“Why Do You Seek The Living Among The Dead?”

Why Do You Seek

 

It’s been a few weeks since Easter. Spring has pretty much sprung, and the excitement around Eastertime has mostly faded.

 

But it doesn’t cease to be my favorite holiday.

 

See, while we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, we also celebrate the Resurrection of ourselves. Let me elaborate.

 

When Jesus died, we died with Him. Our sin was totally, 100% paid in full.  Why? In order that we might be freed from sin’s control over us and the condemnation that comes with it.

 

Romans 6:4-6

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

 

And because we have died with Christ, He has raised us and given us new life. We are alive and free.

 

We have new life, and therefore, we are to walk in that newness. While I was contemplating this concept, a verse came to mind.

 

On Easter Sunday morning, three days after Jesus died, some women went to His tomb with spices to honor His body. Upon finding it, they were made aware that His body was gone.

The angel outside the tomb met them and said this, as it tells us here in Luke 24:5b. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” And in verse 24:6 “He is not here, but has risen.”

 

That’s my question for us. Why do we seek the living among the dead?

 

In other words, why do we act as though we are still dead in our sins when we have been raised to life?

 

Why do we walk crippled and in defeat when Jesus has been victorious already?

 

Why do we forget this verse?

 

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

 

Christ lives in us, so not only do we not have to live in defeat, but we can live in victory.

 

We are not dead. We are not enslaved to sin. We are not controlled by the very thing that condemns us.

 

We are alive. We have hope. We have assurance of salvation and victory.

 

1 Corinthians 15:57

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

So why do we seek the living among the dead? Why do we forget that we are, in fact, alive, and God sees us as sinless?

 

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 

God does not regard us according to the flesh, that is, our sin. So why do we do it to ourselves and others?

 

Simply because we see the imperfections in our own lives. But we need not dwell on them. If God sees us as new, why should we treat ourselves as if we’re dead? If God sees us in victory, why should we see ourselves as if we’re failures?

 

We shouldn’t.

 

We are not dead; we are alive with Christ. Let us live in light of that. Let us live constantly in the Word of God, seeing how He sees us. Let us live in the joy of our salvation, rejoicing in what HE has done for us. Let us live with a focus not on ourselves, but on God. When our focus is on Him, it is not on our sin, but on His perfection manifested in us.

 

Romans 6:10

“For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”

 

To live a life “alive to Christ” is to let go of our old nature, and to embrace the magnificence of how God sees us. We are new, and there is no condemnation for us.

 

Romans 8:1

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

 

*aj

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Finding Security in a Messy World

Finding Security in a Messy World

You don’t need to be a genius to realize that the world is a mess.

 

I’m not a genius. I know that the world is a mess.

 

Last week, we witnessed the ISIS terrorist attack on Paris. Innocent lives slain. Families torn to pieces. Countless injuries.

 

And things like this leave us all saying, what if that was me? What if I went on vacation in Paris and never came back? What then?

 

It’s kind of scary. To think that anyone of us could be having the best day of our lives but then wind up in a hospital room, devoid of functioning limbs. Or in a funeral home, lying in a casket ready to be buried in the ground.

 

What then?

 

Tragedy is known so well to this world. There is no escape from the inevitable: death. Hurt. Pain. Loss.

 

For so many of us, we soak up reality and embrace insecurity. Kids, don’t forget to wear your SPF 1567 sunblock, hockey helmet, and bulletproof bathing suit. You wouldn’t want the chance of death on a beautiful summer day, now would you.

 

Hey, the apocalypse might come in a few months. EVERYONE, QUICK, BUY CANNED FOOD AND LOTS OF BUBBLE-WRAP WITH EXTRA INSULATED SWEATERS.

 

As much as this is ridiculously satirical, it’s how so much of us think – just on a smaller scale.

 

What if I go out to school one day and never come home?

 

What if I walk to work next week and wind up in a wheelchair?

 

What if I go to the gym tomorrow and end up dead?

 

And how can I prevent that?

 

I get it. Life isn’t safe. Every time we take a breath, we run the risk of it being our last. It’s the curse of life, and there is no reverse. Take a look at the news (or, don’t) and see all the destruction.

