Part Three… New hopes and New Inspiration
By Gary Piper
Scripture quotations marked ESV "Are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."
Scriptures marked CEV, “Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.”
If you pulled out your Webster’s Dictionary and looked up the word hope you would find it would be spelled like this H-O-P-E. I am not suggesting that Daniel Webster did not know how to spell hope but according to the Gary Piper Life Experience Dictionary the word hope is spelled J-E-S-U-S.
My good friend Robert Campbell says, “Keep hope alive.” I love it! Yet because Jesus is my hope trying to kill Jesus won’t work! Remember they already tried killing him and it only worked for 3 days! Nope in spite of what some of us (me included) may think HOPE does LIVE! In fact hope is so much alive a tomb can’t contain it!
Some time ago I read a story about two guys who were very competitive so one day one challenged the other to break a big rock they were familiar with. So on the appointed day the two met and the contest began. The challenger a muscular man grabbed a heavy sledge hammer and began hitting the rock. A few minutes later exhausted all he managed to do was to put a couple of small cracks in it. The other man who was not so muscular reached in his pocket and removed a small packet containing some seeds and placed them in the cracks made by the hammer. The muscular man looked puzzled, “Lets meet back here in 10 years,” the man replied, and walked away. Then 10 years later the 2 men returned to the rock now in three pieces and standing where the rock once was there were two trees.
If Satan finds a crack in your armor he’ll crack it wide open! In part two I wrote, “However, as big a part of taking me to the valley of depression as Satan could (and can) only use what I give him to work with. In other words it was the importance I placed on the hopes and dreams I had for our lives that gave him the “stuff” to exploit my relationship with God.” In retrospect I have discovered that Satan detected a slight crack in my Hope armor and he planted a seed and waited for it to grow. And as you read it did grow and cracked my life wide open and while Hope continued I found myself sealed in a tomb behind a huge rock.
One lesson I learned from the raising of Lazarus story is that Jesus’ voice is auditable even within a stone cold tomb! No matter how far Satan tries buries us, Jesus’ voice cannot be silenced. This morning I was finally able to tune out Satan’s voice in favor of Jesus’ voice and I heard him rehearsing something the Psalmist told him, “You make my life pleasant, and my future is bright.” (Psalms 16:6 CEV)
I am writing this on Palm Sunday, the day when all of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus and proclaimed him “King of Israel.” (John 12:13) Every person in the crowd that placed palms on the road in honor of Jesus saw him as their greatest hope. And as the week unfolded the hope they had placed in Jesus slowly disappeared. It was the raising of Lazarus that incited the celebration of Palm Sunday. Lazarus was not the first person Jesus brought back from the dead but Lazarus was the first one who had been buried then brought back to life. It was the power Jesus displayed that the people placed their hope in. As significant as the miracle of raising Lazarus was (and is) it along all the other miracles Jesus performed were temporary fixes. Even though Jesus raised Lazarus from the tomb Lazarus would die again.
It was Jesus’ temporary fixes the people put their hope in but Jesus came to give people a permanent fix. Jesus wants to give us a permanent fix and his permanent fix did not come on Palm Sunday. It didn’t come on Maundy Thursday (celebration of the Last Supper). It did not come on Good Friday. It came on Easter Sunday as Jesus walked out of the tomb. It came Easter Sunday when Jesus reached back in the tomb and led us out. Matthew’s gospel talks about Jesus’ Permanent Fix. “The angel said to the women, ‘Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. He isn’t here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where his body was lying. Now hurry! Tell his disciples that he has been raised to life and is on his way to Galilee. Go there, and you will see him. That is what I came to tell you.’” (Matthew 28:5-7 CEV)
“Come, see the place where his body was lying.” It is when we in our imagination (spiritually) step out of life and through Jesus’ opened tomb Jesus is then able to reach in and lead us out. It was as Mary stepped out of the tomb she discovered Jesus. The same applies to us. You heard it said that we need to bare our own crosses and while that is true it is also true we need to step into Jesus’ tomb. When the angels rolled the rock away from his tomb that morning long ago God forever opened the doorway of “death row” and we became children of the resurrection there in lie the fulfillment of our greatest hope. Because of Jesus our sentence of death by sin has been commuted, we no longer live our lives on death row but instead we live our lives in the Hope of Heavens Light.
We are Children of the Resurrection. The Apostle Paul writing to the church at Corinth wrote about what it means to be a Child of the Resurrection. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:17-19 ESV)
In his daily devotional titled “Day-by-Day-by-Grace” Bob Hoekstra also provides insight in what it means to be a Child of the Resurrection.
Day By Day By Grace
April 1, 2012
New Creatures in Christ
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Everyone who is "in Christ," through faith in His name, is a "new creation." We are new people. We are no longer who we were before we put our trust in the Lord Jesus. We are not the "old man" reformed or improved, we are a "new creation." Yes, we have the same bodies, but they are mere tents in which we dwell. "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1). Some day in glory, we will trade these temporal, earthly tents for eternal heavenly ones. Meanwhile, though we live in the same old tents we had in Adam, we are new tenants, a "new creation." We may have the same old physical brain, but we are learning to think an entirely new way. "We have the mind of Christ… be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2 and 1 Corinthians 2:16). Christ lives in us, and His Spirit also dwells in us. His Spirit takes the word of God and unfolds the thinking of our Lord for us. As we embrace God’s way of thinking more and more, we are transformed to walk in the newness that is ours in "in Christ."
In all the ways that matter before God, "old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." The old guilt is replaced by new forgiveness. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…in whom we have…the forgiveness of sins" (Romans 8:1 and Colossians 1:14).
The old foolishness is replaced by new wisdom. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God…But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God" (1 Corinthians 3:19 and 1:30). The old unrighteousness is replaced with new righteousness. "All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (Isaiah 64:6 and 2 Corinthians 5:21). The old hope of changing (self-help) is replaced by new hope of changing (sanctification, God changing us). "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength…You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us…sanctification" (Jeremiah 17:5 and 1 Corinthians 1:30). This is grace upon grace.
O Lord, my hope, I thank You for making me a new person in Christ. Please strengthen my heart to spend time in Your word that I might hear more of these grand truths. Lord, I yearn to walk in more of this rich newness of life, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
And so we find ourselves celebrating another Easter. I see Christmas as the beginning of my ultimate hope and I see Easter transferring my ultimate hope from temporary to permanent. And it is the transformation of hope from temporary to permanent that inspires me to continue to journey with Jesus throughout the remainder of the year.
Lent 2012, My Spiritual Journey Continues…
Part Four… A Child of the Resurrection Journey’s Toward Lent 2013
Grace and PEACE,