By Jo Hayes
It’s one of the most unacknowledged facts about the Catholic Church – we like to party.
The chocolate eggs and hot cross buns are now a distant memory for many, yet, the church is still celebrating the great and glorious feast that is Easter.
Five weeks after Resurrection Sunday, the celebration season continues, as we journey towards that other great and glorious feast – Pentecost.
And we’ve been ‘feasting’ on amazing scriptures every day since Easter.
The Acts of the Apostles tell an amazing story of the courage, bravery and fortitude of the early church.
Those first believers whose belief system didn’t even yet have a name.
They followed ‘The Way’, and His name was Jesus.
But reading these Easter and post-Easter scriptures year after year, it’s easy to get ‘lulled’ into the familiarity of the story.
Jesus dying on the cross, the women and the other disciples finding His tomb empty on the third day; Jesus appearing to them over the course of the next few days/weeks; the apostles then travelling all over preaching the ‘Good News’ – with amazing signs, wonders and miracles ‘confirming’ the Word they preached.
We’ve heard these stories so many times, that it’s easy to pass them over without fully grasping the scale of ‘crazy’ those early disciples were signing up to.
They were faithful Jews.
Like thousands of generations before them, they were awaiting the coming Messiah.
And they were the chosen generation to which He appeared.
That meant having their world and all they knew turned upside down.
That meant leaving behind a whole lot of traditions and laws and customs and rituals.
Things that gave them comfort and a sense of ‘ticking’ the religious box.
But Jesus arriving in their generation forced them to let go of “the old” and take hold of “the new”.
Not to throw out all the old traditions and laws but allow them to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into something powerful and free.
They were the chosen generation of Jews, called to receive the actual manifestation of the prophetic Word (the Promise) that had been spoken to their people for generations.
But as we know, many did not receive it (Pharisees etc.) and those “unbelievers” are still awaiting the coming Messiah.
They missed the Word and the Promise through unbelief, cynicism and judgment.
Remember those famous last words – “How could anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)
Isaiah prophesied, “He was despised and rejected by men.”
“He bore our griefs and sorrows.
“He was wounded for our sins.
“He was bruised for our iniquities.
“By His stripes, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4,5).
The disciples (and their ancestors) had been reading all the scriptures and prophecies for thousands of years and now, in their lifetime, the messianic prophecy was fulfilled.
But let’s stop and think about the faith, trust and surrender they needed to believe this.
To believe the prophetic Word would actually fulfill what it promised and to believe that God would allow them (mere fishermen, lowly tradesmen and sinning tax collectors) to receive it.
This is a word for all of us – the scriptures are God’s ‘prophecy’ for each of us.
The scriptures are full to the brim of promises that are for us – His chosen people.
Promises about peace, provision, prosperity, guidance, wisdom; words to comfort you in grief, to lead you out of your wilderness into your promised land and thousands more.
These scriptures are not just nice ‘ye old bible stories’.
These are prophetic promises to be received by us. Now. Today.
I know I spent far too many years of my life not knowing and believing this.
Not knowing that God’s Word is true and applies to my life today.
I can lay hands on the sick and they will recover – Mark 16:17-18
I can have ‘dead bones come to life’ (‘dead’ situations in my life come to life) – Ezekial 37:1-14
I will be the head and not the tail, above only and never beneath – Deuteronomy 28:13
I can ask for anything in Jesus’ name, and receive it – John 14:14
All of these ‘prophetic promises’ are part of the glorious ‘Good News’ that we profess to believe as Christians.
And the life that comes from believing these promises and seeing miracles, signs and wonders.
It is too good for words.
But even deeper than that.
The utter peace, joy and comfort that comes from believing that Christ desires to be in intimate relationship with each of us.
To know that we are fully known and fully loved by the creator of the universe, and by the saviour who took on our sin, so that we could be made whole.
That’s what the disciples knew and believed.
And look at the exciting lives they lived.
They travelled the world.
They had the miracle power of almighty God flowing through them.
Through them, thousands of people were healed.
And they experienced a deep peace and joy beyond all understanding.
So many of us wait for a church conference, or special visiting speaker or prophet to get a Word or ‘promise’ from God.
But the Lord is telling us – ‘Don’t wait.”.
Get into scripture and you’ll find thousands of ‘prophetic words’ specifically for you.
I am a living witness.
I have lived this, opening scripture and seeing a Word that applies to my situation.
And then choosing to believe it, declaring it out loud:
“God your word says I can have this _____(healing etc.).
I have no known sin in my life (regularly confession/daily repentance etc.) therefore I am righteous before you, in Christ, and can expect to receive this promise.
I thank you in advance for this coming to pass in my life, in Jesus’ Name”.
All the miracles I have experienced from knowing – and believing – The Word of God.
You would be amazed.
Don’t let another Easter season pass, nay, another day pass, missing out on the power of Christ that is on offer to us.
What do you need? Peace? Healing from depression? Healing from a physical illness? Financial provision?
Find a scripture promise that relates to your need and claim it, in Jesus’ name.
Jesus died on the cross, descended into hell, rose on the third day, ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit – so that we could have life to the full.
That is reason to celebrate.
And that is why we like to party.