A Prayer About Resurrection Promise

A Prayer About Resurrection Promise

by Scottie Smith

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” Matthew 27:62-64

Dear Lord Jesus, as “Good Friday” gave way to silent Saturday, the range of emotions following your crucifixion was as broad as the Grand Canyon. I can only imagine the degree shock and the depth of sadness which filled the hearts of your disciples, your family and friends. And yet, there were also those who were filled with glee and relief, that you, “the deceiver,” could no longer threaten their existence.

As the sun rose on Saturday, no one could have possibly understood that the most undeserved death imaginable would yield the greatest return calculable. As you were nailed to the cross, the written code—God’s law, with all its regulations and requirements, was taken away from us… losing all condemning power over us. As you drew your last breath, you were actually disarming the powers of darkness and triumphing over all authorities marshaled against the reign of God (Colossians 2:14-15).

No one yet grasped that your mortal punishment would bring our eternal peace… your fatal wounding would secure our everlasting healing… your being crushed would lead to our being cherished by the thrice holy God (Isa 53:1-12). Though they had the Scriptures, they had no clue.

And yet, the chief priests and the Pharisees did remember your promise of resurrection. They weren’t sad about your death, they were mad with fear about the possibility of your life. Having already plotted to put to death a resurrected Lazarus, they weren’t about to indulge a resurrected rabbi.

Oh foolish, silly, sinful men… they had sooner secure the non-rising of the sun than the non-rising of the Son of Man… the Son of God… God the Son! Resurrection Sunday was coming and there was absolutely nothing they could do about it. The silence of Saturday would soon be shattered with the shouts of Sunday, “The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!”

Jesus, continue to astonish and nourish our hearts… my heart… with the whole Easter story, and the full glory of who you are and everything you have done. So very Amen, I pray in your peerless name.


The Most Grotesque Ugliness Imaginable

Sharing again from the Blog of Tim Challies.

The Most Grotesque Ugliness Imaginable

There are many who consider Janet Leigh’s murder in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho to be the most terrifying scene in the history of film. The setting, the mood, the music and the camera work combine to create a scene of absolute terror. Her screams were impressed upon the memories of many who watched her macabre death on the silver screen. Since 1960, when the film was produced there have been tens of thousands of horror films made, but in the minds of many who enjoy such films, few of them have begun to approach the brutal genius of Hitchcock’s film.

The horror genre delights in the scream. Bloodcurdling screams are common in horror films, and filmmakers are constantly looking for ways of making them seem more genuine, more heartfelt, more terrifying. I remember reading of a film in which the director had the actors sprayed with the remains of a slaughtered pig during a particular scene in order to be able to capture real disgust and surprise. He wanted to evoke in his actors a pure terror and hoped that would translate to horror in the hearts of those who later watched.

The makers of horror and suspense films are always looking for the ultimate scream. So I wonder, what would the ultimate scream sound like? If we were to create the most horrifying setting, the most horrifying villain–if we were to make the situation just right, what would that scream sound like? Would it be a wordless scream, or a scream that would express the reason or meaning behind the horror?

I’ve found the ultimate scream. It is a scream that I am sure represents the most agonizing, terrifying, painful scream in the history of humanity. And that is no small statement for many people have suffered terribly and brutally. The ultimate scream, according to the Bible, sounds like this: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

It is probably not what you would say, is it? I don’t know of too many people who would die with the words of Psalm 22 upon their lips. It doesn’t sound too terrifying, does it? Yet it represents the low point of humanity. It was Jesus who uttered those words, and he did so in the midst of pain, torture and forsakenness such as no one else in the world can know or ever will know. R.C. Sproul says, “This cry represents the most agonizing protest ever uttered on this planet. It burst forth in a moment of unparalleled pain. It is the scream of the damned–for us.” The scream of the damned. Jesus Christ gave a cry from the midst of unspeakable agony. He gave the very cry of the damned.

God the Father looked down on his Son, hanging on the cross, and saw not his beloved Son, but “the most grotesque ugliness imaginable.” He saw the sins of all who would be saved resting on that one Man. He saw all the sins that I have committed. He saw all the sins that you committed. He saw all of these sins resting upon one man. Jesus Christ, bearing our sin was removed totally and completed from the presence of the Father at that moment, for God cannot allow sin to remain unpunished. He turned his back on his Son. He completely, utterly forsook Jesus Christ. That is horror unspeakable.

And so Jesus cried out in his forsakenness. He cried out in his pain and his agony, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” He was alone and rejected. He willingly took this upon himself for you and for me. He cried out with the ultimate expression of pain– the scream of the damned– so that we could have life.

I hate horror films. I have seen only a handful of them in my life, and have not seen one since my teenage years. I despise them. And perhaps this is why. The filmmaker may attempt to capture terror in its purest form. He may attempt to create a death that is more horrible than any that has been captured on any film. He may attempt to capture a scream that will remain in people’s memories for many, many years. He may succeed. But he will never be able to capture, or even approach capturing, the horror of the cross – the greatest horror humanity will ever know.

by Tim Challies

Without the Gospel

I read this quote on Tim Challies Blog – it is a great blog to visit and be inspired, encouraged, challenged and renewed. Bookmark it now.

