“and (Jesus) through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:4).
What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to us? Surely it means that we have a hope that when we die, we will be given a new body and receive eternal life in God’s new heaven and new earth. But what does this resurrection hope mean for us now – before we come to the end of our lives?
It means that on this earth, the things we do, the things we gather, the people we are, have an eternal perspective. Yes we work, perhaps raise families, gain possessions and learn to live in the world. But these things are not where all of our hope and identity are found. We live, but we know that our true hope is found in the things God has prepared for us, these other things will pass away.
This means that when things go wrong in our lives, we are not crushed because our hope lies secure in the future God has for us. It actually means that there is no situation in our lives that are hopeless.
Death, sickness, starving nations, violence, wars and sadness are real issues for us but they don’t have the last word, because Jesus was raised from the dead!
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:2-3).
It is when our enemies ‘loom large’ that we most need to hear these words. We face times where many situations of life seem to be crushing and defeating us and we wonder where hope can come from. Everything seems shaky and unreliable and there is no strength or wisdom left in us anymore.
But it is at this point that we are ready to receive the wonderful truth; our hearts are prepared for that incomparable gift of God – faith.
He is our rock. When the waters of frustration and pain rise around us, when nothing within us or around us is reliable, He is firm beneath our feet. Our feet will not slip because they are on Him. Despite the seeming impossibility, we will not be washed away for He is holding us.
He is our Saviour and deliverer. He saves us from all the wiles of evil – even that which springs from our own sinful nature.
When all else is gone, we can call on Him. He is all we have and He is all we need – He alone can save us.
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” (Lamentations 3:19-20).
As Jeremiah meditates on his afflictions and wanderings he becomes downcast and loses his hope and joy. The devil aims to keep the whole world for ever in this misery of spirit – in guilt, shame and frustration. The sinful nature offers nothing but empty distractions to this turmoil.
Jeremiah continues, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:21-23).
He has to ‘call to mind’ the Lord’s great love and compassion. He has to call them by faith because such glorious blessings cannot come from the human heart. These blessings from God renew us every morning from our downcast state – they go on bringing life and peace.
When your life becomes a hopeless mess, rather than using your fading strength to try to drag yourself out, lift your eyes to the God of grace and mercy. He alone can bring salvation and restoration for the troubled heart. He heals with His forgiveness and acceptance pouring out His Holy Spirit on all who call on His name.
“For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.” (Romans 13:3).
The rulers of the world lead using the fear of punishment. They use fines, jail, school detentions, taxes etc to drive people into line. The fear of punishment working with the human conscience is a powerful way to control us.
In light of this, it’s easy to see God as the ultimate one who rules in the same way. He is seen as one with the harshest punishments, the angriest disposition, and the one who uses fear to always give people what they deserve!
Our Father is not like the rulers of this world. He pursues people with His love, His kindness leads us to repentance, His love constrains us from doing evil, and through Jesus He actually sets our consciences free. We live in the freedom of the knowledge that we are children of God.
When we were our most rebellious and hateful He sent His Son to die for us. He gives us His Spirit to empower us to walk in His ways.
Ultimately, God will judge all humanity but His just judgements have been borne by Jesus for all who will believe in Him.
“Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might…….Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” (Psalm 54:1+4).
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that God is simply our ‘help’ but not the one who gives us everything for life and salvation – at every moment.
We can see Him as one who assists us, gives us power to do what we desire, who gives us that extra bit of strength we need to overcome sin and to fulfill our dreams. In this case God is not the centre of our life, rather, we are! He is there to empower our selfishness and to ‘make a difference’. Living like this will end up treating God as a help for our sinful nature – our flesh.
He is more than simply our advantage, He is our salvation. He doesn’t just give us power to fulfil our dreams, in His salvation He puts our own dreams to death and brings us to the life of His Spirit.
His Spirit helps us by bringing His sanctifying work which puts to death our flesh and brings us to faith. Faith: that blessed place of life where we rely on Him for everything, where we trust Him for every ounce of righteousness and holiness, where we see every good thing we have has come totally from Him. Dead to ourselves, with His help, we truly live!
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17).
Many things confront us in our days, things that bring discouragement, pain, frustration and anger. Lots of times we are reminded of our failures and sins, of our lack of control, of our frailty, our fears.
As Israel looked to their future God gave them wonderful promises – promises not based on what the future looked like from a human perspective. Our Father gives heavenly promises and if we take them to heart they will wipe away our momentary troubles:
“He is always with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Can blessings this great be found anywhere else in our lives? Is there anything as rich and full as these?
Dear brothers and sisters, find your peace and delight in Him, He’s good for it! “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).
“What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3:25-26).
Job is in a place where his greatest fears have actually happened. He is gutted and does not have the strength to continue – all is turmoil and pain.
Sometimes in life we come to the absolute end of ourselves. We don’t have the strength nor the will to keep going. It is not true that we will always have the strength to endure what is placed before us! Rather, it is true that God has the strength to carry us through those times, when we are powerless.
On the cross Jesus prayed, “Into your hands I commit my spirit”. He had nothing left but to die, but in that moment He had complete trust in His Father – who could raise Him from death.
At the end of ourselves our only hope is in Him, but He can do all things – and He loves us. Trust/faith in Him is the only thing that can get us through so look again to Him who gives us strength.
Job said in the end, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:2, 4-5). We need Him!
“the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7).
Men and women are not like other animals, the very nature and life of God is breathed into them. They are spiritual beings because they have His Spirit in them and so they are created in His image. It is truly glorious to be human as we go on receiving our life, identity and very being from God our Father.
But Adam (and every person since) sought to find his life outside of God – from himself. And so he lived in unGodlikeness turning from love to lies, violence, hatred and faithlessness thinking that would be a better way to be. But in rebelling against God he also rebelled against his own self. And so mankind is lost and always looking to ‘find himself’ by himself.
Jesus is called the second Adam and, unlike the first, He lived perfectly in the glorious image of God – He was just like His Father. Central to that nature of God was grace and love. Jesus displayed this true glory by suffering and dying for those who hated both Him and the glorious image He lived in. But in that act, He restored the glory to humanity to all who would trust in Him and again live by the glorious Spirit of God.
“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Peter 1:2).
As we look at our lives we are tempted at times to ask, “Have I done enough?” “Have I loved God enough?” “Have I been good enough?” Have I been obedient and faithful enough?” “Have I really tried my best?” “Have I delighted God by my righteousness, and impressed Him with my worship, prayer and self-less discipleship?”
The answer to these questions is simply, “No”! No one has done enough. But thanks be to God, Jesus has. He has done enough to secure our salvation and eternal life and we have it all through faith in Him.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
“Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labour that he can carry in his hand.” (Ecclesiastes 5:15).
It is good sometimes to step back from the many things that occupy our lives to see the big picture. Some thoughts and activities take up much of our time and effort and yet they are of no eternal value. And yet we become obsessed with these trifling things and pour our hearts into them.
We came into this world with nothing and will leave with the same and yet there are some things which have eternal value for they will never disappoint us. Paul says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10).
To know the Father through Jesus’ death and resurrection is of eternal value. For in Jesus we find the sure hope of a resurrected body and an eternal future which is loaded up with the treasure of heaven.
It is suffering to lose the pleasures of this world but it is pure joy to be sure of the eternal blessings of God.