"Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, . . . They are not
just idle words for you-- they are your life" (Deuteronomy 32:46-47).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Promises Especially for You

"But now, this is what the Lord says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. . . . Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you; I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. . . . I will bring your children from the east, and gather you from the west. . . . Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made’" (Isaiah 43:1, 4-5, 7, NKJV).

Life can be so superficial. We can live in hurry and flurry, and we do, without spending precious moments considering the value of this life we’ve been given. Friend, stop today and consider how good Easter really is for you. Realize that, unmistakably, you are part of God’s dream for his creation. There is a place prepared for you where you will fit in perfectly. You have a lively future, a living hope.

In the passage above, God prophetically announced himself to be Israel’s redeemer, their rescuer–the one who would bring them out of the shame and oppression of a hard life of slavery. As their forefathers in Egypt, they would live as unnamed, unknown, unloved servants of toil and labor at the hand of a hard task-master in Babylon. However, they should not lose heart. Though their sinful rejection of the fatherhood of the God who created them would have to be paid, deliverance was coming.

As much as God had created Adam to be the father of the human race, he had created Israel to father a peculiar people to be his very own. "For I have redeemed you" is a snapshot into the future, a forth-telling of the time when God would, indeed bring his people out of exile in Babylon back to their beloved Jerusalem.

Yet their return to their homeland was to be a sign of the ultimate redemption that would take place at a later time. God himself would send his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem his people out of their bondage in sin and into the precious salvation of present and eternal fellowship with him.

The religious leaders of Israel in the first century led Israel to reject Jesus as their long-awaited, prophesied, and promised Messiah Redeemer. But did that stop God’s plan? No. To the cross Jesus went, battered, bruised, scarred, and crucified. Let the anthem of John ring out through the ages: "For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Did Israel’s rejection of Christ disqualify all of the nation for salvation? Hardly. Paul explained: "I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! . . . For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" (Romans 10:11-12, 15). As a result of Jesus willingly giving his life on the cross, all who trust in him, Jew and Gentile, will be saved.

Here are a few Easter promises especially for you:

You are known by God. God’s message through Isaiah was: "I have summoned you by name." Friend, you are not some anonymous person trudging your way through this world. You may feel like no one knows you or cares for you, but that simply is not true. There is not one moment of your life that has not been lived out under the watchful eyes of your creator God. Put it down in big print and believe it–God knows your name. Jesus said, "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Luke 12:7). In addition, if belong to Christ by faith, God has numbered you among those who are his special possession for all eternity: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9). Put it down in big print and believe it–God knows you.

You are precious in God's sight. God’s message through Isaiah was: "Since you are precious . . . in my sight." What value do you really place on your own life. Do you feel like your life matters? God does. You are of infinite worth to the One who made you. As a matter of fact, if you did not matter, you wouldn’t be alive. The very fact that you live, breathe, and move means you matter more than you could ever know. So, then, do you treat your life as precious? You should. None of us has the right to treat our bodies haphazardly and hurtfully. Our existence is fragile and for only a time; therefore, we should take good care of ourselves as a sign that we understand our life is not our own, but was given to us by God. Paul said, "He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:9-10). Put it down in big print and believe it–God believes you are precious.

You are honored by God. God’s message through Isaiah was: "Since you are . . . honored in my sight." Think of your life–past, as well as, present. Have you always done what was right in God’s sight? Have you always honored God with your thoughts, words, and actions? How many times have you chosen to please yourself, instead of pleasing God? The fact that God cares for any of us who have turned our backs on him is mindboggling. Yet God has and God does care. That’s what the message of the Bible is: "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. ‘I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’ Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more’" (Hebrews 10:16-17). That covenant was cut on Calvary and sealed at the resurrection. Put it down in big print and believe it–God has honored you.

You are loved by God. God’s message through Isaiah was: "because I love you." The very fact that we live and breath is proof that God loves us. The fact that we are a part of a family is proof that God loves us. We have food, shelter, and clothes to prove that God loves us. However, the greatest proof of God’s love for us is the Cross of Christ. His death paved the way for all people to be forgiven and restored, yet only those who believe and trust by receiving Christ as Lord are forgiven and restored. Hear the message: "We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). Yet, Christ's death is not where the story ends. Three days later Jesus rose from the dead. He truly is alive. Imagine this: the God who made you died for you, and now lives again to empower you to live the life you were created to live, and one day will return to get you, and take you to be with him for all eternity. Put it down in big print and believe it–God loves you.

The apostle John recorded one of the greatest promises Jesus ever spoke: "I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!" (Revelation 1:18). Easter is God's promise to you that he knows you, you are precious to him, he honors you, and he loves you. The death and resurrection of Jesus gives you forgiveness from your past, power for your present, and hope for your future. Trusting Christ as Lord, you have new life, and that life is worth living. So go discover the life God planned for you, and do just that--live it to the fullest!