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Staying Focused on the Cross With Some Help from Coffee



For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it.

Mark 8:35 CSB

 

            When was the last time you lost something very important to you? It happens to us all and can occur frequently. When a loss does take place, it can surely weigh on you and cause panic, stress, and sorrow. I lost one of my favorite coffee mugs at school one time. It didn’t necessarily cause sorrow, but I sure was on the lookout for it for many days, even putting out a schoolwide email and a reward for its recovery. My sister-in-law lost her wedding and anniversary rings. She scoured her car, to no avail. Tore apart her house, nothing. She was constantly on the lookout yet had faith someday they would show up. She had been married to my brother for more than 20 years at this point and the struggles they had been through made these rings seem particularly special. Year after year they searched and kept their eyes peeled. Finally, she purchased a cheap replica so her hand felt complete and others knew of her devotion to her husband. Believe me, that cheapy was just as important as the original. Unexpectedly and out of the blue, she found the rings in the most unusual place, not even remembering having taken them off and putting them on the top shelf of a curio cabinet that held odd dishes. Why would she have put them there? What odd place might you have put the important item you have been missing? Could it be you left it at a store as you perused the merchandise? Maybe you dropped it and scooped it up with the vacuum. It’s possible what you lost was a friend you had a falling out with and desire to find reconciliation. What ever you may have lost and are still looking for in your life, nothing compares to losing the life we are so graciously given by our Lord Jesus Christ, or spending our entire lives looking for and never finding it.

            There is a story of a soldier digging frantically in his foxhole while bombs exploded around him. As he dug, he hit something hard and pulled up a silver cross. About this time, he felt someone jump into the hole with him. He looked over to see the Army chaplain had just landed next to him. Upon seeing him, he thrust the cross at the chaplain and exclaimed, “How do you use this thing?” Truly, that’s the power of the cross whether you are a believer or not. The world is aware of some significance given to the symbol of the cross. We see it on posters, walls, stickers, jewelry, cards. It’s not just in churches, it is all around us. But do most people really understand the true, weight and value of what happened on the original cross? Is it really evident the magnitude of the decision that went into making this a symbolic representation of Christ’s death the basis of what we as Christians should be living by?

            When I consider professing that I am a Christian, I realize that whatever direction I am going, whatever words I am speaking, whatever action I am taking, I need to have the cross in focus, in front of me all the time. The cross should not be the blurry, fuzzy object that we see in the peripheral of what we are in the middle of. The cross should stand as a strong figure in the very front of our vision. There really is nothing more important than Christ’s death upon the cross in the life of the believer. In fact, Paul states that it is of first importance, it is what his faith is totally based on. For Paul, it was faith in the work of the cross plus nothing else. Why? Because Christ’s crucifixion and death is what saves us from sin and our eternal death. a lost life. Without the cross, the message Christ came to preach means nothing. He had to die and be risen again in order for Him to take the punishment of our sins and go to God to ask for forgiveness. This is why we can live with joy in knowing that Christ took this pain and saved us. Because of our faith in the cross our lives will be saved and we are promised to never lose it if we remain in faith (Mark 8:35 CSB).

            When my day gets started, I try to spend time with God. I attempt to read the Word, pray, journal and give thanks. Throughout my day, I am reminded to pray, give thanks for blessings, (in fact, I even have a timer set to remind me to praise God), and to remember scripture. I relish and appreciate that I have so many things happening in my life from golf, work, writing, grandkids, baking, gardening… I could go on and on, and this makes all those morning things difficult to participate in. Being human ensures we will have distractions in life. So how do we stay focused on the cross and the life we will never lose if we follow it?

Our life in America is very fast paced. This makes staying focused on the cross even difficult for those who have been believers for a long time. God is ok with everything being fast paced but not without Him and not without order. One way to not get distracted from the work you are doing for the cross is to get involved in things only if you feel it is a call from God. We can often get involved in things because we like the people or it is a really good cause, but if there hasn’t been prayer and a nudge from God it is probably not something for you to invest your time in. Part of planning for the areas you will be involved in is being sure you have time to be in the Word and pray each day. Doing this will lead you to staying focused on the work you are doing for Christ.

Our sorrows and joys can also turn our eyes away from the cross. One strategy to help us stay focused during struggles or happiness is allowing God to be in it with you. He wants to be involved in your happiness and loneliness. Spend time searching the scriptures and finding the areas where He tells us how He wants to help us. He wants to be a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105 CSB). He desires for us to come to Him so He can give us rest (Matthew 11:28 CSB). Once we begin to understand the physical and emotional dangers we face daily, we will begin to focus on His face and the work He did for us.

In our busyness, we can become isolated. God desires for us to be in community with other believers who share our passion for Christ. Hanging out with Christian friends can certainly keep us focused. It is their job to hold us accountable and help us stay focused on Christ. With our friends who are believers we can enjoy traveling, eating, worshiping, and studying all at the same time. Plan a camping trip with friends so you can fellowship. Maybe it is a cruise with a girlfriend or dinner on the weekends. The conversation will almost always focus on Christ and our focus will be right where we want it to stay.

Staying focused on the cross is difficult, but it is a vital part of the Christian faith. When we seek to grow in God’s Word and learn His qualities and characteristics, to pray and plan, and to spend time with other believers, we can better focus on the cross and a life committed to His glory. Try adding a cup of coffee with each of these steps and you may be surprised at how much better it tastes.

 

A Prayer for Today

 

Lord, thank You for going to the cross for me. The fact that You love me enough to die for me is unfathomable. Help me to stay focused on the cross as I live, and as I enjoy life or have struggles. I pray for a focus on reading Your Word and giving praise to You daily, even moment by moment. Thank You for being readily available to be with me whenever I call.

 


Today’s Challenge

 

Reach out to a Christian friend and make a plan to spend time together. Begin to cultivate closer relationships with those people Christ has put in front of you to do life with.

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