not the end…

I started reading this passage the other day and it has stayed in my mind… I think I was only looking at a few verses but kept reading on because it was just so good!

But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great andwonderful and intense love with which He loved us,

Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).

And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.

For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

10 For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

– Ephesians 2:4-10 (Amplified Version)

I had the opportunity to share the message of Easter with a lovely Irani girl today; she commented that in her Islam religion, they also had days to remember the death of their prophets but on those days, they never celebrated – they were just sad.  She found it fascinating that we would be celebrating Jesus’ death… why do we do that?  It’s because his death was not the end of the story!  On the third day, He was raised to life and in doing so, He conquered death once and for all so that we could also be raised to new life in Him!
Now that is good news :).
– Ames –

He is Risen!

All glory and honour and praise be to our Risen King!

Another song that has been playing on my mind ever since COLOUR 2012, is Hillsong’s Cornerstone (based on the hymn, ‘The Solid Rock’):

Christ alone, cornerstone

Weak made strong in the Saviour’s love

Through the storm, He is Lord

Lord of all.

And for those musos out there, I found the sheet music and mp3 for free download here.  My mum has also just reminded me that we were actually part of this song because it was recorded at COLOUR 2012!

Happy Resurrection Day :).

♥ Ames

Easter Reflections 3

In the last post, I mentioned that there were two words that came to mind when contemplating the meaning of Easter.  The first was ‘redemption’ and the second is one that I’d like to expand on today: ‘love’.

Jesus redeemed us from eternal separation from God so that we could experience the blessings and good plans He has for us not because we earned it.  The infamous passage in the Bible does not say that,’Because we tried to be good citizens of the world, that God gave his only begotten Son…’ neither does it say, ‘Because we gave to the needy, didn’t lie this week, gave up our seat for the old lady, that God gave his only begotten Son…’ No.

John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever so believed in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

He loved and continues to love ALL of humanity and desires them to come into full awareness of their own transgressions/wrongdoings/failed attempts of being righteous or good so they can accept His saving grace and run desperately into His loving arms, ready to embrace us.

We watched a condensed version of the Passion of the Christ this weekend and I was struck once again of the enormous pain and suffering that Jesus undeservingly went through for people who spit on His face, denied and condemned Him.  He had no sin but took on the sins of the world so that we could be restored back into a relationship with God, the way it was meant to be from the very beginning.  And not only that, but in Him we have victory over all addictions, troubles, challenges and even death itself because He has already overcome it all.  When we are connected to Him, we have the power to overcome.  Freedom is ours for the taking because of His Great Love.  There is nothing to lose except our bondage to old mindsets and old patterns of living.

Greater love has no one than this, that He lay down His life for His friends. – John 15:13

♥ Ames

Easter Reflections 2

Continuing on from yesterday, I asked myself, What does Easter mean?

Two words came to mind.  The first was Redemption.  The Bible from the beginning to end is a story of redemption.  A story of how God redeems his people time and time again.  The Israelites rebel, they suffer the consequences, they repent, God forgives and all is well for a while before the people forget of how good it is to be walking with God and start going their own way again.  Each time the repented, the people would need to kill a lamb to atone for their sin – disobedience to God.  The lamb would be unblemished to represent purity.  From what I’ve heard (I will do more research about this later), there was a process whereby the man (it was always a man in those days) would put his hands on the lamb as a ritual to symbolise that his sin was being transferred into the lamb before it was slaughtered.

But this was only a temporary measure.   Continue reading

Easter Reflections 1

I’ve been in church since I was a few weeks old and through the years, I’ve heard/sung/played a countless number of hymns.  There are some hymns that will always stick in your mind (i.e. ‘Amazing Grace’) and some that you only realise the significance of at different stages in your life.  Last Sunday, one hymn became of the latter.

