Sunday, 27 March 2016

Resurrection Sunday ~ Rabqa

As to day is Resurrection Sunday we are looking at "Jesus, Resurrection

Easter, or as the world calls it, is so much more then lollies & chocolate Easter eggs, & even though we like that stuff a lot (well speaking for my self I just love chocolate) It is a holiday founded on the resurrection of Jesus. Think about that for a moment; that is a serious miracle.

We don't see too much of it happening today, why you may ask, the answer is simple our faith isn't up to it. But Jesus was full of power & faith, He had no problem with raising anybody from the dead.

Have you ever wondered how Jesus could be so sure that He would rise again, how was He so certain that He would be able to walk of of His tomb? Think about that no one had laid hands on Him, No one had prayed & commanded life back into His body. He was dead as a doornail, wrapped in the traditional burial way, lying in a large tomb with a huge stone rolled over the door, & yet He came out of the grave!

The more we think about Jesus' faith in His Father & Himself to be raised, the more we start to realise something pretty simple, before Jesus was raised He had some practice, like the widow's son in Luke 7, Jairus' daughter in Luke 8 & of course the most famous one, Lazarus, in John 11.

Jesus never for once doubted that He would come out of the grave. Even that big stone rolled up in front of the tomb didn't seem to be a problem. Again the answer is simple He had faith in His Father & also Himself. He knew that He was more than able to be raised from the dead, without human intervention or help. That is the power of the Lord at work. The power of the mighty God we serve.

Lazarus had two sisters Mary & Martha, these people loved Jesus & enjoyed His ministry, they did all they could to His message out. They supported His work financially, gave Him a room to rest when He came into their town to preach, & prayed for His ministry. They were all close friends.

When Lazarus became sick, it was Martha that sent for Jesus to come & lay hands on her brother. Now Jesus didn't do what Martha asked Him to do. The Bible tells us that He stayed a further two days in the place where He was before leaving for their home.

When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick He said This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God maybe glorified through it. Jn 11:4 This is an example of divine sovereignty amid human suffering, & demonstrating God's purposes & grace through Jesus' response. Verse 6 says So when He heard that he was sick He stayed two more days in the place where He was.

Jesus delay for two days underscores what He had taught consistently, namely, that His marching orders came exclusively from His Father. Neither the need of His closest friends nor the fury of His enemies determined His actions.

Now when Jesus decided to go, His disciples warned him that He would be stoned if He went back to Judea (Jn 11:8) But Jesus wasn't deterred in Jn 11:11 He said...Our friend Lazarus sleeps but I go that I may wake him up.

The word friend in the Greek is philos compare philosophy, philharmonic, & philology. An adjective used as a noun means a loved one, beloved,& affectionate friend. The verb phileo which describes a love of emotion & friendship. Philos has a congeniality about it.

When Jesus told the disciples that Lazarus was only sleeping they misunderstood Him & said Lord, if he sleeps he will get well. However Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought He was speaking about taking a rest in sleep. Then Jesus said plainly Lazarus is dead. Jn 11:12-14
You see Jesus knew by the Spirit of God that Lazarus had already died. Next Jesus said something very strange to His disciples & I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe nevertheless let us go to Him.

You are probably wondering why Jesus would say that He was glad that He wasn't there because a greater miracle was going to happen because of it. The disciples were going to start to really believe-& to Jesus that was a greater miracle then healing Lazarus.

You see, this was about more than Lazarus, even though Christ loved him very much. It was about bringing glory to God & teaching His disciples a lesson as well. Jesus wanted His followers to recognise that God could to anything; He wanted them to know that His power was beyond merely healing the sick; it was also about raising the dead.

Christ wanted the disciples to see this type of amazing miracle practised on others so that they would believe in a greater miracle-the resurrection of Jesus Christ Himself.

Now this part of the story of Lazarus is often overlooked Jn 11:16 Then Thomas who is called the twin, said to his fellow disciples, let us also go so we may die with Him.

We always think of Thomas as doubting Thomas because of a moment of weakness after Christ died & rose from the dead. Although he witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus, he wanted to touch Christ's wound before believing that He had risen. But this man wasn't a doubter his entire life! He was a man of faith. Think about it. The rest of the disciples were warning Jesus that He might be stoned to death if He returned to Judea, but Thomas said & I am paraphrasing, "If He is going to die, we are going to die with Him"! In other words I am with You Jesus.

