And the Lord said to Moses, Write these words, for after the purpose and character of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.
[Exodus 34:27 AMPC]
And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
[Genesis 37:8 NKJV]
Whenever we sit with our Bibles and consider scripture we must at some point come to the conclusion that some words used are foreign to our understanding with the natural mind. It is a given that we need the inspiration (the breathing in) of the Holy Spirit to help us reach for the Lord's meaning for today. And He will reveal more and more as we mature in our faith. It is a walk after all and we do not reach our destination instantaneously.
Sir Christopher Wren is reputed to have said that his design for St Paul's Cathedral in London was 'awful, amusing and artificial'. You would think that he thought poorly of it, but if we used more present-day words, we would say something like 'awe-inspiring, thought-provoking and beautifully done'. 'Awful' meant full of awe; 'amusing' described how it would engage our attention and hopefully be pleasing, and 'artificial' came from the word 'artifice' meaning clever or ingenious. We sometimes forget that The Bible was originally set down in a language not our own; one that was described as 'word poor', in that one word had many meanings or inflections.
In the Exodus verse above, The Lord urges Moses to consider His covenant after the purpose and character of these words. In other words, "Do you understand what I am saying, Moses?" So when we read the Genesis we see what Joseph's brothers wanted to know. They were making a distinction between dominion and reign. Now both dominion and reign can be and sometimes are replaced by the word 'rule'. So what is the distinction?
To reign has the additional sense of to counsel, to advise and consider, rather than the mere exercise of power. In essence, Joseph's brothers are asking "Are you going to rule with fairness and justice, seeking the best for your people, or are you going to be a tyrant?".
We must always remember that Jesus disappointed His disciples at the end. He was to be King of Kings. For Jesus, 'reigning' seemed to be 'despised of men'; they had yet to realise that His kingdom was turning the world upside down so that we could all be 'rightly related to God'.
What an amazing and wonderful thing it is that we have a Heavenly Father, who seeks no dominion over us, but gives us free will to come to Him or not, just as we choose; but if we choose Him now and every now, He invites us to grow in faith, hope and love until we are ready to rule and reign with His son. Our God reigns!
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. [Revelation 20:6 AV]
And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. [Revelation 22:5 AV]
"Our God Reigns" - Edward Rivera and The McClures
OSWALD CHAMBERS - 'RUN TODAY'S RACE'
Thursday 30th April 2020
Faith is more than an attitude of mind,
faith is the complete, passionate, earnest trust of our whole nature
in the Gospel of God's grace
as it is presented in the Life and Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.
[Psalm 18:1-3 NKJV]
In these unsettling days, we have a tremendous assurance of The Lord's covering hand on us, and the peace that comes from His strength encourages us to trust Him, not just in the present trial, but in all things. We have experienced His love, and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. [Romans 8:28 NKJV].
Our God is the only one we can trust. He is unfailing and unchanging. The natural life teaches us to distrust. People let us down, or simply stop short of our expectations. The reality of this is that our focus is on ourselves - what we want - instead of looking to Our Saviour and what He wants. He wants us daily to repent - to turn ourselves around - our gaze on Him, not on ourselves. Looking to Him, we can accomplish great things, in His strength; things we would never countenance in our own.
It puts in mind a poem, written by Leo Marx, Code Poem For The French Resistance. It was used in the film Carve Her Name With Pride, which told the true story of Violette Szabo, shot by the Nazi's as a spy. Violette was played in the film by Virginia McKenna, for whom the poem became a personal favourite. The poem reads as a message of love and faith, both essentials for trust.
The life that I have, is all that I have
And the life that I have is yours
The love that I have of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have, a rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years in the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.
The beauty of this poem - as indeed of all great art - is the multi-layers of meaning that can be discerned. It was devised as a code, although what that code was is unclear, but these verses have consistently meant a lot to many people and in many different ways.
Lord, help me to trust in you - and to nurture that trust that I may find 'the peace of my years'. In deed and in truth, 'all that I have is the life that I have' and my life was bought at such a price by You, Lord. Direct my ways to be Yours, and Yours, and Yours.
