“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

Dear Reader: You Are Not Your Past

Dear Reader- You Are Not Your Past.png

I’m opening a new category on my blog called “Dear Reader.” This will be a lot like “Dear Christian Teens,” but it’ll hopefully have a more expanded demographic than just 13-19. I love to write in letter format rather than lecture. I want to share my heart as I would with a friend, not just tell you all what you should and shouldn’t do.

 

I’d like to do an occasional post where I can look you in the eyes and say “listen. I know you’re not perfect, and I’m definitely not either. Let’s figure out life together.” instead of writing a speech.

 

I want my posts, particularly my “Dear Reader” posts, to be freeing.

 

Without further adieu, let me bring you the first installment of “Dear Reader.”

 

Dear Reader,

 

You are not your past.

 

You are not what you have done or where you have been.

 

You are not the choices you’ve made.

 

You are not your image or accomplishments.

 

You are not defined by all the sins you’ve committed.

 

You are not your addictions.

 

And I mean it.

 

You are covered by grace.

 

You became covered by grace the moment you said “Jesus, I believe you can and will forgive my sins.”

 

You are covered by grace because you are loved by your Creator. Because He said, “I don’t want to see my child eternally separated from me.”

 

Grace is such that we cannot outrun it. We cannot out-sin it. We cannot get to a point where it does not apply to us anymore. We cannot earn it. Why?

 

Grace is a gift.

 

You do not deserve to be forgiven, and neither do I.

 

But Dear Reader, that’s why grace is amazing. We do not deserve grace of any kind, we do not deserve mercy, we do not deserve forgiveness. Grace is undeserved, and it is beautiful.

 

Grace says, “I have seen your sin and yet I love you. Yet I forgive you. I have seen your filth and yet I call you clean.”

 

God sees us as NEW.

 

He does not see our failures; He sees His Son’s perfection in us.

 

He does not call us on our screw-ups, on our deliberate sins, or on our flaws. He says, “I love you, and what you have done cannot change that.”

 

Dear Reader, you are not your past because God has washed it away.

 

You are called holy and blameless.

 

Titus 3:4-7

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

 

You are justified by His grace. God sees you the same as if you’d lived the perfect life and never did anything wrong.

 

You are not your past – you are a new creation because you are in Christ.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 

Instead of beating ourselves up over and over about our sin, why don’t we see at as God sees it? FORGIVEN.

 

Psalm 103:12

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

 

So Dear Reader,

 

It’s alright that we’re not perfect, it’s alright that we’re messed up, it’s all right that we’re sinners, because grace covers us. We are held in the hands of a loving God, not an angry one.

 

You do not have to let what you’ve done define how you see yourself. See yourself as God sees you, and let JESUS define you.

 

You are new.

 

*aj

I’ve Been Lied To.

I've Been Lied To.

I must say, life is quite confusing.

Everything in this world always contradicts itself.

For example, magazines tell us “Be yourself! You are wonderful just the way you are!” and then on the next page, “Nobody will love you if you don’t show at least 95% of your skin at all times. Be brash. Be bold. Throw away your moral compass.”

Wait. What?

I’m supposed to conform to this impossible image of a photoshopped person, and I’m also told to just be myself; both views are supported by most everyone.

Every day we hear:

“Nobody’s perfect. Embrace your imperfections.”

“If you don’t use this product or wear this item, nobody will like you.”

“Normal is boring. Be wild. Be free. Everything is a choice.”

AND HONESTLY, SOMETIMES I FEEL SO DISORIENTED BY IT ALL.

What’s right? What’s wrong? Am I just really weird? What if they’re right, and my life is a lie?

Ah, reader, don’t fret. Although the ways of the world are contradictory and insane, there is absolute truth that will stand forever.

For example, the world tells us that we are created by chance; accidents; mistakes. But do you want to know what God tells us?

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:14

The culture tells us that we are our own, and that what we do with our bodies doesn’t matter.

However, the Bible disagrees.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The world says it’s all on us. We have no idea what’s coming. For all we know, the zombie apocalypse could come, World War IV is going to start right after that (because WWIII has probably already come and gone), and the sun is going to blow up one day and smash us to smithereens. And that’s why we buy lots of canned goods…????

Okay, as absurd as that sounds, when our lives aren’t based on truth, we won’t know what to think. But guess what. We are never alone, and God has promised us this:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” – Matthew 6:31-32

 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Another lie? How about this one.

“Put yourself first. You deserve it.”

Umm. ExCUSE me?

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4

And I can’t resist this one.

“Love is a feeling. That’s all.”

No, no, no. This is real love!

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10

And let me finish off with one last mistruth that destroys our culture.

What is it? That appearances are everything. All that matter. But let me assure you that that is not the case.

God looks at the heart. It doesn’t matter what anyone but He thinks.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30

It’s absolutely true that the world lies to us. And it can really mess us up.

If we don’t believe the truth of who we are – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) – we won’t be able to move forward. We’ll be trapped.

But we needn’t be anymore.

*aj

Religion vs. Christianity

Religion vs. Christianity

A lot of people dismiss Christianity as just another religion. But it’s not. And I’m here to show you why.

(Yes, I just gave all you awesome readers an abrupt start. Forgive me, lovely lords and ladies. But please read on.)

