I’m a Believer

…blessed is she that believed… -Luke 1:45

Father, Into Thy Hands (Surrender) April 11, 2009

(This is part of an Easter series: The Seven Sayings of Jesus on the Cross.  To view all posts in this series, click here.)

PRESENTATION OF HIS LIFE & SPIRIT – Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. ~Luke 23:46

Again, Jesus prays.  He began with a prayer, He prayed in the midst, and He ends with a prayer.  As He lived, so He died, in perfect communion with His Father.

At this point, Jesus has been brought through anguish, obedience, darkness, and recognition of the completion of God’s plan.  It has been a long, painful day.  And so at the end of this day He prays and addresses God again tenderly as Father. 

Again He prays scripture:

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth. ~Psalm 31:5

Psalm 31:5 was the “now I lay me down to sleep” type of prayer of the day.  Many Jewish mothers undoubtedly prayed this prayer at the end of long days with their children.  Perhaps even Jesus had done so throughout His life.  Now He prays it one last time, knowing that even though He had felt forsaken only hours before, His spirit will be safe in His Father’s hands.  These words speak the ultimate surrender to the will of the Father, and now the redemption spoken of in the psalm is completed.

There are several noteworthy things about this presentation of his spirit, but the main one is this:

IT IS LAST!

Many times we think that we can just skip to this step when trying to walk through something difficult, trying to crucify something about our flesh.  We yearn desperately to press the fast forward button to get to the finish line and run headlong into the arms of our Father who is waiting for us.  But can we really expect a heart of surrender toward Him if we aren’t willing to walk in forgiveness, mercy, grace, provision, spiritual dependence, obedience, knowledge of God’s plan, as Jesus did on the cross?

We must walk through what God has for us.  Jesus had to – what makes us think we are so special??  We ARE special though – God sends the Holy Ghost to empower us – to help us as we walk by faith seeking to do the will of the Father.  He is conforming us to the image of His son. 

To commend our spirit into God’s hands demonstrates complete and total trust in the nature of God and the plans of God, as shown in the Word of God. 

At death, after living a perfect life, as Jesus presented His body as a sacrifice for all believers, He commended His Spirit into the hands of His Father.  If you have accepted the sacrifice of Christ as atonement for your sins, when you come to the end of your life, you need not be afraid.    If you practice a daily life of surrender into the hands of God, how much more joyous will that day be when you confidently and with sweet surrender and relief run into the open arms of your loving Father who waits for you.  I’m looking forward to it! 

I’m A Believer!

Laura

 

I Thirst (Endurance) April 10, 2009

(This is part of an Easter series: The Seven Sayings of Jesus on the Cross.  To view all posts in this series, click here.)

PART OF THE PLANI thirst.

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.  ~John 19:28

These words are not spoken as a prayer.  They are not spoken to God.  They are words from a thirsty man expressing a need.

I see several things about these words.

Jesus had a knowledge of everything that needed to be done.

We see the words “Jesus knowing“.  This verse tells us that before Jesus spoke these words, He knew “all things were now accomplished.”  He knew God’s plan, He knew His part, He knew it had to be done God’s way.

Jesus was willing to accept the suffering that was necessary, but discerned that which was not necessary.

Jesus at this point was beaten, bleeding, suffocating, hot.  He had been nailed through His hands and His feet, He was wearing a crown of thorns.  But yet He said “I THIRST.” 

He didn’t complain about anything else, but thirst. 

 Sometimes when we are in the middle of “dying” we lose track of what we do and don’t have to endure.  If we can discern what God has for us to endure, and what He has relief for, we can endure that which we must endure, for much longer!  There are some circumstances that God has ordained to make us stronger and some are just distractions that God has not ordained. 

 Additionally, God has placed people in our lives to help in some of these areas that aren’t necessary for us to endure.  The difficult part for us is KNOWING God’s plan.  To do this, we must seek Him seek to understand what is and what is not required of us.

 Jesus was willing to do everything required of Him.

 Not only did Jesus have a knowledge of what needed to be fulfilled, what his part was (and wasn’t) in it, He was WILLING TO DO EVERYTHING REQUIRED OF HIM.

