Tag Archives: theology

Charles Spurgeon – I shall rise again

 

“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.” 1 Corinthians 15:35-38

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 21:25-33

The seasons are four evangelists, each of them having his testimony to utter to us. Does not summer preach to us of God’s bounty, of the richness of his goodness, of that lavish generosity with which he has been pleased to supply the earth, not simply with food for man, but with delights for both ear and eye in the beauteous landscape, the melodious birds, and the flowers of various hue? Have you never heard the still small voice of autumn, who bears the wheatsheaf, and whispers to us in the rustling of the withered leaf? He bids us prepare to die.“All we” saith he, “do fade as a leaf,” and “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Then comes winter, crowned with snow, and he thunders out a most mighty sermon, which, if we would but listen to it, might well impress us with the terrors of God’s vengeance, and let us see how soon he can strip the earth of all its pleasantries, and enrobe it in storm, when he shall come himself to judge the earth with righteousness, and the people with equity. But it seems to me that spring reads us a most excellent discourse upon the grand doctrine of revelation. This very month of April, which, if it be not the very entrance of spring, yet certainly introduces us to the fulness of it; this very month, bearing by its name the title of the opening month, speaks to us of the resurrection. As we have walked through our gardens, fields, and woods, we have seen the flower-buds ready to burst upon the trees, and the fruit-blossoms hastening to unfold themselves; we have seen the buried flowers rising from the sod, and they have spoken to us with sweet, sweet voice, the words, “Thou too shalt rise again, thou too shalt be buried in the earth like seeds that are lost in winter, but thou shalt rise again, and thou shalt live and blossom in eternal springs.”

For meditation: Only a fool ignores the lessons of creation (Romans 1:20-22).

Sermon no. 306

1 April (1860)

 

John MacArthur – Cultivating Beatitude Attitudes

 

“When [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  And opening His mouth He began to teach them” (Matt. 5:1- 2).

Jesus’ earthly ministry included teaching, preaching, and healing. Wherever He went He generated great excitement and controversy. Usually great multitudes of people followed Him as He moved throughout the regions of Judea and Galilee. Thousands came for healing, many came to mock and scorn, and some came in search of truth.

On one such occasion Jesus delivered His first recorded message: the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). In it He proclaimed a standard of living diametrically opposed to the standards of His day–and ours. Boldly denouncing the ritualistic, hypocritical practices of the Jewish religious leaders, He taught that true religion is a matter of the heart or mind. People will behave as their hearts dictate (Luke 6:45), so the key to transformed behavior is transformed thinking.

At the beginning of His sermon Jesus presented the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12): a list of the godly attitudes that mark a true believer and insure true happiness. The Greek word translated “blessed” in those verses speaks of happiness and contentment. The rest of the sermon discusses the lifestyle that produces it.

Jesus taught that happiness is much more than favorable circumstances and pleasant emotions. In fact, it doesn’t necessarily depend on circumstances at all. It is built on the indwelling character of God Himself. As your life manifests the virtues of humility, sorrow over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, and peace, you will experience happiness that even severe persecution can’t destroy.

As we study the Beatitudes, I pray you will be more and more conformed to the attitudes they portray and that you will experience true happiness in Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to minister to you through our daily studies. Be prepared to make any attitude changes that He might prompt.

For Further Study: Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).

What issues did Christ address?

How did His hearers react to His teaching? How do you?

 

Joyce Meyer – Honor Him First

 

But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [permanently] in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you. —1 John 2:27

This verse isn’t suggesting you don’t need anyone to teach you the Word. Otherwise God wouldn’t appoint some to teach in the body of Christ. But it does say if you are in Christ you have an anointing that abides on the inside of you to guide and direct your life.

Sometimes you give more consideration to what people tell you than to what God has said. You might occasionally ask somebody for their wisdom, but if you hear from God and then start asking everybody else what they think, you are honoring people’s opinions above the Word of God. You need to say, “God, no matter what anybody else says, no matter what my own plan is, if You say something to me, I am going to honor You above anything else.”