Thomas demonstrated fearless faith when the other disciples wanted to run the other way.

Martha had some faith & she really believed in Jesus. When she heard that He was coming she ran to meet Him & the words that came out of her mouth were faith words for she said Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died Jn 11:21. In other words she believed that Jesus had the ability to heal the sick, but maybe not the ability to raise one from the dead.

There are different levels of faith. Some people have faith to heal the sick, but there aren't to many that have the faith to rise the dead. Then you can see Martha's thinking shift in verse 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.

Perhaps you are wondering why Martha thought that God would do anything that Christ asked. Maybe it's because she heard Jesus say so! Martha knew that prayer wasn't a gamble with Christ but an assurance.
Jesus told Martha with five simple words Your brother will rise again Jn 11:23 Now you would think that she would have been hopeful at these words, but no she wasn't sure, it wasn't a common occurrence that folk were raised from the dead, so when Jesus spoke these words to her she put on a religious mindset, putting a limit on God saying I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day (Jn 11:24)

You see what happened here, Martha changed from faith to religion because of what Jesus had said was extreme. Remember the first thing she told Jesus was that if He had been there earlier He could have healed her brother. Then her faith kicked up a notch & she said that the Father would do what ever Jesus asked. But when confronted with a radical miracle, she changed back to limiting God's power by saying she knew her brother would rise again at the last day at the end of time when everybody would be resurrected.

She believed that Christ could heal her brother, but raising him from the dead was too much. Notice Jesus didn't flinch in the face of Martha's doubt. Jesus said to her I am the resurrection, & the life; he who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. (Jn 11:25).

Martha expected a future resurrection, but Jesus surprised her with a present resurrection in Himself. Jesus didn't flinch because He knew who He was & He knew the God He served...The
Great I Am. Christ didn't say "I believe I am", He didn't say "I think I am", He said "I am the Resurrection", notice there is a comma after the word Resurrection that means pause & think about it! Then there is a colon after Life again you should pause & think about but a while longer! Jesus IS the resurrection power. Jesus IS the life Jn 11:26 & whosoever lives & believes in Me shall never die...

You see that is the rule of faith if you don't believe, it is not going to happen for you. Christ already has the faith to believe in Himself, He knows what He can do because of the very power of creation is within Him. It's your faith added to His power that brings about miracles.
Christ is the founder of Christianity, the only man capable of making an appointment beyond the grave & turning up to keep it. Jesus told His disciples, After I have risen I will go before you to Galilee (Matt 26:32) If you visit the graves of those who founded the religions of the world you will find that they are still occupied. But If you visit the grave where they laid Jesus you find it empty & the angels word still echo, "He's not here but is risen"! Those words should turn every Christian burial into a celebration.

Jesus promised "because I live, you also will live". Eventually you will die of something; the question is how can you die right? There are two correct answers:
1. By preparing in advance, it was a truly human tombstone that bore the inscription "I expected this but not yet." Here is how you prepare for death. That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Rom 10:9

The Greek word for believe is pisteuo. The verb form of pistis, is faith it means to trust in to have faith in, be fully convinced of, acknowledge, rely on. Pisteuo is more then credence in church doctrines or articles of faith. It expresses reliance upon a personal trust that produces obedience. It includes submission & a positive confession of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
 2. By fulfilling your life's assignment. Jesus said in Jn 17:4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. The petition of Jesus for Himself is not selfish, since His desire is to glorify His Father. To glorify Him is to make Him known. Jesus would soon be manifested as the Saviour of the world through His atoning death. Believers in Him will know God & so possess eternal life. In the final audit God will ask you as you stand before Him, "What did you do with the gifts i gave you? Did you fulfil your assignment on earth? In that moment nothing will be more important on how you answer that question.

The Greek word for resurrection is anastasis meaning standing up again, restoration to life, rising from the dead. A compound of ana,"again" & histemi "to stand" The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the first fruits or prototype of the future resurrection of all that are in the grave. Anastasis is the coming resurrection that occurs at the Judgement Day. Another usage of anastasis is a moral recovery of spiritual truth. Most religions teach the concept of immorality, only the Christian faith teaches bodily resurrection, We see this truth in Job 19:22-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! 

