Tag Archives: Easter

Easter Sunday

1 Corinthians 15:55–58Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Easter is a season of great gladness for those who know Christ. But for those who are without “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory” (2 Corinthians 4:6), there is nothing to rejoice over.

Jesus left us with the great hope and certainty that He is going to return to bring a new Heaven and a new earth where, we are told, there will be no more sorrow, trouble, or death for those who have believed and followed Him. There will be trouble, sorrow, and suffering for those who have neglected or rejected Him.

As Christians, our great task is to obey the command to tell the whole world about Christ crucified, buried, yet risen again. My prayer for you during this season of the year, when we meditate on our Savior’s great sacrifice for us on the cross, is that you will be filled with great peace and hope, because “He is risen!” That is the Good News.

As you follow Christ, are you obeying His command to tell others that He is risen indeed?

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From my Easter reading: Prepare for Easter: Daily Devotions from Billy Graham

Saturday’s Tomb

1 Corinthians 15:50–54“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

From Genesis to Revelation, we are warned that “it is later than you think.” Paul writes to Christians in Romans 13:11–12: “The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

There are millions of people around the world who do not have peace at this moment because they have never found the secret of peace. Some of them may have riches today as a result of greed and covetousness; but their souls are lean, their hearts are cold toward God, their consciences are dulled, and their minds are blinded.

They need to know that there is a God of marvelous love who sent His Son Jesus Christ to this world. And as a demonstration of His mercy, Christ—who is the Prince of Peace—went to the cross to make a way for peace between God and mankind.

Are you living in the reality of Jesus’ victory over death? In what tangible ways can you share that victory with others so that they, too, can have life?

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From my Easter reading: Prepare for Easter: Daily Devotions from Billy Graham

Good Friday

1 Corinthians 15:44-49 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”

Good Friday celebrates the day our Lord died for our sins on the cross. I have often sat by the hour and tried to imagine the agony and suffering He went through because of our sins. At one point He said from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). He meant that God had accepted His work on the cross as the penalty for our sins.

Christ’s death on our behalf is the reason God can forgive us and still be just. And His death teaches us the depth and breadth that there should be in our forgiveness of one another.

While that holy Friday was tremendous, it was only a prelude to Sunday morning when He was raised from the dead. Godly women had come to see His tomb, but angels made the glorious announcement, “He has risen!” (Luke 24:6). His resurrection guaranteed that we, too, will be raised, if we are believers and obeyers of His Word.

As you celebrate the truth that Jesus came from Heaven to redeem you, are you reflecting His likeness to those around you?

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From my Easter reading: Prepare for Easter: Daily Devotions from Billy Graham

Maundy Thursday

1 Corinthians 15:35-43 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.”

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;

As we approach the celebration of Good Friday, I’m reminded of the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross and the glory and the power in each saying.

Jesus was alone. He had come to His own, and His own did not receive Him. When He was being arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, we are told that “all the disciples deserted him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). The crowds who had so recently shouted, “Hosanna!” would soon shout, “Crucify him! … Crucify him!” (Matthew 21:9, 27:22–23).

Now even His loyal Twelve had left. And at last we hear Him cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Not only had He been forsaken by His human companions, but now in that desperate and lonely hour, He—because He was bearing our sins in His own body on the cross—had been forsaken by God. Jesus was enduring the suffering and judgment of Hell for you and for me.

How can you show your gratitude to God for allowing His Son to endure the shame and suffering of the cross?

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From my Easter reading: Prepare for Easter: Daily Devotions from Billy Graham

Doubt, Reach Out

JesusChristLove1-e1393989333893Luke 24:36-40 “As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’ But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.”

What are those things bringing chaos or doubt into your life? The ultimate doubt and chaos for Jesus’ disciples was “what’s next”. How many times have we tried to “give it up”, “let it go” or “get over it” one for time?  What’s next?

Jesus tells is disciples not to be troubled and not to doubt. He simply showed himself and said “touch me”.

Today is an opportunity to reach out and experience His grace, mercy, love and care. Doubt? Reach out.

Such Amazing Resurrection Love

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:17–18

Why does Jesus say this? Why does he stress his willingness to die? Because if it weren’t true—if his death were forced on him, if it weren’t free, if his heart weren’t really in it—then a big question mark would be put over his love for us.

The depth of his love is in its freedom. If he didn’t die for us willingly—if he didn’t choose the suffering and embrace it—then how deep is his love, really? So he stresses it. He makes it explicit. It comes out of me, not out of circumstances, not out of pressure, but out of what I really long to do.