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Mark of Ownership

 

“He has put His brand upon us – His mark of ownership – and given us His Holy Spirit in our hearts as guarantee that we belong to Him, and as the first installment of all that He is going to give us” (2 Corinthians 1:22).

Some time ago, a young Christian came to share his problems. He was very frustrated and confused, and he spoke of the constant defeat and fruitlessness which he experienced in the Christian life.

“You don’t have to live in defeat,” I said to him.

The young man registered surprise.

“You can live a life of victory, a life of joy, a life of fruitfulness,” I assured him. “In fact, by the grace of God – and to Him alone be the glory – for more than 25 years as a Christian I do not recall a single hour of broken fellowship with the Lord Jesus.”

He was really shocked at that.

“Do you mean you haven’t sinned in 25 years?” he asked.

“No, that’s not what I mean, I replied. “I have sinned regrettably, I have grieved and quenched the Spirit at times with impatience, anger or some other expression of the flesh. But when I grieve the Spirit, I know exactly what to do. I breathe spiritually. I confess my sin to God and immediately receive His forgiveness and cleansing, and by faith I continue to walk in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit.”

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 12:3-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Realizing that a believer can live a supernatural, holy life only as he yields to the control of the Holy Spirit, I will seek to practice holiness in my personal life and encourage other Christians to do the same.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – See and Sound

 

You’ve seen their photos – American Special Ops, equipped with the latest technology, weapons, communications, and helmet-mounted image intensifiers. Since World War II, no well-equipped soldier is without the latest generation of night vision goggles.

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent.

Isaiah 62:6

God didn’t provide you with natural thermal imaging, but He did bless you with eyes to see and ears to hear for understanding spiritual things. He expects you to be alert to dangers and evil around you and to warn others. In Isaiah’s day, the watchmen on the wall were essential to the survival of the cities. If all a watchman did was view or hear the approaching enemy without sounding the trumpet, it might edify him, but others would be lost.

Today, as then, people of God must assume the watchman’s role. Take a stand, see what’s coming, and sound the warning. The rising tide of sin in America opposing biblical standards threatens to carry the nation away, just as a tsunami swept away parts of Japan two years ago.

When the watchman is on duty, the city has hope. Sharpen your awareness and pray that others will join you in getting hope’s message out across America.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 13:10-17

 

Greg Laurie – Three Reactions to the Gospel

 

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

I have found as I travel that some people are more open to the gospel than others. I never know how it is going to play out, so I just give out the Word of God and invite people to come to Christ. And people will react in different ways.

The apostle Paul received three reactions to the gospel when he preached it: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter. . . .’ However, some men joined him and believed” (Acts 17:32, 34).

We find the same reactions to the gospel today. Some will mock. The term “mocked” used in Acts 17 also could be translated “sneered” or “burst out laughing.” In other words, Are you serious? You actually believe that?

To these educated fools, it all seemed silly and unbelievable. But this very mockery was an indication they were going to perish because “the preaching of the gospel is to them that are perishing foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Some will mock, while others will delay. We will hear you again on this matter. This is a very common reaction. What it actually means is, “I really don’t want to decide right now.” The devil uses this tactic to great effect. Don’t worry about it now. Deal with it later.

But some believed. Some repented and changed their minds, and among them was Dionysius the Areopagite, one of the judges who was an intellectual and ruler of the city.

Here is what I have come to realize. Conversion is God’s job, not mine. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of an unbeliever. God holds us responsible for proclaiming the truth. But the rest is up to Him.

Max Lucado – God’s Workshop

 

I remember knowing kids whose fathers were quite successful.  One was a judge.  The other a prominent physician. I attended church with the son of the mayor.  “My father has an office at the courthouse,” he could claim. Guess what you can claim?  “My Father rules the universe!””

Scripture says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies announce what his hands have made.”  (Pslam 19:1) Nature is God’s workshop.  The sky is his resume.  You want to know who God is?  See what he has done. You want to know his power?  Take a look at his creation.

