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Easter Devotions are now complete; hope you enjoyed and were blessed...

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Our Ultimate Hooray - Easter Devotional - Sunday, April 5, 2015

by Charles R. Swindoll

John 11

What gives a widow courage as she stands beside a fresh grave? What is the ultimate hope of the handicapped, the abused, the burn victim? What is the final answer to pain, mourning, senility, insanity, terminal diseases, sudden calamities, and fatal accidents?

The answer to each of these questions is the same: the hope of bodily resurrection.

We draw strength from this single truth almost every day of our lives—more than we realize. It becomes the mental glue that holds our otherwise shattered thoughts together. Impossible though it may be for us to understand the details of how God is going to pull it off, we hang our hopes on fragile, threadlike thoughts that say,

"Someday, He will make it right," and "Thank God, all this will change," and "When we're with Him, we shall be like Him."

More than a few times a year I look into red, swollen eyes and remind the despairing and the grieving that "there's a land that is fairer than day" where, as John promised in the Revelation, "He shall wipe away every tear . . . there shall no longer be any death . . . any mourning or crying or pain . . . there shall no longer be any curse . . . any night . . . because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever" (21:4; 22:3, 5). Hooray for such wondrous hope!

Just imagine . . . those who are physically disabled today will one day leap in ecstatic joy. Those who spend their lives absorbed in total darkness will see every color in the spectrum of light. In fact, the very first face they will see will be the One who gives them sight!

There's nothing like the hope of resurrection to lift the agonizing spirits of the heavyhearted. But how can we know for sure, some may ask. What gives us such assurance, such unshakable confidence? Those questions have the same answer:the fact of Christ's resurrection.

Because He has been raised, we too shall rise! No wonder we get so excited every Easter! No wonder we hold nothing back as we smile and sing and celebrate His miraculous resurrection from the grave!

Jesus Himself promised: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies" (John 11:25).

Easter is a double-barreled celebration: His triumphant hurrah over agony and our ultimate hooray of ecstasy.

Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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On Saturday - Easter Devotional - April 4, 2015

by Max Lucado

John didn't know on that Friday what you and I now know. He didn't know that Friday's tragedy would be Sunday's triumph. John would later confess that he "did not yet understand from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead" (John 20:9).

That's why what he did on Saturday is so important.

We don't know anything about this day; we have no passage to read, no knowledge to share. All we know is this: When Sunday came, John was still present. When Mary Magdalene came looking for him, she found him.

Jesus was dead. The Master's body was lifeless. John's friend and future were buried. But John had not left. Why? Was he waiting for the resurrection? No. As far as he knew, the lips were forever silent and the hands forever still. He wasn't expecting a Sunday surprise. Then why was he here?

You'd think he would have left. Who was to say that the men who crucified Christ wouldn't come after him? The crowds were pleased with one crucifixion; the religious leaders might have called for more. Why didn't John get out of town?

Perhaps the answer was pragmatic; perhaps he was taking care of Jesus' mother. Or perhaps he didn't have anywhere else to go. Could be he didn't have any money or energy or direction … or all of the above.

Or maybe he lingered because he loved Jesus.

To others, Jesus was a miracle worker. To others, Jesus was a master teacher. To others, Jesus was the hope of Israel. But to John, he was all of these and more. To John, Jesus was a friend.

You don't abandon a friend—not even when that friend is dead. John stayed close to Jesus.

He had a habit of doing this. He was close to Jesus in the upper room. He was close to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was at the foot of the cross at the crucifixion, and he was a quick walk from the tomb at the burial.

Did he understand Jesus? No.

Was he glad Jesus did what he did? No.

But did he leave Jesus? No.

What about you? When you're in John's position, what do you do? When it's Saturday in your life, how do you react? When you are somewhere between yesterday's tragedy and tomorrow's triumph, what do you do? Do you leave God—or do you linger near him?

John chose to linger. And because he lingered on Saturday, he was around on Sunday to see the miracle.

From He Chose the Nails



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Finished! - Easter Devotional - April 3, 2015

When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit. —John 19:30

The cross was the goal of Jesus from the very beginning. His birth was so there would be His death. The incarnation was for our atonement. He was born to die so that we might live. And when He had accomplished the purpose He had come to fulfill, He summed it up with a single word: “finished.”

In the original Greek, it was a common word. Jesus probably used it after He finished a project that He and Joseph might have been working on together in the carpentry shop. Jesus might have turned to Joseph and said, “Finished. Now let’s go have lunch.” It is finished. Mission accomplished. It is done. It is made an end of.

So what was finished? Finished and completed were the horrendous sufferings of Christ. Never again would He experience pain at the hand of wicked men. Never again would He have to bear the sins of the world. Never again would He, even for a moment, be forsaken of God. That was completed. That was taken care of.

Also finished was Satan’s stronghold on humanity. Jesus came to deal a decisive blow against the devil and his demons at the cross of Calvary. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who hadthe power of death.” This means that you no longer have to be under the power of sin. Because of Jesus’ accomplishment at the cross, finished was the stronghold of Satan on humanity.

And lastly, finished was our salvation. It is completed. It is done. All of our sins were transferred to Jesus when He hung on the cross. His righteousness was transferred to our account.

So Jesus cried out the words, “It is finished!” It was God’s deliberate and well-thought-out plan. It is finished—so rejoice!

Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.


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Stinky Feet - Easter Devotional - April 2, 2015

by Laura MacCorkle

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:34-35, NIV

Do you celebrate Maundy Thursday?

The word maundy means "a new commandment" and is derived from the Latin word Mandatum in translating Jesus' commandment in John 13:34-35.

Before He said that, Jesus had demonstrated His love that same evening during the Last Supper, as He humbled Himself and washed His disciples' feet (John 13:4-5). This act perfectly illustrated His new command.

So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

After reading this, I can only imagine what washing someone else's stinky feet must be like.

Think about where your feet have been, especially if you live in a back-to-nature, shoe-optional locale. This starts getting very up close and personal. And, depending on the individual and their hygiene habits or lack thereof, perhaps not too pleasant. Washing another's feet is not a glamorous act of service at all. But neither is anything related to the role of a servant, since it represents a position of humility and a mindset of putting others first.

In this day and age, I know there are certain churches that do have foot-washing services on Maundy Thursday to commemorate Christ's actions and his command. I have not participated in one like this, but I am sure it is a great object lesson to help all ages understand how to love one another.

Taking this a step further, The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to say about foot-washing:

"Foot-washing was needed in Palestine. The streets were dusty and people wore sandals without socks or stockings. It was a mark of honor for a host to provide a servant to wash a guest's feet; it was a breach of hospitality not to provide for it. ...[Jesus] had done a humble service for [the disciples]. Meeting others' needs self-sacrificially is what they ought to do too. This passage emphasizes inner humility, not a physical rite. Not to follow the example of Jesus is to exalt oneself above Him and to live in pride. No servant is greater than his master (cf John 12;26)."

So when we humble ourselves and serve the Lord as He served us, it is He who lifts us up. When we love Christ, He changes our hearts and motivates us to love others. And if showing this love means washing some stinky feet, then so be it.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and keep my laws (Ezekiel 36:26-27).


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The Cradle of Hope - Easter Devotional - April 1

by Max Lucado

Christ rose first; then when Christ comes back, all his people will become alive again.
1 Corinthians 15:23 TLB

Let's go to the tomb, for Jesus lies in the tomb.

Still. Cold. Stiff. Death has claimed its greatest trophy. He is not asleep in the tomb or resting in the tomb or comatose in the tomb; he is dead in the tomb. No air in his lungs.

No thoughts in his brain. No feeling in his limbs. His body is as lifeless as the stone slab upon which he has been laid.

The executioners made sure of it. When Pilate learned that Jesus was dead, he asked the soldiers if they were certain. They were. Had they seen the Nazarene twitch, had they heard even one moan, they would have broken his legs to speed his end. But there was no need. The thrust of a spear removed all doubt. The Romans knew their job.

And their job was finished. They pried loose the nails, lowered his body, and gave it to Joseph and Nicodemus.

Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus the Pharisee. Jesus had answered the prayer of their hearts, the prayer for the Messiah. As much as the soldiers wanted him dead, even more these men wanted him alive.

As they sponged the blood from his beard, don't you know they listened for his breath?

As they wrapped the cloth around his hands, don't you know they hoped for a pulse?

Don't you know they searched for life?

But they didn't find it.

