"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
“Beauty for Ashes”: A Resurrection Not Forgotten
By now, we have all figured out that things just aren’t normal in much of the world right now. People are sick, many more are hunkered down in their homes, business vacant, and the world economic system seems to be in total shock at this moment. As we go from a Good Friday that we would normally be out celebrating with our families as a group, to eating take out around the kitchen tables with our immediate household only, we can’t lose hope. Right now, hope is the greatest reason for us to be joyful in this moment. However, we must ask ourselves, “shouldn’t we have prioritized this reason to be joyful before now?” Why did it take a moment of solitude and loneliness for us to reflect on how good God is just based on the fact that He has offered us eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The truth of the matter is, there is nothing God can’t turn around. Although our economies seem to be in ruins, people around the world are dying, and many millions are unemployed, there is hope for us if we trust and believe in Christ. Picture a forest fire. Unfortunately, much of the world is going or has been through that fire already. While the world may seem as if it lay in ashes and burned to the ground with all hope lost, there is that remnant bit of trees off in the distance that no one can see. It is amazing what happens to a forest when left alone after a burn. After a couple of weeks, small tree saplings begin to burst forth from the ground. They come from the remnant trees that remain off in the distance carried by wind, bird, or buried in shelter from the consuming flames. As a matter of fact, the ashes that remain in the dirt contain elements vital to plant growth and nourishment that help propel that young tree in its early stages. My friends, if we can just believe and have the faith of a mustard seed today, that God can turn these horrible situations around, nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37). Out there where we can’t see someone somewhere is praying for you. Although you can’t see or hear it, there is a body who believes that God not only wants to see you prosper, He has also promised that if we “shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).
God not only longs to heal our land, but He also longs to heal our hearts. See, the promise begins with humility and seeking the face of God. If we will repent of our wrongdoings and turn away from those things to God, His heart and promise requires Him to restore us.
John 3:16 (KJV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This repentance and returning our focus back upon the Lord not only works for those who are lost, but restores the believer as well! Many of us may have proclaimed to have been saved for years, but did we live continually with our hearts and minds upon Him? That is His desire for us today. Romans 10:9 tells us that the Greatest Commandment given by Jesus himself was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Notice he didn’t say to just believe, but to love Him “with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” I must say that like many, I am guilty of violating this simple commandment at times by not giving Him my undivided attention. So, as we attend our convenient drive-in and online services this Resurrection Sunday, let us not forget that none of this awesome life we have been given and a hope for an eternal life afterwards would have been possible without the great sacrifice that Christ has provided for us.
As we remember, let us not leave it there, but understand that God is not finished with us yet. If He wished to destroy this world or end it as we know it, He would do it faster than we could imagine. We do not know the day or hour (Matt. 25:13), but we know that until that moment, we have a job to do. The fact that we are still here tells us that He has a work for us to do and He will complete it (Phil. 1:6). Although we lay in a nearly barren economy at the moment compared to the fruitful months that preceded this sickness, we serve a God who not only can restore, but can raise from the dead! Like the forest that can be healed and return in abundance fuller and more beautiful than before, God can do the same for us! If the hope of a tomorrow with our Lord and Savior weren’t enough, I leave you with a Word of our Lord to Israel during a time of testing. As you spend time with your loved ones this Resurrection Sunday, take time and remember the Lord and all He has placed in your heart to do. There is a work that must be continued until the whole world hears (Matt. 24:14) that HE IS RISEN!
Isaiah 61 (KJV)
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
7 For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
8 For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.