Saturday, April 19, 2014

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

          “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Those words have an edge to them. There is a rebuke in them. Truly the women, who came to the tomb of Jesus, were looking for someone who was dead, not someone who was alive. Think about them on that first Easter morning. Because they did not have enough time to properly prepare Jesus’ dead body for burial on the first Good Friday, these women had purchased spices with which to finish the task once the Sabbath ended. So early on Sunday morning, the women got up and, carrying the spices they had purchased, set out for the tomb. As they walked, they began to talk about the stone that had been placed in front of the tomb and sealed with Pilate’s own seal. They wondered who would take it away.
          When they arrived, they found the tomb open. With great grief they looked into the tomb. Then to their great surprise, an angel greeted them and asked them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” In other words, “Why do you act as though the Savior were still dead?” The words contained a rebuke, a rebuke for their lack of faith, a rebuke for living as though Jesus were still dead.
          We too deserve this rebuke. Like those women, we carry around needless burdens. We often carry around needless burdens of guilt and shame because of our sins. We act as though Jesus were still dead and, therefore, we are still in our sins.
          Like the women, we worry and fret about things when we really have nothing to worry about. The women fretted about the stone and who would roll it away. How often don’t we worry about the ‘stones’ that stand in our way? We live as though Jesus were still dead.
          The women came to the cemetery with great grief. They came expecting to find a dead body. We too often stand in the cemetery and think only of the deaths of those we love and of our own deaths that are to come. We act as though Jesus were still dead.
          Why do you look for the living among the dead? When he sees us bearing needless burdens, fretting and worrying our way through life, grieving over loved ones who have fallen asleep in Jesus, and when he sees us letting sin get a foothold in our lives, the Lord asks us too through his angel, “Why do you live as though I were still dead?” We have a risen Lord! Jesus, who was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised again for our justification. We have a risen Lord who has broken the power of the grave so that we can look forward to rising from the dead with our loved ones one day. We have a risen Lord who gives us the power to say “no” to sin. Let’s not live as though Jesus were dead; we have a risen Lord.

There is no reason to live in fear.

          Many years ago, the children of Israel were faced with a challenge.  They were ready to enter the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.  The problem was that it was inhabited by many powerful nations.  All over the land there were fortified cities.  This was the land God had promised to Abraham and his descendants.
After crossing the Jordan River, they came face to face with the city of Jericho.  It was a city surrounded by two great walls.  One wall, I read, was six feet thick and thirty feet high.  The inner wall was twelve feet thick.  The walls were so large, people built their houses on top of them.  Jericho was the first step Israel had to face in its conquest of the Promised Land.
From a human viewpoint, things did not look good.  How would they penetrate these walls?  How would the ensuing battle go? They weren’t warriors! They were slaves, nomads, shepherds, many things, but, not warriors. Joshua, their leader, had never commanded an army. I’m sure these Israelites were filled with fear.
Their fears must have increased even more when they heard about God’s plan of attack. God told the Israelites to march around the city once each day for six days.  On the seventh day they were to march around it seven times.  The priests were to blow their horns and the people were to shout.  Then, God said, the walls will fall down.
Put yourself in their shoes.  How foolish they must have looked to the people of Jericho!  How many doubts and fears must have filled their hearts.
Are God's promises to us any less spectacular?  Are they any easier to believe?  Are the foes we face any less threatening? Whether it is a terrorist’s attack or a bout with cancer, we must put our trust in God. God says that all things will work for the good of those who love him.  He says that all who believe in him will live and never die.  He says that he has given his angels charge over us to keep us from danger.  Are these promises any good? Certainly, God gave them to us.
It all comes down to faith.  The Israelites did what God told them to do and the walls of Jericho came crashing down.  (Read Joshua 6.)  As we grasp God's promises in faith, we too, will be the recipient of God's blessings and realize the fulfillment of his promises.
Trust in God, believing that our sins are forgiven, faith that we have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, knowing with certainty that we shall rise from the grave and live with God in heaven for all eternity, they all rest on the promises of God. As you deal with the problems of life, put your faith in God, his Word and promises. You will not be disappointed.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

“I will never leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrew 13:5

       “For some, the presence of difficulties and suffering in the world mean that God is punishing them for something. But for others, it is the sign that God is not able to do anything about the problems they face. Others wonder if he simply does not care.
William Frey, retired Episcopal bishop from Colorado, tells the following story: “When I was a younger man, I volunteered to read to a degree student named John who was blind. One day I asked him, “How did you lose your sight?” “A chemical explosion,” John said, “at the age of thirteen.” “How did that make you feel?” I asked. “Life was over. I felt helpless. I hated God,” John responded. “For the first six months I did nothing to improve my lot in life. I would eat all my meals alone in my room.
One day my father entered my room and said, ‘John, winter’s coming and the storm windows need to be up — that’s your job. I want those hung by the time I get back this evening or else!’ Then he turned, walked out of the room and slammed the door. I got so angry. I thought Who does he think I am? I’m blind! I was so angry I decided to do it. I felt my way to the garage, found the windows, located the necessary tools, found the ladder, all the while muttering under my breath, ‘I’ll show them. I’ll fall, then they’ll have a blind and paralyzed son!’” John continued, “I got the windows up. I found out later that never at any moment was my father more than four or five feet away from my side.” In the same way, Jesus did not promise to spare us, but he did promise to be with us: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).”
I recently ran across this article on the intranet and wanted to share it with you. To sum up, we should never doubt God’s love. If God loved us enough to give us his Son as our Savior, why would he hesitate to give anything else we need? What blessing would he withhold? When tragedy or trials come, don’t doubt God’s love for you, his presence in your life. His goal is always to bless you. His goal is that you spend eternity with him in glory. Praise be to the Lord!