Easter Sunday, March 27

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Easter collisionSuddenly, two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them…the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!” ~Luke 24:4-6

 Happy Easter! Today is the day that we have been waiting and looking for! It is finally here!   The stone has rolled away, the work is done, the grave is empty, He has risen!

Do you remember that stone from yesterday? It’s nothing now. The grave’s game is “winner take all” and Jesus defeated the grave! In conquering death, Jesus made every other problem solvable. Death was the greatest threat to our existence and it has now been tamed, rendered powerless.

The question of the angels is still legit. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” You wouldn’t expect to find car parts at a grocery store, so why would you look for life in a graveyard? Yet, we do it all the time.

We go on our search for “life”. We think a new relationship will do it, but people fail us. We think a new job will do the trick, but our bills are just the same. We think a new house will satisfy, but then we get water in our basement. Each new quest is a set up for disappointment. And the angels ask, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Jesus is the Author of Life, genuine life. Jesus is the only One who can show you what living is all about. The life in Him can also be the life in you, if you will leave the graveyard. Admit that any other search for life has not satisfied, and then place all of your hope in Jesus. You will be so glad you did!

Happy Easter!

Something to pray about:

I have tried to find life in so many things but they have all let me down. Jesus, I come to You for life today. You have defeated the grave! You are alive! I ask now that You live in me.

Easter Question…What is your favorite Easter memory?

With Jesus, your best days are always ahead.

 

This last piece is a little bonus to our Lenten readings.  I started thinking about Jesus and I just couldn’t help myself.  These words flowed out.  I hope you enjoy it…

Have you met my Friend Jesus? Do you know Him?

My Friend Jesus is the greatest Person you’ll ever know but He will never brag about it.

He’s the nicest Person you’ll ever know but He is not a pushover.

He’s the smartest Person you’ll ever know but He’ll never make you feel dumb.

He’s the richest Person you’ll ever know, but He will never flaunt it.

He’s strong, and gentle.

He’s great, and meek.

He’s holier than anyone you’ve ever met, but He is never pompous.

He’s the Judge who pays for the crimes of those He judges.

He’s powerful, yet never a bully.

Dominant, yet never domineering.

He’s gracious, yet never compromising.

He gave you an imagination so that He could defy it.

He gave you a mind so that He could blow it.

He gave you a will so that He could win it.

He gave you a heart so that He could woo it.

Have you met my Friend Jesus? Do you know Him? He is dying to know you!

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Easter EVE, March 26

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Easter collision“Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? ~Mark 16:3

This is a Saturday question. As the women went on their way to anoint Jesus’ body with burial spices, they wondered how they would remove the huge stone that barricaded His tomb. It’s a Saturday question because on Saturday, death reigns. Saturday is when your hopes are buried and locked behind a rock.

And so, the question of removing the stone is a legitimate question for those stuck in Saturday. The stone stands as a silent reminder that death won. What stone stands ominous in your life right now?

Perhaps, you got a bad report from the doctor. Or perhaps you received a pink slip at work. Or perhaps you have a relationship that is on the skids. Your question is, “Who can help me with this?” You know that the stone is too large for you to remove on your own. The problem towers above you like a basketball player standing over a kindergartner. The shadow is so long you cannot remember the last time you saw the sun.

“Who will roll the stone away?”

There is only One. Rest assured that Jesus is not the maker of every circumstance but He is the Master of it. The devil might prowl like a lion, but your Savior is the Lion and He will come to your defense.

Give that stone to Jesus and wait for Sunday. Its almost here!

Something to pray about:

I confess that sometimes my problems seem bigger than You are Jesus. As hard as I have tried to push the stone away, I just cannot. I am tired. I cry out to You for help Lord. You are my mighty fortress and refuge and I find rest in You.

Easter Question…Have you ever gone mountain climbing? If so, which mountains? How was it?

With Jesus, your best days are always ahead.

Good Friday, March 25

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Easter collision“Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission he came and took the body away.”           ~John 19:38

 Some secrets are meant to be shared. Your friendship with Jesus is one of them. Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus. He was a wealthy and influential man but he was confined by his fear of what others might think. Oft times, those with the most to lose, say the least. For Joseph, to speak plainly might bring the ire of others and possibly a loss of prestige.

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me and the gospel will save it.” ~Mark 8:35

The fear of what others think is a trap. It will imprison you in the cell of living between two worlds. If you try to please both God and man you will please neither.

In Joseph’s fear we can also find comfort. Notice that the Bible does not condemn our duplicitous friend. His fear and secret love for Jesus are merely mentioned as a fact, and there is no judgment attached to it. We can safely assume that though Joseph secretly admired Jesus, Jesus openly loved Joseph. Jesus treats you in the same way.

We have all, at times, held back our love for Jesus because we feared what others might think. Thankfully, there is forgiveness. Jesus died for that too!

Something to pray about:

Lord make me stronger. I don’t want to be a fake. I don’t want to be two-faced. Lord, I want to love You in public as much as I love You in private. No more secret faith!

Easter Question…Have you ever been mocked or misunderstood because of your faith in Jesus? How so?

With Jesus, your best days are always ahead.

Holy Thursday, March 24

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Easter collision“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdelane, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.” ~Mark 16:1

Game over.

If you’re on the winning team, the buzzer declares your victory and you move on to the after-party. If you’re on the losing team, the buzzer is just a sad reminder of what could have been.