How vital that we pray, armed with the knowledge that God is in heaven.  Pray with any lesser conviction and your prayers are timid, shallow, and hollow. But spend some time walking in the workshop of the heavens.  Seeing what God has done—seeing what your  Father has done and watch how your prayers are energized!

Charles Stanley – Our Heavenly Existence

 

Thanks to cartoons and movies, many people have the wrong impression about heaven. They imagine gaining wings, donning white robes, strumming a harp, and flying around on clouds. But is that how we’ll spend our time? No. Let’s discover what Scripture says about a few of our activities in heaven.

We will praise and worship the Lord.

Read Revelation 4:1-11. What surprises you about this heavenly scene?

Sometimes believers are guilty of having a worldly concept of worship—mainly that it is boring. But heavenly worship will be more exciting than we can imagine.

When you have a chance to worship the Lord, give Him your full attention. Express your devotion and admiration to Him. You’ll most likely get a taste of how wonderful praise will be in eternity.

Consider how you worship. Which do you resemble more, a participant or a spectator?

Write a prayer, asking the Lord to let you experience more joy in worshipping Him.

We will glorify God.

Is this just another way to say that believers will praise God in heaven? No. According to “Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology”, “glorification” involves first the Christian’s moral perfection, in which the believer is made holy and blameless. Second, the body is made glorious—immortal, imperishable, powerful, and spiritual. Third, glorification includes the Christian’s participation in the kingdom of God, even to the point of reigning with Him. Finally, believers partake of the Lord’s glory (2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 5:10).

On earth, our ability to radiate the indwelling presence of God is limited by our sins and spiritual immaturity. In heaven, those obstacles will be removed. We will shine with all the radiance, beauty, glory, and majesty of the living God.

Why will our inner character be like Christ (1 John 3:2)?

How does Matthew 13:43 describe glorified believers?

We will never fully resemble Jesus this side of heaven. But we should be growing more and more Christ-like as we mature.

We will serve God.

Our Father made us to create, achieve, and serve. In eternity, we’ll be engaged in God-ordained assignments. Before you picture yourself toiling away in misery, remember that work doesn’t have to be tedious, frustrating, or boring.

In the Garden of Eden, God gave man a task (Gen. 2:15). Adam’s job of cultivating the garden was pleasant. But when man sinned, a curse fell on the earth.

What did the curse include, according to Genesis 3:17-19?

What implication does this have regarding work?

What does this verse reveal about the good deeds God calls us to do?

How does this knowledge impact the way you think about serving Him each day?

Describe the life of believers in eternity, according to Revelation 5:9-10.

What two groups will believers judge (1 Cor. 6: 1-3)?

Read Luke 19:16-17. How is the faithful servant rewarded in this passage?

How does one earn the right to “govern” in eternity (Matt. 25:23)?

What has the Lord called you to do with your life?

Does it encourage you to know a reward awaits you for faithfully completing God’s assignments? Why or why not?

In describing our eternal home, Revelation 22:3 says, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him.”

The way we prepare for serving God in heaven is by serving Him now. Together with church attendance, giving, and prayer, service is an important expression of our devotion to the Lord.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

If you are unsure about how God wants you to serve, pray about it. Each morning, ask Him to guide you into the good deeds He’s prepared for you.

We will reign with God.

You already know that we won’t be idle in heaven. Does it surprise you to know we will rule with the Lord?

It’s not clear from Scripture what our reign will include. But the level of responsibility given to us will be proportional to how faithfully we serve while on earth.

Remember the parable about a master who entrusted money to three servants? The money symbolized a person’s time, talents, and other possessions. According to how each servant invested the money, he was rewarded or punished (Luke 19:11-27).

Closing: Heaven will be far more exciting than we can imagine. In this brief study, we haven’t been able to address everything God’s Word says about it. So, as you read your Bible, particularly Revelation 4-5 and 21-22, watch for descriptions of our eternal home.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the amazing glimpses of heaven You gave us in Your Word. Help us remember this world is not our eternal home. We want to be faithful, obedient stewards, fulfilling Your calling on our lives. Amen.

