The Power of the Gospel

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 1 Corinthians 15:2-5

This week is my favorite week of the year. It is a Holy Week. A week of focus on Jesus Christ, the Gospel story, and the greatest sacrifice and miracle the world has ever heard of. Easter week is time of great joy and renewal in our world, and it has proven to be a time of great joy and renewal in my family. Two of my most precious gifts were given to me during this particular week in years past. And I’m asking the Lord, humbly, not greedily, for another gift this year.

On this week in 2005 our family headed out for a spring vacation to the mountains of Virginia. Planning the trip we realized that we would be traveling through a Tennessee town where one of our former ministers of music lived. We got in touch ahead of time to see if we could take them to dinner and have a short visit, but as we should have guessed, his current church was presenting their Easter music on the night we would be traveling through. We immediately decided to make their Easter program a part of our vacation.

Rolling into town too late to get supper before it started, we pulled into the church parking lot and managed to get seats within about 6 rows of the front where our wiggly 6-year-old could stay focused and engaged for the hour-and-a-half long music and drama presentation. He curled up in my lap and to our great relief was attentive and tuned in for the whole evening. The Gospel was presented boldly and clearly, with one particular song, “End of the Beginning,” summing up the whole message of the Gospel in a powerfully moving way.

As we got to the invitation, I did as is my habit for years now, and I closed my eyes and began praying for the lost that had just heard the message. The pastor gave an altar call and began to lead the crowd in the sinner’s prayer. I felt a tug on my shirt and opened my eyes prepared to say, “It’s almost over. Be quiet for just a moment more.” But instead I saw sincere little eyes gazing at me, and my 6-year-old whispered, “I want to pray that prayer too, Mommy.”

My heart was seized by love and joy. Of course I told him, “OK. Let’s pray.” And my sweet little 6-year-old – who had loved Jesus from the time He could talk and begin understand the stories of the Bible – prayed to the Father, asking forgiveness for His sin, and telling God that He could rule over his little heart and life forever! My first joyous gift at Easter!

***************

empty-tomb-3326100_1280

Flash forward to April 2017. Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, our pastor had called our church to a week of fasting. He had challenged us in advance to pray about who we would be fasting for – who were we praying for God to move in their heart. My husband and I both felt compelled to pray for our daughter-in-love. Our beautiful daughter-in-love has always been one of the kindest, most tender-hearted, loving people you would ever meet, but we didn’t know if she had a relationship with Jesus. Now, we are not habitual fast-ers. In fact, this was one of only a handful of times in my Christian life that I had committed to a fast, and never before had it been for a week.

So we started that week with continuous prayer in the place of food. We found it wasn’t as hard as we’d feared. This mission with which God had overwhelmed our hearts drove us to prayer and away from food. I think that was one of the most intense weeks of prayer in my life.

On Easter Sunday at the end of that week our son and the prayed-for-daughter-in-love came to the worship service. My mama’s heart was full. Once again at the invitation time, I bowed my head and prayed for the lost in the congregation who had heard the message of salvation, that they would respond to the call of the Holy Spirit upon their heart. Once again there was a tug on my sleeve. This time it was my husband. He nodded toward the altar. As I looked up, there she stood – my sweet daughter-in-love, the first one down to the altar. That day she also prayed to receive Christ. Another joyous Easter gift!

This year I’m praying for my One. God knows who they are. This year I’ll be worshipping at home over the internet because of the Covid-19 virus; I imagine another tug at the sleeve is impossible. But I know better than to doubt what Our Mighty God can do! So folks, I’ll listen to the message, celebrate the resurrection in my heart, pray when the pastor offers the online invitation, and who knows… I would not put it past God to have a tug on my sleeve and find out my One has come to Christ!

How about you? Who’s your One? Are you praying in faith expecting Jehovah to move in their heart? I’ll join you in praying for them – on Easter Sunday I’ll bow my head and pray for all our Ones to answer God’s call.

The End of the Beginning

I was takin’ a trip on a plane the other day
Just wishing that I could get out
When the man next to me saw the book in my hand
And asked me what it was about
So I settled back in my seat
“A best seller,” I said
“A history, a mystery in one.”
And then I opened up the book and began to read
From Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

[Chorus]
He was born of a virgin one holy night
In the little town of Bethlehem
Angels gathered round him underneath the stars
Singing praises to the Great I Am
He walked on the water
Healed the lame
And made the blind to see again
And for the first time here on earth
We learned that God could be a friend
And though he never ever did a single thing wrong
The angry crowd chose him
And then he walked down the road
And died on the cross
And that was the end of the beginning.

[Verse 2]
“That’s not a new book that’s a bible,” he said
“and I’ve heard it all before
I’ve tried religion
It’s shame and guilt
And I don’t need it anymore
It’s superstition, made up tales
And just to help the weak to survive.”
“Let me read it again,” I said
“Listen closely, cause this is gonna change your life”

[Chorus]
He was born of a virgin one holy night
In the little town of Bethlehem
Angels gathered round him underneath the stars
Singing praises to the Great I Am
He walked on the water
Healed the lame
And made the blind to see again
And for the first time here on earth
We learned that God could be a friend
And though he never ever did a single thing wrong
The angry crowd chose him
And then he walked down the road
And died on the cross
And that was the end of the beginning.

[Bridge]
“The end of the beginning,” he said with a smile
“What more could there be?
He’s dead
You said they hung Him
Put nails in His hands
And a crown of thorns on His head.”
I said, “I’ll read it again but this time there’s more
And I believe that this is true
His death wasn’t the end, the beginning of life
That’s completed in you
Don’t you see He did all this for you!”

[Chorus]
He was born of a virgin one holy night
In the little town of Bethlehem
All the angles singing praises to the Great I AM
He walked on the water
Healed the lame
And made the blind to see
(and for the first time here on earth)
Did you know that God could be a friend
Though He never ever did a single thing wrong
He was the one the crowd chose
Then he walked and he died but
Three days later
Three days later
Three days later
HE ROSE!!!!!!!

Three days later he rose!
You see he came, he lived, and he died
But that was the end of the beginning.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s