So they do with him what they were expected to do with a dead man. They wrap his body in clean linen and place it in a tomb. Joseph's tomb. Roman guards are stationed to guard the corpse. And a Roman seal is set on the rock of the tomb. For three days, no one gets close to the grave.

But then, Sunday arrives. And with Sunday comes light — a light within the tomb. A bright light? A soft light? Flashing? Hovering? We don't know. But there was a light.

For he is the light. And with the light came life. Just as the darkness was banished, now the decay is reversed. Heaven blows and Jesus breathes. His chest expands. Waxy lips open. Wooden fingers lift. Heart valves swish and hinged joints bend.

And, as we envision the moment, we stand in awe.

We stand in awe not just because of what we see, but because of what we know. We know that we, too, will die. We know that we, too, will be buried. Our lungs, like his, will empty. Our hands, like his, will stiffen. But the rising of his body and the rolling of the stone give birth to a mighty belief: "What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ's sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection.

We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us" (Rom. 6:5-9 MSG).

From When Christ Comes

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Jesus' Scars - Easter Devotional - Mar. 31, 2015

by Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth
"After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord" (John 20:20 NIV).

Friend to Friend
It was just a few days after Easter, and I was reading about the resurrection of Jesus in the Gospel of John chapter twenty. I had read the story many times prior, but this time God opened my eyes to see something I had never noticed before.

In my mind's eye, I saw the pre-morning mist hovering over the garden surrounding the tomb where Jesus' body had been laid three days earlier. There amongst the dew stood Mary Magdalene, deep in sorrow and mourning over the death of her beloved Jesus. Then…Mary hesitates…blinks, trying to readjust her eyes…and discovers the unthinkable. The heavy stone had been rolled away from the entrance to Jesus' grave.

How could this be? Mary thought to herself. Who would have stolen his body?

"I must go and tell the others," Mary said as she dashed from the empty tomb.

"They took Him!" Mary said as she burst through the door of the room where some of the disciples were hiding. "His body is gone!"

Without asking any questions, Peter jumped up from his sitting position on the floor and bolted out of the room. A much younger and more agile John followed close behind, eventually passing his older friend.

"He's not here," John whispered as he peered inside the opening of the cave. "His body is gone."

A moment later, Peter arrived - stunned.

"Look," John said, to his winded friend, "over there in the corner."

A ray of sunlight pierced the darkness like a spotlight illuminating a lone actor on the stage. At the end of the beam lay Jesus' empty burial cloths. Peter barreled past the timid John and burst into the darkened cave. There was just enough light to see the empty burial cloths and the strips of linen that had once covered Jesus' head.

"What happened here? What does this mean?" they mused.

"Hurry," they agreed, "let's go tell the others."

Running past Mary, Peter and John ran back to tell the other disciples of their discovery. But Mary stayed in the garden, weeping for her beloved Jesus.

Mary knelt at the opening of the empty tomb with her hands covering her tearful eyes. Suddenly, a beam of light caught her attention. There, at the spot where Jesus' body had been laid, sat two glistening angels clothed in white - one at the foot and one at the head…just like on the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, she thought.

"Woman, why are you crying?" the angels asked.

"They have taken my Master," Mary replied through her tears. "I don't know where they have taken Him."

Hearing a rustling in the myrtle bushes behind her, Mary turned her head. There appeared another figure as if in a dream. It was Jesus, but Mary didn't recognize or expect Him.

Jesus echoed the angels. "Woman, why are you weeping?"

Mary thought the man was the Gardener. Oh, she was not mistaken. He was The Master Gardener. "Sir," she whimpered, "if you know where they have taken Jesus, would you please tell me so that I can take care of him?"

Then Jesus whispered one simple word. "Mary."

At the sound of her name, Mary recognized the Lord.

After a brief conversation, Mary raced back to the disciples. "I have seen Him!" she proclaimed, "I have seen Him!"

"Who?" they asked in confused unison.

"I have seen Jesus! He is alive!"

Later that day, as the disillusioned band huddled in their hiding place, Jesus appeared in their midst. He didn't knock. He didn't open the door. He simply appeared.

"Peace be with you," Jesus said.

But the disciples didn't recognize Him. He looked like Jesus, talked like Jesus, but how…how could it be?

In order to convince the disciples that He was indeed the risen Christ, Jesus made a simple gesture. He held out His hands and revealed the nail pierced hands. Then he lifted up his tunic to reveal the scar in His sword pierced side.

It was then…that they believed.

As I read these verses, God played and replayed the frames in my mind's eye, but it was the final scene that captured my attention …"'Peace be with you!' After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord" (John 20:19-20).

Oh God, I prayed, they didn't recognize Jesus until He showed them His scars.

Yes, my child, He seemed to say, this is what I wanted you to see. They did not recognize Jesus until He showed them His scars, and this is how others still recognize Him today…when men and women who have experienced the healing of past wounds are not ashamed to show their scars to a hurting world.

It was an epiphany or sorts - a revelation - a cataclysmic shift of thinking.

See, Jesus did not have to retain the scars of the crucifixion on His resurrected body. He could have returned without them. After all, He is the one who put new flesh on the hands and feet of the lepers. But He chose to keep the scars, I believe, because they were precious to Him…that's how others would recognize who He was.

That is still the way that people recognize Jesus today, when we are not ashamed to show the scars in our own lives - when we reveal the wounds that are now healed and when we tell about the Healer who made it possible.

Let's Pray

Dear God, thank You that Jesus kept His scars when He rose from the dead. I pray that I will not be ashamed of the scars in my own life, but that people will recognize the Healer in my life through my story. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

• Why do you think Jesus' kept His scars when he returned from the grave?

• What do you think of when you look at the scars on your own body? What comes to mind?

• How can you use the scars in your own life (the ones that are on your soul) to bring glory to God?


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Remembering His Sacrifice - Easter Devotional - Mar. 30, 2015

And they crucified Him.
--Mark 15:24

A medical doctor once gave a detailed description of what happens when someone is crucified:

"The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders again the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place.

"The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain--the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid the stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet.

"As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream.

Spasmodically he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen.

"Hours of this...pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

It is now almost over--the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level--the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues--the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. He can feel the chill of death creeping through his tissues...finally he can allow his body to die."

The Bible records this process of death by crucifixion in just a few simple words. How often we take for granted the pain and suffering Jesus endured when He died on the cross for you and me. Let us remember this Easter the sacrifice He made.

PRAYER CHALLENGE: Thank Jesus for the price He paid for your sins through His painful death on the cross..

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Good News! - Easter Devotional - Mar. 29, 2015

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

--1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Doesn't it seem that bad news is all around us? It's always the top story on the news or the main headline in the paper.

But as believers, we know the best news we could ever hear… and we celebrate it this month.

Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. This is the event that conquered sin… it conquered death… and it made it possible for you and me to have a personal relationship with God!

Perhaps, today, this is the first time you've ever heard or understood this Good News.

If so, I want to tell you something: Jesus died on the cross for you. He wore a crown of thorns and was nailed to a tree because He loves you… and He wants to have a personal relationship with you today.

Will you accept this Good News today?

THIS EASTER SEASON, SHARE THE GOOD NEWS WITH SOMEONE WHO NEEDS TO HEAR IT!

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A Faith Worth Practicing - Easter Devotional - Mar. 28, 2015

By Charles Stanley

1 Corinthians 15:15-19

A person's attitude about the resurrection is important any time of the year, not simply at Easter. If we are going to accept or reject a scriptural truth, we should understand how that principle impacts not only our faith but also our witness.

The greatest implication of claiming Jesus remained in the grave is that we are left with no hope of salvation. This, in turn, makes telling others about the Lord pointless. Jesus is the One who brings life-giving force to the Gospel message. Without Him, sharing the Word would have as much effect on someone's life as reciting, "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Further, we would be lying about God when we witnessed according to Scripture, saying He raised Jesus when He actually had not. If the Father didn't resurrect the Son, then He must also be dishonest about the eternal nature of believers. How could we ever hope to be "absent from the body and… at home with the Lord" upon death if the blameless Son Himself did not receive such treatment? (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Without Christ's resurrection, we have no saving Lord, no powerful Word, no hope of eternity, and a dead faith. A religion with those characteristics hardly seems worth practicing. Yet, church members embrace this and other fallacies without thought. A wise believer studies Scripture and, therefore, recognizes how God's salvation plan fits together from Genesis to Revelation. The only legitimate basis for eternal hope is receiving Jesus Christ's sacrifice for our transgressions and believing He conquered sin and death to rise again.

