For those who prayed for me two weeks ago, I thank you. God gave me the strength to get through the song, though I can't say it was my best, and to speak the words He gave me for our congregation. I have since received thank you cards and many hugs from those who heard what was said and took it to heart as well as those who have been praying the same things for our church. My prayer is for all who were there to hear from God as to what they should do with the words He spoke.
This week is a very special one for me. I love Christmas. The beginning is very important to remember. But for me Resurrection weekend is the highlight of my year. It's the time when we corporately celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I don't call it "Easter" because it has nothing to do with eggs, rabbits, and a goddess from a pagan religion. Don't get me wrong. I like seeing all the cute decorations and our kiddos have been to many egg hunts. I'm certainly not fanatical about it. I DO want our kids to know the REAL meaning of this weekend and not the world's version.
It's about the death of the Passover Lamb. He was spotless, had no sin. He healed sick and blind people while always teaching a way of peace which made little sense to those around Him. It's about power. Those who had it did NOT want to relinquish a moment of it. So they killed Him thinking death would end it all. They did not realize they were still carrying out the perfect plan of the Father God. His will prevailed and on the third day Christ Jesus rose from the dead.
He took on the sins of the world. ALL of them whether we accept it or not. He was separted from the Father. I believe this is the real hell. To have no contact with my Daddy...I cannot fathom the despair. He took on the pain, shame and debt of my sins so that I might be made holy and blameless before my Daddy. He cried out, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing," and knew it was not only for those right that minute who tormented Him, but for ALL of us who go against what He's asked of us. He didn't need us to ask for the forgiveness in order to want to give it. He wanted us to be at peace with Him and with each other.
We read in Romans 12:18 "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." And then in Ephesians 6:12 we read, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."
When we fight with one another, not being rooted in Christ's love and peace, we grieve the Holy Spirit. We are CALLED to be at peace with ALL men. We tend to find disputable matters to argue about which truly have nothing to do with the reality that we are supposed to turn angry words away with gentle ones according to Proverbs 15:1. Yet, too often we go on the attack and say things which wound deeply and the enemy WINS. He divides and hurts and causes bitterness to separate those who are Christ's. We decide that someone else isn't being the Christian they should be and we turn a cold shoulder to them. Is that what CHRIST, the Savior Who, while writhing in abject PAIN on a cross begged His Father to forgive those causing His torment, would do? Who then are we to do it to others when we claim we want to be conformed to His perfect image?
The time is coming soon when our Lord will come back with a shout and take all of His bride home. He will currently find backbiting, anger, bitterness and wrath. All those things which Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us, EXPRESSLY, to get rid of..."Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
And yes, I've heard the argument that we are only supposed to forgive those who have asked for it. I tell you to re-read Christ's words on the cross. NOWHERE do those who punished Him ask for forgiveness and yet He did not withold it. THAT is our example. NOT what the enemy would have us do which is holding onto the very things we are CALLED to get rid of so we can live righteously for Christ. Scripture tells us that those who are not yet believers will know us by our love, one for another. I look at my own family and don't see it. There's more bitterness and wrath swirling than a tornado in some cases. Yet they feel justified because they've been hurt. And satan wins. My heart breaks as I watch the patterns being played out over and over. Honestly, none of us want to hear that the forgiveness isn't actually FOR the other person. It's for US. It's so that WE are in a right relationship with Christ. If there's any of that mess in our hearts, then that's less of HIM in our heart. How sad!
During this time of Passover week and Resurrection weekend my prayer is for reconciliation, for my family who desperately need it from one end to the other, and for yours. For the body of Christ to rise up and BE what Christ calls us to be! United in HIM. Loving each other as Christ loved His church and GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER. We don't love others that way, do we? Why not? Who's helping to keep us in the misery that is bitterness, anger, wrath and malice? Think about who's side you are on and Who's side you WANT to be on.
May the peace of Christ reign in your life and may this mean a radical change in how you deal with others. Remembering our struggle is NOT against the people, but against a common enemy who longs for us to be destroyed.