Jesus is stressing to us that his love for us is free. He seems to hear some enemy slander saying, “Jesus doesn’t really love you. He’s a mercenary. He’s in it for some other reason than love. He’s under some kind of constraint or external compulsion. He doesn’t really want to die for you. He’s just got himself somehow into this job and has to submit to the forces controlling him.” Jesus seems to hear something like that, or anticipate it. And he responds, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” So he is pressing this on us to see if we will believe his protest of love, or if we will believe the opposite—that his heart is really not in this.

Anybody who makes a statement like that is either mentally deranged, or lying, or God. I have authority from inside death, as a dead man, to take life back again, when I please. Now what’s the point here? Well, which is harder: to control when you die, or to give yourself life again once you are dead? Which is harder: to say, “I lay my life down on my own initiative”? Or to say, “I will take my life back again after I am dead”? The answer is obvious. And that’s the point. If Jesus could—and did—take his life back again from the dead, then he was free indeed. If he controlled when he came out of the grave, he certainly controlled when he went into the grave.

So here’s the point. The resurrection of Jesus is given to us as the confirmation or evidence that he was indeed free in laying down his life. And so the resurrection is Christ’s testimony to the freedom of his love.

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Love to the Uttermost Devotional Readings for Holy Week
John Piper

What Good Friday Is All About

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.“ Hebrews 7:25

The great passion of the writer of Hebrews is that we “draw near” to God (Hebrews 4:16; 7:25; 10:22; 11:6). Draw near to his throne to find all the help we need. Draw near to him, confident that he will reward us with all that he is for us in Jesus. And this is clearly what he means in Hebrews 10:22, because verse 19 says that we have confidence “to enter the holy place,” that is, the new heavenly “holy of holies,” like that inner room in the old tabernacle of the Old Testament where the high priest met with God once a year, and where his glory descended on the ark of the covenant.

So the one command, the one exhortation, that we are given in Hebrews 10:19–22 is to draw near to God. The great aim of this writer is that we get near God, that we have fellowship with him, that we not settle for a Christian life at a distance from God, that God not be a distant thought, but a near and present reality, that we experience what the old Puritans called communion with God.

This drawing near is not a physical act. It’s not building a tower of Babel, by your achievements, to get to heaven. It’s not necessarily going into a church building, or walking to an altar at the front. It is an invisible act of the heart. You can do it while standing absolutely still, or while lying in a hospital bed, or while sitting in a pew listening to a sermon.

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Love to the Uttermost Devotional Readings for Holy Week
John Piper

Seeing The King On Palm Sunday

hosanna“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

Today is Palm Sunday. We picture ourselves welcoming the King into our city and into our hearts. He tries to make his intentions known by coming, not on a great stallion, but on a lowly donkey, meek and humble.

I wonder how many here look upon this lowly Servant- King and feel that this is just a thin veneer, and that beneath this lowly exterior there is a terrible power and authority which is just waiting to burst out against you if you slip in any way. I wonder how many feel that it is not really the deepest pleasure of this King’s heart to serve his people and meet their needs.

I wonder how many feel that he’s riding this donkey of lowliness as a kind of camouflage. And once he gains a foothold, he will throw off his rags, pull out his sword, and storm forth to do what he really loves to do, namely, judge and destroy. Of course, some will be saved—the few who somehow could please him. But that is not his heart’s desire. He is basically angry—always angry. And the best we can do is stay out of his way, and maybe, if we keep the rules well enough, we could sneak by him when he is in one of his temporary good moods.

God’s Deepest Delight

Jesus is at pains to help you not feel that way about God. And I want to draw your attention to one verse, namely, Luke 12:32, because every little piece of this verse is intended to help take away the fear that Jesus knows we struggle with, namely, that God begrudges his benefits, that he is constrained and out of character when he does nice things, that at bottom he is angry and loves to vent his anger.

Luke 12:32 is a verse about the nature of God. It’s a verse about what kind of heart God has. It’s a verse about what makes God glad—not merely about what God will do or what he has to do, but what he delights to do, what he loves to do, and what he takes pleasure in doing. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

The phrase “good pleasure,” is a verb in Greek: “to be a pleasure” or “to be pleased by.” You could translate it: “It pleased God,” or, “God chose it gladly.” In other words, God is not acting in this generous way in order to cloak and hide some malicious motive. The word “good pleasure” utterly rules that out. He is not saying inside, “I will have to be generous for a while even though I don’t want to be, because what I really want to do is bring judgment on sinners.”