 

Our Daily Bread – Knee-Deep In Daffodils

 

Luke 24:13-34

The Lord is risen indeed! —Luke 24:34

When the first flowers of spring bloomed in our yard, my 5-year-old son waded into a patch of daffodils. He noticed some debris from plants that had expired months before and remarked, “Mom, when I see something dead, it reminds me of Easter because Jesus died on the cross.” I replied, “When I see something alive—like the daffodils—it reminds me that Jesus came back to life!”

One reason we know Jesus rose from the grave is that, according to the gospel of Luke, He approached two travelers headed to Emmaus 3 days after His crucifixion. Jesus walked with them; He ate dinner with them; He even gave them a lesson in Old Testament prophecy (24:15-27). This encounter showed the travelers that Jesus conquered the grave—He had risen from the dead. As a result, the pair returned to Jerusalem and told the disciples, “The Lord is risen indeed!” (v.34).

If Jesus had not come back to life, our faith as Christians would be pointless, and we would still be under the penalty of our sin (1 Cor. 15:17). However, the Bible tells us that Jesus “was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25 niv). Today, we can be right with God because Jesus is alive!

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;

I know that He is living, whatever men may say.

I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,

And just the time I need Him He’s always near.

—Alfred Ackley © Renewal 1961. The Rodeheaver Company

The empty cross and the empty tomb provide a full salvation.

Alistair Begg – Weep for His Pain

 

With his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

Pilate delivered our Lord to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were intertwined among the sinews, so that every time the lash came down, these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Savior was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this from the Roman soldiers was probably the most severe of His flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over His poor, stricken body.

Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon Him without tears as He stands before you, the mirror of agonizing love? He is at once fair as the lily for innocence and red as the rose with the crimson of His own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing that His stripes have wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus, surely we must feel that affection glowing now within our hearts.

See how the patient Jesus stands,

Insulted in His lowest case!

Sinners have bound the Almighty’s hands,

And spit in their Creator’s face.

With thorns His temples gor’d and gash’d

Send streams of blood from every part;

His back’s with knotted scourges lash’d.

But sharper scourges tear His heart.

We may long to go to our bedrooms and weep; but since our business calls us away, we will first ask the Lord Jesus to print the image of His bleeding self upon the tablets of our hearts all the day, and at nightfall we will return to commune with Him and sorrow that our sin should have cost Him so dearly.

Charles Spurgeon – The march

 

“And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.” Numbers 10:35

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Chronicles 20:1-30

“Rise up, Lord, Father, Son, and Spirit, we can do nothing without thee; but if thou wilt arise, thine enemies shall be scattered, and they that hate thee shall flee before thee.” Will you and I go home and pray this prayer by ourselves, fervently laying hold upon the horns of God’s altar? I charge you, my brethren in Christ, do not neglect this private duty. Go, each one of you, to your chambers; shut your doors; cry to him who hears in secret, and let this be the burden of your cry—“Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered.” And at your altars tonight, when your families are gathered together, still let the same cry ring up to heaven. And then tomorrow, and all the days of the week, and as often as we shall meet together to hear his word and to break bread, cry, “Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.” Pray for your children, your neighbours, your families, and your friends, and let your prayer be—“Rise up, Lord; rise up, Lord.” Pray for this neighbourhood; pray for the dense darkness of Southwark, and Walworth, and Lambeth. And oh! If you cannot pray for others because your own needs come so strongly before your mind, remember sinner, all you need is by faith to look to Christ, and then you can say, “Rise up, Lord; scatter my doubts; kill my unbelief; drown my sins in thy blood; let these thine enemies be scattered; let them that hate thee flee before thee.”

