“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” John 3:16 (New International Translation)*
Finally, after many years of preaching and teaching, I can now truthfully say, I fully understand “God’s redemptive plan of salvation.” I see clearly now that the cross was not merely a postlude to Christ’s passion, but was the prelude to an abundant new life in Him. Yes, He was crucified. He died and was buried, but more importantly – He was raised!
Unfortunately, it is not until this time of the year that I honestly recollect that the One who had no sins accepted mine –that the Son who had never been separated from His Father chose to die not just for my sins but for the sins of the entire world. By God’s Grace, Jesus, knowing the end before the beginning, did not shrink from His purpose to endure the cross. I am truly grateful that He sacrificed His life so we could live and I acknowledge the incredibly wonderful thing He has done!
During this season especially, I recollect those fateful days of Jesus’ great sacrifice. How His Disciples abandoned Him and His solitary walk to His destiny. I picture Him praying in the Garden and imagine His painful cries to His Father. I envision His suffering on the cross. I hear the mocking crowd of His enemies saying, “crucify Him” when only a few days before cried “crown Him.” I see one hurting who spent his last earthly days, healing and helping. Forgive me Lord, when I forget and boast of anything but your Cross. Please allow me to honor you by saying, “thank you for your compassion and your faithfulness.” “Thank you for exchanging your life for mine, and most of all, thank you for being the way to eternal life!” Mere thanks-giving seems such a shallow and inadequate expression to the One who gave His all, so I will honor you Lord with “thanks-living.”
John 11:25, 26 (NIV) records,“Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die . . . .” This truth empowers me to press through and to continually praise God in the face of every challenge, struggle, or loss. It reminds me that “all things are possible with God and that nothing can separate me from God’s Love–not even death” (Romans 8:37-39)!!
I was particularly moved by this video of the last public performance of my favorite Gospel artist, Bishop Walter Hawkins, who passed away shortly afterwards. It is not a performance, but an offering to his Creator. Bishop Hawkins faithfully used his gifts to honor and glorify God to the day he died. The man and the message exemplify total faith and trust in God and God’s care for His children. Someone has wisely said, “Life is God’s gift to us—what we do with it is our gift to Him.”
Father, I appreciate and proudly celebrate the glorious wonderful, marvelous thing you have done. Have a Blessed Resurrection (Easter) Sunday. Celebrate yourselves — celebrate each other — celebrate the gift of life, and most of all — celebrate the Giver!
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