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The Satisfaction of the Cross - Easter Devotional - Mar. 27, 2015

by Rachel Olsen

"When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied."Isaiah 53:11 (NLT)


Devotion:

Approximately 600 years before Jesus was condemned to the cross, the prophet Isaiah foretold of the event. Open up and invite those words to penetrate your soul today:

"See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. Many were amazed when they saw him beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person. And he will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about.

Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.

But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners." Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12 (NLT)

Approximately 2,000 years after Jesus hung on the cross, the passion of our Christ is still the power of God unto salvation. His suffering accomplished righteousness for us, and through it, both He and we are satisfied.

Dear Lord, may I realize afresh today what Your death and resurrection mean for me. Forgiveness … Freedom … and the ability to walk with You through this fallen world into eternity. May I always find my satisfaction in You and Your willingness to offer Yourself to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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The Mystery Rolled Back - Easter Devotional - Mar. 26, 2015

For reading & meditation: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (v. 55)

Mark's observation "that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away" (Mark 16:4) seems a simple statement, but behind it lies a truth that is positively staggering in its implications. One is that no longer can death be an intimidator. "Death," said someone, "is the great enigma of life; humanly speaking, it is the one secret of the universe which is kept, the silence of which is never broken." To the weary and despairing, death may come as a friend; the cynical and disillusioned may meet it with indifference; to the healthy and the happy it may appear as a foe; but it comes to all. Death is like a great stone that blocks the path of human aspiration. How certain can we be of the continuity of life beyond death?

What modest person would find in himself anything worthy to endure for all eternity? Such questions have been asked down the centuries. Death is a mystery - "the undiscovered country from which no traveler returns." Then came the first Easter Day, and the stone was rolled away. One Traveler did return. Death is an abysmal cavern no longer but a tunnel with light at the farther end. If people have seen it as a blind alley, then they need think no longer in those terms. It is now a thoroughfare, a highway. "'Tis death is dead, not He," said the hymnist. The mystery is a mystery no more. The stone that was rolled away the first Easter morn was not just the rock that sealed the tomb. Our Lord rolled back for us the mystery of death also.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, I rejoice and rejoice continually in Your glorious and triumphant victory over death. For Your victory is my victory. Help me to live by it, in it, and for it. I am grateful to my depths - grateful forever. Amen.

For further study:

John 11:1-44; Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:9; John 2:19

1. When did Jesus declare He was the resurrection and the life?
2. What are the implications of this?

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God's Plan for the Resurrection - Easter Devotional - Mar. 25, 2015

John 16:16-20

"A little while, and you will no longer see Me." Jesus repeated these words to His disciples several times. But He could tell by the blank stares on their faces that they did not understand what He had said.

At one point, He even overheard them debating what He meant by "You will not see me" (John 16:19). These men had been with the Lord for three years. They had laughed with Him, cried with Him, eaten with Him, and were willing to die with Him, or so they thought.

They had just entered the city of Jerusalem. And instead of being met by an angry legion of guards and protestors, they were met by palm-waving supporters shouting: "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." Yet as soon as they had settled into the upper room, Jesus broached the subject of His forthcoming death. Immediately, the mood of His followers went from one of celebration to shock and sorrow.

Often in difficult times, we cannot see beyond that moment. The resurrection was a few days away, but they could not fathom its wondrous coming.

God always provides the encouragement we need to stay the course, and Jesus did this for His disciples when He told them, "Your sorrow will be turned to joy" (v. 20). This also is God's message of hope and love for us today. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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O Death, Where Is Thy Sting? - Easter Devotional - Mar. 24, 2015

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Corinthians 15:55

Harry Houdini was an escape artist. They tried all kinds of ways to keep Harry Houdini locked up. They would bury him in a coffin, but he would get out. They would sew him up in canvas bags and throw him in the river, but he would come out. His biographer said, "He could escape from anything except your memory."

Yet there came a day when Harry Houdini died, and he did not escape the iron-clad clutches of death. But, I want to tell you, there was another who died. His name was Jesus, and He made the great escape.

Jesus came out of that grave, and He arose! Praise God, Jesus is alive!

Who in your circle of friends does not know Jesus? Pray for them right now - that they would hear the Good News, repent and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

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New Life for Us All - Easter Devotional - Mar. 23, 2015

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

—1 Peter 1:3

A couple from Chicago was planning a vacation to a warmer climate, but the wife couldn't join her husband until the next day, because she was on a business trip. Her husband scribbled down her e-mail address on a little scrap of paper, but upon his arrival, he discovered that he had lost it. He wanted to send off a quick e-mail to let her know he had arrived safely. So trying his best to remember her e-mail address, he composed a brief message and sent it off.

Unfortunately, his e-mail did not reach his wife. Instead, it went to a grieving widow who had just lost her husband, a preacher, the day before. She had gone to her computer and was checking her e-mail when she let out a loud shriek and fainted on the spot. Her family came rushing in to see what was on the screen: "Dearest wife, I just checked in. Everything is prepared for your arrival tomorrow. P. S.: It sure is hot down here!"

The good news is that because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we don't have to be afraid of that real place that is hot down there. In fact, we don't even have to fear death. Because Christ died and rose again from the dead, we know that for us as believers, there is life beyond the grave.

If that were all the resurrection did for us, it would be worth the price of the ticket. Of course, we didn't buy the ticket. Christ did. But if all that Christianity offered was the hope of life beyond the grave, it still would be worth it to be a Christian.

But there is a whole lot more that the resurrection has for us. Our risen Lord will give us a new heart and put a new spirit within us (see Ezekiel 36:26). He will give us new knowledge, new comfort, new peace, and a new life in Him.

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Simon from Cyrene Carries Jesus' Cross - Easter Devotional - Mar. 21, 2015

by Max Lucado

“A man named Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was coming from the fields to the city. The soldiers forced Simon to carry the cross for Jesus” (Mark 15:21)

Simon grumbles beneath his breath. His patience is as scarce as space on the Jerusalem streets. He’d hoped for a peaceful Passover. The city is anything but quiet. Simon prefers his open fields. And now, to top it off, the Roman guards are clearing the path for some who-knows-which-dignitary who’ll march his soldiers and strut his stallion past the people.

“There he is!”

Simon’s head and dozens of others turn. In an instant they know. This is no dignitary.

“It’s a crucifixion,” he hears someone whisper. Four soldiers. One criminal. Four spears. One cross. The inside corner of the cross saddles the convict’s shoulders. Its base drags in the dirt. Its top teeters in the air. The condemned man steadies the cross the best he can, but stumbles beneath its weight. He pushes himself to his feet and lurches forward before falling again. Simon can’t see the man’s face, only a head wreathed with thorny branches.

The sour-faced centurion grows more agitated with each diminishing step. He curses the criminal and the crowd.

“Hurry up!”

“Little hope of that,” Simon says to himself.

The cross-bearer stops in front of Simon and heaves for air. Simon winces at what he sees. The beam rubbing against an already raw back. Rivulets of crimson streaking the man’s face. His mouth hangs open, both out of pain and out of breath.

“His name is Jesus,” someone speaks softly.

“Move on!” commands the executioner.

But Jesus can’t. His body leans and feet try, but he can’t move. The beam begins to sway. Jesus tries to steady it, but can’t. Like a just-cut tree, the cross begins to topple toward the crowd. Everyone steps back, except the farmer. Simon instinctively extends his strong hands and catches the cross.

Jesus falls face-first in the dirt and stays there. Simon pushes the cross back on its side. The centurion looks at the exhausted Christ and the bulky bystander and needs only an instant to make the decision. He presses the flat of his spear on Simon’s shoulders.

“You! Take the cross!”

Simon dares to object, “Sir, I don’t even know the man!”

“I don’t care. Take up the cross.”

Simon growls, balances the timber against his shoulder, and steps out of the crowd onto the street, out of anonymity into history, and becomes the first in a line of millions who will take up the cross and follow Christ.

He did literally what God calls us to do figuratively: take up the cross and follow Jesus. “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me” (Luke. 9:23 CEV).

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Egg-Hunting for Jesus - Easter Devotional - Mar. 20, 2015

Today’s Readings: Ruth 1:1: Luke 8:1

Today’s Thoughts: Happy Easter

“…which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel…” Ephesians 3:5-6

We have just taught Ephesians 3 on the mystery of Christ in our local Bible study. Paul explains that the message of Christ was hidden from ages to ages. But the apostle Paul also explains that the holy apostles and prophets dropped hints that the Gentiles (anyone not Jewish) would receive salvation through the coming of Christ. Probably because its Easter time, I couldn’t help to think of how the Easter egg hunt is a great illustration of the hidden message of Jesus.

