Amen – An Easter Blessing

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 1:20

The Messiah’s last chorus, “Worthy Is The Lamb That Was Slain”, closes with the swelling refrain of “amen”, repeated with such frequency it is akin to waves upon the seashore. I count nearly 40 amens in the bass line alone. Is this all really necessary? Why not just one good “amen”? After all, how hard is it to simply say “the end”? But perhaps “amen” means something profound, and much more than just “the end”.

That is the conclusion toward which Scripture impels us. Let’s consider four passages, beginning with Deuteronomy 27: 14 – 26. As is true of The Messiah’s final chorus, we read there a chorus of repeated amens. But note the context of those amens. The statement preceding each of the twelve amens is a curse for a particular violation of God’s law for his people. The twelve corresponding amens, shouted by the people of God from the top of the mountain, serve to underline the curses and to invite the execution of those curses upon such disobedience if it occurs. We may say with ample justification that amen here is a swear word, yes, even a God-ordained swear word.  So is that the case with The Messiah—one of humankind’s most beautiful musical testimonies to the glory of our Savior ending with repeated imprecations upon ourselves?

Not at all, for it is precisely through the person and work of the Messiah that “amen” is transformed from curse to blessing. Galatians 3:13 tells us of this transformation in a most arresting way: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us . . . ” Note that it does not say that Christ took the curse from us, though that is also true. No, it says that he became the curse for us. Given the inescapable verdict of guilt upon us by virtue of our disobedience, and having with Israel uttered the amen which calls for God’s justice, we find ourselves face to face with Christ himself. This truth, which comes into focus through the cursed cross, is what the angel of the church of Laodicea had in mind when he spoke: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.”  Revelations 3:14

What will Christ be for you, the curse that destroys or the curse that is really blessing? Christ himself follows the words of his angel-messenger with these words addressed to our hearts: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  Revelations 3:20

Please, Lord Jesus Christ, Messiah for us, come in and eat with us, Amen.
~Dan Gibson

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength,
and honor, and glory, and blessing.
… Blessing and honor, and glory and power,
be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne,
and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Revelation 5:12-13

Many of you have heard Handel’s Messiah presented live – at least parts of it.  The full work has fifty-two pieces, and takes about two and a half hours to perform.  As glorious and inspiring as it is, let me assure you (as a member of the chorus) it is also exhausting.  Yet, we come to these final words – this big finish – and we give it our all, a sacrifice of praise, because He is worthy.  He needs nothing – He is complete and perfect in Himself.  But this one thing we can give Him – our praise.
~Julie Garrett

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.
Hebrews 13:15

God Is For Us

If God be for us, who can be against us? 
Romans 8: 31
I learned that the word, “If,” in this passage can be translated to “Since.”  What a comforting thought; it’s an assurance of God’s love and protecting care of us.  With the persecution and killing of Christians throughout the world, it is reassuring to know that God is for us. In China, where Christian churches are forced to register with the government (which seeks to monitor what is preached), the church is growing most rapidly.
This verse doesn’t only apply to persecution, it also applies to our struggle with sin.  God graciously gives us his Spirit to work in us. Every day God gives us help in our spiritual struggles.  He has power over the devil, as shown in the book of Job.  Satan had to bow in submission to God. “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.’ ” Job 2.6
God is for us.
~Hans Tamminga (age 13)

Changed Forever

The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

1 Corinthians 15:52- 55

 

As we sing through Handel’s Messiah each year, this piece above all others, gives me the shivers. The good shivers. I hear the piercing trumpet, and then the bass begins to sing the powerful words. We – the dead, the corrupt, the mortal, broken and sinful – will be changed.

 

I can identify with Isaiah, in chapter six, when he sees the Lord, high and exalted, being worshiped by the angels. His response is along the lines of, “Woe to me! I’m doomed! I am unclean, and I have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!” But with a coal from the altar, his guilt is removed and his sin atoned for.

 

He is changed.

 

I know the word “corruptible” in the verses speaks of our mortality, but doesn’t it also speak of our sinfulness? Our susceptibility to corruption from within and without? I feel it every day. Yet, comes the promise – We shall be changed. Transformed.

 

Yes, please.

~Julie Garrett

 

 

 

Made Alive By His Love

“Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55-52

 

In my favorite scene from The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, the Skin Horse and the Rabbit are lying strewn about after a playful afternoon, having a conversation about nursery magic…

 

                  “What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit… “Does it mean having things buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

                  “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL.”

                  “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

                  “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are real you don’t mind being hurt.”

                  “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

                  “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

 

I know it may seem like little more than a silly children’s story, but to me, this nursery magic feels oddly reminiscent of a deep truth in the Christian life. The Skin Horse is tattered, worn, used up and washed out, but there is no sadness in his condition; he doesn’t mourn for his former glory or angst over his decrepit state. Rather, the Skin Horse has passed beyond such corporeal concerns, to a place where he cannot be harmed or wrecked by anything tangible. He sees with eyes focused beyond the physical, to the heart of a thing, for he has been made Real by love.

 

So too should we train our eyes to the truth beyond the here and now. We will suffer disappointments, hurt, frustration, pain, anguish, anxiety, illness, suffering, and ultimately death, but in light of God’s great love for us, all of these sufferings are powerless. The beatings and blows of this life cannot damage our souls. When we become truly alive in Christ, such that our hearts will His will, there is no sting in death. Christ has conquered the grave, and by his grace and mercy we can rejoice with him in His victory over the death. The closer we walk with Him, the deeper we know that nothing can harm us, for we are His beloved and He is our God. May we learn to become Real by relinquishing the things of this world and grabbing hold of the Kingdom, where we will eternally rejoice in His resurrection and all things shall be made new.

~Norma Hilary Mulhern