HAPPY EASTER - REJOICE!
April is here and Passion Week is upon us. So I pray you, as a Christian are ready for the greatest celebration on earth.
The Easter Season, also known as the Great Fifty Days, begins at sunset Easter Eve and continues through the Day of Pentecost. It is the most joyous and celebrative season of the Christian year. It focuses on Christ's resurrection and ascension and on the givings of the Holy Spirit on the first Easter (John 20:22-23) and the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
Easter (Paschal) Vigil has both historic and symbolic roots in the Jewish Passover. That is why so many images are from the Old Testament and why so many analogies are experienced in Christ. In this service we experience the passage from slavery to freedom, from sin to salvation, from death to life. (United Methodist Book of Worship p.368-69).
Something we, as a Christian, look forward to each year is the "Passion Week” beginning with Palm Sunday. Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Followed by His arrest, trial, judgment, flogging, crucifixion and burial. One of the greatest joys we can know is the Resurrection power of Christ from the physical death. Jesus conquers death and rises from the tomb. Appears to mankind and fulfills The Word of God. That on the third day He would be raised from the dead. He Has Risen! Hallelujah!
Attitude is critical toward what GOD has done for us through Easter. Consider with me a couple of scriptures out of the Book of Psalms. Let’s begin with Psalm 31:7 “I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy; for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;” another is Psalms 32:11 “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” And finally in Psalms 97:12 “Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His Holiness.”
Each of these Psalms gives light to how we are to relate to our Awesome GOD. Even in adversities of life we shall rejoice knowing God will have mercy upon us. As Christians we shall give thanks and even shout for joy for the LORD is GOOD to us! This attitude will express giving GOD thanks for what HE is, “HOLY”. HE has given us the WORD to instruct us in holiness and righteous living. Plus, HE has given us the HOLY SPIRIT for the power to live for HIM and to purify our hearts! I pray we are seeking the infilling of the HOLY SPIRIT
In my devotional book, "Holiness and High Country" by A.F. Harper on page 100. The scripture is Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. "With a background of teaching that the Holy Spirit was merely a divine emanation or influence from the Father and Son, light on His gracious work of cleansing dawned upon me slowly...As I walked with Him the best I knew how, He gradually deepened the hunger of my soul. To lead me into entire sanctification, He did not bless me more, but rather 'unblessed' me or in a measure withheld the blessing, and to that very degree the hunger deepened. Gradually my soul was filled with an insatiable thirst. With the ebb and flow of His blessings, the thirst deepened and the hunger increased.
"In response to this hungering and thirsting I was again found at the altar; this time I was not seeking pardon, but purity. My soul was not in the dark, and neither was there any condemnation upon it. I knew I was saved and walking in all the light while fellow shipping Him and His people, and yet I knew I needed something more. There was no guilt upon my soul, or stain upon my record, but there was inbred sin within my life that needed to be eradicated.
"It is very doubtful if I sought at that altar over twenty minutes until every condition was met; and, as faith took hold, the sweet, cleansing Holy Spirit purified my heart. As the quiet, assuring evidence came, a sweet restfulness came over my soul, and at once I knew He (The Holy Spirit) had sanctified me? (Flames of living Fire, Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City).
A.M. Hill accurately summarizes the Wesleyan historical position of the holiness movement which identifies Spirit baptism and entire sanctification: "Entire sanctification is a second definite work of grace wrought by the baptism with the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer subsequent to regeneration (being born again), received instantaneously by faith, by which the heart is cleansed from all corruption and filled with the perfect love of God." (Wesley Bible copyright 1990, page 1944).
As we ponder Hill's words from above my desire is for you to meditate on your own experience of how God has ministered to you and how you have matured over the years? Have you experienced this "Second Work of Grace" or "Entire Sanctification"? Let's turn to a scripture for direction. Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." This is critical to be an effective Christian! As we surrender everything to God, He by the power of His Holy Spirit will empower you to be over-comer and reflect His perfect LOVE by living out being His Servant in the world in which you live.
Therefore, we must seek the infilling of the Holy Spirit to live in the resurrection power God has given to us. This is a basis to have the power of God to be an over comer of sin and temptation in our lives as we walk in the Spirit
Please be in prayer for our community Revival, Which continues this year with the theme of "Unity in the Community, Building the Kingdom of God in Linden, AL." The Revival will start Sunday April 23rd-26th at 6:30 PM at Forrest Hill Baptist Church with Reverend Chad Ward hosting. What an opportunity to come back together and enrich our relationships with one another. Please make a valiant effort to invite your friends and neighbors to this glorious celebration of the best story ever told, the Story of Jesus Christ proclaimed. May God inspire you to inspire others for the Kingdom! In Christ Jesus, Bro. Tony Antonelli