During the toddler years, the parents would “hide” the egg right on the top of the lawn. The challenge was for the toddler to actually see colored egg, walk up to it and balance themselves enough to pick it up. The next challenge was to get the toddler to claim the Easter egg as their own as they hopefully placed it in their basket. As the child grows, so does the challenge of hiding the Easter eggs. I have found myself giving my children hints by telling them if they are “hot” or “cold” in their searching.

The Lord tells us also to search for Him with all our hearts. As I have done that, I too have noticed that the Lord is giving me clues in my searching. As we seek the Lord, we discover more about His will for our lives. After a while, I can tell in my search if I am hot or cold as the Spirit leads and guides my heart.

The coming of Jesus was like the Easter egg placed on the grass for the toddler. God didn’t expect much from us. Jesus was sent to this earth to be noticed, embraced and hopefully to make Him our own by placing Him in our hearts. Today, Easter is a celebration of life. Today, we understand that Jesus died for all of us, Jew and Gentile alike, to come to a personal relationship with God. Today, we have freedom and hope with nothing hidden but a whole lot of hints pointing us to closer fellowship with God as the Spirit of God fills our baskets with love, joy and peace. Happy Easter!

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Beyond the Bunny - Easter Devotional - Mar. 19, 2015

1 Corinthians 15

What does Easter mean for you? If you go to church, then I'm guessing everyone you know there is making a huge deal out of Easter. Special services. Communion. Cool banners with great graphics. Easter egg hunts. All kinds of neat stuff.

But why is it that the church tries so hard to get people to come on Easter? And why is it that Easter is probably the one time of year when everyone - even those who really don't believe in God at all - go to church?

It is because what happened at Easter is the fountain of our faith. This is what a man named Paul said. Paul was a skeptic of Christianity until he met the Lord in a very dramatic way while traveling on a busy Roman highway. He became one of the most passionate evangelists in the history of the church.

Paul said that if what happened on Easter—Jesus Christ rising from the dead—than we are "of all men most miserable." This is how we would say it today.

If Easter is just a nice religious holiday with candy and bunnies and family and Jesus Christ really didn't rise again from the dead on the third day—then Christians are a really sorry lot. We might as well pack our Bibles and hymnals up and go home.

But the truth is—Jesus Christ did rise again from the dead. It's a historical fact. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul lays out the evidence. 500 witnesses saw Jesus Christ in the flesh after he had died and been buried in the tomb. You can't get 500 people to agree on anything, but they all testified that indeed Jesus Christ was alive after He wasn't supposed to have been.

Let's bottom line this. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in human history. It's the most important event in your life and in mine.

The events at Easter are the only source of hope in this world. Thru Jesus Christ shed blood on the cross, his payment for your sin and for mine, and his resurrection from the dead give you and me new life. Eternal life forever, in only you believe (John 3:16: John 6:47; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Because of Easter, you and I don't have to be chained with the shackles of sin. We're free to live the life God intended. And one day we'll live forever in a place called Heaven, created just for our pleasure.

Because of Easter, we can walk with the God of the Universe as if He is our friend.

So, this Easter, don't let it be all about the bunny. Stop, worship the One who gave you life. Jesus Christ.

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Triumph in Tragedy - Easter Devotional - Mar. 18, 2015

by Max Lucado

What do you say we have a chat about graveclothes? Sound like fun? Sound like a cheery topic? Hardly. Make a list of depressing subjects, and burial garments is somewhere between IRS audits and long-term dental care.

No one likes graveclothes. No one discusses graveclothes. Have you ever spiced up dinner-table chat with the question, "What are you planning to wear in your casket?"
Most folks don't discuss graveclothes.

The apostle John, however, was an exception. Ask him, and he'll tell you how he came to see burial garments as a symbol of triumph. He didn't always see them that way. A tangible reminder of the death of his best friend, Jesus, they used to seem like a symbol of tragedy. But on the first Easter Sunday, God took clothing of death and made it a symbol of life.

Could he do the same for you?

Could he take what today is a token of tragedy and turn it into a symbol of triumph?

We all face tragedy. What's more, we've all received the symbols of tragedy. Yours might be a telegram from the war department, an ID bracelet from the hospital, a scar, or a court subpoena. We don't like these symbols, nor do we want these symbols. Like wrecked cars in a junkyard, they clutter up our hearts with memories of bad days.

But could God use such things for something good? How far can we go with verses like Romans 8:28 that says, "In everything God works for the good of those who love him"? Does "everything" include tumors and tests and tempers and terminations? John would answer yes. John would tell you that God can turn any tragedy into a triumph, if only you will wait and watch.

Could I challenge you with a little exercise? Remove the word everything from Romans 8:28 and replace it with the symbol of your own tragedy. For the apostle John, the verse would read: "In burial clothing God works for the good of those who love him." How would Romans 8:28 read in your life?

In hospital stays God works for the good.
In divorce papers God works for the good.
In a prison term God works for the good.

If God can change John's life through a tragedy, could it be he will use a tragedy to change yours?

From He Chose the Nails

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Waiting for Resurrection - Easter Devotional - Mar. 17, 2015

And there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre (Matthew 27:61).

How strangely stupid is grief. It neither learns nor knows nor wishes to learn or know. When the sorrowing sisters sat over against the door of God's sepulchre, did they see the two thousand years that have passed triumphing away? Did they see any thing but this: "Our Christ is gone!"

Your Christ and my Christ came from their loss; Myriad mourning hearts have had resurrection in the midst of their grief; and yet the sorrowing watchers looked at the seed-form of this result, and saw nothing. What they regarded as the end of life was the very preparation for coronation; for Christ was silent that He might live again in tenfold power.

They saw it not. They mourned, they wept, and went away, and came again, driven by their hearts to the sepulchre. Still it was a sepulchre, unprophetic, voiceless, lusterless.

So with us. Every man sits over against the sepulchre in his garden, in the first instance, and says, "This woe is irremediable. I see no benefit in it. I will take no comfort in it." And yet, right in our deepest and worst mishaps, often, our Christ is lying, waiting for resurrection.

Where our death seems to be, there our Saviour is. Where the end of hope is, there is the brightest beginning of fruition. Where the darkness is thickest, there the bright beaming light that never is set is about to emerge. When the whole experience is consummated, then we find that a garden is not disfigured by a sepulchre. Our joys are made better if there be sorrow in the midst of them. And our sorrows are made bright by the joys that God has planted around about them. The flowers may not be pleasing to us, they may not be such as we are fond of plucking, but they are heart-flowers, love, hope, faith, joy, peace--these are flowers which are planted around about every grave that is sunk in the Christian heart.

'Twas by a path of sorrows drear
Christ entered into rest;
And shall I look for roses here,
Or think that earth is blessed?
Heaven's whitest lilies blow
From earth's sharp crown of woe.
Who here his cross can meekly bear,
Shall wear the kingly purple there.

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An Easter Bride - Easter Devotional - Mar. 16, 2015

By Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7, NIV).

Friend to Friend

It was a beautiful day for a wedding. The sun shone brightly as the daffodils danced in the gentle breeze, nodding their happy faces in conversation. A choir of robins, cardinals, and finches sang rounds of cheerful melodies, which floated through a clear blue sky that was a reflection of the bride's sparkling eyes. The air had that unusual crisp quality of spring, reminding us of the chill from winter's past and the warmth of summer's promise.

The day was Easter Sunday of 1997, the day the groom had chosen to be joined to His beloved. Like the Jewish custom of old, he had proposed to his young maiden, and then promptly gone away to prepare a home for her. On this day, his father had signaled the home was ready and he could go to get his bride

Iris had been waiting for her husband to come and take her to the wonderful home that He had prepared for her. How like him to pick Easter, she thought to herself. My favorite day of the year.

She smiled as she heard Him coming, and her heart fluttered with the anticipation of seeing His face.

She wore a white dress with flecks of blue and carried a bouquet of pink carnations and white mums with a spray of asparagus fern as wispy as her baby-fine hair. A sweet smile spread across her face as she saw her beloved Jesus hold out His strong hand to help her cross the threshold of the temporal and into the hall of eternity. She walked into His loving embrace and drank in the loveliness of her surroundings which He had perfectly described in His many letters.

On Easter Sunday, in 1997, my husband's dear, sweet, 74-year-old Aunt Iris went home to be with the Lord. As we all gathered around to say our last good-byes, I could not manage to be mournful. Yes, I was going to miss her. But Iris had never been married on this side of eternity and the vision I had in my mind was of her joining the Lord as the Bride of Christ. For me, it was not a funeral. It was a wedding. It was what she had always longed for…a dream come true.