Virginia McKenna as Violette Szabo in the film 'Carve Her Name With Pride'
OSWALD CHAMBERS - 'RUN TODAY'S RACE'
Wednesday 29th April 2020
Obedience to Jesus Christ is essential, but never compulsory.
In the early stages we have the notion that the Christian life is one of freedom,
and so it is, but freedom for one thing only - freedom to obey our Master.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV]
For the last three days I have had today's title running around in my head trying to find a home. I knew that the Lord was speaking - distilling some things together - but it proved to be an elusive message. Until this morning.
I went to bed last night trying to 'search it out' , and was given a vivid and strange non-sensical dream, in which I was wading into water trying to drag a cluster of eider ducks to shore when they plainly wanted to stay where they were, as well as explaining the Scripture below to our son, Marc.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.
And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” [Exodus 16:4-5 NKJV]
'Manna' probably comes from the word manan, to allot, or make a gift of. This manna from heaven is, of course, the Lord's daily provision, except on the sixth day, when an extra amount is made ready to allow for the Sabbath being a day of rest. What the Lord seems to be stressing is that He gives us what we need for now. If any of it is hoarded it ceases to sustain. None of us would consider eating food which had lain out for several days; that would be foolish and damaging to our well-being. Equally, eating more than our daily portion would not be wise either.
let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, must be seen as a daily thing, taking the sustaining manna of His word to help us in overcoming the hazards that could easily send us off the track. Our God is a god of now; of today, and He desires the best for us and He knows what we are like.
But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. [John 2:24-25 NKJV]
If we spend our days living in what happened yesterday and fretting over what might occur tomorrow, then we do not have our all concentrated on Him today. Run the race with Him as your pacemaker; one day at a time ...
"One Day At A Time" - Lena Martell
 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
[Proverbs 25:2 NKJV]
“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory.
Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended.
Also your people shall all be righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.
A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation.
I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time.” [Isaiah 60:19-22 NKJV]
There is a time to every purpose under the heaven, said in Ecclesiastes 3:1 and our verse in Isaiah 60 I, The Lord will hasten it in its time, makes it clear that the time for anything is His time, not ours. Indeed, God says we do not understand the time we are in ...
For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them. [Eccesiastes 9:12 NKJV]
We may think we see the end from the beginning, but if we act as though that end had already happened, we fall out of step with God. He wants us to be where He has us - now!
We have been told by the politicians that we know this pandemic we are going through will end at some point - possibly in three months, six months, and now probably fourteen months time. The fact is that no one can tell. Viruses do not just go away - they must be eradicated. The Lord seems to be telling us that the pestilence will be overcome, but in His time, not ours. He is teaching us to hear and obey His word, and to draw patience (longsuffering in AKJV) from His Holy Spirit.
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, [2 Peter 3:8-15 NKJV]
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? [Psalm 8:1-4 AV]
In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: [Daniel 5:5a AV]
The King, Belshazzar, saw the fingers of a man's hand write on the wall* and he was greatly troubled by the message from God - he could not interpret it - and called on all his astrologers, soothsayers and wise men to find the meaning of the heavenly writing, but they too failed to find the answer. They could not understand what God was pointing at. Only Daniel ('in whom is the spirit of the holy gods') could give the understanding.
It is always the case that only those that have eyes to see and ears to hear will understand the works of God; will see what the finger of God is writing in their hearts. The Hebrew word for 'finger' means to seize or grasp. It is an active word. We cannot grip without fingers - either physical or spiritual ones - and when The Lord wants us to grab hold of something that He is saying to us, He uses the finger of His Holy Spirit to point us in the right direction, be it a verse of scripture, a word spoken by a friend, or a thought placed in our minds.
Now a similar word, but from the same root word as 'finger', means 'diverse colours'; used for Joseph's coat of 'many colours'. Colour has great spiritual significance in Scripture - too much to go into detail here - but for me as a painter in watercolour, I know that my colour is a pigment suspended in water, properly a 'colloid' - a cloud of colour held in place by the action of water molecules on the particles of pigment. In the science class at school, this 'Brownian Motion' could be observed through the use of a thing called a 'Wilson Cloud Chamber'* This device allows us to understand what is happening through the action of light shining through a cloud.