 

This world is messed up. Security is just about impossible.

 

But you want to know what?

 

My lack of security in my own life leads me to one of two things. Either I can roll around in freakoutishness (don’t argue, that’s totally a word) and fear, or I can put my hope in security that is greater than any threat to my human life.

 

Listen to what Jesus says here.

 

Luke 12:4

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.”

 

Our lives are but a blip on the face of eternity. If death is inevitable, eternity is even more inevitable. When this blip of life ends – and trust me, it will – we need assurance of real security.

 

This security comes from the Gospel. I wrote about it recently here, read it if you haven’t already.

 

With the forgiveness of our sins by Jesus’ sacrifice, we are given ETERNAL LIFE.

 

Also, read this one where I talk about our choice of eternity.

 

Life is super scary, I know! But we don’t need to be afraid.

 

Knowing that I’m not “safe” in this life doesn’t increase my paranoia. It challenges me to remember that worrying doesn’t fix things. It reminds me that my life is in God’s hands, and His plan is always best, even if I can’t see it. It hammers into me that eternity is honestly all that ultimately matters.

 

Significance and security go hand in hand. (Read this post here about that.)

 

The world is a mess, but this is only our temporary home.

 

We shouldn’t dwell on the insecurity of our lives, but the security of heaven when we trust in Jesus to forgive our sins.

 

So don’t be consumed with fear. It’s not worth it when our lives prove to be so short. But focus on what’s really important – eternity.

 

Where will you be in 100 years?

 

*aj

A Poem and Commentary on Slavery and Freedom.

A Poem and Commentary on Slavery and Freedom.

Merciless shackles imperiled my fate;

All were hopelessly lost without grace.

Freedom on the lips of every poor child;

Despairing cries came from every place.

My whole life, I’ve gone to church, memorized Scripture, gotten all the answers right in Sunday School, and all that. I’m guessing that many of you readers have lived the same way. However, that doesn’t constitute real freedom or even salvation.

 

I wanted real hope,

But it just seemed too bleak.

Held back by sin’s chains,

I knew I was too weak.

No matter who we are, we’re all born slaves to sin. I was born a sinner, so were you. No amount of baby dedication, baptism, or prayers would save a human born into this world. But as soon as you or I are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose wrong, we make it known that we have this thing – this disease – penetrating our hearts and enslaving us to its grasp.

No one can break free alone, whether the child of a saint or a criminal.

My mind told me to run,

So I tried to flee.

All the while,

Sin gained a stronger grip on me.

All my life I knew what the Bible said. However, knowing what it means is a different story. The Bible isn’t some random self-help fairytale. It is written for us, absolutely, but it’s not a 12-Step handbook.

The thing about Christianity is that we think we should “try harder,” “just be stronger,” or “put more effort into it” and we’ll overcome everything in our lives. But no. The more we try on our own strength, the more we will fail magnificently. The more we see ourselves fail, the more we let sin hold us down.

Salvation came as I realized something:

I’m not the one that holds the key.

The one who could save me could only be

My Savior, the One who died to make me free.

 

No amount of good deeds on my part could earn me my freedom. I was chained to sin, condemned to death, and hopeless. But it didn’t have to stay that way.

I was offered a choice

To go or to stay.

By believing in my Savior, I’d be out –

Why wait another day?

When we realize we’re slaves to sin, we know we can’t leave by anything short of a miracle.

The thing is, we have that miracle. Jesus died and rose again to free us, and when we believe in Him, we are set free.

Regardless of our pasts, regardless of our horrible deeds, regardless of the times that we’ve chosen sin over salvation, we can be saved. It’s a choice.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 20:31

“but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

His hands reached down to free me

Along with the others here.

All I could utter was “thank you” –

Relieved that He was so near.

 

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

We are free from slavery to sin! Hallelujah. We. Are. Free. The chains have been removed and we have been rescued. I grew up in church, yes. But salvation – my own choice – was what made me a free child of God.


My shame, my sin, my terrible chains

All have been destroyed, along with my pain.

My freedom is mine, but was never free;

I owe all to my Savior who rescued me.

 

We couldn’t save ourselves, in all honesty.