In Isaiah 61:3, the prophet describes what God will do for the Bride of Christ. He will bestow on her a crown of beauty instead of ashes, anoint her with the oil of gladness instead of mourning and place on her shoulders a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Are you feeling broken hearted because of broken dreams? Have you been in mourning because your dream of being a bride has not turned out like you had hoped? God desires to blow away the ashes and place the crown of a royal bride on your head. So lift your head dear one, and accept your crown from the King of Kings.

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for choosing me to be the Bride for Your Son. I look forward to the day when I will be joined with my heavenly Bridegroom for all eternity. Until then, I will prepare myself to be the best bride I can be. In my Bridegroom’s Name I pray, Amen

Now It’s Your Turn

I asked my husband what picture came into his mind when he thought about himself as being a part of the Bride of Christ. He gave me a strange look and said, “Nothing really.”

Oh how precious that we girls can have the picture of walking down the aisle to meet our heavenly Bridegroom. Today, that’s what I want you to imagine. Just put that picture in your mind and savor it all day.

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Trading Spaces - Easter Devotional - Mar. 15, 2015

by Ed Young

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Christ traded spaces with us on the cross. He died in our place, for our sin. But if you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, you only believe one-half of the Gospel. The other half of the Gospel is the fact that Christ fulfilled God's standard perfectly. He was 100% righteous. So, had Christ been 90% righteous or 80% righteous, his sacrifice would not meet God's demands. He was 100% righteous.

So, once you bow the knee to Christ and ask him to come into your life to take residence, to come into the dwelling place of your heart, then the righteousness of Christ is imputed into your life. Thus, when God sees you, he sees Jesus and his perfect character. This is only able to take place because of the resurrection power.

That's the power that can renovate our minds and hearts today and that will one day completely renovate and restore our sin-torn bodies into glorified bodies that will live forever in heaven. The resurrection is the final hope of every Christ-follower. It is the "final reveal" of God's design and renovation: the perfection of our mind, body, and spirit. On the other side of the grave, when God says, "Okay, open your eyes and see your new space," you will open your eyes in a resurrected, recreated body, a completely new space that you will inhabit for eternity.

It will be the perfect space, designed by the perfect Designer (God the Father), rebuilt by the perfect Carpenter (Jesus Christ) and purchased at the ultimate cost (Christ's precious blood). But you've got to make the choice: Are you going to keep trying on your own to rebuild the rubble left by sin or are you going to let the Carpenter renovate your life into the perfect space.

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Life after Death - Easter Devotional - Mar. 14, 2015

Luke 12:16-20

The thought of dying frightens many people. But believers have no reason to fear. Jesus's resurrection and empty tomb prove that there is life after death!

Unbelievers who dread their demise have two different approaches to life. One group piles up wealth, good deeds, or worldly success in the hope of passing it on to their children or to charity. They expect to "live on" in the memories of those who benefit from their hard work. But it is the rare person who's still remembered a few generations later. And none truly live on.

The other group chooses to laugh in the face of death. Their philosophy is "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" (1 Cor. 15:32). Their existence seems pleasurable from the outside, but can you imagine a more futile way to live? God does not intend for us to go through life with such meaninglessness.

Here's the key to significance: fulfilling our unique, God-given, eternal purpose. In this life, we do not labor to leave a physical legacy or waste our days pursuing pleasure. Instead, we help those in need, influence our culture, and reach out to the lost. And when a believer enters the heavenly place Jesus has prepared, he or she keeps on working for Him.

For the believer, death is not a fearsome end. It is the doorway to a new life of serving the Lord in heaven. Our days on earth are just the beginning of our existence. This time will seem like only a few minutes compared to an eternity spent in His presence.

Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights Reserved.

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The Resurrection - Easter Devotional - Mar. 13, 2015

THE RESURRECTION

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life.

JOHN 11:25

FROM THE FATHER'S HEART

My child, you've walked away from the funerals of your loved ones with fresh memories still clinging to you like grave clothes. Tears have filled your eyes as you've said good-bye to the last dreams of your heart. Remember, for those who love Me and are My children, death is but a step into eternity with Me. It is never the end but the start of forever - what you were created for! Take heart. I am the resurrection and the life. Where I am, you will be also. Find peace in Me.

A GRATEFUL RESPONSE

Lord, death could not hold You. And because of You, the resurrection, we, too, can live. Thank You that the grave is only a journey into the presence of God. You have removed the sting of death and empowered this thing called life. Now I will live in Your presence forever.

SIMPLE TRUTH

On the other side of death is the real side of life.

For more from Rebecca, please visit www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com


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Unshakeable - Easter Devotional - Mar. 12, 2015

by Skip Heitzig

Did you ever wonder about that stone at the tomb of Jesus? Why was it moved? It wasn’t to let Jesus out; Jesus could get out of the tomb as easily as He entered the Upper Room later, without using the door. No, the reason the stone was rolled away was not to let Jesus out, but to let the disciples in so they could see!

And what did they see there? They saw that the body of Jesus was gone, but the grave clothes were still there, lying undisturbed. In John 20:1-8 there are different Greek words used for "saw." When it says Mary and Peter saw, it means they noted. When it says that John saw, it means that he saw with understanding, with comprehension.

Peter entered the tomb. "Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed" (John 20:8). When John saw the grave clothes, he thought, "I get it!" He believed that Jesus was alive, based on what he saw.

Then John adds something that seems puzzling at first. Verse 9 says, “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” They saw an empty tomb and empty grave clothes, and they formed their beliefs based on that. They knew what they saw.

But by the time John wrote his gospel, they knew the theology of Christ’s resurrection. Their faith, once based on physical evidence—the open tomb, the body gone, the clothes intact (as good as that was to convince John at that moment)—wasn’t enough to sustain a person through life. “This is what we saw, but we didn’t know the scripture yet” points to the fact that there’s something even better to base your belief and knowledge upon, and that’s the objective, inerrant prophecy in the Word of God.

Observation and personal experience aren’t enough! The Bible predicted that Christ would rise from the dead. What Peter called “a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19, KJV) is a more sure foundation.

So how do you know that you know? You could say, “I know because I saw or I heard.” But here’s something better: “What I saw and what I heard was predicted long ago in the prophets.” So now the subjective experience is bolstered by the objective prophecy of the Bible—and that’s unshakeable.

That’s what I want you to see here—the fundamental importance of the Word of God. Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

The experience which we have with Christ is valid only as it is tied to something that is outside of our experience, something that is objective—the inerrant Word of God. With that, we can face anything.

If you just have the inerrant Word of Scripture but you don’t have an experience with God yourself, then it’s not personal. If you have your personal experience but it doesn’t match what the scripture says, then it’s not reasonable. Put them both together, it’s powerful. It’s unshakeable.

That’s my prayer for you at this Easter season, that you will have an unshakeable faith, based on the sure word of prophecy and a personal, vital relationship with Jesus Christ, the risen Redeemer!

Copyright © 2013 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

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Hope Beyond this Life - Easter Devotional - Mar. 11, 2015

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

—1 Corinthians 15:13-14

Not only does the Bible tell us we will live beyond the grave, but it also tells us there is hope beyond this life. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead proves there is life beyond the grave for the believer. The Bible says, "He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).

No doubt this is why the devil has tried to discredit the Resurrection over the years. This is why, ever since the first century, he has been spreading his rumors about what happened to the body of Christ. And one of the oldest rumors of all was that His body was stolen by the disciples.

But claiming that the body of Jesus was stolen actually proves the resurrection of the Lord. His friends could not have taken it, because they left the scene and were convinced He was dead. The apostles had no reason to counterfeit a Resurrection they did not even believe in themselves.

And as we look at church history, we know that with the exception of John (who survived an execution attempt and was banished to the island of Patmos), all the apostles were martyred for what they believed. Don't you think at least one of them would have suddenly exposed such a lie if it were a lie? But they didn't, because none of them could deny what was true: Christ was risen, Christ is risen, and He is alive.

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Resurrection Power - Easter Devotional - Mar. 10, 2015

30When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of bread. —Luke 24:30-35

Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ know that the resurrection of Christ is the most powerful event in history. All that we ascribe to, all that our life and worship is all about, is based upon the foundational piece that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

I wonder how many believers experience that “resurrection power.” Is there much that you would like to accomplish but you just don’t sense the capacity and strength to do it? Or maybe your life lacks the power to break the chain of sinful habits or to overcome fear, anxiety, or depression. I want you to know that whatever it is, Jesus Christ can change your life. His resurrection is the power to prove that. I know I wouldn’t want to live without it.