God's fingers bring the light of understanding to His people. He shines the clear pure light of The Holy Spirit through the clouds in our minds, so that we 'see the light' ...
... and when white light is shone through a prism, it splits into many colours - or to turn it around - many colours make up one pure light. To me this speaks of the many attributes of God in one; that He is The great God above all gods.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. [John 1:1-9 NKJV]
Keep Walking (in the light of The Lord) - Eva Mae LeFevre
* Note that the fingers wrote over against the candlestick, the source of light.
** Charles Thomson Rees Wilson (1869–1959), a Scottish physicist, is credited with inventing the cloud chamber. Inspired by sightings of the Brocken spectre while working on the summit of Ben Nevis in 1894, he began to develop expansion chambers for studying cloud formation and optical phenomena in moist air. Very rapidly he discovered that ions could act as centres for water droplet formation in such chambers. He pursued the application of this discovery and perfected the first cloud chamber in 1911.
In Wilson's original chamber the air inside the sealed device was saturated with water vapour, then a diaphragm was used to expand the air inside the chamber (adiabatic expansion), cooling the air and starting to condense water vapour. Hence the name expansion cloud chamber is used.
When an ionizing particle passes through the chamber, water vapour condenses on the resulting ions and the trail of the particle is visible in the vapour cloud.
Wilson, along with Arthur Compton, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927 for his work on the cloud chamber. This kind of chamber is also called a pulsed chamber because the conditions for operation are not continuously maintained. Further developments were made by Patrick Blackett who utilised a stiff spring to expand and compress the chamber very rapidly, making the chamber sensitive to particles several times a second. A cine film was used to record the images.
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. [Acts 9:1-3 NKJV]
What beauty there is seeing the sunlight piercing through a heavy cloud and illuminating the land or sea beneath. I have tried to capture that effect of the weather on many occasions, either photographically or in paint, with mixed results. The real thing remains inimitable.
Many years ago, I heard this light described as 'The Fingers of God', reaching down to us from the heavenlies revealing His hand and thus His presence with us, and I have wondered if this was the light from heaven that shone around Saul on the road to Damascus to round up those of 'The Way' as the early Christians were known.
Certainly, He is a light in our darkness - needed now more than ever.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. [Ephesians 5:8 NKJV]
Think of how we use our fingers ... they are tools for detailed work; they enable the fine caress of a loved one; they turn the pages of a book, plant seeds, prepare food, enable creativity, perform surgery ... a myriad of essentials. We often pray for the Lord to place His hand upon someone to heal or protect, but it will be His fingers that will see to the detail of that work. Our Lord knows even the number of hairs on our heads; He knows every detail, and He does detailed, precise and restoring work in each of us.
The Fingers of God in our photograph are pure light, and just as the shafts of light search through the cloud to find the earth and cast aside the darkness, His fingers grip our hearts and bring His heavenly light to our spirits. His fingers bring divine illumination - a word used to describe the work of monks creating beautiful illustrated Bibles, like The Book of Kells. These books brought light to the minds of men.
“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed. [Daniel 7:13-14 NKJV]
He Touched Me - Gaither Vocal Band
And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead. [Philippians 3:10-11 AMP]
Oswald Chambers said "Love is not measured by what it gets, but by what it costs" [Oswald Chambers 'The Psychology of Redemption']
These verses from Philippians encapsulate and reveal perhaps the greatest foundation stone of the Christian faith. That Jesus died on the cross, defeated death and lived again, so that we too may be reassured not only of eternal life, but of new life in this life.
And yet it can so easily get us tied in knots if we consider it with the natural mind. The rational mind always asks the question 'how', which is why we need 'the mind of Christ' ... that mind which is in you ...
Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, [1 Corinthians 6:19 AMPC]
For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. [1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV]
and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:7 NKJV]
That gift from God was and is the greatest gift we can ever receive - a gift of love from our Heavenly Father to His children - but at what a cost ...
I stand before the presence
of The Lord God of Hosts
A child of my Father
and an heir of His grace
But Jesus paid the price for me
The veil was torn in two
And the Holy of Holies
shall become my dwelling place
'Jesus Paid It All' - Kim Walker-Smith
Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. [Isaiah 55:6 NKJV]
Go through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people;
Build up the highway!
Take out the stones,
Lift up a banner for the peoples!
[Isaiah 62:10 NKJV]
Isaiah 55:6 was suggested by Pat, who says that this verse and the encouragement in Isaiah 62:10 to Go Through The Gates (sung in the video below by Barry and Batya Segal) are important for this time.
Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near has been very important to us, and has been a recurring word in our walk of faith. There is the implication that there may come a time when He may not be found, that He will be afar off. This word seems echoed in the The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. In Matthew 25:10 we are told: And while (the foolish virgins) went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
There is an urgency about our relationship with God. He says "Don't let your faith slide. Work at it!" And the reality is that it is not God closing the door of the Kingdom on us, but ourselves - through our lackadaisical approach to Him - failing to answer His knock on the door. It is the question discussed in Holman Hunt's painting 'The Light of The World', based on Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Isaiah is calling us to draw near to God, seek Him before we do not know where to look. Answer his knock on the door and "Go through the gates!"
Several years ago, I felt led by The Lord to study the gates of Jerusalem as mentioned in the book of Nehemiah. This ended up being a series of talks, but briefly, I believe that the gates relate to our walk with The Lord, and that we can go in and out of the city of our God until we can go no more out. Isaiah seems to be encouraging us in 62:10 to hear from God and 'put His word into our walk', for the rewards are immense, and where one leads, others will follow on that Kingdom highway to everlasting life.
Below is a table of the Gates, Names and meanings which begin to build a picture of the pattern being revealed in Scripture. This is not the place to give in in-depth interpretation, but at some point soon, we hope to put our notes into an article which can be downloaded for further study.
'Go Through the Gates (Isaiah 62:10)' by Barry & Batya Segal
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
[1 Peter 1:3-9 NKJV]
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow - lines from the popular Bill and Gloria Gaither song (see video below); lines which resonate with us all at this time when we are grieved by great trials. And this message applies every day; not just in the current crisis.
It is said regularly that the times in which we are living are 'unprecedented'. In a sense that is always so; every today has not been experienced before; every tomorrow is unique. 'Groundhog Day', when each day is identical to yesterday, is an amusing fiction in the movies, but would be intolerable if experienced as reality.
The truth is that the only experience which is unchanging and the same yesterday, today and forever is Jesus Christ [Hebrews 13:8 NKJV] ... and yet He is also new every morning. That is a great mystery of our Lord; the same forever and forever alive. He is indeed a living hope through the resurrection ... that does not fade away. Because He lives. Hallelujah!
Gaither Vocal Band "Because He Lives"
The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, though hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation.
Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey. [Isaiah 32:17-20]
These verses from Isaiah 32, leapt out when reading this morning, and immediately brought to mind the beautiful hymn Blessed Assurance, a version of which is linked below.
Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey seems to speak of having a generous and humble spirit, and seeking fruitfulness in our dealings with all we meet ... perhaps a poetic way of saying that you love one another.
Isaiah has always appealed for his great prophetic gift, but also for the powerful imagery he evokes; here his mention of the ox and the donkey - both beasts of burden; the ox also a sacrificial animal - swiftly gives a wonderful example of the nature of those whom The Lord deems blessed.
In His presence there is no doubt of His blessed assurance ...
"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.
Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1: 5-9 NKJV]
The Scripture reading from the Book of Joshua was sent out by Bobby Owens in the United States. Some of you will know him from his visits to the land of His birth over many years along with his wife Cathy - both anointed followers of Jesus.
The verses do not need comment from us, and it seemed timely to share them with you today. We also include the video of a song of Psalm 91, suggested by Di in our Fellowship, beautifully sung by Esther Mui.