When people think of Christianity, a lot of times they think of religion. It’s right up there with Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Judaism…and all those.

But Christianity? It’s not the same. Really. I hesitate to consider it a religion, even though that may be upsetting to some.

Because there is something that stands out about Christianity that other religions do not have.

Freedom and Sincerity.

 

“But Amanda,” you say, “I’m a Mormon, and I’m very sincere.”

I am sure you are. After all, belief in something is much more than just words. Saying the words “I believe” do not ensure that you actually do, for all that it proves is that you have a voice and a mind.

But freedom? I will explain that in a minute.

I’d like to point out a few things about the Christian life.

First of all, God knows we are not perfect. He knows that we are sinners and, by nature, turn away from Him.

Romans 3:23

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

But yet, He extends grace to us, at our darkest. And by receiving that, sin has no power over us anymore.

Romans 6:14

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

And, in turn, we are changed from the inside out.

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Did anyone hear anything about good works earning anything in there? Obligations? Our performance?

Uh, I sure didn’t.

So as I was saying, we have freedom.

Freedom from the power of sin and death over us.

Freedom from eternal life and righteous standing before God being based on works.

Freedom to live for God because of gratitude to Him for your salvation.

Not because you’re locked into tradition.

Not because Mom and Dad make you go to church so that hopefully, religion will rub off on you.

Not because you have obligations to live up to so that you’ll go to Heaven when you die.

Because of the freedom you’ve been given, sincerity springs from that.

 

And that’s why Christianity is different.

Why we look different. Why act different. Why we are motivated to live a pure and holy life.

Perhaps in the future, I’ll write some blog posts reflecting on other religions.

What I can say is this, however.

I’m not religious.

I’m a Jesus-lover, for He loved me first and pursued my soul.

I’m not living to please God because I have to.

I live to please God because it brings me joy, and the only joy that’ll ever last.

I’m not bound by obligations.

I’m set free by the love of my Creator for me.

1 Peter 2:16

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”

And that’s what I want to do.

*aj

Majesty Meets Mercy (Part 2)

Misty Mountain and Ocean

On Saturday, I shared part 1 of Majesty Meets Mercy. I focused more on the majesty and splendor and marvelousity of God. (Yes, I just invented a new word. I like the word marvelousity.)

Here’s the last thing I shared, and I want to dig even deeper into this today.

 

God. Designed. It. All. He designed it all, and has an eternal plan.

 

And yet, He cares. He’s not the giant mural artist who ignores the little specks of paint. No. No splotch of color is too small for Him to see. We are the specks, and He cares for all of us. ALL OF US!

 

This God – El Shaddai, Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai – in all of His majesty – is Abba. Father. He cares about us, because He is our Designer, Creator, Sustainer, and Provider. He is our Father, and loves us more than we will ever comprehend! He has mercy on us – His children – though His majesty is overwhelming. He is a BIG God, and yet he is a loving Father.

 

Mercy.

(Hillsong UNITED wrote a song called Mercy Mercy. I love it. It embodies this message, so I highly recommend that you listen to it.)

So what exactly is mercy? Mercy – mercy is when we are not given what we deserve. When we are guilty, but no charges are pressed.

When you think about that, that’s pretty amazing.

You don’t need mercy, you say? Well…hmm. I know we all need mercy. Here’s why.

God gave us free will – to obey Him, or to disobey. What did we choose? Disobedience, and utter abuse of freedom. What was meant to be a wonderful thing – freedom – became an ugly thing; Dr. Jekyll became Mr. Hyde; paradise became pain; love became hate.

We’ve all sentenced ourselves to death.

There’s no room for pleading here. We all deserve our fate. We all deserve an eternity in Hell, separated from God. We deserve to be cut off from holiness.

But wait. This is where mercy comes in.

Mercy says that God, in all His splendor and glory and marvelousity and infinity, became nothing, to extend His grace to us. Mercy says that when we deserved death, He gave us life. Not a life of slavery. Not a life imprisoned. Not a life of duty and obligation. No, mercy says that God freed us from sin and the curse that it brings. We were given freedom when we deserved death.

Philippians 2:5-11 explains this better than I can:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Mercy says that God became man – a servant, even – to extend His mercy and grace to His beloved children.

Yes, we are His beloved. We are His estranged children, the ones that He is calling to Himself.

We are loved and we are found. Because of His Amazing Grace, we are given mercy. The majesty of God has met mercy. We are loved and forgiven, sin washed away and we are free. And all we have to do is accept it.

Romans 10:9 says,

 

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

 

That’s it.

Mercy has brought me to my knees.

I have seen what I deserve, and I don’t want to go there. I deserve to be a slave, and in exchange, I have been freed. What is this love that is so marvelously lavish?! I do not deserve it! I fall to my knees in awestruck wonder, because majesty has met mercy. God has met me where I am. This, my friend, is the mercy and grace of God.

I don’t know if I will ever understand it.

But oh, am I overwhelmed. I am so thankful. And now, why would I ever want to go back to my old life? Why would I want to crawl back into my old, cold prison cell? Why would I ever want to live as a slave to sin?

Truthfully, I do not want to. Mercy has rescued me. I am a new creation because I am in Christ, and I am not ever going back.

*aj