‘I am alive! I am alive!’

I like the verse from Revelation 1:18, ‘I AM the living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!’

It’s something our hearts will sing when we too die (or are present when Jesus returns): Behold, I was dead in my sins, but now – because of Jesus – I am alive for ever and ever!

In Revelation 1:4b-8 (NIV), we also read: “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”

Finally, these verses from the last chapter of Revelation (Rev. 22: 12-17): Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

“I, Jesus … am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”;  and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

As Selwyn says, in today’s study, ‘millions of Christians around the world are joyfully celebrating’, the resurrection of the Christ. Yet, there will be some (family, friends and neighbours) who don’t wish to take the free gift of the water of life – and that carries with it a lot of sadness.

I think, Selwyn’s prayer for today makes a great conclusion: “Lord Jesus, thankful as I am for the empty tomb, that is not the only thing that convinces me that You are alive. The greatest evidence is that You are alive in my heart – and for that I am eternally thankful. Amen.”

Is Jesus alive in your heart?

The cry of dereliction

In today’s study, Selwyn considers the cry of Jesus on the cross: “My God. my God, why have you forsaken me?”

It’s the first verse of Psalm 22, yet, I think it’s also important to also look at the last three verses of this Psalm 22:29-31 (NIV): ” … All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him those who cannot keep themselves alive.

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”

I take the view that Jesus’ words not only highlight the terrible consequences of human sin – for the person and also for God. Yet, His words point to His victory over Satan and death. Jesus fulfilled all of Psalm 22; from the terrible agony of the first verse, to the conquest of the last verse.

Today, almost two thousand years later – this generation is being told about Our Lord. The death and resurrection of Jesus, is – I think – the greatest event in human history. True, as Selwyn mentions, Jesus did feel the horrific weight of all human sin – but, I think of it as going through a very dark tunnel – He knew that He would pass through into the glorious light of God’s victory.

Hebrews 2:13b-15, we hear these words: ‘ … “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

Since the children have flesh and blood, Jesus too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.’

On the cross, I think that Jesus suffered a mix of emotions; from the experience of what sin does to God’s heart, to His saving love for His children – having the assurance that His sacrifice was perfect and would result in total victory.

Any comments?

‘Darkness at noon’

Selwyn writes: “We come now to another Good Friday … and we gaze on Jesus as He endures the terrible agony of the cross. … A strange and eerie darkness swept over Jerusalem on that awful day when Jesus was crucified, which seems to have lasted from noon to 3pm. …

What is darkness in biblical symbolism, but separation from God, who is light and in whom there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).”

I think there are many aspects of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which is beyond our human understanding; and, perhaps, this is why I don’t have a lot to say about Selwyn’s views, reading today’s study.

On the other hand, I think we can all agree that if Jesus had not died on the cross for us, then we would have been condemned to a permanent separation from God. In Luke 23:44-46 (NIV), we read: ‘It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.’

There is a great sadness that it was necessary for Jesus to die, but we must look forward to Easter Sunday when we witness the fantastic success of His sacrifice. In the above verses, we are told that the curtain which separated the average person from God’s presence in the Temple, was torn in two; now, we all have access to God’s loving light – all the time – in all places!

He drained the cup

I think the following, written by Selwyn – is a good summary of today’s study.

“It was God’s purpose to save us from sin, and to save us in a way that would be impossible without the substitutionary death of Jesus. No one else (because no one else could be, a ‘Lamb” without blemish) could have borne our sins.”

The lesson for us is that we too, need to be prepared to drink from the bitter cup of persecution and drain it dry – if, it’s the will of our Father.

Your view?

‘The agony in the Garden’

In today’s study, we read Selwyn’s thoughts on the reasons behind the awful agony experienced by Jesus. The truth is that we don’t really know the mind of God and we can only guess as to the real reasons – but perhaps the spiritual agony of taking on, all the sins of this world – was a significant aspect of His agony.

The following verses, from Matthew 26:36-45 (NIV), provide an insight into the depths of Jesus’ agony: ‘Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.”‘

I think that Selwyn’s prayer for this day, is an appropriate response: “Blessed Lord, as I contemplate Your suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, I feel like bowing in the dust. If my sin brought such pain to You, then how can I ever sin again? Please give me the grace to live wholly for You. Amen.”

Jesus knew that in three days time He would rise again and that His sacrifice would achieve everything – according to God’s great purposes – yet, He was deeply troubled and overwhelmed with sorrow. Perhaps part of His sorrow, was that there would be many who would reject His saving love?

Your thoughts?

***

It was 22 years ago, on the 27th March 1991, when I first heard the voice of God say to me: ‘I AM, your God – who loves you.‘ [http://www.tofollowjesus.org/my-journey/]  These few words have carried me this far – and I trust will carry me forward to eternal life. All I can do is praise and worship Him – with, everything that is me.

***

 

 

Getting the ‘me’ into Calvary

I believe that today’s study contains a very important message.

It’s contained in these following extracts: “The celebration of the first Communion did not just involve Jesus, but it involved all the disciples also. Christ initiated it, but the others took part in it as well. They could hardly have failed to get the message that it was not enough for the bread to be broken and the cup of wine to be handed to them – they had to eat  and drink and thus appropriate it for themselves. They were not spectators – they were participants.

What does all this say to us? It says that the death of Jesus is the means by which we are saved, but we will not be saved until we receive and appropriate for ourselves the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.”

As Selwyn clearly says in today’s study (and his statements are supported by Scripture) – we must (and this applies to all followers of Jesus) have had that individual moment with God, when we first believed, that –  ‘Jesus, You died for me’. To personally receive God’s forgiveness, by expressing, in faith – the belief that Christ’s sacrifice fully paid the price for all our personal sins. You must have a joy in knowing that you have been set free, from the bondage of sin – to live in freedom – with an enduring access to God.

There is a certainty of knowing that we have a living relationship with Jesus – it’s never a feeling of, ‘maybe I have, but I’m not really sure’.

Perhaps, if you are reading this and not sure about your relationship with God – well, over this coming Easter week – is a really good time to ask God about it? Today – is not too soon – to sit down with God and discuss it – for there may not be a tomorrow, for you.

Any comments?

The centrality of the cross

This area of today’s study, I found, to be worth thinking about: “One commentator puts it like this: ‘The Lord’s Supper, which was instituted by Jesus, and which is the only regular commemorative act authorised by Him, dramatizes neither His birth nor His life, neither His words nor His works, but only His death.’ (and resurrection)

It was by His death that He wished above all else to be remembered. You see, then, how essential the cross is to Christianity.”

The key verse today, provides us with an insight into Paul’s priorities, Galatians 6:14, May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whichthe world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

The cross is central to our faith, and it throws its light across the whole of the Bible – in a sense, the only way to see the big picture of God’s amazing rescue plan – is through the vision given to us, through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

What are your views?