On a week just like this right after Resurrection Sunday, Jesus met two guys on the road to Emmaus who needed “resurrection power” to overcome one of the saddest weekends of their lives. They were walking home from Jerusalem, overwhelmed with the events they had witnessed. Jesus He knew their hearts were aching and He wanted to bring His resurrection power to bear upon them. He wants to do that for you too.

But we were hoping…

There’s the source of sadness right there. If you’re filled with sadness, then you’ve had your hopes dashed. Things didn’t turn out how you planned, how you’d hoped. These guys knew how that felt for sure. They needed power and got it by recognizing who Jesus was.

You may ask, How can I access that kind of resurrection power in my life? Do what these guys did: take Him at His Word. Believe what He said . . .

…about salvation. “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (John 14:6). If you’ve never embraced Christ as your Savior, that’s step one for you.

…about the power Jesus gives us to depend on Him. John 15:12-14, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Bottom line: The most powerful event in history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’m telling you this for one reason—you can know this power in your life. You can. Believe what He said, embrace Him as your Savior and learn, as I’m learning, what it means to walk and follow Jesus, risen from the dead. “…to know Him is life eternal” (John 17:3).

Journal:
• Do I know this resurrection power in my own life? When have I felt it?

Prayer: Father, Your power is above all things. Help me to know that power through a personal relationship with Your Son, Jesus Christ. I don’t want to go one more day without that power flowing through me. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

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What Sorts of Folks Got Crucified? - Easter Devotional - Mar. 9, 2015

[Jesus said]: "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

--John 5:24

Early in Julius Caesar's political career, the people of Rome hated him so badly that he thought it best to leave his country. He sailed for the Aegean island of Rhodes, but on the way pirates attacked his ship and Caesar was captured.

The pirates demanded a ransom of 12,000 gold pieces, and Caesar's staff was sent to make the arrangements for payment. For almost 40 days, the pirates held Caesar captive.

He would jokingly tell them that he would someday capture and crucify them. The amused kidnappers dismissed his threats. But when the ransom was paid and Caesar was released, the first thing he did was gather his army together to pursue the pirates.

The prirates indeed were captured and crucified!

This was the Romans' attitude toward crucifixion. This cruel death was reserved only for the worst criminals. It was meant to show extreme contempt for the condemned. And the pain and humiliation experienced by someone crucified by the Romans was unmatched by any other.

They condemned and humiliated the person and name of Jesus thousands of years ago just as many people do today. And even though He died a lowly death, we as believers can rejoice in knowing that "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification" (Romans 4:25).

Jesus died for the sins of all--including those who beat Him and nailed Him to the cross. You may know of someone today who doesn't know Jesus. Will you be the one to tell them about the forgiveness He gives? Will you be the one who points them toward eternal life through Jesus?

PRAYER CHALLENGE: Ask the Lord to bring someone into your life this Easter who you can share the story of His death, burial, and resurrection, and the price He paid for their sins.

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Easter Words of Forgiveness - Easter Devotional - Mar. 8, 2015

Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
--Luke 23:34

As we all know, words are powerful…especially dying words. And as we near Easter Sunday, it's important that each of us remembers just exactly what Jesus had to say right before His earthly life ended.

One of the last things Jesus said while hanging from the cross were words of forgiveness.

Today I want to ask you, if Christ could pray a prayer of forgiveness for those who were putting Him to death, can you pray a prayer of forgiveness for those in your life who mistreat you?

Despite what you may be going through today, can you look past your own "junk" and extend forgiveness to others?

Jesus' dying words on the cross are a powerful example of how you and I ought to treat those who mistreat us. Are you willing to follow His perfect example in every area of your life today? Will you extend forgiveness to those who don't deserve it?

I challenge you to pick up your cross today… and live out the life of forgiveness Christ has given you!

CAN YOU FOLLOW CHRIST'S EXAMPLE AND FORGIVE THOSE WHO MISTREAT YOU?

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It Didn't End at the Cross - Easter Devotional - Mar. 7, 2015

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

--1 Peter 1:3-5

A little boy born with Down syndrome attended his third-grade Sunday School class faithfully each week. As you can expect, the other children did not readily accept the boy because he seemed different.

The Sunday after Easter, their teacher brought in small boxes--one for each child. The children were told to go outside, find some symbols of new life, and put them in their containers. So the children ran wildly throughout the property looking for something to fill their boxes.

Once they returned to the classroom, they began to share their discoveries with the class. One by one they opened their boxes to show flowers, butterflies, leaves, and more. Each time the class would "ooh" and "ahh."

Then the child with Down syndrome opened his box to reveal nothing inside. The children exclaimed, "That's stupid! It's not fair! He didn't do the assignment right!"

The little boy exclaimed, "I did so do it! It's empty...because the tomb where Jesus laid was found empty!"

If Jesus had not risen from the dead, our faith would be foolish and fake. But He did rise from death, confirming His life and message. The resurrection of Jesus is the basis for our hope of life eternal beyond the grave.

Don't ever forget to include the resurrection of Christ from the dead when speaking of His death on the cross. For because He conquered sin on the cross and death through His resurrection, we can have unmistakable hope in Him for eternity.

PRAYER CHALLENGE: Praise God that you serve a risen Savior! Thank Him for His sacrifice on the cross and for defeating death so that you and I may experience eternal life with Him one day.

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A Pivotal Belief - Easter Devotional - Mar. 6, 2015

"But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again." (1 Corinthians 15:20)

I read about a person who wrote the following to a local newspaper advice columnist: Dear Uticus, Our preacher said on Easter that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that His disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered.

The columnist replied, Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat of nine tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross, hang him in the sun for six hours, run a spear through his heart, embalm him, put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours, and see what happens. Sincerely, Uticus.

What sets the Christian faith apart from all other beliefs and religious systems in this world? It might come down to this: If you go to the tombs of any of the prophets on which world religions have been founded, you will find them occupied. But if you go to the tomb of Jesus Christ, you will find it empty, because He is alive. We serve a living Savior.

This is why the resurrection of Jesus is such an important message and also why it has been opposed so much throughout history. The devil knows that the Resurrection spells his defeat. He also knows that if you believe this great truth that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again from the dead, it can change your life.

Not only can it change your life, but putting your faith in Him also means that you will have a new, resurrected body someday. As believers, we have this great hope that we, too, will live again.

Copyright © 2003 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

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A Basic Precondition - Easter Devotional - Mar. 5, 2015

For reading & meditation: John 20:1-18

"They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead." (v. 9)

The late Bishop John Robinson stated: "The resurrection of the body of Christ is no essential belief for Christian people, and it would make no difference to their faith if the Lord's body had been flung into the Valley of Hinnom, like those of the malefactors, to disintegrate among the rotting corpses." Such a statement flies in the very face of Scripture. Paul wrote: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe ... that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9, italics added). Here Paul makes it crystal clear that acceptance of the fact that Christ rose from the dead is a basic precondition for being a Christian. But what exactly do we mean by resurrection? "Spiritual survival" is how the liberals in the church define it. But it was not just the spiritual part of Jesus that continued after the tomb - it was the total Christ. True, His body possessed additional powers and properties, but the physical frame which housed His spirit after He left the tomb was the same one that was nailed to the cross. "See my hands," He said to doubting Thomas, "put [your hand] into my side ... and believe" (John 20:27). Eric Sauer, a writer and Bible teacher, makes the point: "Just as our Lord's body was capable of transfiguration without losing its identity, so it was capable of disfiguration without losing its identity." Make no mistake about it, our Lord's resurrection was a physical one. If it wasn't, then there is no salvation.

Prayer:

Father, if I am not sure of the resurrection how can I be sure I am saved? However, I am sure, for I live in a resurrected Christ. Since He was resurrected, I know I shall be too. Death has been conquered. Hallelujah!

For further study:
John 20:19-31

1. How did Jesus appear to the disciples?
2. What did Jesus participate in?


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Resurrection! - Easter Devotional - Mar. 4, 2015

John 20

Within three days Jesus’ followers went from heartbroken sadness to triumphant jubilation.

The cross screamed, “The End,” making them feel hopeless and helpless. But the resurrection trumpeted, “The Beginning,” bringing confidence and courage. The cloud of doubt and despair that had shrouded them melted away and was replaced with unshakeable faith.

