April 7, 2005
Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,
As the world wrestles with the poignant issues of life and death, sanctity
and dignity, I sit here wondering how the gospel prepares us to live and die without fear. Fear paralyzes. Fear
imprisons. Fear impedes. Yet in the life and atoning death of Jesus Christ the power of sin, the power of death,
the power of Satan, the power of sickness, the power of evil, the power of the world, and the power of fear are
broken. Indeed, every knee and name bows. As the veil is rent, the glory of Christís love bursts forth to show
us the truth of a more excellent way.
Jesus rose from the dead. But did the fact of the resurrection of Jesus
Christ become immediately absorbed into the minds of Jesusí followers? No. According to Mark 16.8, "trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They
said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid." Even though
the stone had been removed, the body was absent, angels appeared, several women, Peter and John saw the empty tomb,
two on the road to Emmaus gave testimony, and Jesus appeared to the eleven, not everyone was convinced. Jesusí
friends feared the Jews, feared that the body had been mutilated, that there had been no resurrection. Later, Thomas
had to see before he believed. Jesus had to confirm to His disciples His Lordship. (John 20) Fears turned to faith
as Jesusí followers met the risen Jesus.
Resurrection. Anastasis means "rise," "resurrection from the dead." Jesus rose from
the dead, taking a stand against repressive powers. Jesus is revolutionary. He revolted against our indifference
to the ways of God, our friendship with the ways of the world, and our worship of the creation. He turned the tables
on the enemy, our enemies. He died that we might live. He said,
"I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believes in Me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live;
and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
Do you believe this?"
(John 11.25, 26)
Jesus authored resurrection faith.
It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead. He challenges us to preach repentance and remission
of sins in His name among all nations. He sends us out as the Father has sent Him. He extends His peace to humanity.
He shows us a more excellent way.
What can the faithful teach us?
Job said his intimate friends detested him. Those he loved had turned against him. He was nothing but skin and
bones and escaped by the skin of his teeth. Yet he could say, "I
know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin
worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold,
and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." (Job 19.24-27)
"By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he
that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall your
seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received
him in a figure." (Hebrews 11.17-19) Abraham had such a walk
with God that convinced him that God could and would raise Isaac from the dead. He considered God faithful. God
had given him Isaac when he and Sarah were "as good as dead." Abraham believed that nothing was impossible
for God. In Genesis 22 he says, "We will worship and then
we will come back to you." (Genesis 22.5) He did not waver
through unbelief regarding the promise of God. He was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God. He was fully
persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised. (Romans 4.18-22)
And what about Habakkuk? The prophet, whose name means "embracer"
or "wrestler," queries why God would allow such injustice against His own people, such violence and suffering.
But the nation had violated the stipulations of the covenant. God knows! It is the people who should look and see
and be astonished at the judgment of God. Though Habakkuk braced himself for the Lordís rebuke, he is answered
with a vision of hope, a vision contrasting the righteous by faith with the proud. Like Abraham, Habakkuk wonders
how God will be true to His promise if the people of God get wiped out. The answer? The just shall live by faith.
The just shall live by faith.
We could express it as, the justified shall live by his steadfast trust. How does the gift of life continue to
be received? By faith. What is he saying? Heís saying that those who trust Godís grace for their very existence
presently and continuously shall live. Those who do this will survive the devastating judgments of God. Faith overcomes.
Paul will tell you more about who the just are in Romans. He will tell
you about living in Galatians; and the writer to the Hebrews will tell you about living by faith. The just shall
live by faith. After the loss of luxuries, after the loss of necessities, after the loss of all things, Godís grace
endures. Listen to Godís voice and cling to Him. Embrace Him. Move into a resurrection faith. Say with Habakkuk,
"Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of
my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hindsí feet, and He will make me to walk
upon mine high places." (Habakkuk 3.18)
Resurrection faith is more than accepting the facts of the resurrection.
It is more than believing that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you now. Resurrection faith is knowing the hope to which God has called you, the riches
of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for those who believe. (Ephesians 1.15-23) Resurrection
faith is embracing not only the promises of God but also God Himself.
Itís hard to face losses, but when we look at Jesus and see how He was
delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (Romans 4.24, 25), we are emboldened
to come to Christ and cling to the cross. We find faith to lose our lives that we might find a better life. We
find power, Godís power, to redeem our life, salvage it, transform it into something beautiful.
Doubting is always easier than having faith in what God says. Itís always
easier to figure out how to make Godís promises come to pass and work our own plans rather than Godís plan. Itís
harder to wait when the vision tarries and trust that though the vision tarries, it will surely come to be. Itís
easier to fall before our fears than to ask God for help. Itís easier to return or stay with what we know than
to launch into the unknown. But if we relinquish our hold on ourselves
and embrace Christ, we find a love, the love of God, raising us up, overcoming the power of the grave, giving us
beauty for ashes.
Paul would come to write, "Yea
doubtless, and I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I
have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which
is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that
I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable
unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Philippians 3.8-11) (Read all of Philippians, a letter of joy.)
Let go. Embrace Christ
with resurrection faith.
Iíve enclosed a brochure this month about our Barnabas Project, David
Patten, Director. You can see for yourselves
how this ministry is growing and blessing hundreds of people through your gifts and support. May 1st we have another mission day
trip to minister to the Mayan migrant workers here in South Florida. I know youíll want to be part of this and
I also know you will be blessed.
This summer we have mission teams going to Eastern Europe and also to
Turkey. We have three people who need help financially in order to go. I hope you will pray about what the Holy Spirit might lead you
to do in the areas of prayer and giving to the extension of the gospel. You can designate your gift for "world
Giving brings hope. Thank you for reaching out and touching lives. Your gifts to Mary Craig Ministries
enable us to bring Jesus to a hurting world and share the gospel of grace to the lost.
Your gifts enable others to embrace Christ with resurrection faith.
Lives are being changed, transformed by Godís love. You can read Raeganís
testimony about what it meant for her to participate in the mission
trip to the Virgin Islands. She learned some basics about spiritual warfare, how to prepare for such a trip, and
the power of prayer and listening to the Lord.
Embracing Christ as God gives grace,
P.S. In the area? Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays, at Craighouse®, located in the
Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Youíll like our new worship team! After the service,
join Rev. Jim Craig to discuss the message or have prayer with Dr. Mary Craig. Visit www.craighouse.org for a map,
and www.marycraig.org for more events.
And the Lord answered me, and said,
Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables,
That he may run that reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but
At the end it shall speak, and not lie:
Though it tarry, wait for it;
Because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him:
But the just shall live by his faith.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for
It is the power of God unto salvation to
Everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from
Faith to faith: as it is written.
The just shall live by faith.
(Romans 1.16, 17)
For we are saved by hope: but
Hope that is seen is not hope:
For what a man sees, why does he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with
Patience wait for it. (Romans 8.24, 25)