Easter - A Time of Renewal
EASTER A TIME OF RENEWAL!
The usual Christian emphasis at Easter is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Christians celebrate Easter because it reveals the heart of Christianity—the story of a God determined to rescue a planet that is out of control.
We hardly need to be reminded that we live in a troubled world. You only have to watch the nightly television news to get a dose of the world’s woes. And so Easter speaks to us of rescue, of renewal and of the way to peace.
The Easter story tells of a God who made the world, saw it crumble and so proceeds to put it back in shape.
Christians believe that the ultimate result of sin is death and because we all have an inherent sinful nature, we have a pretty bleak ending. However, God is passionate about His creation and hatched a rescue plan to end sin and not destroy sinners—at an enormous cost to Himself. Someone with the highest position and greatest authority in the universe could pay the ransom for everyone else. So God sent a member of His own family—His Son, Jesus—to pay that price. We are reminded in the famous words of the gospel of John: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (3:16)
For the Christian world, Easter is a time to celebrate the love of God, as well as to acknowledge the debt that we owe to Jesus Christ. It calls us to revisit the scenes of Jesus’ crucifixion on that first “Good” Friday.
It calls us to recall the early morning stillness of the Sunday morning broken by the pounding of hobnail sandals on the cold, cobbled stones of the streets of Jerusalem, as the soldiers who guarded the dead body in the tomb rushed into the city with the unbelievable cry on their lips, “He’s alive! He’s alive!”
An angel of the Lord had come down in the darkness of that Sunday morning and tossed away the great stone in front of the tomb as if it were a pebble. Jesus walked out and nothing could stop Him.
So we have the vision of a risen Christ who is alive today, who is interested, who seeks His own and who wants to restore the broken relationship between God and humankind.
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive,” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).
God had accomplished His rescue mission, but it was through brokenness and suffering. And this is what Easter is all about—God has settled the score.
It was J Wilbur Chapman who penned the hymn:
One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again
Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Living 2018 Under the Flow of God's Fresh Oil
Oil is the lifeblood of the industrialised nations. Oil has become the world's most important source of energy since the mid-1950s. Its products underpin modern society, mainly supplying energy to power industry, heat homes and provide fuel for vehicles and aeroplanes to carry goods and people all over the world.
In Psalmist in Psalm 92:10 (ESV) we have these words: “You have poured over me fresh oil.”
This is a Psalm known as ‘A song for the Sabbath day.’ It’s a great Psalm and one prepared to be sung when God’s people met for worship on the Sabbath. Its author is unknown but what we do know is that whoever the author was, the psalm was written under divine inspiration.
The real symbol of oil in Scripture becomes clear when we read about Aaron, Israel’s first priest, who was anointed with oil as it consecrated him and his sons to serve as priests for God: “You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.” (Exodus 30:30)
Oil was also used to anoint kings. Listen to the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 89:20: “I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him.”
In Scripture oil is symbolic of anointing.
As we live 2018 under the flow of God’s oil, what does this mean for me as individual?
Let me make three statements concerning the oil of anointing.
1. LIVING 2018 UNDER THE FLOW OF GOD’S FRESH OIL DOES NOT DEPEND ON OUR HUMAN ABILITIES OR PERFECTIONS
2. LIVING 2018 UNDER THE FLOW OF GOD’S FRESH OIL EMPOWERS FOR SERVICE
3. LIVING 2018 UNDER THE FLOW OF GOD’S FRESH OIL ENABLES THE MIRACELOUS
Note from the words of the Psalmist, it’s not 2017 oil or 1917 oil but “you have poured over me fresh oil.”
I don’t want the anointing of Spurgeon, Lloyd Jones or D.P. Williams, beneficial though it was for them and under that anointing they did great things for God. However, by 2018 it’s past its ‘sell by date.’ The Psalmist declares: “you have poured over me fresh oil.”………..and that’s what I want!
It was Bolton who prayed:
“Under the anointing daily let me live,
A priest and king;
Relying not on fleshly energy,
Thy smile to win”
Ps Arnallt Morgan
If there is a word that we often use to describe what Christmas is all about, it’s the little word “joy.” Several of our favorite carols mention it: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,” “Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice,” “Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies, with th’ angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem.’” It’s so easy to feel joy when we sing these wonderful songs.
