I first chose the subject for this blog post near the beginning of Lent. This has been a real blessing as it has meant that during Lent I have focused on the cross, what it means on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and how it relates to prayer. In one
sense I am barely scratching the surface so I am focusing on just a few things for each day.
On Good Friday we see Jesus dying on the cross in our place because of our sins, and on Easter Sunday we see an empty cross and an empty tomb because Jesus has been raised from the dead. When we pray we must always have both these in mind, whether consciously or sub-consciously, as they will affect how we pray.
When we think of the cross on Good Friday it is the place of repentance and forgiveness, but on Easter Sunday we see it as the place of hope and victory.
If you don't know Jesus then now is the time to come to Him in prayer (which is simply talking to God). You can turn away from your sins and leave them at the foot of the cross. If you believe that Jesus died in your place then you can walk away and be free
from those sins forever. This is what Good Friday is about; it is the first half of the Good News (or Gospel) that you can now be dead to sin.
On Easter Sunday both the cross and the tomb are empty, Jesus has been raised from the dead. The second half of the Good News is that just as Jesus was resurrected from the dead so you too can have a new life in him, and can live this life because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is now living in you.
Paul talks to the Roman Christians about what it means to be ‘dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 6:11, please read all of Romans 6:1-15). This is what Jesus death on the cross has done for us. Prayer is central to this new life, what could be more natural than to talk to your natural father and God is now your Heavenly Father. It is also through prayer that you can know his enabling, and his power at work both in and through you.
It is because of Christ's finished work on the cross that we pray from a place of victory, not of defeat. On the cross Jesus said, 'It is finished' (John 19:30), and it was. Whenever we pray we must stand on the completeness of his work, and in the power of his blood which was shed for us.
Jesus was raised from the dead; he ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of Father God in heaven. (See Philippians 2:1-11) We are seated with Him in the Father's presence and in a place of power and authority. (You might want to read my last blog post ‘What’s your praying position?’ which talks about this.)
Jesus is also praying for us in heaven which he can do with understanding. (See Hebrews 4:14-16) He knows what it is like to know physical and emotional pain, to feel abandoned, and to be betrayed. Because Jesus died on the cross we can never say to him, ‘Oh, you can’t understand’, in fact we can understand so little of what he went through, not the other way round.
All this is amazing, but there is even more! God doesn’t just give us just enough, he gives beyond what we could ask or imagine. It is from heaven that Jesus baptises us in the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:1-9 and Acts 2:1-13) and gives us blessing and power beyond imagining, and enables us to pray as he is praying (See Romans 8:26-27).I shall look at prayer and the Holy Spirit in my next post.
Lord Jesus, help me never to lose sight of your cross, but help me to know that I can always come to you in repentance for sin and live my life in your power and in victory. Thank you that you are no longer on the cross as you were raised from the dead and are now seated in heaven next to your Father. Thank you for the cross, Amen.
Theresa Grant ( @theresagrant3 )
I was impacted by one of the comments made towards the end of Christ for All Nations School of Evangelism in January “Purpose in your heart, that you are not affected by people who don’t see, to dominate what you do see”. This made me think about the people around me who have influenced my ministry decisions. I also thought of the challenges that faced Jesus and later Paul in the early days of ministry whereby they were rejected. I am encouraged by the testimonies found in scripture that show the encounters that they had and the way in which they reacted.
As I read through Acts 17 I realised that there were things that I could learn from Paul’s testimony and help me to “purpose my mind”. I was also struck by the similarities to the parable of the sower. In Thessalonica Paul went to the Synagogue on three Sabbaths and reasoned from the scriptures (Acts 17:3), some were persuaded but there were some who weren’t. In the same town the scriptures testifies that “devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women”, joined Paul. Paul always went to the synagogue first, he had a strategy but who came to accept Jesus was out of his control. The result of his obedience, some of His words fell on stony ground others fell on fertile. But regardless of the reaction Paul and of course more so Jesus remained faithful to their purpose. They did not get aggravated, they did not lose focus and they didn’t lose heart. They “purposed their heart”. There are similar accounts in the verses that follow (take a few moments to read them).
We know that Jesus said if you are not welcomed in peace shake the sand from your feet, leave in peace, continue to preach the Gospel and pour out Grace. Paul did this, knowing that he had the personal presence of God in him. This was an encouragement for me. I have the personal presence of God in me in, the Holy Spirit. Todd White followed the above comment with “Walk and function fully in the Spirit” and later “the motive always needs to be populate heaven” and “love needs to be always a motive”. I know that it is God’s love that will turn those with harden hearts, the lost, the atheist, the agnostic and the sceptic to him. It is the truth that sets captives free, he will use me as a vessel; I need to walk in obedience to his will, fully submitted to the Spirit.
At times it is a challenge for me all to walk the path of ministry. There are times when all is going well, but there are times when the words of others affect me to the point of straying from the path that God has directed. The comment mentioned above, encouraged me to return, return to whatGod had shown me. I understand the uniqueness of my calling. Likewise what he has shown you is unique. No one else can fulfil the purpose nor will they have the means by which to fulfil the mandate. He has set your path, he already knows who you will meet, who you will take the Gospel to... heal... comfort...empower... Awesome! He has the provision ready, the timing, the venue, amazing!
The comment says “Purpose your heart”. Now is the time to go back to what He has asked of you – preach the Gospel. Pray for the sick. Walk in humility “Purposed your heart” to fulfil the mandate, “Purpose your heart” to populate heaven, “purpose your heart” to walk in love.
Tina Russell-Mott ( @agapetina )
I wonder if you knew that you only had hours to live, what would you do? Visit loves ones, get your finances in order, maybe make some calls... whatever the case would be for you personally, I can tell you what you would do: You would do the thing that was most important to you while you still had time.
In 1 John 2:18 we read 'Little Children, it is the last time:...' That is to say there is not 'another time'. We are not here just in preparation for 'another time' This is the time, this is our time and it is the 'LAST' time. The seconds are ticking away, the clock counting down 'til Jesus returns will soon strike midnight!
What are we to be doing in this 'last time' - what is important? Well while we have health in our bodies, and a calling on our lives, there is one important thing we should be doing - making sure we are living out the life of grace that God has enabled us as christians to be partakers of. 'NOW is the day of salvation' (2 Cor 6: 2) the bible says. Now is the day of God's grace. We are never promised a tomorrow - we only have today, we only have NOW. Don't miss the opportunities God is sending your way. Don't leave things too late.
My son is coming up to his main school exams soon and I have been emphasing the importance of revision. The revision has to be done now - it will be too late to revise on the day of the exam. He has to make the most of his time to revise now if he is to do well in his exams.
The same applies to our lives.... we need to make the most of the opportunites God gives us now, whilst there is time. Jesus said in John chapter 9 ' I must do the works of him that sent me, while it is still day: The night cometh, when no man can work.'
Someone once said 'Life is not a dress rehearsal' - they were right, this is it. Just as Jesus had his 'now' time, so we have NOW to do what God has called us to do. One day I will not be here - I will have died. I don't know when that day will be. You do not know when you're day will come, but when that day comes for each of us it will be too late - 'the night cometh when no man can work'
I am not meaning to be negative, for those in Christ, for those that have trusted Jesus and know Him as Saviour and Lord, the sting of death has been dealt with,Hallelujah!! A day will come when we enter into eternity to with the Lord Jesus forever - what a joy that will be!!
Until that day comes however, we need to be alert, watchful, prayerful, and sharing the love of God and the gospel wherever we can - we must work whilst it it still 'day', while we still have opportunity and still have time.
Steve Mullins ( @drybonestrust )