Can you imagine how they felt when they realized Jesus had risen from the dead? Suddenly hope came alive; now everything He had said was validated as truth. They had not believed a lie. His victory over death was the acid test that forever sealed their sure conviction that He was the Messiah.

We commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross with solemnity, but the resurrection calls for thunderous applause, praise, and song. All the blessings that come our way through the Savior’s cross are confirmed by the resurrection. It proved that the Father was satisfied with the Son’s payment for our sins. Now we can know that our transgressions are forgiven and we’re eternally secure.

What’s more, Jesus promises that we, too, will be resurrected and given new bodies. Physical death could not hold Him, nor will it overpower us. Because He overcame the grave, His followers have the same kind of life He has—eternal and indestructible.

As Christians, we have the right to celebrate Easter with great rejoicing. Because of this event, our lives have been forever changed. We’ve been transformed and given new life. With unwavering faith, we trust the Bible because Christ’s power over the grave proves He can and will fulfill every word.

Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights Reserved.


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What Children Need to Know - Easter Devotional - Mar. 2, 2015

Mark 10:13,14

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them."

Children and Easter. New life and new beginnings. What better time to share the gospel with your children?

But what does a child, or any person, need to know to become a Christian? The following are the basics:

First, children need to be taught who God is and how He loves them. They need to know what sets Him apart from humans.

God is holy; He is perfect. People, however, are not perfect.

God is just; He is always fair. We are not just in all our decisions.

God is love; He desires a relationship with us. That's why He sent His Son. We are not always motivated out of our love for another.

Second, children need to be taught that their sins must be forgiven (see Rom. 6:23). Many parents in this culture of tolerance feel uncomfortable talking about hell. God is patient, but He is not tolerant. His justice calls for an atonement (a payment, a penalty) for people's sins. Our children must have some understanding that their sins can keep them out of heaven. Their sins must be paid for. And that is what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.

Finally, children need to know that they receive God's forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ (see Eph. 2:8,9).

Faith involves repenting of our sins, turning to God in faith and trusting Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord. When we repent, we acknowledge our sins before God and express our sorrow about our sins to Him.

Those are the basics of what children need to know. The question you're probably asking is, "How can I explain concepts like these to children?"

That's what I'll cover next time.

Prayer: That God would work in your children's hearts to bring them to Him.

Discuss: How have you done as a couple in explaining the gospel to your children? How can you arrange your Easter activities to take time to explain the gospel to your children?

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The Call to Martyrdom - Easter Devotional - Mar. 1, 2015

by Sarah Phillips

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

St Maximilian Kolbe once wrote, “Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?”

Maximilian Kolbe has long been one of my favorite Christian heroes. A wild-child-turned-convert, he was a Polish priest during the dark days of World War II. He dedicated his life to boldly proclaiming Christ, traveling as far as Japan in spite of knowing very little Japanese. Ultimately, he found himself at Auschwitz, ministering to fellow prisoners. He died after offering his life in place of another prisoner who had a wife and children. That prisoner – a “nobody” by the world’s standards -- went on to be reunited with his many children after the war. Kolbe’s life is one of many amazing examples of Christians imitating Christ to the point of quite literally following Him to the Cross.

Palm Sunday marks the solemn beginning of Holy Week. For our Palm Sunday service, our two pastors and deacon wear red robes – red being the liturgical color of martyrdom. The color is all too appropriate.

Often, when we think of martyrdom we think of dramatic and bloody deaths like the early Christians endured in the Coliseum or the horrors Kolbe faced in that concentration camp. These “red martyrdoms,” while inspirational, seem reserved for a select few in far away countries.

Yet, in reflecting on Christ’s sufferings this year, I’ve been pondering our own call as Christians to “take up our crosses” and follow in Christ’s footsteps. In many ways, martyrdom isn’t reserved for a few Christians in far away countries. There is a second kind of martyrdom to which all Christians are called, sometimes referred to as “white martyrdom.”

White martyrdom is the subtle, but profoundly important “death to self” believers must embrace on a daily basis. It is a call to surrender all to the Lord, to be willing to sacrifice personal pleasures or temporary desires for a greater good. “White martyrdom” is the housewife who shelves her master’s degree to stay home with her little ones. It’s the husband who does household chores after a long day of work to give his wife a much-needed time to herself. It’s the college student who stays chaste in the face of temptation, only to be “rewarded” by the ridicule of his buddies. It’s the colleague who puts in extra hours, but never gets extra credit. White martyrdom is the stuff that builds character, the stuff that strengthens “spiritual muscles” – and its rewards may or may not come in this lifetime. Yet God does not fail to treasure each and every thing we do for Him - no matter how hidden or small.

Kolbe’s death illustrates an important connection between white and red martyrdom. He was known for personal integrity, for living a life that daily revealed love for his Savior in every little action – long before he was faced with time at Auschwitz. Believers like Kolbe understand that life cannot be compartmentalized. We cannot act saintly one hour, devilishly the next, and say at the end of the day, “Well, on average I am a pretty good person.”

No doubt, a life of small, daily moments of “choosing Christ,” of constant conversion and submission to the Lord, paved the way for Kolbe and countless other heroes of the faith to choose Christ when it mattered most.

Of course, a life of “white martyrdom” may not sound very appealing to you. I’ve always marveled at my friends who thought christianity to be a crutch – I think my pre-Christian days were easier! But the longer I walk the Christian walk, the more I realize how true glory cannot be separated from some measure of suffering – how Easter cannot be divorced from Good Friday.

Further Reading:

Philippians 2:6

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8 Reasons Why I Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead - Easter Devotional - Feb. 28, 2015

by John Piper

1. Jesus himself testified to his coming resurrection from the dead.

Jesus spoke openly about what would happen to him: crucifixion and then resurrection from the dead. "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again" (Mark 8:31; see also Matthew 17:22; Luke 9:22). Those who consider the resurrection of Christ unbelievable will probably say that Jesus was deluded or (more likely) that the early church put these statements in his mouth to make him teach the falsehood that they themselves conceived.

But those who read the Gospels and come to the considered conviction that the one who speaks so compellingly through these witnesses is not the figment of foolish imagination will be unsatisfied with this effort to explain away Jesus' own testimony to his resurrection from the dead.

This is especially true in view of the fact that the words which predict the resurrection are not only the simple straightforward words quoted above, but also the very oblique and indirect words which are far less likely to be the simple invention of deluded disciples. For example, two separate witnesses testify in two very different ways to Jesus' statement during his lifetime that if his enemies destroyed the temple (of his body), he would build it again in three days (John 2:19; Mark 14:58; cf. Matthew 26:61). He also spoke illusively of the "sign of Jonah" — three days in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4). And he hinted at it again in Matthew 21:42 — "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner." On top of his own witness to the coming resurrection, his accusers said that this was part of Jesus' claim: "Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise'" (Matthew 27:63).

Our first evidence of the resurrection, therefore, is that Jesus himself spoke of it. The breadth and nature of the sayings make it unlikely that a deluded church made these up. And the character of Jesus himself, revealed in these witnesses, has not been judged by most people to be a lunatic or a deceiver.

2. The tomb was empty on Easter.

The earliest documents claim this: "When they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus" (Luke 24:3). And the enemies of Jesus confirmed it by claiming that the disciples had stolen the body (Matthew 28:13). The dead body of Jesus could not be found. There are four possible ways to account for this.

2.1 His foes stole the body. If they did (and they never claimed to have done so), they surely would have produced the body to stop the successful spread of the Christian faith in the very city where the crucifixion occurred. But they could not produce it.

2.2 His friends stole the body. This was an early rumor (Matthew 28:11-15). Is it probable? Could they have overcome the guards at the tomb? More important, would they have begun to preach with such authority that Jesus was raised, knowing that he was not? Would they have risked their lives and accepted beatings for something they knew was a fraud?

2.3 Jesus was not dead, but only unconscious when they laid him in the tomb. He awoke, removed the stone, overcame the soldiers, and vanished from history after a few meetings with his disciples in which he convinced them he was risen from the dead. Even the foes of Jesus did not try this line. He was obviously dead. The Romans saw to that. The stone could not be moved by one man from within who had just been stabbed in the side by a spear and spent six hours nailed to a cross.

