An Easter Reflection

An Easter Reflection

The passion and death of Jesus initiated a process through which the old order was passing away and a new was dawning.

At the death of Jesus, Matthew reports that many strange events took place: darkness, earthquake and holy people rising from their tombs. Similar events occur in Matthew’s story of the resurrection of Jesus.

“Towards dawn on the first day of the week”, the women who had stood firm through the tragedy of the Cross, Mary Magdala and the other Mary go to visit the sepulcher of Jesus. The setting of the following events “towards dawn” on the first of all Easter Sundays promises the reader that the women will find more than a sepulcher. A new light is breaking into the darkness of the night.

For a moment the women on their journey are forgotten, as a series of “end-time” events are reported as happening at the tomb. In a way similar to the events surrounding Jesus’ death on the Cross, there is a violent earthquake. An angel of the Lord descends from heaven, rolls away the stone and sits upon it. Through his angel, God enters the story. The description of the angel “his face was like lightning, his robe white as snow” adds the terror of the moment and the guards, collapse to the ground like dead men. At the cross the Gentiles came to faith in Jesus, here the guards are part of the description of an anticipated “end-time”.

The angel speaks to the women, assuring them that they need not fear. They need no longer search for the crucified one. He has been raised. The tomb, the place of death, is empty. However, it is not enough simply to gaze in awe at an empty tomb. The women are commissioned to carry the Easter proclamation to the disciples: “Go quickly and tell his disciples, He has risen from the dead, and now he fore you into Galilee, it is there you will see him.”

The women recognize they have been touched by the action of God: it is the reason for their awe. They are also filled with great joy at the privilege given to them. But on their way back to the disciples, the risen Jesus meets them and they fall down and cling to him. He greets them, and repeats almost exactly the same message as the angel, commissioning the disciples to go into Galilee. However, there is an important difference. While the angel told them to speak to Jesus disciples, Jesus himself refers to them as my brethren. It is not failed disciples who must go to Galilee; it is a group of people who once again belong to the family of Jesus.

Earlier in the Gospel the disciples had forsaken Jesus and fled. All such failures have now been forgiven. The broken bond has been healed. The resurrection of Jesus has completed the turning point of the ages which began with his death. Now the women are filled with joy; now the sinful disciples are restored to the family of Jesus. Shortly he will indeed meet them in Galilee, to send them out to the whole world.

May Easter lead us to awe and joy as we recognize the greatness of our God who raised his Son to life that we too might have life, no matter how often and how seriously we have fled from Him.

By Fr. John Cef Ledesma

Meditation: But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. – 1 Corinthians 15: 20-22

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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How to Maintain a Blameless Record

How to Maintain a Blameless Record

How can a young person live a pure life? By obeying your word.
Psalm 119:9 (NCV)

It is generally accepted that a good reputation is better than possessions. Although, some may not agree with this notion, the fact that God Himself thinks so underscores the importance of having a good name (Proverbs 22:1). In this jet age, it is even more expedient to maintain a good reputation, because information can be accessed on anyone at the click of the mouse; thus, making the name to precede the person.

Imagine how you would feel to be called for an interview in your dreamed organisation, or to come to sign a business deal you’ve long pursued, only to be denied at the last minute or even have your offer later withdrawn after your benefactor read the content of an email you sent some time ago or your comment on the social media. It can be very distressing. But that is one of the dynamics of the age we live in. Your name precedes you most of the times.

A good reputation is good, but it does not just come to anyone. Being born of reputable parents or coming from a family with a good name does not automatically confer good reputation on anyone either. It takes a series of personal discipline, wise choices and decisions to earn a good name. It doesn’t jump on anyone. If it does, there is a likelihood it will soon jump off in no time when the real person behind the name is revealed.

The passage above tells us how to maintain a blameless personal record. The Psalmist asks a seemingly rhetorical question about how one can live a pure life, and then proffers an answer almost immediately, saying, the only way one can do this is to obey the word of God. That is the tip to having a name that you will be proud to answer both on earth and in heaven.

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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Why You don’t Manifest the Power of God

Why You don’t Manifest the Power of God

Here is a Daily Dew insight on what it takes to demonstrate the power of God in any situation and be a bearer of His awesome Presence.

Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines… And when they joined battle, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men of the army in the field. And…the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD…And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook. Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp. So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before….Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews…Conduct yourselves like men, and fight!” So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. – 1 Samuel 4:1-11

Everyone living being has the breath of God in him or her, otherwise, they won’t be alive. But that does not mean that everyone living can operate in the power or anointing of God. The ability to do that is largely dependent on the eligibility of each individual, based on his/her relationship with Jesus Christ.