For meditation: This call to prayer, which comes at the very end of the “New Park Street Pulpit” reminds us of some important lessons—the battle is the Lord’s, the armour is God’s, but the responsibility to pray still rests with us, God’s people (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Sermon no. 368

31 March (1861)

John MacArthur – Applying the Disciples’ Prayer

 

“Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:13).

The implications of the Disciples’ Prayer are profound and far-reaching. An unknown author put it this way:

I cannot say “our” if I live only for myself in a spiritual, watertight compartment. I cannot say “Father” if I do not endeavor each day to act like His child. I cannot say “who art in heaven” if I am laying up no treasure there.

I cannot say “hallowed be Thy name” if I am not striving for holiness. I cannot say “Thy kingdom come” if I am not doing all in my power to hasten that wonderful day. I cannot say “Thy will be done” if I am disobedient to His Word. I cannot say “in earth as it is in heaven” if I will not serve Him here and now.

I cannot say “give us . . . our daily bread” if I am dishonest or an “under the counter” shopper. I cannot say “forgive us our debts” if I harbor a grudge against anyone. I cannot say “lead us not into temptation” if I deliberately place myself in its path. I cannot say “deliver us from evil” if I do not put on the whole armor of God.

I cannot say “thine is the kingdom” if I do not give to the King the loyalty due Him as a faithful subject. I cannot attribute to Him “the power” if I fear what men may do. I cannot ascribe to Him “the glory” if I am seeking honor only for myself. I cannot say “forever” if the horizon of my life is bounded completely by the things of time.

As you learn to apply to your own life the principles in this marvelous prayer, I pray that God’s kingdom will be your focus, His glory your goal, and His power your strength. Only then will our Lord’s doxology be the continual song of your heart: “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (v. 13).

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to use what you’ve learned from the Disciples’ Prayer to transform your prayers.

For Further Study: Read John 17, noting the priorities Jesus stressed in prayer.

 

Joyce Meyer – Operate in Wisdom

 

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)! —Romans 11:33

Without wisdom we can make poor decisions and later wonder why we didn’t pray first. It is wise to seek God early each day before we start making decisions in order to know ahead of time what we ought to do, and then to receive the grace to do it. Wisdom keeps us from a life of regret.

Jesus operated in wisdom. When others went home to rest, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to spend time with God. And early in the morning (at dawn), He came back into the temple and taught people (see John 7:53–8:2). Jesus always spent time with the Father before facing the crowds. If Jesus needed time with God, we need even more time with Him. Walk in wisdom today.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – To Encourage Us

 

“These things that were written in the Scriptures so long ago are to teach us patience and to encourage us, so that we will look forward expectantly to the time when God will conquer sin and death” (Romans 15:4).

Tom had a “short fuse” and frequently exploded in anger when he was disappointed with himself or others. Then he received Christ and began to study the Word of God, obey its commands and walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

His life began to change, gradually at first, until, as he told me recently, it has now been a long time since he has allowed his old nature to express his impatience.

The story is told of an impatient man who prayed and kept praying for God to grant him the virtue he so desperately needed.

“Lord,” he prayed, “give me patience, and give it to me now!”

Patience, however, is a virtue that is developmental in nature, to a large degree. It is the result of walking in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). It develops out of a good heart and a godly attitude (Luke 8:15). It is spawned sometimes during times of tribulation. Remember, it is a fruit of the Spirit.

Paul writes, “If we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently” (Romans 8:25).

So patience comes from hope and trust in God. And finally, we learn patience through the study and personal application of God’s Word in our lives, as suggested in Romans 15:4, “These things that were written in the Scriptures so long ago are to teach us patience and to encourage us.”

Bible Reading: Romans 15:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  When delays and seeming denials occur, I will exercise patience, with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – Head in the Clouds

 

“There’s a sheep!” and “I see an elephant!” are shouts heard from some kids on a summer afternoon as they reclined in the grass, looked up at the sky and made a game of naming the clouds. What was fun as a child, though, is serious business for scientists. The major cloud types meteorologists use today, such as the poofy storm clouds called “cumulus,” are named to identify and help forecast coming weather.

The Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:30

Today’s scripture tells of another new type of cloud that’ll be seen someday – the “clouds of heaven” that will carry Christ when He returns. They’re described in Daniel 7:13, Mark 13:26 and Luke 21:27…and on these clouds Christ will appear and use His resurrection power to raise the dead in Christ and those living to meet Him in the air.

Will you be able to identify these clouds when they appear? Pray today you will “be ready” (Matthew 24:44) when Jesus returns. Do all you can to make sure others you love are ready, too. Intercede also on this Easter Sunday for the country’s leaders to believe in and call on God’s resurrection power to bring new life to their lives and help them address the piercing needs of the nation.

Recommended Reading: I Thessalonians 4:16-5:11

Charles Stanley – Because He Is Risen

 

1 Corinthians 15:20-23

Jesus is alive. He was resurrected from the dead and lives in heaven, interceding on our behalf. Because He is risen, we can have confidence that . . .

• Our sins are forgiven. Jesus came into this world to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). Through His death on the cross, the debt for our iniquities has been paid completely. We are a forgiven people.

• The Lord is actively involved in our lives. Jesus made many promises to His followers of all generations. He pledged that those who abide in Him and do His will would bear much fruit for God’s kingdom, enjoy spiritual blessings, and have guidance from the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is ever-present (Matt. 5:1-12; John 15:5).

Jesus spoke several times about the power of prayer for those who believe—we have assurance that our petitions will be heard and answered. When our requests are in accordance with the Lord’s will, we’ll receive what we have asked for (1 John 5:14-15).

Jesus gave His word that He would prepare a place for us in heaven and return one day to bring us to our everlasting home. Then we will live with Him forever. We can face each day secure in the knowledge of these truths. We can face each day secure in the knowledge of these truths.

Because Jesus has accomplished all this for us, He deserves our steadfast allegiance. Our worldview is to be framed by His life and words. We must stand firm and not compromise when the world tries to draw us away. Honor our risen Savior by following Him wholeheartedly (1 Cor. 15:58).

Our Daily Bread – You Can Beat It!

 

Matthew 28:1-10

O Death, where is your sting? —1 Corinthians 15:55

The radio ad for an upcoming seminar sounded intriguing. The announcer said, “You can beat death—for good! Attend my seminar and I’ll show you how.” I wondered for a few moments what the speaker would claim could beat death and what his suggestions might be. Perhaps something about diet or exercise or freezing our bodies? After listening a little longer, though, I realized he had said, “You can beat debt—for good.”

The most wonderful news is that we can beat death because Jesus paid our debt! (1 Cor. 15:55-57). Our debt of sin meant separation from God, but Jesus willingly gave up His life and was crucified on a cross to pay what we owed. As Mary Magdalene and another Mary went to the tomb on the third day to anoint His body, an angel told them: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said” (Matt. 28:6). With great joy they ran to bring His disciples the word. On their way, Jesus met them and said, “Rejoice!” (v.9). Jesus had risen, and His followers had reason for rejoicing.

Jesus has removed the sting of death (1 Cor. 15:55). Now we too have victory by believing in the Son of God’s death and resurrection for us. Through Jesus’ perfect work, we can beat death—for good!

Dear Lord, thank You for sacrificing Your life for our

sins so that we might live. We’re thankful that because

You died and rose again, we can have assurance that

one day we’ll be with You in a place of no more death.

We owed a debt we couldn’t pay; Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – When Forgiveness Is Impossible

 

In war-torn relationships of Northern Uganda, forgiveness is complicated. Betty was a teenager when her village was raided by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel army known for its brutal tactics and widespread human rights violations. She was kidnapped as a sex slave for a commander and ordered to commit callous acts of violence as a child soldier, until gradually she was broken and became an active member of the LRA.

After six years of bloodshed, however, Betty managed to escape, running across the country to freedom. But coming home would not be a simple matter of returning. She had committed violence against the very people she hoped to rejoin. Her own guilt and shame was as palpable as the mistrust and anger of her village. In her absence, two of her own brothers had been killed by the same army Betty fought alongside.