2.4 God raised Jesus from the dead. This is what he said would happen. It is what the disciples said did happen. But as long as there is a remote possibility of explaining the resurrection naturalistically, modern people say we should not jump to a supernatural explanation. Is this reasonable? I don't think so. Of course, we don't want to be gullible. But neither do we want to reject the truth just because it's strange. We need to be aware that our commitments at this point are much affected by our preferences — either for the state of affairs that would arise from the truth of the resurrection, or for the state of affairs that would arise from the falsehood of the resurrection. If the message of Jesus has opened you to the reality of God and the need of forgiveness, for example, then anti-supernatural dogma might lose its power over your mind. Could it be that this openness is not prejudice for the resurrection, but freedom from prejudice against it?

3. The disciples were almost immediately transformed from men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Luke 24:21, John 20:19) into men who were confident and bold witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 2:24, Acts 3:15, Acts 4:2).

Their explanation of this change was that they had seen the risen Christ and had been authorized to be his witnesses (Acts 2:32). The most popular competing explanation is that their confidence was owing to hallucinations. There are numerous problems with such a notion. The disciples were not gullible, but level-headed skeptics both before and after the resurrection (Mark 9:32, Luke 24:11, John 20:8-9). Moreover, is the deep and noble teaching of those who witnessed the risen Christ the stuff of which hallucinations are made? What about Paul's great letter to the Romans? I personally find it hard to think of this giant intellect and deeply transparent soul as deluded or deceptive, and he claimed to have seen the risen Christ.

4. Paul claimed that, not only had he seen the risen Christ, but that 500 others had seen him also, and many were still alive when he made this public claim.
"Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:6). What makes this so relevant is that this was written to Greeks who were skeptical of such claims when many of these witnesses were still alive. So it was a risky claim if it could be disproved by a little firsthand research.

5. The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian church supports the truth of the resurrection claim.

The church spread on the power of the testimony that Jesus was raised from the dead and that God had thus made him both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). The Lordship of Christ over all nations is based on his victory over death. This is the message that spread all over the world. Its power to cross cultures and create one new people of God was a strong testimony of its truth.

6. The Apostle Paul's conversion supports the truth of the resurrection.

He argues to a partially unsympathetic audience in Galatians 1:11-17 that his gospel comes from the risen Jesus Christ, not from men. His argument is that before his Damascus Road experience when he saw the risen Jesus, he was violently opposed to the Christian faith (Acts 9:1). But now, to everyone's astonishment, he is risking his life for the gospel (Acts 9:24-25). His explanation: The risen Jesus appeared to him and authorized him to spearhead the Gentile mission (Acts 26:15-18). Can we credit such a testimony? This leads to the next argument.

7. The New Testament witnesses do not bear the stamp of dupes or deceivers.
How do you credit a witness? How do you decide whether to believe a person's testimony? The decision to give credence to a person's testimony is not the same as completing a mathematical equation. The certainty is of a different kind, yet can be just as firm (I trust my wife's testimony that she is faithful). When a witness is dead, we can base our judgment of him only on the content of his writings and the testimonies of others about him. How do Peter and John and Matthew and Paul stack up?

In my judgment (and at this point we can live authentically only by our own judgment—Luke 12:57), these men's writings do not read like the works of gullible, easily deceived or deceiving men. Their insights into human nature are profound. Their personal commitment is sober and carefully stated. Their teachings are coherent and do not look like the invention of unstable men. The moral and spiritual standard is high. And the lives of these men are totally devoted to the truth and to the honor of God.

8. There is a self-authenticating glory in the gospel of Christ's death and resurrection as narrated by the biblical witnesses.

The New Testament teaches that God sent the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.... He will glorify me" (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit does not do this by telling us that Jesus rose from the dead. He does it by opening our eyes to see the self-authenticating glory of Christ in the narrative of his life and death and resurrection. He enables us to see Jesus as he really was, so that he is irresistibly true and beautiful. The apostle stated the problem of our blindness and the solution like this: "The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.... For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6).

A saving knowledge of Christ crucified and risen is not the mere result of right reasoning about historical facts. It is the result of spiritual illumination to see those facts for what they really are: a revelation of the truth and glory of God in the face of Christ — who is the same yesterday today and forever.

Pastor John

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February 27, 2015

Quote of the Day

"It is impossible to omit from that ascended and reigning One the wounds He bears. They are part of His Personality and speak of the fulfillment of a purpose which was the purpose of God, and which was carried out by God in and through Jesus."
~G. Campbell Morgan (from "does jesus still have his wounds?")

Today's Answer

Easter: Bigger Than Christmas?
Ray Pritchard

In our society there are two great religious holidays-Christmas and Easter. For most of us Christmas is the bigger and greater season of the year. It's the time of year when we gather with family and friends to sing carols, decorate the tree, and exchange gifts. Christmas is the climax of the whole year. Easter? Well, for most people it's just another long weekend, another chance to get away for a few days.

Even Christians view Easter as a second-rate holiday!

Somehow we've gotten our thinking badly mixed up. If Easter had not happened, Christmas would have no meaning. If the tomb is not empty, the cradle makes no difference. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then he really is just a misguided Jewish rabbi with delusions of grandeur. If Easter is not true, then Christmas is only the story of an obscure baby born in an out-of-the-way village in a forgotten land 2000 years ago. It is Easter that gives Christmas its meaning.

You want proof? In all the new testament no major doctrinal point is ever built upon the the virgin birth of Christ. Not one. It's true. It happened. But it's never discussed or mentioned. In fact, two gospels don't even say anything about it.

But the resurrection? That's a different story. In every part of the New Testament, it comes up again and again. Read the Acts 4:28. When the first Christians preached, they didn't mention Bethlehem; they talked about the empty tomb. They never got over the fact that on Easter Sunday when they went to the tomb, Jesus was gone.

Excerpted from "easter questions" by Keep Believing Ministries (used by permission).

Devotion by crosswalk.com


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The following Easter Devotions are made available from Crosswalk.com.

Rejoice over new life with more than 40 Resurrection-themed devotionals that run from Ash Wednesday through the Celebration of Jesus Christ's Empty Tomb. Happy Easter!

Let's prepare our hearts for Easter and Celebrate the Risen Savior!

All That Matters vs. All I Live For - Easter Devotional - Feb. 26, 2015

by Shawn McEvoy, Crosswalk.com Managing Editor

He has risen, just as He said.
Matthew 28:6, NIV

What would I ever do if someone I knew came back from the dead? Especially if he had said he would, and if he had spent a couple nights in a grave already?

Seriously, what would I do? What would you do? Wouldn't I blab to everyone I know - and most people I don't - about this miraculous event? Heck, I tell everyone when I'm feeling under the weather or when I saw a good movie.

Then factor in that the same guy was now telling us that because of what he had done, none of the rest of us would ever have to suffer death. What's more, simply by believing what we had seen, no matter our background, history, race, or education, we could restore our long-lost connection with the Almighty, and live forever.

Man... unfortunately, I'm having a hard time conceiving what I would do. Or, even if I can conceive it, I can't quite believe it, because honestly, I have seen this, I do believe this, and yet my daily reaction to it doesn't exactly line up with The Acts of the Apostles.

Has the news of a resurrected savior really become passe?

Why don't I want to read Acts?

What am I afraid of?

That I'll be rejected?

(He who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 4:8)).

That I won't be powerful enough?

(God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7)).

That the good news isn't relevant enough?

Salvation and the message of the resurrection, the miracle of born again-ness, is a salve to all wounds.

This Easter I'll join choruses like "He's Alive" while pondering and praising the miracle, but when it comes time for the next day of my life to begin, a day and a life that means nothing if not lived for my Savior, it'll be all about me again and my troubles and making my way and who cut me off and what I have to get done and who I don't like and what can we complain about today.

Yuck.

I want this Easter to be real. Because I did see it happen (so to speak; the resulting spread of those who ran to the corners of the earth to tell the story with no regard for personal safety is traceable to this day), it is real, and I'm cheating life and people God loves if I'm not shouting those facts from every corner and rooftop I can find. Everything else is just window dressing; "Christian living" is often just how we pass all our extra time in this country where so many of our basic needs are so easily met, and where we can cordon ourselves off from each other. What matters in life?
1. That there is life, and...
2. how it came about that there might never be death, but...
3. there are still dead men walking.

Really, why else are we here if not to keep excitedly shouting the truth of the miracle as if we'd just experienced it with our own eyes yesterday?

Intersecting Faith & Life: For the longest time, I've felt a leading in my heart to launch out into a complete study of the book of Acts, something I've never fully done. For some reason, I continue to put it off. But in my quest this year to make Easter real, I'm beginning a study of what those who witnessed the resurrection couldn't keep themselves from going out and doing. Care to join me?

Further Reading
Acts 1:1

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