In the passage above, the Israelites found themselves routed at war, so they decided to bring the Ark of Testimony (a symbol of the presence of God) into their camp with the hope that it would help them to overcome their enemies. When the Ark eventually arrived, they jubilated, as they then expected an easy run over their enemies. The Ark had made them prevailed over similar challenges in the past, it would definitely aid them again this time. How wrong they were.

Much to their rude shock, the Ark could not deliver them from their enemies because it was improperly conveyed to the camp and, worse, it was in the care of two unworthy vessels – Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli – who were both notorious in eyes of God for their excesses (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-36) in the ministry.

Their contact with the Ark rendered it ineffectual, and it could not fulfil the purpose for which it was brought. To make matters worse, the revered Ark was seized and taken captive by the Philistines and it could not prevent 30,000 of the Israelite soldiers from being slaughtered.

That means the Ark – a symbol of God’s presence and power – is only as effective to the extent of the right standing of the person bearing it. That is why He states in His word: With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. – Psalm 18:26

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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How to Increase in Grace (1)

How to Increase in Grace (1)

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.
– 2 Peter 1:2

Grace. That beautiful word. How sweet it sounds in the ear, how melodious it is in the mouth. It does not just sound good in the mouth and the ear, it is also pleasant in meaning. It is pleasing to receive, it is nice to ascribe. Grace.

It is an often-used word that never becomes redundant. Almost everyone who is aware and achieving appreciates its essence. Nobody is too big or too good for grace, neither is anyone too small for it or unworthy of it. The apostle needs it, the archbishop needs it; the clergy needs it, the laity needs it; the adult needs it, the young ones needs it; the saint needs it as much as the sinner. Grace.

Often times, it is the distinguishing factor between the achiever and the struggler; it separates the high flyer and the low-performer. Without it, anything will be laborious, with it, things become easy. Grace.

It is commonly described as “unmerited favour.” How true. But its manifestation is not restricted to favour alone. Depending on the peculiar circumstance or need, grace could be strength, capacity, supplies, encouragement, inspiration, deliverance, healing, etc to whoever it is endowed with at a point in time. Grace.

By divine providence, everyone has a measure of grace. But there is a difference in the degree of grace that each individual enjoys. We do not all have the same measure of grace. That is why different individuals with the same training or calling, using the same resources, will not always turn in the same results. One or two of them will achieve greater success than others. That is grace at work, setting some apart from the rest. Grace.

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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Why You Struggle As A Christian

Why You Struggle As A Christian

Many years ago, a wealthy man went duck hunting with a hired hand named Sam. They took a horse and carriage. Along the way, a rim came off one of the wheels. As Sam hammered it back on, he accidentally hit his finger.

Instantly he let go with some bad words. He quickly fell to his knees, asking God’s forgiveness. “Lord, it’s difficult at times to live the Christian life”, he prayed.

“Sam” said the wealthy man, “I know you’re a Christian. But tell me why you struggle so, I’m an atheist, and I don’t have problems like that.”

Sam didn’t know what to say. Just then two ducks flew overhead. The man raised his gun and two shots rang out. “Leave the dead one and go after that wounded bird!” he shouted.

Sam pointed at the duck that was fluttering desperately to escape and said, “I’ve got an answer for you now, Boss. You said my Christianity isn’t any good because I have to struggle so. Well, I’m the wounded duck, and struggle to get away from the devil. But you, Boss are the dead duck!”

That insight fits Paul’s description of his Christian experience in Romans 7: 14-25. Struggle is one evidence of God’s work in our lives. Forgiveness of sin is available, so don’t despair. Remember, dead ducks don’t flutter.

Struggle, yes, it’s part of living

Nothing’s gained on beds of ease;

But when our heart is set on Jesus,

Struggle drives us to our knees.

— Author Unknown

Meditation: For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! – Romans 7:18-25

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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Building Sustainably: Learning From God (Part 1)

Building Sustainably: Learning From God (Part 1)

Building Sustainably: Learning From God

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. – Genesis 1:3-5

This passage offers us an unusual insight into the creative strategy of God. After having created the structure (the heavens and earth) as the base for His operations, He thereafter proceeded to create light, a system of illumination, so He could appreciate His projects.

He also created Day and Night, a measuring system, with which He could track His own progress, rather than leave it all to chance or whims. He that really has no one to report to still instituted a system of accountability that would help Him not only to derive encouragement from the development of His work, but one that would also aid the evaluation of His progress within the confines of time.

That is why the concluding part of the passage introduced a new phrase, a measuring phrase, “So the evening and the morning were the first day.”

If you desire to build a sustainable entity, then you need to learn from the way God builds His own.

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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