In the midst of such loss, with so many permanent scars, forgiveness might seem hopeful, but naïve at best. Is reconciliation even to be desired when brokenness is so irreversible? Does forgiveness cease to be hopeful when neither party can ever be the same again? From where I stand, these are painful questions to even begin to answer.

But the people of Uganda are trying. For hundreds and hundreds of children like Betty, terrorized by crimes they were forced to commit and returning home to terrorized villages, tribal elders have adapted a ceremony to make it possible for both. In a ceremony that includes the act of breaking and stepping on an egg and an opobo branch, the returnee is cleansed from the things he or she has done while away. The egg symbolizes innocent life, and by breaking and placing themselves in its broken substance, returnees declare before their village their desire to be restored to the way they used to be. In a final step over a pole, the returnees step into new life. In many cases, women returnees come home with babies who were born in the bush, usually a result of rape. When they arrive at the broken egg, the child’s foot is placed in the substance, too. The spirit of reconciliation, like warfare, must touch everyone.

In a single week, Christians around the world remember the last moments of Jesus, the betrayals and predictions, the march to crucifixion, his burial on Good Friday, the silence of Holy Saturday, and the terror and amazement of Easter Sunday. In a week, we are reminded how the disciples failed him miserably, falling asleep when he needed them most in prayer, denying ever knowing him as he was convicted for being himself, watching him die alone from a distance. In a single week, Christians move from recognizing ourselves in this list of failures to sensing the hopeful confusion of the disciples, the overwhelm of Thomas, and the timid longing of the women at the tomb. In a single week, we move from complete despair to shocking hope, total darkness to surprising light, the finality of death to the reordering of reality, from broken and sinful to restored and somehow forgiven.

In this solitary week, Christians remember a story that should make the bold and touching forgiveness of war-torn Ugandans seem natural, expected, and necessary, however shocking or complicated or slow-coming it might be. After the egg-breaking ceremony with her village, Betty went from rebel to ex-rebel, from shamed to restored. “I feel cleansed,” she said of the ceremony. After a day of being welcomed and celebrated, she adds, “Some of the bad things in my heart: they are gone.”(1) Alex Boraine, deputy chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, notes of such radical forgiveness: “[With its] uncomfortable commitment to bringing the perpetrator back into the family, Africa has something to say to the world.”(2)

Indeed, it might. And so does Christ. In one eventful, holy week, we remember the ugly depths of our sin and stare into the deep scars of the servant who bore it away. This utter shift in our condition is as overwhelming as this Good Friday, as disquieting as Holy Saturday, and as inconceivable as Easter Sunday. But it is our ceremony. Christ is broken, we are covered in his blood, and we emerge as dead men and women walking. How beyond our knowing, how inexplicable is this gift. Yet because it was given, in a single week, we can claim again the mystery; we can claim the power of reconciliation; we can claim Christ, who moves us from perpetrator to family.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Abe McLaughlin, “Africa After War: Paths To Forgiveness—Ugandans Welcome ‘Terrorists’ Back” International Center for Transitional Justice, October 23, 2006.

(2) Ibid.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

 