 He knew exactly which scriptures must be fulfilled.  His death, burial, resurrection could not be allowed to be wasted by sloppy execution.  All scriptures must be fulfilled!

 He WAS thirsty!!  You would be, and He was too.  And being God, He knew that His thirst would not be quenched.  He knew he would endure more mocking, persecution, humiliation, as vinegar was offered to Him.  But yet He said “I THIRST”, so that scripture would be fulfilled.

His obedience to God’s plan & determination not to waste one bit His pain are what kept him on course.

ENDURANCE is often the most difficult part of dying to self.  It can seem sometimes that our circumstances have gone on far beyond what seems reasonable or fair.   But Jesus showed us the way to do it.  His endurance on the cross continues to bring life to believers today.  The offer is extended to all believers to be part of God’s plans.  It will take endurance, but knowing the plans God has for you, knowing what is not required of you, and being willing to do all that IS required, will help you to endure.

Endure and be part of God’s plan.

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.   ~2 Timothy 2:1-3

I’m a Believer!

Laura

 

Father, Forgive (Selflessness) April 6, 2009

(This is part of an Easter series The Seven Sayings of Jesus on the Cross.  To view all posts in this series, click here.)

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  ~Matthew 4:4

I want to look closely at the words Jesus spoke from the cross as He was dying – literally the words that proceeded out of the mouth of God.  As Christians, we are called to die to ourselves, and so I believe that if we look at our example, Jesus Christ, and study what He said and did as He was dying, it will bring abundant life, the kind of life that comes when we truly do live by God’s Word.  

As we look at his words from the cross,  I am going to consider them from several perspectives:

1) as coming from God
2) as pertaining to others
3) as an example for us to follow

As I studied these precious words, the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross, I found His words can be divided into three sections which directly parallel the call to “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow.”  (see previous post)

His first three words express SELFLESSNESS – Denying ourselves.
The next two things he says express ENDURANCE – taking up the cross.
His final words express SURRENDER – following Him.

The first thing Jesus said from the cross is found in Luke 23:33-35

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.  And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. ~Luke 23:33-35

 

 A PRAYER FOR HIS PERSECUTORS – Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

 

 Jesus PRAYS

 The first thing I notice about this utterance is that Jesus PRAYS.  During the darkest day in His life and the darkest day in history He calls out to God as Father.  His relationship with God was of foremost importance. 

 

 Jesus Prays FOR THE PERSECUTORS

 The next thing I notice is that he prayed for THE PEOPLE– not for himself.  This is in the midst of torture that we cannot even begin to imagine.  We CAN imagine ourselves praying in really bad situations, but can we even consider praying for the VERY people who are inflicting pain on us at that moment?

 

 Jesus prays FOR FORGIVENESS for His persecutors

These were not people who have stopped and apologized, but people who are currently tormenting him, yet He didn’t pray that they might stop what they were doing, but prayed to God, the Father on their behalf, for their forgiveness!! 

His punishment & torture was 100% undeserved.  Even in any spat we’ve been in, we can never say we were 100% right and the others were 100% wrong.  But Jesus could, and yet He spent His breath to pray that God would forgive them.

Since Jesus prayed that God would forgive them, I believe this again shows His humanity at this point of His suffering.  There were numerous other places in the Bible where He, acting as God, directly forgave people of their sins.  But here, He is acting as our complete human propitiation, and thus must ask that the Father remit their sins.

The other thing that really stands out is the importance of forgiveness.  The FIRST word that Jesus spoke from the cross was a word of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is valuable to God!!  If unforgiveness becomes a stronghold in our lives, if we are unable to pray for others, if we always want to PROVE WE ARE RIGHT – then we are WRONG!

In the midst of dying, we must be willing to forgive and to pray for people NO MATTER WHAT.  And when they continue, we are not to lose our sense of mercy and forgiveness to them; we are to continue to pray and continue to forgive.

In total selflessness, in denying Himself, Jesus forgave.  In denying yourself, are you willing to forgive?

I’m a Believer!

Laura