Let us praise the One who saved our souls! It is grace that has saved us, and not our works. When we were powerless in the darkness, we were given the choice of freedom.

And freedom is what I chose.

How about you?

*aj

Searching For Significance? I Found It.

Searching For Significance? I Found It.

Significance.

The meaning of life. What is it?

The question we’ve all been asking since we came to the realization of what life is.

We are born, we live, we die. And in those moments in between, during the moments that we live and move and breathe, we get glimpses of joy and peace, and sorrow and tragedy. And we think to ourselves, Is this really what life’s all about?

The feelings? The pleasure? The darkness, the light?

The dreams, or reality?

These are the questions we ask ourselves.

What is morality? Truth? Is it even real?

My friends, I want to share some things with you. Things that I know we all have questioned, and things that have real answers.

We all search for significance.

No matter who we are, we all want to make our imprint in the world. A lot of us want to be famous, or loved, or rich, or successful. In essence, we want to be happy.

That’s why so many people cling to the line, “follow your dreams,” even if their dreams lead them down the wrong path.

“Follow your heart” becomes the replacement for true significance, because that’s what people think will lead them to be fulfilled.

If life ends once we die…and we only live once…then it stands to reason that we should enjoy life while it lasts, right?

Well, yes and no.

The thing is, when we pursue significance by chasing fleeting happiness, we discard the idea that what happens after we die matters. We adopt the lie that says that the here and now is what’s of utmost importance.

As a Christian, I cannot accept that.

Humans are eternal beings created by an eternal God. (More on this in a minute.)

We were all born with a craving. A craving for love, for meaning, and for hope.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we live in a broken world.

But it does take Someone as powerful as God to fix it.

Don’t ask me why God created this world when He knew that we’d rebel against Him and mar it. Because I don’t know.

But what I do know is that His love is more powerful than our sin.

And the search for significance? We search because without God, things do not make any sense.

 

Why would things spring into existence? Let’s just say that if things could spring into existence, they’d be like cloned blobs of matter.

Why would God create a place that would doom itself to destruction?

Because He had a plan all along.

His plan was to save us, and in doing so, He showed us love.

Love is where we find our significance.

 

But not in some human relationship.

 

The only significance and meaning we will ever find is in a relationship with God, which we can now have.

 

We can know love by the grace of God and blood of Jesus.

 

I said earlier that we are eternal beings. Death is not the end; it is the gate. The gate to all eternity is opened at death, and it’s decided by what happens in our lives.

The gate to heaven is only opened by believing on Jesus to forgive our sins on this earth in order to be right with God. And the crazy cool thing is this:

What satisfies us on this earth — a relationship with God — is what grants us salvation and entrance into heaven.

 

There needn’t be any more search for significance. It’s finished.

And there is a beautiful solution.

Love has come to us. Love has won us over. And love will lead us to our eternal home.

*aj

Simply The Cross

Simply The Cross

A low-key post today. Wherein I discuss the cross, and sin, and Jesus.

Does anybody remember back in April, when I did a four-part blog series on the Resurrection? Well, perhaps some of you are newer here, and don’t remember, but that’s okay. Basically, I talked about what the Resurrection of Jesus really means. (I’m not too fond of my older posts, seeing as I was still figuring my way around this blog and attempting to grasp at the essential threads of writing and blogging, among other things. So I won’t link up to them here. However, if you’re really curious and want to read them still, use the search bar on the side of the website to search for “The Resurrection” posts.)

I know it’s not Easter. I know that I’m talking about the Cross. It’s just about exactly halfway between Easters. Still, I love the significance of this Holyday in our lives. Because it honestly doesn’t matter that one Sunday a year we talk about Jesus dying and raising from the dead, it matters that we think about it every day. The weight of sin and the power of the Resurrection aren’t to be taken lightly.

So today, I want to address this. Specifically, the Cross and the Grave.

Yesterday, I was pondering this topic when a revelation hit me.

A lot of us may have grown up in church, like me, and practically lived there. Although that can be a really great thing, and strengthen our faith when we’re young, we may also take Biblical truths for granted. Perhaps simply because we’ve learned to recite them. It’s so easy to.

“Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He was buried and rose from the dead three days later.”