From the pen of John Calvin:

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation [life] is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation [verbal abuse], abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

One path to heart-peace and rest

“There is no royal road to rest of soul. Let that never be forgotten. There is only one way to the Father – Jesus Christ. One door into heaven – Jesus Christ. One path to heart-peace and rest – Jesus Christ. By that way all laboring and heavy-laden ones must go, whatever their rank or condition.

“Kings in their palaces and paupers in the workhouse, all are on the same level in this matter. All alike must walk in the ‘old paths’ and come to Christ, if they feel soul-weary and thirsty. All must drink of the same fountain, if they would have their thirst relieved.”

~ J.C. Ryle

The Upper Room, “The Good Way”, 89.


Reminder: If you have not yet signed up to win Ryle’s 7 volume commentary Expository Thoughts on the Gospels on Monday, 11/30, then click HERE.

If I win, it solves one Christmas gift for the son in law – pastor/electrician in training. 🙂

The photo BTW is one of my first attempts at HDR photography. I took this photo at the Willows golf course and converted it to HDR using Photomatrix Pro.Click on the photo to see the full effect.

How Willingly Do People Go to Hell?

…..when a person chooses against God and, therefore, de facto chooses hell—or when he jokes about preferring hell with his friends over heaven with boring religious people—he does not know what he is doing. What he rejects is not the real heaven (nobody will be boring in heaven), and what he “wants” is not the real hell, but the tolerable hell of his imagination.

When he dies, he will be shocked beyond words. The miseries are so great he would do anything in his power to escape.” John Piper

You might believe in God and salvation though Jesus Christ or you might not – but whatever you believe, you have likely heard of hell – a place that you may or may not think is so nice depending on what you imagine hell to be. Or perhaps you don’t believe Hell even exists. Whatever your thoughts or beliefs, if you are interested in knowing what Christ thought about hell, you may be interested in reading this article by John Piper.

I would love to hear your thoughts. How do you imagine hell? Or do you not imagine a hell at all?

Pressing on? or Deluded Hypocrite!

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Php 3:12 -14

Our safety is seen in the words “because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” In other words, our security is not based finally on our grip on Christ, but his grip on us. The crucial thing to see is that the firmness of Christ’s grip on us produces our pursuit of him.”I press on . . . because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” John Piper

Worldly indifference and spiritual disinterest are not the results of Christ “making me His own” … and yet what exactly do I value in the day to day busyness of my life? Is it Christ?

I think if I am to be truthful to myself and to Him, I value my work, the money (even if it is used in part for the advancement the kingdom), my rest, my health, my family….my comforts. Not that my Lord does not want me to have these thing, but do I value them more then Him? Does He get first place in just fleeting moments of my week?

So I ask myself and I ask God…”How do I pursue you, Lord when I am neck deep in the busyness of this world? ”

Piper asks a better question and isn’t that why I read Piper… “What does the eternally secure saint do that confirms he is a secure saint and not a deluded hypocrite?”

The apostle Paul tells us point blank…

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ Php 3:7-8

Ouch! Am I a secure saint pressing on?

Or a deluded hypocrite who shows up at church every week, makes it for prayer time, prepares the PowerPoint for worship time, adds to biblical and theological discussions, attends the weekly Bible study and gives the Lord a few moments each day in the Word and prayer….because that is who I am and I am supposed to do these things. But after this I pursue my job, the money, my rest….

Am I a secure saint, pursuing Christ? Or a deluded hypocrite?

The answer to that questions has eternal ramification…

It should shake me up. And it does.

In some way or form I have been asking myself and Christ, that very question for some time. It has been easy to ignore any answer from Him or myself, because I have been so busy with all these things in the world that I am pursuing. I have been….well..deluded.

I have been waiting for Him to point me in the right direction…which tells me I am less of a deluded hypocrite then I might think because I am at least noticing my delusion. But how long do you NOT pursue Christ and get away with it… Is it possible that I just might be a full fledged deluded hypocrite?

Well, He is shaking me up and I do hope he keeps shaking me up and gets me back on the track soon. The comforts and ‘rewards’ of this world are very alluring. I have a lot of them and I like them, so being delusional is really attractive.

How about you? If you are not sure if you might be wavering into the realm of deluded hypocrite, then read John Pipers article here. All you secure saints need not bother with it.

After a little Piper conviction, let us  just keep running the race together shall we? With our eyes firmly on the prize – Jesus Christ. I’ll help you up and dust you off when you fall  and you can wait for me when I fall face first in the mud. It’s okay. The beauty of this race is that just being in it and moving forward secures the prize for us, no matter how many times we fall or how bad we fall.

Even if we stop running and stand at the side of the track for a while thinking we are actually running when we are not, the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Encourager never leaves us there for too long. Someone comes along and says “Your not moving, you know. You had better get those legs going again or you won’t make it to the finish line” And we look down and realize we haven’t moved an inch. In our minds we were moving right along with all the others.  A little deluded? And we realize just how stupid and self centered we have been (read repentance because this is sin) and so we get back in to the race and adjust our muddy glasses and there He is!

Press on with me saints!