At the heart of the Christmas message is joy. Unfortunately, too often we’ve got the wrong idea about joy. We tend to connect it with happiness and think that joy depends on our circumstances. You can’t have joy by going from one party to another or frantically racing through the shopping quadrant and out of town shopping centres. In fact, going shopping at Christmas time can become an excellent way to lose our joy.
Where does Christmas joy come from? Listen to the words of Luke 2:8-10 and see if you can discover the answer: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
The angel came with: “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” What is this “good news of great joy?” Verse 11 has the answer. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
If you are looking for Christmas joy, I suggest that you can find all you need in this single verse. The joy of Christmas is JESUS, a Saviour has been born.
Have you made room for Jesus in your 2017 Christmas celebrations? If not, why not?
Have a joyous Christmas!
Ps Arnallt Morgan
'Chill out' with Jesus
‘Chill-out’ with Jesus!
Have you ever felt that life has become so hectic that you feel unless you have a break you’ll ‘crack-up’?
Ever felt like saying: “stop the world, I want to get off”?
Living in the West and particularly in Britain has become so stressful. Life has become ever so fast. We find that we have less time for family, our friends, community and ourselves. We have programmes, targets and deadlines to meet and not enough time to do everything.
Our busy lifestyles have robbed us of so many important things.
Parents spend less time with their children than what they used to. We engage very little with our neighbours today and having a chat over the garden fence has become a thing of the past.
The disciples of Jesus at times found life to be hectic, so much so that Jesus had this to say to them in Mark 6:31: “Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.” (NLT)
God does not expect us to be machines that work seven days a week. We need time off and this is part of God’s economy for mankind.
As we live in this fast world, not only do we need time to relax, but also time to relax with Jesus: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
When was the last time that you experienced what it is to ‘chill-out’ with Jesus?
Why not take time simply to:
1. RELAX IN SILENCE.
More often than not, we come to God from a place of rushing. It’s either a quick ten minutes before going to work or at the end of a busy day when we’re tired and exhausted. God sometimes wants us to come to Him from a place of rest.
We have been made to think that relaxing in silence is wasting valuable time when in fact relaxing in silence is valuable time with God. We need to seek God from a place of peace as we rest and relax in His presence.
The Psalmist says: “Be silent, and know that I am God!” (NLT)
2. BECOME AWARE OF GOD’S PRESENCE
As you relax in silence, allow yourself to become aware of the presence of God. Our God is omnipresent which means that no matter where we are God is there. What we need to do is become aware of His presence.
Baptist minister Roy Searl once said: “The one in whom we live and move and have our being dwells within us, closer to us than we often realise, who knows us better than we know ourselves, who loves us far more than we can ever love ourselves. He is the compassionate, gracious Father who calls us his child.” – What we need to do is to be still and experience His loving presence.
C. S. Lewis said: “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.” – If this is true, then we need to feed on the presence of God.
3. ENJOY HIS LOVE FOR YOU
Each of us needs to be loved. From the cradle to the grave man yearns and longs for love. The greatest need and desire of the toughest ‘tough guy’ is to be loved!
We all know theoretically that God loves us and we’ve all sung the hymn “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” However, when was the last time that you just spent some time enjoying His love for you?
Listen to the words of Jeremiah 31:3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love, so I am constant in my affection for you!”
4. SURRENDER YOURSELF TO GOD
Surrender each and every part of your life to God. Surrender your body, thoughts, emotions, wills, joys, pains, the things that disturb you; the issues that excite you, those that you care for and all that you pray for. The old hymn writer penned these words: “All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give.”
5. ACCEPT YOURSELF
Accept the fact that you’re not perfect. Accept the fact that you may not have the gifting to be what you would like to be. You are what God has made you and He loves you just for being YOU!
6. REPENT AND RECEIVE FORGIVENESS
Unconfessed sin and failure can oppress and hinder seeking God in prayer. Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray for forgiveness of sins.
By confessing our sins with genuine repentance and genuine humility, we embrace God’s forgiveness, mercy, love and grace.
7. ASK IN FAITH
Bring your needs and the needs of others before Him in prayer. Don’t just ask, but ask in faith. Believe that God answers prayer and can intervene in your life and the life of others in a miraculous way. Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
‘Chill-out with Jesus and tell him about your needs.
8. GIVE THANKS AND PRAISE
The fruit of encountering the presence of God and being aware of His grace and mercy should be one of thanksgiving and praise. The psalmist instructs us this way: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.” (Psalm 105:1-3).
Augustine of Hippo: “The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot.”
‘Chill-out’ with Jesus: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Ps Arnallt Morgan