Sweet Selah Easter 2020 - The Paradox of Life from Death Studying Death and Resurrection A Guided Sweet Selah Day
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Key Verse: Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. —John 12:24 NIV
Prayer: Take some time to pray, friend, as you begin. Ask God to speak to you today through His Word and through the Holy Spirit who lives within you—your Counselor, Teacher, Comforter, and Friend.
Ponder: Think on the key verse for a little bit with me. Look at it phrase by phrase and let its meaning sink deeply into your soul as you prepare to learn more about what it means to die in order to live.
Very truly I tell you: Very truly. Why does Jesus begin His story this way? Why the emphasis on truth here when every word Jesus spoke was truth? Could it be that He wants to underline for you and me the principle He is about to give? And note: “I tell you.” These are Jesus’ words, clearly given to … you. So let’s tune in a bit and focus. What He is about to say matters deeply and teaches a truth we need to know.
Unless a kernel of wheat: Imagine with me a kernel of wheat. It’s hard. It’s small. It looks like a tiny stone. As long as it remains in my hand or yours, it is lifeless and useless.
Falls to the ground and dies: Now watch it fall in your mind’s eye. Watch it hit the dirt and slowly get buried over by more dirt and detritus. Now you can’t even see it at all. It’s hidden. Gone. Lost in a big world of mud and silt and dirt and rock.
It remains only a single seed: By itself the seed is small and contained and hard and pretty much useless. No one uses single seeds outside of gardening or farming, do they?
But if it dies: Hear the word here. If it dies. Jesus wants us to hear the finality of that word. Death. No longer living. Let the word “die” sink in.
It produces many seeds: Oh, the truth of this marvelous thought! The seed, when buried and “dead,” changes. It ceases to be a seed, and instead the shell cracks and the wheat plant begins to grow. It’s nearly impossible to see at first. Minute fissures and cracks in the hard exterior and then a teensy and tender shoot burrowing out into the dark, dank earth. Then it senses sunlight above and tunnels tenaciously toward the light. It breaks through and continues to grow until it is tall and mature and waving in the wind, offering itself for the making of bread—life-giving food—and in the process producing many seeds and much, much more of itself than it ever could have had it remained that one little seed in someone’s hand.
Today, as we ponder the marvel and mystery of Jesus’ own death and resurrection … we are also going to look at our own death to self. You see, Jesus calls us to die and live again in Him. Like that seed, we can stay hard and self-contained and useless. Or we can die to that selfish way of living and instead allow Him to crack our hard exterior, calling us from darkness to His glorious Light, producing much fruit as we stand tall and mature, waving in the wind of His grace and soaking in the Light of His Love!! Are you ready to ponder? Let’s begin.
It all starts with Jesus. We would have no life at all without Him. So, let’s read a bit, shall we?
Read John 12. Discover our key verse in context and ask God to teach you more. Write any discoveries here:
Read John 18:21. Remember the story that is above all stories. The one that brought eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and a place among the redeemed for all who trust in Him. Write your reflections here. As you read, pray for fresh insights … verses that grip … a renewed sense of awe at what God the Son did for you and me.
Now, let’s look at what God calls us to do. That great paradox of life from death.
Google Dictionary: par.a.dox /ˈperəˌdäks/
- noun a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.
Many verses highlight this concept. I’ve written some of them out for you below from the NIV. If you have another version of the Bible, you might want to look them up in that one as well, fleshing out the meanings more fully. Also, if one verse “grabs” you … read the chapter surrounding it and see it in context. Linger here, friend. Let God teach you as you meet Him in the pages of His Word … His love letter to you. I’ve left spaces between each verse for your own thoughts or prayers to be written out.
Matthew 16:25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:28-31 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
John 3: 1-7 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”
Romans 5:12-21 - I am using the New Living Translation (NLT) on this one for easier comprehension.
Adam and Christ Contrasted
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:3-5 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Philippians 3:8-11 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Colossians 2:11-15 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
2 Timothy 2:11-15 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
Well, dear one. What about you? Where are you in this journey from death to life? Write out your thoughts about where you are today and where you’d like to be. Do you see the wonder
of this paradox shown in nature and through Christ’s own death and resurrection and His call on us?
I hope this little study has renewed your desire to put to death all that is old and hard and corrupt in you, asking Christ to renew you and give you fresh life and suppleness and the ability to grow His kingdom in His strength and by His power as you live now for Him! Let’s end this section with a very famous prayer.
PEACE PRAYER OF SAINT FRANCIS
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
So … how much time do you have left? Here are some sweet ideas on what to do now. I hope they will help you enjoy every minute of this Sweet Selah Day at Eastertime. Do one or seven or none of them. Be led by the Holy Spirit in the way He would have you finish your day with Him. These are just suggestions to get you started thinking about all the wonderful ways you can spend time with your Heavenly Father, reflecting on the life and death and resurrection of His Son Jesus.
- Walk. Admire all that God has made. Reflect on new life all around you, so much of it coming after the “death” of a seed.
- Pray. Take time to pray for those in your life who still need to “dare to die” and live anew in Christ.
- Listen. Play some music! You can find our Sweet Selah Easter Dare music list on Spotify or create your own playlist.
- Sing. Yes, sing out loud in a spot where you won’t annoy or frighten (ha!) people. Sing hymns. All the verses. Focus on the words and their meaning. Sing praise songs. Shout out to the God who loves you.
- List. List all the ways God has blessed you. Spend some sweet time in thankfulness, so very glad for all He has done and acknowledging Him, the Giver of good gifts.
- Confess. Has this day with Him brought up some areas of sin in your life that need confessing? Oh, come to Him with your confessions and be cleansed. Ask for strength to go forth and do better in His strength and be ever grateful for His grace.
- Sit. Yes, just sit. Be in His Presence quietly. Let the silence enfold you and welcome it. Know that He is with you and as you quiet yourself, you just might hear His still, small voice in the hushed atmosphere of your stillness.
Happy Easter, Sister! Go live for Christ and be blessed.