The two Mary’s and their friend Salome were on the losing end of the crucifixion. All of their hopes were pinned to a cross on Friday. And now, all hope is lost. He may have raised others from the dead, but who would raise Jesus from the dead? When the dead raiser dies, who raises Him?

So they went to the tomb with spices.  What other options did they have?   In human terms, disguising the scent of death with perfume is really about the best we can do. We cover up death. We don’t conquer it. The ladies planned to anoint a dead body, and somehow make death appear better than it really is.

Our vain attempts to dress up death do nothing to defeat it. Religion tells us that we can clean up our lives with good behavior. But that does not actually solve the depth of the problem. Putting make-up on a pig doesn’t make it less of a pig. Covering your sin with good works doesn’t make your sin less offensive.

On Saturday, death looks like it won and the best you can do is anoint it with spices. Thankfully, we know what happened on Sunday!

Something to pray about:

Lord, some days I am overwhelmed by all that I need to do. So many changes need to happen! Help me to be patient and work with You, not against You as You remove sin and make me like You.

Easter Question…What is your idea of an perfect Saturday?

With Jesus, your best days are always ahead.

March 23

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Easter collision“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting a guard ~Matthew 27:65

 Sometimes non-believers believe more than believers do. Jesus’ disciples scattered at His death. They were hiding in confusion, disbelief, bewilderment and terror. Their Savior was dead. On many occasions Jesus promised that He would die but rise again. His disciples never really understood it. For them, Jesus’ death signaled the end of what could have been.

Yet, Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Pilate believed so much in Jesus’ promise that he took measures to make sure Jesus stayed in that tomb. So, the non-believers exercised more faith than the believers! If the guards were trying to keep Jesus inside the tomb, why weren’t the disciples outside the tomb praying, waiting and hoping for Christ’s promise to come true?

The reason a non-believer often has more faith than a believer is because they do not face disappointment if things don’t work out. What would Pilate lose if he posted the guards and nothing happened? Nothing. The disciples however, would have faced serious disappointment.

It is our fear of being disappointed that often keeps us from living the thrill of faith. We often don’t pray for miracles because, what if they don’t happen? We may have guarded our hearts from disappointment but we have drained the life out of them at the same time. The human heart was not created for the safety of predictability. It was made for adventure.

What miracle have you been afraid to ask God for? In what ways has the fear of disappointment tricked you into playing life safe? Remember something, the Savior you follow rose from the dead. You’re unstoppable.

Something to pray about:

Lord forgive me for my unbelief. I have held back my trust in You because I was afraid of getting disappointed. Please help me to trust You Jesus.

Easter Question…Do you have a safety deposit box? If so, what do you keep in it?

With Jesus, your best days are always ahead!

March 22

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Easter collisionJesus called out with a loud voice, “Father! Into Your hands I commit My spirit!” When He had said this, He breathed His last. ~Luke 23:46

 When a runner is about to cross the finish line, they push out their chest and burst through the tape at full speed. These are Jesus’ last words from the cross. He had asked that His executioners be forgiven. He had asked that John provide for His mom. He promised a repentant thief access into paradise. He fulfilled prophecy by asking for a drink. He had felt the sting of being forsaken. And now, with one last push, Jesus reaches for the tape.

“Father! Into Your hands I commit My spirit!”

Jesus exemplified what happens when a person commits themselves fully into God’s hands. During His ministry, He said that He only did what He saw the Father doing. (John 5:19) Every moment of His earthly life was lived in communion with the Father. It is fitting then, that here in His very final moment He does the same: “Father, I am Yours!”

The burden of our sin was great. Committing His spirit to God, Jesus could finally rest. Notice the words, “with a loud voice”. Jesus boldly declared these words. He yelled them out for all to hear. In a sense, Jesus was crying out, “I am coming home Dad!”

Jesus remained faithful through all of the trials and suffering. He did not even flinch. These words mark the end of the battle. Hallelujah!

Something to pray about:

Thank You Jesus for sticking to the end. You did not falter once. You remained faithful and true. I am so blessed to call You “Savior”. I am honored to call You “Friend”.

Easter Question…What is the furthest distance you have ever run? How was it?

With Jesus, your best days are always ahead.

 

March 21

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Easter collisionWhen He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. ~John 19:30

 IT IS FINISHED. These three words mark the culmination of planning that God had set into motion before the beginning of time. What a glorious thought! The work is finished. Jesus has paid for salvation. Any willing pilgrim caught in sin can be set free. It is done!

When you fail again and again and you begin to wonder if you will ever be set free, hear Christ’s words, “It is finished!”

When religion tells you that you should be ashamed of yourself, hear Christ’s words, “It is finished!”

These three triumphant words will put an extra spring into your step. Because Jesus finished His work, all of Heaven’s blessings have been made available to you.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” ~Ephesians 1:3

 You are missing nothing because Jesus paid for everything. God has given you all that you need.  The only thing left for you to do is enjoy the blessings that Jesus bought.

Where will you start? This writer would encourage you to read II Peter 1:3-9 to give you some direction.

Something to pray about:

Jesus, I can start where you finished. Thank You! You have brought me from death to life and now all of forever is before me with glorious hope. Thank You!

Easter Question…Do you have any unfinished project around your house? If so, why are they unfinished? How does your family feel about them?

With Jesus, your best days are always ahead.