This is one of the Old Testaments greatest prophetic affirmations of an anticipated Redeemer/ Saviour who will bring hope of a literal, physical resurrection to redeem mankind. c/f 1 Cor 15:35-49. But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory. It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. Jesus went to the cross for you, for each & every person, so that you might live eternally with Him, but whilst you are in this world He wants you to get ahead & the only way to that is to put His Word first in your life.

You see the Bible is not just a text book, a storybook, or a history book. It's a handbook for living. It's the wisdom of Almighty God written down so that you can apply it to your everyday circumstances. God says that wisdom is the principal thing.(prov 4:7). Principal means "first importance". That means the Word of God needs to occupy the highest place of importance in your activities. You will find that as you give God first place in your life you will accomplish more than you would otherwise. You will be amazed what happens in your life too, if you give God's Word priority. Don't wait till you think you have time, satan will see to it that you never do, putting His Word first is habit forming. Begin that addiction today. That may seem odd to you especially if you don't have much interest in the Word right now. Believe me, it's possible. I've done it myself, & have seen others to it time & again, All you have to do is make that decision to give yourself to it, the more you give yourself to it, the more your desire will grow. eventually it will consume your thinking. 

Surprised? You shouldn't be. That happens with everything you give yourself to. It happens for example with people who give themselves to pornography. as the focus their attention on it, the spirit behind it moves in on their consciousness & eventually draws them from mental activity to physical activity. Finally, they come to the place where they can't be satisfied. They can't get enough. That same principal works on the positive side when you begin to give yourself to God's Word. You can give yourself to it to the point where it totally consumes your mental & physical life. The more of it you get, the more of it you want. The Spirit behind the Word, that is the Holy Spirit, will draw you & lead you closer to Jesus than you ever imagined possible.

 I have never met anybody yet that is walking in faith & power who at some time hasn't developed that kind of addiction by giving themselves totally to the Word. I don't mean just a few minutes but some serious time. Determine to do that, Determine to become a Word addict. once you do you'll never be willing to do without it again. I Cor 16:15 says I urge you, brethern-you know the household of Stephanas, that is the first fruits of Achaia,& that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.

Stephanas & his household were among the first converts in Southern Greece & were also among the first to be baptised by Paul. He & his family were engaged in a loving ministry to others & deserved the church's loyalty.

To make God's Word your final authority means that you believe absolutely what He says instead of believing what people say. It means believing what He says instead of what satan says. It means believing what He says instead of what circumstances say.

Determine in your heart to do that today. Make up your mind to live by faith, not by sight. Fearlessly commit yourself to the authority of God's Word & there wont be anything in this unstable world that can steal your security from you.

Do you know what Jesus did on that cross at Calvary? He unlocked the prison doors of guilt that have kept you captive. It doesn't matter who you are or what you have been. It doesn’t matter if you have a prostitute, a murderer, a thief, a drug dealer, or someone who has gone to church all your life but have never made Jesus Christ the Lord of your Life the Bible says that now is the day of salvation. 2Cor 6:2
A new life is only a prayer away.

Many years ago I read in the Bible That not even a sparrow falls without God's knowledge. Matt 12;29)
I thought if God knows & cares about the sparrows falling He must know what a terrible mess my life is in right now. & if He cares maybe He can do something with it.

Now I didn't know anything about the Bible & didn't know for sure that God would let me start over. But when I asked Him to take over my life, something supernatural happened on the inside. I was born again.
You may worry about your past. You may say "I feel so guilty about it".
When you have been born again & made a new creature in Christ-that past doesn’t belong to you any more. & it would be ridiculous to walk around feeling guilty about someone else's past wouldn't it?
What would you think if I took a little baby in my arms, a pretty little girl, just a few months old, & said "she is so very precious, but oh what about her past"?

You would think that I was crazy. "What past"? you'd say, she doesn't have one"!

It is just the same with you once you have been born again. You don't have any past. Your life begins again the day you make Jesus the Lord of your life. Then when satan comes around trying to remind you of what you were before, just tell him he's knocking on the wrong door.
You've been kicked around long enough. There is no need to wait any longer. The prison door is open. Walk through to Jesus & let your life begin today.

Acknowledgement Jesse Duplantis.

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