As I sung the words to ‘The Old Rugged Cross’, all of a sudden they weren’t just words on a screen, they were declarations from my heart:

Continue reading

You’ve won my heart

Could a love have ever been this sweet?  Could a love have ever been this deep?  I could search the world, climb hills and mountains, swim to the depths of the sea… but nowhere could I find the love you have for me :). You’ve won my heart…

At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received

And You’ve won my heart
Yes You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

At the foot of the cross
Where I am made complete
You have given me life
Through the death You bore for me

And You’ve won my heart
Yes You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

At the foot of the cross – Kathryn Scott (Arden Cho’s cover)

Happy Resurrection Day :).

♥ Ames

A Parable

So much I want to say, so much I want to display, but now’s a time to just be still and reflect… so I give you a timely parable.

———————–

(taken directly from Sheridan Voysey’s blog)

Imagine for a moment that you’re a member of an organised crime ring with connections to corrupt city authorities. Imagine that you discover someone who knows your gang’s every deed—every scheme, every secret, every deal, all the money trails. One night you decide to round him up. He has to be silenced.

Your thugs bring him to you. ‘Is it true,’ you ask the man, ‘that you know of my business dealings?’ He stays silent. One of your thugs steps forward. He slaps your suspect across the face and yells, ‘Is it true!?’ The man looks you in the eye and nods.

Your inner circle deliberate and options for the man’s removal are discussed. A crowbar to the head out in the woods? A sniper’s shot when he least expects it? ‘I know what will work,’ you say. You pick up your Blackberry and start dialling. The city mayor always takes your call.

A news conference is held the next morning. As journalists gather and cameras roll, the mayor rises to the podium. ‘We have intercepted a terrorist plot to blow up Town Hall,’ he says—your victim’s face suddenly flashed across television screens. ‘We expect a fast trial and a most serious sentence.’

The innocent man is held in custody. With a wink and a nod from a compliant superior, a group of otherwise bored cops there take to him. They push him into a back room and start beating and spitting on him. They force him onto all fours and kick him up the backside. They put lipstick on his face and pour beer down the front of his jeans. They wrench an old judges wig on his head and with hoots of laughter shout, ‘Have mercy on us, oh Judge! Forgive us for our terrible crimes!’

The holder of your secrets is quickly tried, as the city’s mayor promised. He is declared guilty and jailed soon after in a maximum security compound. And there, after another call from your Blackberry, and another nod from a prison guard in the know, your incarcerated cronies go to work.

They enter your victim’s cell as he cowers in the corner. They push him against the wall then throw him to the floor. ‘Nice shirt,’ one of them says. ‘I’m getting his jeans,’ says another. They strip him naked.

Rolling him onto his stomach they stretch him out and lash his feet together with plumber’s tape. They pull his flailing arms behind his back and tape together his wrists. ‘The mouth?’ asks one of them. ‘And the nose,’ comes the reply. Three men hold your victim down as loop upon loop of black tape is wound around his face—starting from the chin, up to the lips, and finally across his nostrils.

Sweat covers his body. His lungs heave for air. His eyelids are swollen. Your cronies slip quietly out of the cell.

The dead body is found three hours later.

Mission complete.

Now imagine that you’re reclining on a lounge in your palatial home a few days later. There’s a knock at your front door. Expecting an associate, you fling the door wide to find that your visitor is not an associate but… him. Tape marks around his ankles. Red lines around his wrists. Eyes still a little swollen. But whole. Breathing. Alive.

‘Could it be true?’ he asks after a moment’s pause, looking you in the eye.

You stay silent.

‘I forgive you,’ he says.

And you heave for breath.

Happy Easter.

***

If you need it:

  • Hunted and mocked by a mob: Mark 14:53-59
  • Falsely accused of a terrorist plot: Mark 14:58
  • Condemned to death by a corrupt ruler: Mark 15:15
  • Abused: Mark 15:16-20
  • Clothes divided: John 19:23-24
  • Killed: Mark 15:22-24
  • Raised: Mark 16:4
  • Offers forgiveness: Luke 23:34
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My hopes and prayers is that you’ll discover and experience the true meaning of Easter… the ultimate demonstration of God’s love.
♥ Ames