Good morning, my dear friends.
It's here! It's here! That most blessed time of year we call Easter -the celebration of the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus. Hallelujah! Amen! Our risen Lord!
On Easter Sunday, it has long been a custom of the churches to recite to one another the following, as a confirmation of the reason we celebrate that day: "The Lord is risen" (spoken by the pastor), "The Lord is risen, indeed!" (spoken by the congregation). My Easter is not complete without hearing it on Easter morning. It brings joy to my heart to hear the unified church affirm our belief concerning the risen Savior.
As I was reading over the familiar passage in the Bible of the account of Jesus' crucifixion, I was again struck with very deep love for Him. He so willingly gave up His life for each one of us, that we could have eternal life in exchange for His life. You may not be familiar with the practice, and I don't claim to have all the answers, but this was the common practice in Bible times. You see, the sins of mankind were a problem with God, for God is holy and could not tolerate the sins of the people. So in order to make atonement, there was a blood sacrifice offered to Him. Blood carries life, so a life needed to be given in hopes of pleasing God; a life given to save one's own life.
In Old Testament times, the sacrifice was an animal; the very best they had to offer. In doing so, atonement with God was made and God was satisfied for the present. The problem was, people cannot help their sinning; it is human nature. So, there had to be a regular time of sacrificing in order to be in right standing with God.
Praise God we no longer live in that dispensation of time! Today, as Christians, we know that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. By accepting the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we have acknowledged our sinful state and the perfect atonement made for us.
Aside from the gift of eternal life for accepting Jesus' sacrifice, we receive the added bonus of the Holy Spirit that we did not possess until the moment of salvation,. Many Christians today do not understand the Holy Spirit. He is the third person of the trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit. He is given at the moment of salvation to lead, guide, correct and convict of sin. He is that still, small voice within us that aids us in living a powerful life for Christ, when we heed His voice.
You may remember that I shared with you in January the death of our granddaughter, Mckena, who died of sudden death syndrome on Dec. 13. She was on this earth less than three months. I loved her so dearly. I wrote to you of trusting that the Lord knows best, and that she is safe in the arms of Jesus. I still firmly believe that, but that did not end the pain of her separation for me.
I have only recently begun to truly accept it. It will forever hurt. As my grief began to work itself out, it was displayed in chest pains and shortness of breath in me. I went through many tests to determine whether I truly had a heart problem. When all was said and done, guess what? It was stress! I had a really hard time with that because I am tough! No, friends, I am not. As a matter of fact, this very situation made me realize my desperate need of God. It put me to my knees before the Lord, in brokenness. I cried out to the Lord, telling Him my need of Him, my sin of not coming to Him before this and my total surrender to Him with my life.
In the process of losing Mckena, I hurt so badly that I cried out to God, "Lord, you watched your very own Son die, so that I could live." I felt so unworthy, yet so humbled as I thought of the suffering God must have experienced on my behalf and your behalf.
Have you taken this life-giving step of faith? If not, what's holding you back? No pleasure of this world is worth losing your eternity in Heaven.
Recently, I awoke in the middle of the night with these words going through my mind: God parted the Red Sea. I immediately recognized it as the voice of God.
I said, "What about the Red Sea, Lord?" He said into my heart, "Write it." So, here I am, writing it. Friend, are you standing at the edge of your Red Sea, afraid, and not seeing your way to the other side? God parted the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites to escape the pursuing Egyptians who were hot on their trail. All night, the Israelites were protected by a cloud so as to shield them from the sight of the Egyptians. Meanwhile, God was parting the waters, making dry ground for them to cross to the other side. When the Egyptians attempted to follow, God made the waters to come back into place, drowning every last one of them. He safely took the Israelites to freedom from their enemies.
Friend, this Easter season is the perfect time to cross your Red Sea to the loving arms of God. It does not matter where you find yourself in life right now. There is nothing so bad that He will not forgive. He loves you unconditionally and longs to give you peace. Have a very blessed Easter. He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Debby Renninger is a free-lance writer and inspirational speaker. She is the leader of the women's ministry at Pine Glen Church of the Brethren and also leads a weekly Bible study, "Beauty for Ashes," in her home in McVeytown. Renninger may be reached at 250-7086.