Easter—The Preparation, the Purpose, and the Promise (A Three-part Series)

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Part 3: The Promise

When it comes to Jesus, a promise made is a promise kept. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.” He did not just pay lip service to God, He followed through with His actions. The purpose for which preparation had been made was accomplished. He gave His life on the cross to open up a way to eternity with God, and there are so many things subsequently promised, I could fill pages and pages. I will mention a few:

The Promise of Resurrection
The cross is empty and so is the tomb. Jesus promised He would rise from the dead on the third day, and He did! There were witnesses. He walked with them, talked with them, ate with them, and then bade them farewell. He said He must return to Heaven for another time of preparation—to go prepare a place for His followers so He can come back and take them there. He gave the promise of His return and said that every eye will see Him, coming on the clouds of glory. He is drawing all people to Himself by His action on the cross, waiting for the signal from His Father that once again the fulness of time has been reached, and it is time to return for His own. Time will pass away into eternity. Every knee will bow. The perishable will become imperishable. Mortality will be swallowed up in immortality. Death will be swallowed up in victory, with its sting gone, along with its power to hold us in the grave. Jesus was just the beginning of those who will be resurrected!

The Promise of Heaven
Jesus will keep calling out to the lost until the Father says time is finished. He is not slack concerning His promises—He will come again—but He isn’t willing that any should perish, so He is still giving us time to choose. Whoever calls upon His name will be saved, will be reconciled to God, will no longer be condemned, and will be exempt from His wrath. The forgiven have the promise of heaven. A glorious day is coming when all those who have chosen Jesus as their savior will experience His resurrection power for themselves. He will gather those believers to be with Himself forever. Death will no longer have dominion because eternal life will triumph. He will make all things new. The saved will be given a crown of life, have their tears wiped away, and will get to rest in His presence. They will be His people, and He will be their God. But there is more to the promise than just “heaven someday,” there are promises now for life on earth.

The Promise of Adoption
We who choose Jesus become part of the family of God and receive the promise of His presence. We can never be taken out of His hand, and He will never leave or forsake us. God becomes our Father, and the Holy Spirit is sent to live inside of us. We receive His love poured out into our hearts as He adopts us as sons and daughters. We receive His power and help to live abundant lives. We have access to Him at all times, morning, noon, and night. He gives mercy, joy, peace, and sufficient grace; and there is so much more available to us. The Holy Spirit helps, teaches, guides, comforts, and reminds us. God can supply all our needs in every aspect—physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and mentally–according to His vast riches. But there are sometimes going to be difficulties in life because we live in a broken world with those who do not love us or keep their promises; yet, in spite of our circumstances, nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. And His promises to us will never be broken. They will stand the test of time and eternity. So, while we traverse this life, we can know He will hear our prayers and see every tear we cry, for when we are children of God, we are redeemed, purchased by the very blood of Christ, and have our hearts bound to Him for eternity. He will help us to endure anything we face in this life, and He will safely see us to the next because He has overcome the world.

The Promise of Faithfulness
God is faithful and true and never changes. He is the same always: yesterday, today, and forever. With God, what is said is said, and what is done is done. A promise made is a promise kept. History has proven time and again that God keeps His word. He cannot break covenant with His people any more than day and night and summer and winter can cease. He will finish the work He has begun—the work to have a relationship with us for all eternity.

Jesus came to be the Mediator between us and God. God had a plan, striving toward a purpose—He sent the Savior. Jesus came to fulfill the plan—He died to save us. And now, the offer is open to us—will we accept this great salvation? We were created to be with God forever, and Jesus’s death on the cross opened that up as a possibility for each of us. Now it is our turn to take action to fulfill our portion of the plan—to choose or reject what has been offered to us. We have been given freedom of choice in this area. If we say yes, then total fulfillment of the plan will take place—we will sit down in the kingdom of God and dwell there forever. If we say no, the promise of eternal separation from God will also be fulfilled. God will keep His word and fulfill His promise to give life to those who ask for it. My answer was yes, and I am so excited for what’s ahead.

The Promise of Fulfillment
Every Easter is a beautiful reminder and opportunity to reflect on the depths God went to—the preparation, the purpose, and the promise—in order to show His great love for us.

There are promises for now and promises for later, promises for this life and promises for the next one. Remember, there is more beyond the now, and knowing what is coming in the future can spur us on and give us hope. Things can get pretty tough down here and look pretty bleak, but with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we can be encouraged. He is the earnest of the promise, left here with us until Jesus comes to take us home. For now, we have a race to finish; and while we are running our race, He will be at our sides. And someday, when we cross the finish line, He will be there waiting for us. We will see Him face-to-face. He promised.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57 NKJV).

©Text and photo Francee Strain, April 11, 2020

I Forgot

I forgot. There are seasons in life when we hear these words uttered frequently. Childhood chores, anyone? Isn’t it funny how they are conveniently forgotten.

There are circumstances in life when we hear these words time and again. Dementia and some other chronic conditions cause memory loss.

It is always those people who forget and inconvenience us in the process, until it’s not. Yes, there are days in life when the words “I forgot” are uttered by the rest of us, even the perfectionists.

We do not tend to think of the phrase “I forgot” as a good thing, unless it benefits us somehow—like when we want people to forget our offenses against them, our mistakes, our failures, or that time we fell off the stage during the performance…or tripped up the steps before the performance even began.

There are times when this phrase, used in this way, is spoken through God’s actions: when He buries our sins in the deepest sea and remembers them no more, when He gives us mercies that are new every morning, when He gives us what we do not deserve. Yes, He continues to forget the things that could most definitely be held against us, even the infraction of forgetting Him.  When we are exercising spiritual amnesia, He continues to offer us grace.

There are other times that He does not forget. He does not follow the slogan of “set it and forget it.” He is constantly aware of what is happening in our world, down to the minutest detail. Even though a nursing mother may forget her child, we are told that He will not forget His people.* He is involved in the affairs of this life, and what is more, He cares about them. He never forgets to remember you. He loves you, whether you ever remember it or not.

I forgot the appointment, meeting, birthday, medication dosing time, that person’s name I met five seconds ago, and where I put my glasses and keys. I forgot to take meat out of the freezer, to reply to that email, and to RSVP to the invitation. In the state of my frazzled and harried brain, my jam-packed calendar, and my endless to-do lists, let it never be said that I forgot God. In spite of old age, busy schedules, too many irons in the fire, distractions galore, a preoccupation with worry, sleep-deprivation, my needs and wants, and simply being human, may I never forget the eternal, all-powerful, ever-present God. He is the reason I exist. In Him I can live and move and have my very being. He loves me and has a purpose for my life. May I never forget. May I always remember that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.**

 

* “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15 NKJV)

** See John 3:16

©Francee Strain, July 8, 2018