Psalm 91 song - Esther Mui
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me
'Great Is Thy Faithfulness' (second verse) Thomas Chisholm/W M Runyan
photography by Gill Stewart
Val sent this encouragement at the weekend: Not all of us can do great things; but we can do a little with great love. The love of God is a great love and without Him, we can only love. All that is good and great in us comes from the Almighty. There are many things that we call great, which in reality are nothing of the sort in comparison with Him.
Val's thought inspired recollection of the famous hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. He is ever faithful, ever sure, to borrow a line from another hymn. And the sureness of His faithfulness toward us is what gives us the security we crave; it inspires trust in Him for all that we need. Not what we want; but what we need - and only He fully knows what we need.
In March - before the lockdown - we went to a healing retreat run by Ellel Ministries. We both went there with our idea of what each of us wanted in the way of healing and restoration. The beauty of that retreat was how the faithfulness of the ministry team in hearing from the Holy Spirit, were able to discern what we needed ... and that, in turn, provided a large measure of what we wanted. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. If The Lord had given us only what we wanted, the healing would have been merely superficial. The Lord's way is deeper and lasts, if we walk it out, so that now, morning by morning new mercies I see.
His way is truth and brings life. Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.
Chris Rice singing 'Great Is Thy Faithfulness'
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared, but they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’" [Luke 24:1-7 NKJV]
A favourite song from our early years of faith after The Lord got a hold of us, is this one ...
Brethren come see the tomb where Jesus lay
That stone's been rolled away
That stone's been rolled away
Death could not hold Him much less the grave
since that stone's been rolled away
And now He's risen
and now He's reigning
from within my heart He's singing
songs of praise
and now He's risen
and now He's reigning
since that stone's been rolled away
Lord roll that stone away
release me from this grave
make this hardened heart of mine
soft as potter's clay
O Lord shed abroad
the precious love of God
O Lord roll that stone away
Brethren come see the tomb where Jesus lay
That stone's been rolled away
That stone's been rolled away
Death could not hold Him
much less the grave
since that stone's been rolled away
Our prayer today is 'Lord continually and eternally roll that hard stone away from our hearts, releasing Your compassion and love in us, that it may flow from us in torrents; turning that love back towards You, Lord, and filling us with Your compassion for our fellow men and women. In Jesus name. Amen.'
Incidentally, we listened to the 5th April sermon (5th April 2020 'Finding Your Voice In The Storm') by Pastor Carter Conlon of Times Square Church, which we found powerful. Here is a link to the church Sermons page.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.
Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. [Exodus 12:12-13 NKJV]
This is an excerpt from one of the best known stories in the Old Testament. This story, where The Lord sent the destroyer to strike the Egyptians, but protect the children of Israel, shows the event which has ever since been commemorated as one of the three Great Feasts of Israel - The Feast of Passover - which we celebrate as Easter.
Easter was apparently named after a pre-Christian goddess of Spring, Eostre, referenced by The Venerable Bede, and is probably another example of early Christian saints converting an existing belief system to Christianity. St Columba's footprints at Keil in Kintyre, originally used for ceremonial purposes, almost certainly pre-dated Columba, as did a similar carving on Dunadd near here.
But the Easter message is so much more than history and the workings of men - fascinating though a lot of that is. All that is in the world, while The Lord works in the land, and this is His way of doing that ...
Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.
And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.
For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.
And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. [Exodus 12:21-24 NKJV]
... The Lord works the land - which is each of us - as would a farmer. He sows and plants and tills the soil; He nurtures the growth, but is not afraid to weed out where necessary. He is creating His garden anew, and we can see this husbandry right throughout scripture, right throughout the history of this world; right throughout the life of each one chosen by Him since before the beginning of time to be His people.
'He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts'. The Lord sees those who follow Him; who know Him. Those who hear His word; who hear Him. They are 'covered in the blood of Jesus'
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. [Romans 5:9 NKJV]
Hallelujah! And may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine at this blessed Eastertide.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART
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