunderstandings. I want a rich bountiful harvest, don’t you?

Here’s where we need to change our thinking:

1. Have the Right Goal

  • Joy should not be the goal. That’s putting our desire for joy before God (i.e. an idol). But seeking God first will lead to that joy.

…You will fill me with joy in your presence…. (Ps 16:11)

  • The goal should not be to have peace in our lives, but to be at peace with God. Then the peace of God will follow as a result of being right with our holy Creator (Rom 5:1, Phil 4:7, 9).
  • Love should be the goal—not to receive love, but rather give love to God and others (the 2 greatest commandments).

2. Have the Right Source

We don’t produce this fruit—He does. Its origin is divine.

Spiritual fruit develops by abiding and having faith in Christ.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing….” (Jn 15:5)

“It is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…. (John 14:10-12)

Fruit is the evidence of what’s inside. Therefore, bearing spiritual fruit is to show others the evidence of God working in us, proving that He exists and cares. God wants to be known and uses willing vessels like you and me to display His glory. 

Once we have the correct perspective, we will experience what we want in the way of love, joy, and peace. It’s a byproduct of believing, obeying, and living in Christ Jesus.

I probably have stretched your mind. Good! The Holy Spirit will help you understand these spiritual mind-blowers. Let God teach you and transform your way of thinking so you can produce bountiful fruit that will last.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (Jn 15:16)

 

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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