What hit me yesterday was the connection between this pretty-much-every-Christian-has-memorized mantra and Galatians 2:20.

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Crucified. Killed. Destroyed. Buried deep in the grave. That’s what happened to Jesus.

Remember how He took the sins of the world upon Himself, and then He died? Well, guess what. Those sins – the sins that once defined us – died too. I have been crucified with Christ means that the sin was crucified too.

Then Jesus rose from the dead, but the sin didn’t. Our sin that condemned us to death stayed DEAD. When Jesus came back, sin didn’t. And what defines us now is Jesus, who took the place of sin in our hearts.

Christ who lives in me is the one that empowers me to live a life pleasing to God.

It’s not my effort.

It’s not my good deeds.

It’s not me.

Faith is it. Living by the strength of the Holy Spirit is it.

And if Jesus didn’t love us and give Himself for us, we’d still be hopeless.

Hope isn’t a wish, it’s assurance. We have assurance that we are forgiven because the weight of sin is gone.

Doesn’t mean we won’t mess up and still sin now. But condemnation is now gone because of grace.

And between grace and the Holy Spirit, we won’t want to sin any more.

So that’s the connection. I know it’s simple. Very simple, in fact. But sometimes, this church girl needs a reminder of the everyday things, not just the Easter things. Or at least the reminder that they’re connected.

COMMENTS, ANYONE? I’d love to hear from you. Any simple revelations lately? Can anybody relate to tending to tune out truth? Any thoughts on this post? How about this topic? Comment below in the little comment box that’s calling out for you to type into.

*aj

The Resurrection: Part 4

  

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope that you had a wonderful Easter Sunday. Now, I have one last post in my Resurrection series and I like having one last thing to hold onto from the Holy Day. 🙂  So, without further ado, here is post #4 in this Easter series. Thank you for reading!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that most people want to die. I mean, usually, to die means to suffer. And if you’re not sure of where you’re going, dying isn’t exactly something that you look forward to. Am I right?

We celebrated Easter a few days ago. If you haven’t noticed it already, Easter is my favorite holiday. Why? No, it’s not because of the candy, or because I get to see my family and friends (although that’s fun too). It’s because I get to rest in the assurance of my salvation, that sin has no power over me. I am not punished for what I’ve done. What I deserve — Hell — is not given to me, because I have placed my faith in Christ alone to save me.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

I love these verses because — like I said — we have victory over sin and death. But let me back up.

Verses 50-53 talks about the Blessed Hope.

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”

To simplify, we (believers) have hope. H. O. P. E. Some of us may never experience death, but be taken to heaven in the ‘twinkling of an eye’. We will be changed! We will be given immortal bodies!

I know that earlier I said that we don’t need to worry about dying if we know where we’re going. But this is even better. Not only do we have the assurance of Heaven, but some of us won’t even die at all. Woah. I find that extremely awesome!

Okay, now for my favorite part. 15:54-58.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

When the perishable puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality (AKA when we are given new bodies and we become live-foreverable) this saying will be able to be quoted in the present tense.

Christ has defeated death. Death is conquered by victory, the victory that came by Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are victorious over death — we are not owned by the devil and sin that drags us to Hell — we are SAVED.

Sin and death have no power over us! NO POWER!

And for the last verse, we are to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.

We are not working for others, we are working for God. Our work is never wasted in God’s kingdom. We live to give glory to God, and that is never in vain.

I know that Easter has passed. I know that today is not Easter Sunday. But the truths we celebrate are the same all year round.

We have been saved. Sin and death have no power over me any longer, because Jesus has done the amazing thing — conquered death.

Easter is about the amazing love of God. It’s about the joy that it brings. It’s about the hope that we’ve been given. It’s about the peace that now rules our hearts. It’s about how we didn’t deserve what was given to us, which is what makes the resurrection so beautiful. Salvation is a wonderful thing because we fully deserve to be punished for our sin. It’s about this amazing grace bestowed upon us.

God is not out to get us. He is out to save us.

And this is why I love the resurrection so much.

Mankind rejected Him, but even still He came.

To conquer death, sin, and the grave,

though not deserved, He took my blame.

Isaiah 53:5-6 pretty much sums it all up.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

    and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

    we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.”

*aj