Morning  “He was numbered with the transgressors.” / Isaiah 53:12

Why did Jesus suffer himself to be enrolled amongst sinners? This wonderful  condescension was justified by many powerful reasons. In such a character he  could the better become their advocate. In some trials there is an  identification of the counsellor with the client, nor can they be looked upon  in the eye of the law as apart from one another. Now, when the sinner is  brought to the bar, Jesus appears there himself. He stands to answer the  accusation. He points to his side, his hands, his feet, and challenges Justice  to bring anything against the sinners whom he represents; he pleads his blood,  and pleads so triumphantly, being numbered with them and having a part with  them, that the Judge proclaims, “Let them go their way; deliver them from  going down into the pit, for he hath found a ransom.” Our Lord Jesus was  numbered with the transgressors in order that they might feel their hearts  drawn towards him. Who can be afraid of one who is written in the same list  with us? Surely we may come boldly to him, and confess our guilt. He who is  numbered with us cannot condemn us. Was he not put down in the transgressor’s  list that we might be written in the red roll of the saints? He was holy, and  written among the holy; we were guilty, and numbered among the guilty; he  transfers his name from yonder list to this black indictment, and our names  are taken from the indictment and written in the roll of acceptance, for there  is a complete transfer made between Jesus and his people. All our estate of  misery and sin Jesus has taken; and all that Jesus has comes to us. His  righteousness, his blood, and everything that he hath he gives us as our  dowry. Rejoice, believer, in your union to him who was numbered among the  transgressors; and prove that you are truly saved by being manifestly numbered  with those who are new creatures in him.

 

Evening  “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.” / Lamentations  3:40

The spouse who fondly loves her absent husband longs for his return; a long  protracted separation from her lord is a semi-death to her spirit: and so with  souls who love the Saviour much, they must see his face, they cannot bear that  he should be away upon the mountains of Bether, and no more hold communion  with them. A reproaching glance, an uplifted finger will be grievous to loving  children, who fear to offend their tender father, and are only happy in his  smile. Beloved, it was so once with you. A text of Scripture, a threatening, a  touch of the rod of affliction, and you went to your Father’s feet, crying,  “Show me wherefore thou contendest with me?” Is it so now? Are you content to  follow Jesus afar off? Can you contemplate suspended communion with Christ  without alarm? Can you bear to have your Beloved walking contrary to you,  because you walk contrary to him? Have your sins separated between you and  your God, and is your heart at rest? O let me affectionately warn you, for it  is a grievous thing when we can live contentedly without the present enjoyment  of the Saviour’s face. Let us labour to feel what an evil thing this  is–little love to our own dying Saviour, little joy in our precious Jesus,  little fellowship with the Beloved! Hold a true Lent in your souls, while you  sorrow over your hardness of heart. Do not stop at sorrow! Remember where you  first received salvation. Go at once to the cross. There, and there only, can  you get your spirit quickened. No matter how hard, how insensible, how dead we  may have become, let us go again in all the rags and poverty, and defilement  of our natural condition. Let us clasp that cross, let us look into those  languid eyes, let us bathe in that fountain filled with blood–this will bring  back to us our first love; this will restore the simplicity of our faith, and  the tenderness of our heart.

Alistair Begg – Jesus Our Counselor

 

He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors.  Isaiah 53:12

Why did Jesus cause Himself to be enrolled among sinners? This wonderful condescension was justified by many powerful reasons. By doing so He could better become their advocate. In some trials there is an identification of the counselor with the client, nor can they be looked upon in the eye of the law as separate from each other. Now, when the sinner is brought to the bench, Jesus appears there Himself. He stands to answer the accusation. He points to His side, His hands, His feet, and challenges Justice to bring anything against the sinners whom He represents. He pleads His blood, and pleads so triumphantly, being numbered with them and having a part with them, that the Judge proclaims, “Let them go, deliver them from the pit, for He has provided a ransom.”

Our Lord Jesus was numbered with the transgressors in order that they might feel their hearts drawn toward Him. Who can be afraid of one whose name appears on the same list with us? Surely we may come boldly to Him and confess our guilt. He who is numbered with us cannot condemn us. Was He not entered in the transgressor’s list that we might be written in the red roll of the saints? He was holy and written among the holy; we were guilty and numbered among the guilty. He transfers His name from that list to this dark indictment, and our names are taken from the indictment and written in the roll of acceptance, for there is a complete transfer made between Jesus and His people.

All our condition of misery and sin Jesus has taken; and all that Jesus has comes to us. His righteousness, His blood, and everything that He has He gives us as our dowry. Rejoice, believer, in your union to Him who was numbered among the transgressors; and prove that you are truly saved by being clearly identified with those who are new creatures in Him.