The Lord’s meaning is inescapable: God is acting here in freedom. He is not under constraint to do what he doesn’t really want to do. At this very point, when he gives his flock the kingdom, he is acting out his deepest delight. This is what the word means: God’s joy, his desire, his want and wish and hope and pleasure and gladness and delight, is to give the kingdom to his flock.

Love to the Uttermost Devotional Readings for Holy Week
John Piper

Easter Musings

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” John 11:25

4525749Below is Some Easter Musings from Military Outreach Greater Chicago

Easter is a wonderful time for Christians as we reflect on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  It’s the miracle of all miracles and the basis of our Christian faith!  When thinking about Easter, we also think about Jesus’ final hours and words to those of us here on Earth.  Looking at Jesus’ words to his disciples before His ascension and the rest of Scripture, one can see similarities regarding how Christians are called to live here on earth and what our soldiers around the world are called to do on a daily basis to protect our country.  It is interesting to see the overlap and perhaps, no one is better prepared to understand what it means to be a Christian than one of our military men or women.

  1. Longing for Home – Christians recognize that this world is not our home.  We will never feel at home here on this earth and experience a sense of longing for the day when we will join our Savior in heaven.  Our men and women serving in the Armed Forces experience a sense of homesickness every day they are away from family, friends, and the familiar surroundings they leave behind to serve our nation.  They are foreigners in a land that is not their own and one they are unfamiliar with.  They long for home.
  2. Ambassadors to Those Around Them – Our military men and women often serve as the first faces many non-Americans see and as such often are the first impression that a foreigner has of who an American is.  Likewise, Christians are called to be ambassadors of Christ, serving as a sort of first example to the people around them of who Christ is and what it means and looks like to be a Christian.
  3. Facing Difficulties and Trials – Jesus never promised us that the Christian life was going to be a picnic. It was going to be tough and filled with suffering.  Our troops go through unimaginable suffering from both visible and invisible wounds they might carry for the rest of their lives.  Both overseas and at home, our troops face unique challenges that require physical and mental fortitude.
  4. Fighting An Unseen Enemy – The Bible tells us that our struggle as Christians is not against other humans, but against spiritual forces and Satan.  Similarly, our military members are often fighting unseen enemies.  Sometimes these are people who seem friendly but are really suicide bombers.  At other times, it is the emotional and physical forces that our military personnel must wrestle with.  Our military personnel must always be ready for the unpredictable.
  5. Prepared to Fight – The Bible calls us to put on the full armor of God which will protect us against the enemy.  We are to be prepared for battle and ready to give an answer to anyone who has questions about our faith.  Likewise, our soldiers have to be constantly vigilant and prepared for battle.  They need to be properly armed and equipped to face those that seek to destroy them.

As we reflect on Easter and all that Christ accomplished for us, we should be mindful of our military members who face similar and far harder situations on a day to day basis than most of us deal with here in the United States.  Have a wonderful Easter and remember, Christ has Risen!!

Do You Believe?

John 11:25-26 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

Here was a house where the fear of God was, and on which his blessing rested; yet it was made a house of mourning. Grace will keep sorrow from the heart, but not from the house.

When God, by his grace and providence, is coming towards us in ways of mercy and comfort, we should, like Martha, go forth by faith, hope, and prayer, to meet him. When Martha went to meet Jesus, Mary sat still in the house; this temper formerly had been an advantage to her, when it put her at Christ’s feet to hear his word; but in the day of affliction, the same temper disposed her to melancholy.

It is our wisdom to watch against the temptations, and to make use of the advantages of our natural tempers. When we know not what in particular to ask or expect, let us refer ourselves to God; let him do as seems him good. To enlarge Martha’s expectations, our Lord declared himself to be the Resurrection and the Life. In every sense he is the Resurrection; the source, the substance, the first-fruits, the cause of it. The redeemed soul lives after death in happiness; and after the resurrection, both body and soul are kept from all evil forever. When we have read or heard the word of Christ, about the great things of the other world, we should put it to ourselves,

Do we believe this truth? The crosses and comforts of this present time would not make such a deep impression upon us as they do, if we believed the things of eternity as we ought.

When Christ our Master comes, he calls for us. He comes in his word and ordinances, and calls us to them, calls us by them, calls us to himself. Those who, in a day of peace, set themselves at Christ’s feet to be taught by him, may with comfort, in a day of trouble, cast themselves at his feet, to find favor with him.