Jesus Calling our Name?

“They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave.
But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.”
Psalms‬ ‭49:6-9, 15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The Psalmist was obviously having a bad day. He looked around his community, perhaps his nation, and observed that there were a lot of rich people, who arrogantly lived a life of luxury. But he pointed out that there was one thing that their money could not buy and that was eternal life. He said, correctly, that they couldn’t take their wealth with them to the grave and beyond. They could not, as one of today’s verses points out, pay God a ransom to keep them alive forever.

In the world today there is a growing business in cryopreservation, where rich people or their families pay large sums to enable their bodies, or the bodies of their loved ones, to be preserved in liquid nitrogen in the hope that advances in medical science would one day enable them to be resurrected from their frozen state and brought back to life in a Lazarus-like resuscitation. An added twist sees some just having their brains frozen, perhaps in the hope of adding their intelligence to a robotic entity. But all with a faith that one day they will suddenly find themselves lying on a slab, waking up in a new age. It begs the question, would I really want to wake up in this sin-ridden, war-striven, disease-ravaged world? Will mankind ever get its act together to save this world and assure a future for Planet Earth? And all by effectively cocking a snoop at God by saying we can achieve what is needed without His help?

But I can’t help thinking how stupid the cryopreservationists are. God Himself has given everyone the opportunity to live forever through His Son Jesus. And it won’t cost them a penny. Rich or poor, we can embrace a hope for the future purely by accepting that God is who He says He is, the Creator of everything. That He loved mankind so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for us at Calvary, offering the breathtaking exchange of our sins for His righteousness. And the Psalmist records his personal assurance that God has redeemed him from death, from the power of the grave, such was His faith in his relationship with his Father God.

And the Psalm ends with the following, “So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid. For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. In this life they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success. But they will die like all before them and never again see the light of day.” Psalms‬ ‭49:16-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather put my faith in the Creator of Everything, than in the hope that one day someone will wake me up from a frozen state. After all, why would they want to anyway?

The story of Jesus and His friend Lazarus is interesting. Lazarus dies and is buried and has languished, wrapped in his grave clothes, for four days before Jesus came to see his tomb. And we have the amazing spectacle set out in John 11, of Jesus commanding that the stone sealing the mouth of the tomb is rolled away. We then read in verses 43 and 44, “Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”” These few words can never adequately describe the drama that unfolded before the observers. Gob-smacked would be too tame a phrase to describe it. Here was a man physically dead and starting to rot in the heat of that climate, and yet the power of God working through His Son Jesus was able to resurrect him from his dead state. Lazarus died and the next thing he knew was Jesus calling his name. Now I don’t believe for a minute that God has special favourites. He treats His children equally. As some have said, the ground is level at the foot of the Cross. So I sometimes wonder, after we die, will the next thing we hear be Jesus calling our name, waking us up to a glorious future with Him forever?

The River

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalms‬ ‭46:4-5‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

Psalm 46 continues in the “God is our refuge” theme, and with verses 4-5 we can build a picture of an impregnable city where God lives and where a river of His grace and mercy sustains the joyful occupants. And the allusion to the “break of day” implies a continuing infallibility in His protection.

But where does God live in our lives? Do we live in an impregnable spiritual fortress, our own spiritual “city of God”, impervious to the cut and thrust of human life here on Planet Earth? Or do we grow faint with worry when the enemy appears on the horizon, our walls crumbling at his first attack? Or even get anxious when reading a news story? As Christians we live in a continuum of two kingdoms – the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of God. But because of our physical presence on Planet Earth, we are susceptible to enemy action, our satanic opponent always looking for a chink in the walls of our God-sustained fortresses. However, we would do well to remember that God’s kingdom contains all the resources we need to sustain us in our earthly existence.‬‬

But what about this river? This resource in God’s kingdom that contains an unlimited supply of everything we spiritually need? Do we allow it to flow elsewhere while choosing to live in a desert of our own making? Our wonderful Heavenly Father knows what His children need and He puts on our tables the richest of foods, the most refreshing of drinks. So sad that many choose rather to go out and find their own food and drink, putting up with products and experiences that never satisfy. Jesus said in John 4, referring to the water drawn from a well, “…Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” That’s the water I want to drink.

God’s Master Plan

“O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.” Psalms‬ ‭40:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Any attempt to unpick and drill down into this verse can only end up in becoming lost in the depths of our Creator God, full of grateful praise and worship. The bottom line is that God’s wonders, plans and deeds are uncountable because there are so many of them. For example, just take the environment in which we live. The number of conditions that combine to enable life as we know it on this planet are uncountable. And it was God’s plan to create a world where His plans could be developed. And look at the complexities of human life – how could two cells coming together in a mother’s womb ever develop into a human being capable of so much? It beggars belief that so many people believe the lie that our world and all its contents happened by chance. As the verse above points out, our Creator God has performed many wonders and deeds in implementing His plans.

But there is a wonder, a plan, a deed, that is far above anything else God has done for the human race. We find in the Genesis account that God created men and women in His image. And He wanted to have a relationship with them based on love and friendship. But things went horribly wrong with man’s response to God, as we can find in the early accounts of the Israelite nation. God wasn’t going to give up on His creation, though, and He devised a master plan to reconcile mankind back to Him. His love for us was so intense that he wasn’t going to let us continue in living a life less than how He designed it to be. A life without the ultimate richness of being a friend of God. We can read about God’s master plan through the words of Jesus in John 3. This is the Message version. “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” That was God’s plan. To put the world back into the place He had designed it to be. He wasn’t going to give up on His creation and He never will. Through Jesus, God’s Master Plan, everyone person living on this planet can find out about God’s wonders, plans and deeds. If they want to. The choice is theirs. The choice is yours.

The Land of the Living

“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalms‬ ‭27:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In spite of all his trials and attacks from people who were out to get him, David, the psalmist, continued to have confidence in the Lord, his God. You see, he had made the connection between life here on planet earth, and his life secured and assured for him with God Himself. And more, David had confidence in his expectation that the Lord’s goodness would extend from the Heavenly realm into his earthly bubble. All he had to do was wait patiently, something that he apparently needed courage to do.

Once again I am in a place of intersection between the the land of the living and the land of the dead. My aunt, the sole remaining member of my mother’s generation, passed over “the great divide” a few days ago. Her spirit has now taken up residence somewhere else, where her options for eternity are limited. Her spirit is dependent now on the Lord’s mercy and decisions she made “in the land of the living”. Her options for experiencing the “Lord’s goodness” in this life have ceased. She had heard the Gospel many times during her long life, but did she know Jesus?

So what lessons can I learn from these final two verses in Psalm 27? For me, I see the necessity of keeping close to God, being in His presence, making right choices, being confident that He loves me and wants to bless me “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:3). My pilgrimage through “the land of the living” involves looking out expectantly for the “Lord’s goodness” to me with patience and courage. Fending off all the enemy’s attacks in the knowledge that I don’t have to listen to his lifeless message from the land of the dead. Father God I am so grateful for Your presence in “the land of the living”, enabling You to be accessible to all.